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If you’re running a small business, you’re likely balancing numerous responsibilities, which means constantly moving based on where your operations take you. Therefore, as is the case for many small business owners, it’s all the more beneficial when you can access your business tools on-the-go. This being said, if you accept credit cards, you may want to promote your business and offer flexibility by taking payments on-the-go with your mobile device. Luckily, with the development of technology in the merchant services industry, there are numerous ways to accept mobile payments—and perhaps none are more popular than using a credit card reader for iPhone.
When paired with a mobile point of sale app, these credit card reader hardware devices can allow you to accept and process credit cards in a variety of ways, including via swipe, chip, and even contactless. With this in mind, however, if you’re looking to accept this type of mobile payments, you may be wondering: What are the best credit card readers for iPhone? This guide is here to help. We’ll explain how a credit card reader for iPhone works, what to look for in choosing one, and finally, we’ll list five of the best credit card readers for iPhone on the market.
Before we break down our list of best credit card readers for iPhone, let’s start with an overview—how do iPhone credit card readers work?
Essentially, these hardware readers allow you to accept credit card payments by plugging into your iPhone (or connecting via Bluetooth) and working in conjunction with a mobile point of sale app. With the card reader connected to your iPhone and the POS app, you can swipe, dip, or tap your customer’s card (depending on the type of card reader) and process the transaction through your payment provider. Typically, providers who offer credit card readers for iPhone also include the mobile POS software and payment processing as part of their service.
With these basics in mind, let’s talk more specifically about what you should look for when trying to choose the best credit card reader for iPhone for your business.
One of the first points you’ll want to consider when looking at different credit card readers for iPhone is the type of credit card reader you’ll need. If you have a relatively up-to-date iPhone and pair it with compatible card reader, you should have no problems with this kind of mobile system—however, you will want to consider exactly how you’re going to be taking credit card payments to determine the specific type of mobile credit card reader you want.
Generally, you can take payments using a credit card reader in three ways: by swiping, dipping, or tapping. A swiped payment is when a credit card is run through the reader using the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. A dipped payment, on the other hand, is when a card is inserted in order to read the EMV chip on the card. It should be noted that EMV is slowly phasing out magstripe processing, as the encryption in EMV chips are much more secure. Finally, a tapped payment is when a customer uses their credit card through an eWallet like Apple Pay. In this case, the customer holds their phone up to the credit card reader and authenticates the transaction this way.
This being said, some credit card readers for iPhone can accommodate all three of these payment methods, whereas others only accept one type of credit card payment method. The type of reader that you choose is up to you—however, with the added security of EMV payments, an EMV chip reader is recommended. Moreover, although not a necessity, with the growing popularity of eWallets, accepting payments in this way allows you to accommodate a wider range of customers.
As with all of the business tools you utilize, you’ll want to compare the costs of different credit card readers for iPhone. On the whole, when it comes to this type of POS hardware, you’ll pay a one-time fee for the physical card reader, as well as a per transaction fee for credit card processing. The exact cost for both of these fees will depend on the provider you work with—however, transaction rates for accepting in-person credit cards, with a reader like the ones we’ll be discussing, are typically less expensive than accepting cards in other ways, like online or using a virtual terminal.
Additionally, since using an iPhone credit card reader to accept payments will require the use of a mobile POS app, it’s worth mentioning that some providers will charge a monthly software fee, and possibly other fees, for use of their service, although this is not always the case.
As we’ve said, if you want to use a credit card reader for iPhone to accept payments, you’ll need to do so in conjunction with a mobile POS app. Therefore, as you search for readers, you’ll want to take an in-depth look at their compatible mobile POS software and what the software itself can offer. In addition to simply facilitating your transactions, you’ll find that mobile POS software applications can include a variety of features such as an offline mode, the ability to save cards on file, create customer profiles, track transaction history and data, manage inventory and employees, and more.
Once again, the specific features that you want or need from your mobile POS will depend on your business, but it’s worth considering what you can do with the software that connects to your credit card reader for iPhone.
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to see what kind of security measures are included with any credit card reader for iPhone and the mobile POS software behind it. Any iPhone credit card reader should be PCI-DSS compliant. Additionally, you’ll want to check to see if the mobile POS software and payment provider include any other security measures like data encryption, fraud protection, or dispute management.
Moreover, as we mentioned above, it’s worth remembering that an EMV chip-enabled card reader will be more secure than a simple magstripe reader.
Now that we’ve explained how iPhone credit card readers work and what you should look for when picking one for your business, let’s break down some top options—in terms of their features, pricing, and overall service. This being said, here are five of the best credit card readers for iPhone:
The first credit card reader for iPhone on our list comes from perhaps one of the biggest names in the payment processing industry—Square. In fact, Square offers not one but two different types of credit card readers for iPhone that work with the Square POS app (and can also be used on iPad).
Square offers the Square Reader for Magstripe, which is a piece of hardware that allows you to accept swiped card payments. There are two different versions of this credit card reader for iPhone, one with a headphone jack connector and the other with a lighting connector, to accommodate both newer and older versions of the iPhone. Additionally, this Square reader can be used with both an iPad and an Apple computer as well.
