Credit card payment applications have made accepting payments on mobile devices commonplace, especially for businesses at trade shows, conventions, festivals and more. Of course, trusting a third-party company with your customers' credit card information and a significant chunk of your revenue is a major decision.
How to choose a credit card payment app for Android
Researching the many mobile credit card processors out there can be a monumental task. Not only are there many vendors, each has its own credit card readers, terms, conditions, fees and rates. Sifting through all this information can be a challenge for the busy entrepreneur. Luckily, with the proper criteria in mind, the research phase of your buying journey becomes easier.
Here's a look at the critical aspects of mobile credit card processing to keep in mind when you're examining the market.
- Pricing model: Pricing for mobile credit card processors generally includes a flat, percentage-based rate as well as a per-transaction fee in some cases. Rates generally cost 2% to 4% of each transaction. Some credit card processors offer an interchange-plus or tiered pricing model instead, which can reduce the rates you pay per transaction, but typically come with monthly and yearly account maintenance fees that make it expensive for merchants that process less than $3,000 per month.
- Additional fees: Most mobile credit card processors with flat-rate pricing don't charge many fees beyond their per-transaction rates, except for the chargeback fee triggered when a customer disputes a charge. However, if you choose a vendor that uses the interchange-plus or tiered pricing model, they will also charge account maintenance fees, such as monthly statement fees, gateway fees and monthly minimum fees.
- Contract terms and services: Many mobile credit card processors operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you only pay for the processing you use. Others use a month-to-month subscription model or require a long-term contract. Understand the terms and conditions, as well as the required contractual obligations, before deciding on a credit card processor.
- EMV-compliant card readers: EMV-compliant credit card readers read the chips that most new cards contain. EMV chips generate a unique number during every transaction, making it impossible to fraudulently replicate a transaction. The transition to EMV chips was difficult and costly for many retailers, so using an EMV-compliant mobile credit card reader is a cost-effective way for small businesses to stay current with modern credit card security standards.
- NFC-enabled card readers: Near-field communication, or NFC, allows for contactless payment solutions. These types of credit card readers allow customers to quickly tap their cards – or their phones, if they're using a mobile wallet like Google Pay – to make the payment, rather than swiping the card or waiting for the reader to scan the card's EMV chip. This allows businesses to keep things moving at the checkout counter.
- Third-party integrations: The third-party software integrations available with each credit card processing service are also an important factor. These integrations can improve your business's workflows by streamlining how sales data enters your other software systems. For example, some credit card processors offer integrations from their point-of-sale software to top accounting software, automatically updating sales numbers so you don't have to manually enter the same data you already collected at the point of sale.
- Reporting: Finally, transparent and detailed reporting is a must when it comes to your finances. A credit card processor should offer useful canned reports. Ideally, you should also be able to customize reports by applying filters to the data collected by the software.
With these factors in mind, you're ready to test out the Android credit card payment apps on the market. If you're still not sure where to start, business.com has already reviewed hundreds of credit card processors. Here are some of the best credit card readers for Android that we encountered.
Editor's note: Looking for the right credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
What is the best credit card reader for Android?
Determining which credit card reader is the best for Android depends on your specific needs and priorities. We've reviewed a wide range of services to determine the best mobile credit card processing companies and best credit card processors, many of which also offer mobile credit card readers. See all of our best picks for both types of processors by clicking the links above, but the snapshots below will get you started in finding the best credit card reader for Android.
PayPal Zettle for Android
PayPal Zettle is a popular application for small businesses. It offers competitive rates, and there are no monthly account maintenance fees or monthly minimums.
When you sign up for PayPal's merchant processing services, you can purchase a card reader for $29, plus $79 for each additional reader.
PayPal's rates and fees range from 2.29% to 3.49%, plus 9 cents per credit card transaction. QR code transactions range from 2.4% plus 5 cents per transaction for purchases $10 and below to 1.9% plus 10 cents per transaction for purchases above $10.01. Learn more in our full PayPal review.
Square Reader for Android
Square offers a low rate with no fees, no contracts and a free credit card swiper for every account. Square charges the same rates for all types of cards, so you don't have to worry about whether your customers primarily use debit, credit, rewards or corporate cards.
When you sign up with Square, you receive free point-of-sale software in the form of the company's payment application, Square Point of Sale. You can purchase additional hardware options, including a Square Contactless and Chip Reader for contactless payments and EMV chips.
