Mobile credit card processing has grown tremendously over the past few years, with dozens of new companies setting up shop. While having more options is good, it also means more time is needed for a comprehensive review. With small business owners already having a lot on their mind, we decided to do the legwork for them and find the best mobile credit card processing on the market.
Best Mobile Credit Card Processing For…
- Startups & Small Businesses: Square
- Mid-to-Large Businesses: Dharma Merchant Services
- High-Volume Processing: Fattmerchant
- 501(3)(c) Non-Profits & Charities: CDGcommerce
- High-Risk Businesses: Payline Data
Best Mobile Small Business Credit Card Processing: Square
Square is one of the most well-known credit card processors for mobile phones; and for good reasons. It offers simple and easy-to-understand pricing and has relatively little overhead costs, which is fantastic for small businesses. Unlike many other processors, it doesn't require any underwriting or much paperwork. You can get your mobile processing up and running in just hours. While great for smaller shops, if you start processing more and more payments and your company grows, Square is more likely to reject transactions and put holds on your account. That is why for larger businesses, we recommend looking at other options.
|Monthly Fee||Per-swipe fee||Monthly minimum|
With Square you pay 2.75% per transaction, with no additional service fees unless you opt-in for certain features. For example, if you want the ability to manage your employees and their sales within the Square dashboard, you will need to pay an extra $5 per employee. This can get quite pricey if you are running a large operation. Mid-to-large sized businesses should instead go with a mobile processing option that has a full-fledged merchant services account. This will likely be the cheaper option in those circumstances and can provide better security against your account being frozen. The moment you begin processing more than $3,000 per month, you should start looking for a full merchant service instead.
Square works with Android and iPhone devices, provided you are using the most up-to-date version of your phones operating system. For Android, you need a device running at least version 4.0 or higher. For iOS, you need at least an iPhone 4S or a 2nd generation iPad or iPad mini. Older devices will not be compatible.
- Good for: Small startups processing less than $3,000 per month
- Bad for: Companies that need good customer service and need good reliability because they're processing hundreds of payments each month.
Best Mid-to-Large Businesses: Dharma Merchant Services
Dharma Merchant Services is the best choice for business owners who value quality over lower costs. It’s a full-fledged merchant account provider, and was named our best overall 2017 credit card processor. While overhead costs may be higher with Dharma, you will likely experience less account instability/funding holds than with services intended for small shops.
|Plan||Monthly Fee||Per-swipe fee||Monthly minimum|
|Storefront||$20||Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10||None|
Dharma Merchant Services works with Clover Go to supply mobile credit card processing. Clover provides some of the more interesting mobile card readers we’ve seen that are designed to target a lot of separate business needs. There are standard card readers, like you’d see from Square, as well as slightly more innovative solutions. For example, one of the readers is a portable POS system that works well with restaurants where customers pay at the table, food truck vendors, or any other situations where you’re frequently moving from customer to customer.
- Good for: Companies that want innovative mobile tech solutions, and a dedicated merchant services account.
- Bad for: Companies transacting less than $10,000 per month
Best High-Volume Mobile Credit Card Processing: Fattmerchant
Fattmerchant offers a very unique pricing structure that makes it one of the top overall credit card processors, with good tech solutions for mobile. It comes with a fixed rate on two of its plans, which greatly reduces your transaction cost if you process over $32,000 per month or if your average sale is over $100.
|Plan||Monthly Fee||Per-swipe fee||Monthly minimum|
|1||$99||Interchange + 8¢||None|
|2||$199||6¢ + Interchange||None|
Fattmerchant has two pricing structures. The two plans can be very good for businesses processing high-volumes (above $32,000 per month). This is because you are paying a fixed fee of either 8¢ cents or 6¢ cents per transaction – plus the interchange fee. With Fattmerchant’s competitors, your fee is a percentage of your total sale. That means you pay more the bigger your sale is.
- Good for: Businesses transacting over $32,000 per month, or those dealing with high average ticket sizes
- Bad for: Small companies that just need mobile credit card processing to get up and running as fast as possible
Best Mobile Credit Card Processor for 501(3)(c) Non-Profits & Charities: CDGcommerce
CDGcommerce is one of the few mobile credit card processors to offer special rates for charities and non-profits. While the special rates aren’t displayed online, we independently obtained quotes that were competitive and more affordable than some of the other processors we’ve come across.
