5 Best Mobile Card Readers | April 2017


Mobile card readers have changed the very nature of the transaction. Gone are the days when cash was king, and gone too are the days when only established, brick-and-mortar businesses could benefit from the ease and security of a credit card. Today mobile card readers and the excellent apps with which they pair allow small businesses or even individual artisans to accept online or in-person sales via credit card, debit card, or online payment portal. The financial playing field has been leveled; score one for the little guys.


Making Payment Painless

The Shopify Point of Sale system is impressively versatile, which isn't surprising coming from a company that invented itself back in 2004 to help remedy the complexities of online selling at the time. The beauty of their sales process is in part defined by the wide range of payment types they allow a seller to accept. You can conduct business via credit card, gift card, online sales portal, or via cash. But even more noteworthy is the flexibility Shopify allows within the confines of a single sale. Their system allows a customer to make partial payments in one form of currency, and to complete the transaction in another. For example, a customer could opt to use the $20 in their pocket for part of a purchase, and to put the rest on a MasterCard.


Helping Small Businesses Do Smart Business

GoPayment from Intuit QuickBooks is a smart payment processing option for the small business, as every payment is immediately logged in paired accounting software (as are those rare returns or refunds, too). This service doesn't accept quite as many payment options as some of its competitors, but it makes it painlessly simple for customers to use many different credit or debit cards to pay for the products or services you offer. If your business sees lower monthly sales volumes, consider starting with their pay-as-you-go plan, which charges a 2.4% fee for each swiped transaction (and 3.4% for keyed in sales) and carries a transaction fee of 25 cents. Or, for just $19.95 per month, you can pay just 1.6% per swipe (or 3.2% for keyed in transactions) with the same quarter per transaction fee.


Breaking Down Barriers To Closing That Sale

With PayAnywhere Mobile, there's no discrimination between Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or even the new kid on the block, PayPal. They seem to have decided that if your bank account treats cash like cash, so too should your payment processing system. That said, the flat 2.69% fee they charge per swiped transaction is a bit higher than the commission rate you'll pay with many other mobile card reader options, but at least you always know what to expect no matter what type of payment your customer chooses to use. And the fact that you get the PayAnywhere mobile card reader and its paired app at no cost for setup and without any monthly fees is certainly a bonus. So too is the fact that you can have an unlimited number of people using the same seller's account, so this payment processor can grow along with your business.


Putting The Personal Touch On Sales

Using Flint to handle your small business's sales will change the way you sell both in-person and online. For many businesses, that will be true because they will in fact finally be able to make online sales at all. Flint allows you to accept credit card payments anywhere using your smartphone, but it also enables you to add "Buy Now" features to your website that would involve huge fees and complex backend programming if you partnered with another service. By helping your customers make purchases remotely, Flint will help you enjoy more sales than ever before. And by removing the need for hardware for in-person transactions, they have removed the potential for faulty hardware to prevent a sale. Just use your smartphone's camera to scan a customer's credit card and the deal will be as good as closed.


All Devices Are Welcome

At its core, Inner Fence is just another brand offering easy mobile payments via a smartphone credit/debit card reader or through more than a dozen different online payment portals. What sets this payment processing outlet apart from the rest is its "big tent" approach to devices and operating systems. You can use Inner Fence whether you prefer to use a Mac or Windows, an iPhone, an iPad or an Android-based smartphone or tablet. In short, if you use a computer or a smartphone at all, chances are good that you'll be able to use Inner Fence's card reader and paired app to start processing payments anytime, anywhere.


Mobile Card Readers: In-Depth

The Way We Pay

It remains hard to grasp just how much mobile card readers will change the face of modern commerce. Just a handful of years back, the phrase "I don't have cash on me" was the definitive end to a would-be sale at the bake sale booth, the artisan's workshop, or at the neighborhood garage sale. Today, the savvy seller can casually reply "Oh, well I take MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or debit is fine, too."

And it's all thanks to those handy little devices that plug into a smartphone or tablet and allow for the easy swiping, scanning, or tapping of a credit or debit card. Or rather, it's all thanks to the democratizing technology behind them. By linking the small business or individual seller to the awesome power that is the credit card, these readers and paired apps ensure that all sellers, big and small, not only have access to more types of payment, but also to secure payments. Going cash free, after all, means more than just greater access, it means lower risk, too.

Choosing The Right Reader

If you run a small business (or you just have a lot of stuff you want to sell), then of course it behooves you to get a card reader that will let you accept credit and debit payments, but how should you choose the right one for you? Simple, just...

  • Know Yourself

How many sales do you complete in the average month? What's their average value?

  • Know Your Customer

Do most of your customers use credit? Online payments? Debit?

  • See The Future

Is your business likely to grow soon in terms of sales? Or might it change in terms of customer type?

In regards to knowing yourself, if you make lots of small sales, you might look for a card reader brand that charges a one time fee for each transaction. If you make fewer, larger sales, then the one time fee is less important than the overall percentage you'll be charged.

When it comes to your customers, do you tend to cater to a younger, hipper crowd that's all about Venmo and PayPal and the like, or do you work with an older and/or more old school bunch who cleave to their American Express Gold card?

And then of course you have to predict the future, because the sales you see right now might not be the same as next year, and the folks buying from you might just change too. After all, you want your business to grow and diversify, so don't pick a sales option that you're already about to outgrow.

Thinking Outside The Box

By the way, smartphone and tablet credit card readers aren't just for artists selling candles at craft fairs. There are plenty of good reasons for established businesses to get into the mobile card reader game too. Let's just talk about three...

  • Make Sales Anywhere

When your business has employees armed with mobile card readers walking the showroom floor, the moment a customer even starts to consider a purchase could be the moment they make the purchase. Don't make your customers line up to complete a sale at a cash register when they could make the same purchase while still admiring that dress in the mirror outside the fitting room.

  • Continuity Of Business

Even if your brick-and-mortar shop only signs up with a mobile card reader service as a backup, the moment the power goes out or the Point of Sale system is compromised is the moment you'll be thrilled you can keep on closing sales.

  • Adaptability

If your customer wants to use cash to buy something, let them use cash. If they want to use PayPal to make a purchase, let them use PayPal. Ditto credit or debit, of course. Your old school POS system probably can't handle all that. Your new app-based system can, though.


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