The second credit card reader for iPhone that Square offers is the Square Reader for Contactless and Chip. As the name implies, this reader allows you to accept EMV chip cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Unlike the Square Magstripe Reader, this reader connects wirelessly to your iPhone via Bluetooth.
In order to use either of the Square credit card readers for iPhone, you have to download the mobile Square POS app. With this software, you receive a variety of impressive features, including:
One of the most notable benefits of the Square readers is that you can sign up for a Square account for free online, and when you do, you receive a free Magstripe Reader. Additionally, the Square mobile POS software is free to download and use.
This being said, however, if you want an additional Magstripe Reader, you’ll have to pay $10 for each. The Contactless and Chip Reader, on the other hand, will cost $49. Therefore, hardware aside, the only other Square fees you’ll pay to use either of these credit card readers for iPhone will be transaction fees. Square charges flat-rate fees, so the fees for accepting all kinds of credit cards with either of these readers will be 2.75% for each transaction. Square does not charge startup fees, authorization fees, statement fees, PCI-compliance fees, or other extraneous fees and you can expect your funds to be in your business bank account within one to two business days.
So all of this considered, what makes Square a provider of one of the best credit card readers for iPhone? On the whole, Square is more than likely one of the most popular mobile POS solutions—and for good reason. The Square credit card readers are flexible, easy to use, and affordable, especially considering that you receive a free magstripe reader with your account.
Additionally, the transaction fees you’ll incur with these card readers are clear, flat-rate, and competitive with other solutions on the market. Moreover, the Square free POS software is one of the most feature-rich out there, and can give you the full range of business management capabilities in addition to the acceptance of credit cards using your iPhone. Therefore, Square’s credit card readers for iPhone are overall a top option for small businesses.
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The next option on our list of best credit card readers for iPhone comes from another big name in payment processing. Although PayPal is typically known for their online payment solutions, they also offer PayPal Here as an option for accepting in-person credit card payments on-the-go.
Like Square, there are a few different types of PayPal Here credit card readers to choose from. First, there’s the PayPal Here Mobile Card Reader, which can be plugged into the audio jack of your iPhone and with the PayPal Here app, can be used to accept credit card swipes. Additionally, PayPal also offers the Chip and Swipe Reader which connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and can accept dipped and swiped credit card payments.
Moreover, PayPal Here offers the Chip and Tap Reader, which accepts all three payment types: dipped, swiped, and contactless. Like the Chip and Swipe Reader, this credit card reader for iPhone connects via Bluetooth. Finally, the last of the PayPal Here card reader options is the Chip Card Reader, which can not only accept EMV cards, but swiped and contactless payments as well. Unlike the Chip and Swipe Reader, however, this hardware also includes a keypad for pin entry. The Chip Card Reader also connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth.
Just like Square, each of these PayPal Here credit card readers for iPhone can be used with iPad as well.
Regardless of which PayPal Here credit card reader you choose, you’ll have to pair the reader with the PayPal Here POS mobile app.
With the PayPal Here app, you’ll not only be able to accept and process credit card payments, but also:
With PayPal Here, like Square, you can sign up online and download the app for free. Additionally, with the limited time PayPal offer, you can receive a free Mobile Card Reader or Chip and Swipe Card Reader when you sign up for your account.
On the whole, however, you’ll pay limited fees with PayPal Here, mostly just transaction fees and the cost of any other credit card readers for iPhone you choose to purchase. In terms of the card readers, the four options are priced as such:
Regardless of which of the four readers you use, you’ll pay a 2.7% processing fee per each transaction. Other than these fees, PayPal does not charge startup costs, termination fees, or monthly fees. They do, however charge a $20 chargeback fee.
Overall, then, PayPal Here stands out as offering some of the best credit card readers for iPhone due to their variety of options, general affordability, and ease of use. Comparing Square vs. PayPal Here, Square’s mobile app offers more POS features and cheaper hardware, PayPal Here, however has a slightly cheaper transaction rate and includes a greater variety of card reader options.
This being said, therefore, although a variety of small businesses may find great use out of PayPal Here, with the connection to PayPal’s online payment platform, this solution is even more well-suited for online-based businesses looking for a quick and easy in-person payment option, or for service-based businesses who want to be able to quickly and easily swipe customer cards as they complete jobs on-the-go.
For a simple, affordable credit card reader for iPhone, you might also consider Payanywhere. Payanywhere offers a full-service payments platform, which includes, most notably, their two mobile card reader options.
The first iPhone credit card reader Payanywhere offers (also compatible with iPads and Apple computers) is the 2-in-1 Reader. This reader connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth and can accept dipped and swiped cards. The other Payanywhere credit card reader for iPhone option is the 3-in-1 reader. As you may have imagined, this reader includes the added capability of being able to accept contactless payments.