Square's rates range from 2.5% to 2.6%, plus 10 cents on card-present transactions. For card-not-present transactions, rates range from 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction to 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction. Learn more in our full review of Square.
SumUp for Android
SumUp provides services on a pay-as-you-go basis and allows you to close your account at any time with no cancellation fees. There are no setup fees or additional hidden fees, either.
When you sign up for SumUp, you can purchase a $19 credit card reader that accepts magstripe, chip, and contactless credit and debit cards. SumUp also allows you to accept payments from mobile wallets like Google Pay. Shipping on the EMV/NFC card reader is free.
SumUp's rates are straightforward, starting at 2.65% for transactions made in person using the card reader. Payments accepted through the virtual terminal cost 2.95% plus 15 cents per transaction. There are no maintenance fees, statement fees, PCI compliance fees or payment gateway fees. There is a $10 chargeback fee that is only incurred when a customer disputes a charge. For a full breakdown, see our full review of SumUp.
If you're a QuickBooks user, QuickBooks Payments is useful for syncing your payment data with your accounting software, saving you the work of double entry. The company charges flat processing rates and has a pay-as-you-go plan for small businesses. There is no long-term contract required for the use of its services.
QuickBooks Payments includes free access to its GoPayment mobile application on Android phones and tablets. The app includes the core point-of-sale features as well as invoice-generation options and recurring payments. When you sign up for service, you receive a free QuickBooks Chip and Magstripe Card Reader. Additional readers cost $19 each, making them some of the most cost-effective EMV readers in our review.
The QuickBooks Payments pay-as-you-go plan ranges from 2.4% to 3.4% plus 25 cents per transaction. For businesses that process more than $7,500 per month, the company offers a monthly fee plan with lower rates for $20 per month. Rates range from 1.6% to 3.2% plus 25 cents per transaction. Learn more in our full review of QuickBooks Payments.
Shopify Payments is the processor we recommend for online businesses that need to make in-person sales using an Android phone or tablet. It offers month-to-month terms and simple flat rates. Shopify Payments is the in-house credit card processing service offered by the e-commerce platform Shopify. There are no long-term contracts, but you must pay a monthly subscription fee for the e-commerce software to use its mobile payment processing app.
When you sign up for Shopify Payments, you receive access to the company's point-of-sale app, which allows you to accept all major credit and debit cards. Processing hardware, such as a chip and swipe reader, is available at an additional cost.
Shopify Payments charges flat rates from 2.4% to 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, depending on the plan you sign up for and whether a card is present during the transaction. There are five plans ranging from $29 per month to $299 per month, as well as a custom plan for high-volume merchants. The company offers discounts for long-term commitments. For a full breakdown, see our Shopify Payments review.
Comparison of Android mobile credit card readers
|Service||Reader cost||Monthly fee||Transaction rates|
|PayPal Zettle||First one is $29; $79 for each additional reader||No monthly fee||Card present: 2.29% +$0.09 |
Keyed-in card numbers: 3.49% + $0.09
QR code under $10: 2.4% + $0.05
QR code over $10: 1.9% + $0.10
|Square||Free for Square Reader, $49 for Square Reader contactless and chip or $299 for Square Terminal (also prints receipts)||Monthly fees from $0 to $72||2.6% to 2.9% + $0.30|
|SumUp||$19 or $39 with charging dock||No monthly fee||2.75%|
|QuickBooks Payments||$49 or $79 with charging stand||No monthly fee||2.4% to 3.4% + $0.30|
|Shopify Payments||$29 for chip and swipe reader||Monthly fees between $29 and $299||2.4% to 2.7%|
Does Google Pay accept credit cards?
No. Cashless payment applications or mobile wallets, like Google Pay, are consumer apps. They work with consumer credit cards to allow your customers to make payments from their mobile phones. They are not intended to be used by merchants to accept payments.
How mobile credit card processors are changing portable payments
In the past, businesses that traveled were limited to accepting credit card payments over the phone or accepting cash or checks, which carried certain risks and logistical challenges. Today, mobile credit card processors have solved that problem. Whether your business is mobile as a matter of operations or you're visiting a trade show or convention, a mobile credit card processor allows you to conduct business anywhere. Keep in mind the criteria above and compare the details of each service to one another to make the best decisions about your business's mobile payment collections.
Jennifer Dublino contributed to the writing and research in this article.