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It can be frustrating to find the right iPhone card reader for your business. Many mobile card readers use a physical headphone jack connector, so they won’t work for modern iPhones. Others are offered only by processors that charge expensive fees for mobile transactions. Even if you do find an affordable card reader, many run on outdated iOS apps, leaving you with a buggy and difficult-to-use dashboard.
Fortunately, that’s not the case for every iOS mobile card reader – it just takes some time to find the one that works best for your business. You don’t want to end up wasting your money on a device that doesn’t offer offline functionality if your field technicians work in rural areas. And, if you only take payments occasionally, you don’t want to be stuck with a payment processor that charges hefty monthly fees.
After spending months researching credit card readers for iPhone and various payment processors, Stax came out on top. Not only does it offer a free Bluetooth-compatible card reader that’s backward compatible with most modern iPhones, but its iOS app is a pleasure to use.
What We Look For in the Best Credit Card Readers for iPhone
With so many mobile credit card reader options on the market, I made sure to only include options with these key features.
Compatibility. Not every iPhone has a headphone jack or can be updated to the most current iOS version, which limits the apps that work on these devices. I’ve made sure every reader works for a wide range of iPhones so you won’t be forced to upgrade your phone to accept payments on the go.
Ease of use. With quickstart guides, every option on this list is easy to set up and use. You won’t have to worry about your field technicians (or yourself!) struggling while you’re away from the office.
Convenience. These recommended iOS card readers are small enough to fit into your pocket, making them suitable for all kinds of circumstances. Unlike bulky card terminals, they won’t take up too much space on your stall at external events.
Pricing. I looked for budget-friendly mobile credit card readers offered by payment processors with competitive rates. This will help your business save money, even if you take the majority of your payments in the field.
Mobile Credit Card Readers vs Mobile Terminals
Mobile credit card readers are wireless, compact devices that connect to a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) app to accept payments. Mobile terminals are larger devices with their own screen that you can use in the field or at your business location with or without a smartphone.
You’ll often find these two terms being used interchangeably when you’re looking for an mPOS device. However, these devices offer different features, so it’s important to understand the difference between them.
When you sign up with Stax, you’ll get a Chipper 2X BT mobile card reader for free. This pocket-sized reader accepts EMV, swiped, and contactless payments, making it ideal for field technicians. Unlike mobile terminals, these compact iOS card readers typically cost less, so you won’t need to worry about going over budget if you decide to upgrade your team.
You’ll also get an industry-leading iOS app to use in the field that allows you to manage your business on the go. You can key in payments, set up invoices and recurring payments, check your business’s financial health, and more on your iPhone. What’s even better is that you won’t pay anything extra for this app – it’s included in your monthly fee.
You also won’t have to deal with sky-high mobile processing fees. In fact, high-volume businesses processing more than $8,000/month could save up to 40% versus other payment processors. You’ll see the best savings if you process at least $500,000/year, but you’ll still get a great deal if your business processes less than this.
Features and Benefits
Great compatibility. The Stax Pay app is compatible with iOS 13 and above, so you won’t have to worry about replacing your older iPhone if you want to use Stax on the go.
Device flexibility. Stax Pay works with almost all other third-party Bluetooth iOS mobile card readers. So, if your team is already used to a certain device, you won’t have to spend precious time and money retraining them.
Additional iOS readers. If the Chipper doesn’t work for your business, don’t worry – Stax also offers the SwipeSimple B250 that’s just as compact and budget-friendly.
PCI- and HIPAA-compliant. Stax is Level 1 PCI compliant, which helps protect your payments by tokenization and end-to-end encryption. Healthcare businesses can rest assured their data is safe as Stax is also HIPAA compliant.
Medium-sized businesses that need to accept payments on the go can use Payment Depot’s versatile SwipeSimple B250 reader, which supports EMV, swiped, and contactless payments. You can also use this reader without internet connection. Simply set the SwipeSimple app to Offline Mode, and you can accept swiped card payments that will be automatically processed when you regain internet connection.
Along with this industry-favorite reader, medium-sized businesses could save hundreds of dollars on payment processing thanks to Payment Depot’s subscription-style pricing. You’ll pay a flat fee per month to get all the software you need (including the SwipeSimple app) and pay 0% + 10¢ (in-person) per transaction, even if the card is not present.
It’s just a shame that SwipeSimple’s Offline Mode doesn’t cover EMV or contactless transactions. However, with every card still having a magnetic stripe, you won’t have to worry about missing out on any sales. You’ll have to pay the card-not-present rate for these sales but, fortunately, Payment Depot doesn’t charge a higher rate for these higher-risk transactions.