For a charity processing $10,000 per month, CDGcommerce will charge you a 0.25% + $0.10 markup on top of the interchange fee. This is among one of the lowest one’s we’ve seen. On top of this, you will need to pay a $10 monthly fee. There are no other setup or statement fees. Note that your per-transaction cost may differ.
Mobile card readers with CDGcommerce cost about $49 each. However, you may be able to obtain discounts if you make bulk orders for 5 or more readers.
Note: By default CDGcommerce displays tiered pricing. This is generally really bad for consumers. You should always ask for interchange plus pricing when speaking with a company representative.
- Good for: Non-profits looking for the cheapest credit card processing for both donations and sales
- Bad for: Businesses that want a fixed-rate cost
High-risk Businesses: Payline Data
Payline Data specializes in dealing with businesses many other mobile credit card processors refuse to work with. This processor will be good for companies in industries like travel or gambling.
We can’t estimate the cost of Payline Data for a high-risk merchant because none of these details are made public. Virtually all credit card processors working with high-risk businesses work this way. Instead, they will work with each company individually to work out a fee schedule based on risk.
In the non high-risk side of their business, Payline offers two affordable plans that are based around interchange plus pricing.
- Good for: Firms in high-risk industries like travel, online gambling, and tech support
- Bad for: Businesses that can qualify for other types of processing and want the lowest cost possible
Summary of 2017's Best Mobile Credit Card Processors
In case you want a quick recap of each processor, here is the list of our 2017 best mobile credit card processors and where each excels.
|Best Mobile Credit Card Processor For...|
|Square||Startups & Small Businesses|
|Dharma Merchant Services||Mid-to-Large Businesses|
|Payline Data||High-Risk Businesses|
|CDGcommerce||501(3)(c) Non-Profits & Charities|
How Do The Best Mobile Credit Card Processors Compare To One Another Based On Cost?
We wanted to give you an idea of how prices can vary between the top mobile credit card processors. We ran the above processors through a simulation based on pricing data that was either available online, or obtained by speaking with company representatives.
What You Should Know When Choosing A Mobile Credit Card Processor
There are two important things to consider when shopping for mobile credit card processing: EMV-readiness and whether you receive a merchant account or merchant ID. These things are crucial to understand before you sign up for a service, and you should know what you want for your firm in terms of these two elements.
EMV-readiness refers to whether the mobile card readers your processor provides can accept chip payments. EMV chip started appearing on credit cards in the United States in late 2015, and by now all small businesses should be ready to accept them. Without an EMV-ready device, you will be held fully responsible for any fraudulent purchases made at your business. This will increase your cost in the event a stolen or counterfeited card is used at your establishment.
During the course of our research, we came across several processors who didn’t have EMV-ready readers. This information isn’t always available online, so you should ask before signing on with any processor. The most notable example we came across was Spark Pay. Though they offer low rates, their current reader doesn’t support chip payments – keeping them off our list of best mobile credit card processors.
You should also be aware of whether a mobile processor is setting you up with a merchant account/merchant ID. In most of the processors we outlined above, with the exception of Square, you get a full-fledged merchant account. With one of these accounts, you are less likely to have your funds frozen due to a suspicious charge. You will also likely receive dedicated customer service.
There are two disadvantages to merchant accounts that may make some businesses reluctant to sign up. Generally speaking, there are more overhead costs with and they take longer to set up. First of all, with a merchant service account you typically have to pay some monthly or annual fee. Also, you need to go through an underwriting process that may slow down how quickly you can get your processing set up. For example, while you can get Square up and running in an hour, Fattmerchant can take several days or more to launch. During that time, they will require a lot more paperwork to verify your business.
At its core, our methodology begins with the idea that no single mobile credit card processor will be best for all businesses. That is why we do our best to come up with categories of merchants that will cover a broad base, and then try to find a mobile card processor that will work for them.
We judged processors based, in part, on the following criteria (in no particular order):
- Per-swipe fees
- Overhead costs (monthly fees, monthly minimums, PCI fees)
- How easily accessible is pricing information online
- How consistent is the pricing information given by the processing company
- How readily are customer service representatives willing to provide information
- Availability of various business solutions, including reporting and employee management
- Ease of use
- How quick/slow a processor is to set-up
- Mobile card reader options. Are they EMV-ready? Do they offer several different mobile credit card readers?
Whenever information about a processor was not available online, we tried obtaining information from company representatives. For the companies we highlighted above, the information we obtained was consistent across various platforms – online, phone, online chat rooms. However, for some issuers we obtained contradictory information in our search. In those cases, we did our best to arrive at an average based on information that was readily available.at was readily available.