The Payanywhere iPhone app pairs with both of their card readers and allows you to take credit card payments, online and offline. This software also includes:
Like Square and PayPal Here, Payanywhere operates on a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. There is no cost to download the Payanywhere iPhone app and when you sign up for your account, you receive a free 2-in-1 Reader. Additional 2-in-1 readers cost $29.95 each, and if you’re interested in the 3-in-1-reader, you’ll pay $49.95 for that hardware.
Cost of hardware aside, Payanywhere charges 2.69% per transaction for each in-person card payment regardless of which of the two credit card readers for iPhone you use. This rate, however, is designated for merchants processing under $10,000 per month—if you have a higher processing volume, you can contact Payanywhere for a plan with custom credit card processing fees. Payanywhere does not seem to charge any additional fees for their service, with the exception of a $3.99 inactivity fee which you’ll incur if you do not process a transaction for 12 months, and will recur each month until processing continues or you cancel your account.
All of this being said, Payanywhere makes our list of the best credit card readers for iPhone due to their simplicity and low processing rates. Although Payanywhere might not be the best option for larger businesses who need a more robust and complex POS system, this solution and their credit card readers are great for quick and easy on-the-go processing.
Although all of the best credit card readers for iPhone on our list thus far have toted simplicity and intuitiveness, perhaps the most straightforward of them all is our next option, SumUp. Whereas all of the providers we’ve discussed have offered multiple credit card reader options, SumUp only has one all-inclusive reader.
The SumUp Card Reader can accept EMV chip cards, swipe cards, and contactless cards, as well as Apple and Google Pay and connects to your iPhone (works with iPad as well) via Bluetooth.
Just like their single credit card reader for iPhone option, the SumUp mobile POS app is just as simple and easy to use. This mobile app allows you to:
As you may have imagined, the costs involved with SumUp are just as simple as the credit card reader for iPhone and corresponding app themselves. SumUp only charges for credit card processing—a flat-rate of 2.65% per transaction, as well as for the physical reader, which costs $19. SumUp does not charge monthly fees, fees for PCI compliance, or a fee to use the SumUp app. Moreover, SumUp does not require a contract, you can cancel at any time, and can even take advantage of their 30-day money back guarantee for their card reader.
With this simplicity, SumUp is a great credit card reader for iPhone option for businesses who are looking for the quickest and easiest way to accept in-person credit card payments on their mobile device. Although SumUp does have some limitations—it doesn’t have as many features as Square, for example, requires an internet connection, and doesn’t offer a free card reader with your account—it also has some significant benefits on top of its overall simplicity. SumUp has one of the lowest transaction rates on our list, only 2.65%, the credit card reader they offer is all-inclusive, and, at only $19, it’s one of the most capable and most affordable credit card readers for iPhone.
The last option on our list of best credit card readers for iPhone functions a little differently. Unlike the first four card readers and their service providers that we’ve discussed, this solution, SwipeSimple, cannot be acquired directly from the website or from the SwipeSimple company. Instead, SwipeSimple must be purchased through a merchant service provider, like Payment Depot or WorldPay, as part of your service package with that organization
Nevertheless, SwipeSimple has a significant amount to offer with their card readers and mobile POS app. First, they offer two different credit card readers: the Swift B200 and Swift B250. The Swift B200 can accept EMV chip cards and magstripe cards by connecting to your iPhone via Bluetooth. The Swift B250, on the other hand, can accept mobile wallet payments in addition to EMV and magstripe payments. This credit card reader for iPhone also connects via Bluetooth.
By connecting the SwipeSimple mobile app to your card reader, you can accept and process payments on-the-go. This app also includes features such as:
Unfortunately, since you have to purchase the SwipeSimple credit card reader for iPhone and their corresponding service from your merchant service provider, the price will vary, depending on the provider you work with. This being said, however—if you already work with a merchant service provider, or need a provider that includes a merchant account—and are looking for an iPhone credit card reader solution, you might consider talking to your provider about SwipeSimple for details regarding pricing.
For example, Payment Depot is a merchant account provider that works with SwipeSimple, and they provide a free mobile reader (although they don’t specify which one) with all of their subscription plans. Additionally, their processing rates are very affordable, starting at interchange plus $0.15 per transaction with their basic level plan.
Moreover, in addition to Payment Depot, SwipeSimple works with 15 out of the top 50 merchant acquirers in the U.S. and has high reviews on the iOS App Store. Therefore, it’s certainly worth looking into SwipeSimple as a provider of one of the best credit card readers for iPhone.
At the end of the day, using a credit card reader for iPhone can be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to accept payments from customers. Moreover, with the growing focus on fraud protection and new payment methods, utilizing a mobile-based POS app and card reader will be advantageous to your business—allowing you to serve a wide range of customers in the way that works best for them, while still making the process simple for your business.
Ultimately, the best credit card reader for iPhone will depend on your business and what you need from your card reader, mobile POS software, and payment provider. This being said, any of the credit card readers and services on our list may serve your business well. Moreover, the majority of these providers allow you to sign up for an account for free, charging only per transaction—some of the cheapest credit card processing, you’ll find, in fact—and therefore, you can test them out for yourself to find out how any one may or may not work for you.