Features and Benefits
Great battery life. The SwipeSimple B250 can process around 1,000 transactions before it needs to be charged again – ideal for field technicians that work away from their home base for extended periods.
Transaction management. You won’t need to call your office if you want to refund a customer or void a transaction. You can do this easily from the SwipeSimple app to help you and your colleagues work more efficiently. It’s also more convenient for the customer, which builds their trust.
Inventory management. Through the SwipeSimple app, you’ll get a real-time inventory count so you don’t have to guess what products you have in stock.
Next-day deposits. Payment Depot offers next-day deposits for no extra charge, making it the ideal choice if you need reliable access to incoming funds.
National Processing offers the Clover Go, which is one of the few mPOS solutions that allows you to manage your back office. You can accept EMV, swiped, and contactless payments through the Clover Go reader and register check and cash payments in the Clover Go app.
For an optional extra monthly fee, the Clover Go iOS app will also allow you to run loyalty programs, handle exchanges and returns, and more. It’s a versatile mPOS solution that’s great for both small pop-up shops and medium-sized field services franchises.
Where the Clover Go really shines, however, is its real-time sync with other Clover devices. Not only can your home office see whenever you run a sale, but you can also see what sales your colleagues are making in other locations. Wherever you are, you can stay up to date with the rest of your business’s activities.
The only downside is that the Clover Go is one of the more expensive options on the market. However, the good news is that National Processing offers a range of mPOS devices that suit every budget. You can get the SwipeSimple B250 iOS card reader for free on all pricing plans.
Features and Benefits
Optional charging stand. If you’re at a craft fair or external event, you can get a Clover Go charging stand to charge your device and turn it into a tabletop reader without it taking up too much space on your table.
Offline payments. Both Clover Go and SwipeSimple allow you to take offline payments and limit offline transaction size. For extra protection against chargebacks and fraud, Clover Go allows you to set manual approval on offline payments, so you can check if every offline transaction is legitimate.
Free reprogramming. National Processing will reprogram your existing mobile card readers for free, so you won’t have to buy a whole new set for your business.
Accounting integrations. Clover Go has pre-built integrations for Xero and QuickBooks, so every transaction you accept through the app will automatically be stored in your accounting software. This helps you (or your back office) save time on admin.
Luminous Payments offers a branded version of the SwipeSimple B250 that still contains the same great features you’d expect from it. This compact iPhone card reader is budget-friendly and works alongside any of Luminous Payments’s payment models.
Luminous Payments offers 5 different payment models that can help your small business save money and have the flexibility to adapt as it grows. You can save the most money with this processor’s popular Cash Discount plan, which allows you to pass on your processing fees to customers that pay with credit cards. If you still take cash payments in the field, this plan helps you avoid breaking your budget.
The only major downside is that you’ll need to pay $6/month for the iProcess iOS app to take payments in the field. The cost is low enough to be affordable, though – unless you only need to take the occasional mobile payment. Plus, the iProcess app is compatible with iOS 10 and above, which can help you avoid an expensive smartphone upgrade if your business still uses older iPhones.
Features and Benefits
Location data. You can save any sale location information through the iProcess iOS app. Not only can this provide more information to support a chargeback dispute, but it can make it easier to search through past transactions.
Developer kit. You can add custom features and integrations to the iProcess app as its parent payment gateway, NMI, offers an extensive developer kit. So, if you’ve got a particular use case that isn’t covered, it’s easy to adapt the app to your needs.
Instant transaction updates. Processing refunds, voiding transactions, and emailing receipts on the iProcess app mean you won’t have to handle a ton of administrative tasks when you return to the office.
Mobile card terminals. If you’d rather use an mPOS terminal when you’re away from the office, Luminous has you covered. You can choose from a variety of modern touchscreen mobile card terminals, all of which are great options for pop-up shops, food trucks, or craft stalls.
If you’re less tech-savvy and would rather use a simple plug-and-play mobile card reader, it’s worth considering the swipe card reader from PaySafe MobilePay (formerly iPayment MobilePay). You just plug the beginner-friendly reader into your headphone jack, and the app will automatically detect it – no Bluetooth pairing required.
But I don’t think MobilePay is the best choice for every business. If you’re using the iPhone 7 or above, you’ll need a lightning port adapter as your device won’t have a headphone jack. You also won’t be able to accept contactless payments, which is one of the most popular ways to pay. If this is a dealbreaker for you, don’t worry – Flagship Merchant Services also offers the Clover Go.
Flagship is one of the most flexible payment processorson the market. You can negotiate for a great interchange-plus fee structure, helping you save money on your payment processing.
Features and Benefits
User permissions. Control who has access to your transaction data in the MobilePay app with role-based permissions and remote access control.
Cloud-based app. Everything you do on the app will be updated in real time for other users. Not only does this keep all other users informed, but it saves you from duplicating administrative efforts when you get back to the office.
Secure iOS payments. In addition to Flagship’s PCI compliance, MobilePay uses end-to-end encryption and tokenization to secure your customer’s financial information.
Accept cash. MobilePay allows you to register cash either as a unique payment or against a pre-existing invoice.
Chase’s iOS card reader is a simple, compact card reader that accepts contactless payments. You’ll pair this with Chase’s easy-to-use and intuitive iOS app so you can accept payments in under a minute.
Chase’s mPOS reader is limited by the fact that it can only accept contactless payments. This makes the reader better suited to craft fair sellers and smaller businesses with a lower ticket amount. However, if your business can handle this limitation, you’ll be rewarded with next-day payouts as standard.
Need even quicker access to your money? You can get same-day payments at no extra cost if you deposit your funds into a Chase Business Banking account. Just be aware that these accounts come with a monthly fee – but you can waive it by accepting payments on your iPhone through Chase Payment Services.
Features and Benefits
Quickstart guide. The Chase Mobile iOS app will guide you through pairing and setting up your mobile card reader. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you can set up your iPhone to take payments in just a few minutes.
Budget-friendly. Chase’s iOS card reader costs just under $50, making it a great option for budget-conscious small businesses.
Multi-purpose app. Chase Mobile allows you to manage your banking and mobile transactions, so you don’t have to hunt for your financial data across separate apps.
Additional payment methods. If your customer doesn’t have a contactless-enabled card, don’t worry. You can key in card information in the Chase Pay mobile app or send payment links to their smartphone.
Even if you’re used to payment processors, deciphering the best iOS card reader for your business can be confusing. You have to consider which payment methods you should offer and make sure both the card reader and app are compatible with your iPhone and its iOS version. With that being said, there are a few clear winners that balance cost, convenience, and functionality.
Overall, Stax is my top recommendation due to the Chipper 2X BT. Not only does this compact reader support EMV, swiped, and contactless payments, but it’s budget-friendly – you can even get one for free when you sign up.
If you need more versatility, then take a look at Payment Depot. You’ll get the SwipeSimple B250 that can process 1,000 transactions on a single charge. Even while charging, you can use it as a countertop reader.
If you need a smart mPOS solution for iOS, go with National Processing. You can choose to use the industry-leading Clover Go for your iPhone, which allows you to sync your data with your other Clover devices, so you’ll have all the information you need in one place.
Here’s a quick summary of everything you need to know about the best credit card readers for iPhone:
Monthly fee on cheapest plan
Transaction fees on cheapest plan
A free Chipper 2X BT with an all-in-one iOS payments app
High-volume businesses that need to outfit their field technicians with an all-in-one solution
Technically, no. iPhones can’t accept EMV, swiped, or contactless payments without a mobile payment processing app and an mPOS device. However, almost all payment processing apps will allow you to key in a customer’s card information. Some, like the Clover Go offered by National Processing, will also let you register cash and check transactions. This means you have backup options if you forget (or lose) your mobile credit card reader.
How much is a credit card reader for iPhone?
You can usually expect to spend under $100 on an iPhone credit card reader. Most readers tend to cost around $50, but this can vary depending on the device and any additional accessories (such as optional charging stands). This makes them a budget-friendly alternative to credit card terminals that can cost significantly more. In addition, Stax offers a free iPhone credit card reader when you sign up, helping you to save money.
Do iPhone card readers have a fee?
Yes, you’ll always have to pay a fee to use an iPhone card reader. Even if you get a free mobile card reader when you sign up, every payment processor will charge you a per-transaction fee whenever you accept a payment. That said, there are a variety of different payment models that can help you cut iPhone card reader fees. Take a look at our top 10 credit card processors in 2023 to find a great deal for your business.
Are iPhone card readers safe?
Yes, iPhone card readers are just as safe as any other credit card reader or terminal you’d use in your business – provided that they’re PCI compliant. Not only is every option on this list fully PCI compliant, but many come with additional security features. For example, PaySafe MobilePay offers additional encryption and tokenization (on top of what Flagship Merchant Services offers) to keep your mobile payments secure.
Emma is a freelance content writer who specializes in thoughtful and insightful blogs and articles. Her main passion is the intersection of human behavior and modern technology, particularly in the context of marketing and cybersecurity. Outside of work, Emma loves video games, superhero movies, crochet, and cuddling her German Shepherd.