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  5. How To Accept Credit Card Processing on My Phone [2024]

How To Accept Credit Card Processing on My Phone [2024]

Ivana Shteriova Ivana ShteriovaFinance Specialist November 13, 2023
November 13, 2023
Whether you own a restaurant, beauty clinic, or even a home repair service, customers expect a seamless checkout experience. Not only does this improve the customer experience, but it makes it easier to get paid wherever your point of sale is. This is why mobile credit card processing is an excellent option for all kinds of businesses – not just those that take payments in the field.

That said, mobile payment processing software is often overlooked. Many mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) apps are buggy with a poor user experience. At the same time, others won’t function without an attached mPOS device. The last thing your business needs is to spend money every month on a mobile card processing solution that doesn’t meet your needs.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching payment processors and the software they offer – and it can be challenging to determine whether a mobile payment processing option will work for your business. If you’re in a hurry you can check out my top mobile credit card processors or continue reading to learn the ins and outs of accepting credit card payments on your phone. Let’s get started!

Benefits of Mobile Credit Card Processing

First, why should your business invest in mobile payment processing?
  • It’s a budget-friendly POS option. You can accept card payments without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for POS devices. mPOS devices usually cost a fraction of a full-size terminal, while most payment gateways and virtual terminals will offer mPOS apps for free.
  • It’s more convenient for all parties. This is particularly true if you have a field services business that would otherwise invoice customers for work completed. Instead of chasing invoices, you can ask customers to pay your technician before they leave the customer’s house.
  • It can boost your sales. You can minimize lost sales opportunities by offering customers multiple ways to pay.
  • It reduces the risk for field service technicians. By removing the need for your technicians to carry cash, you can reduce the risk of theft or financial loss in the field. This keeps both your financial health and your technicians safe.

Mobile Credit Card Processing Components

You’ll need a smartphone app to process credit card payments on your phone. You’ll also need a mobile card reader to accept different payment methods.

mPOS Apps

A screenshot showing the PAYARC's mobile app interface
Most mPOS apps (like this one offered by PAYARC) act as extensions of your virtual terminal or POS software
Mobile credit card processing apps are usually virtual terminals you can use on your phone. You’ll be able to process keyed-in payments without needing any additional equipment.

Depending on the app, you may also have access to extra features such as:
  • More payment methods (some apps allow you to process cash, check, and even contactless payments)
  • Offline payments
  • Digital receipts
  • Digital invoicing
  • Payment links and QR codes
  • Inventory management
  • Transaction management
  • Reporting and analytics

Top Tip: Device Compatibility

When considering an mPOS app, ensure it’s compatible with the version of Android or iOS on your smartphone. Any reputable mPOS app will work on the latest version of your smartphone’s operating system, but backward compatibility will vary greatly. The best mPOS apps typically support iOS 13/Android 8 and up.

mPOS Devices

Free Payanywhere app and card reader offered by ProMerchant
Compact card readers, like the free Bluetooth readers offered by ProMerchant, are the most cost-effective and popular mobile processing devices
If you want to accept more than keyed-in card payments (and minimize your processing costs), you’ll need an mPOS device. As with all POS devices, you’ve got a few different options:
  • Standalone card terminals. These usually connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular data so you can hand them to the customer. Accepted payment methods usually include EMV, swiped, and contactless.
  • Wireless PIN pads. Like standalone terminals, these devices connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular data. However, instead of providing a full display, these devices either lack a screen or simply show the transaction total. Customers can typically use EMV, swiped, or contactless payment methods.
  • Compact card readers. These are the simplest kind of mPOS devices. Some connect wirelessly, while others plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack or charger port. Because of their size, you may only be able to accept one payment method. However, there are options for EMV, swiped, and contactless payments. Any customer-facing display appears on your smartphone instead of the mPOS device.
Depending on the device’s size and complexity, you can typically expect to pay between $30 – $200. Generally, compact card readers are the cheapest option, while standalone card terminals require a larger investment. Some processors will reduce the costs for you. For example, ProMerchant offers a free mPOS device when you open your merchant account.

Mobile Credit Card Processing and Fraud Risk

Even though keyed-in payments are still secure, they present a greater risk of fraud because there aren’t as many verification checks. The customer doesn’t have to input a PIN or provide additional verification apart from their billing address. Although every reputable payment processor should use address verification (AVS), it can’t always prevent fraud. As a merchant, you also can’t trust that the payment card presented by the customer at the point of sale belongs to them.

In addition, there’s a greater risk of so-called “friendly” fraud (e.g., when a customer raises an illegitimate chargeback request). Because there are fewer verification checks, it’s easier for customers to claim that their card was stolen.

The best way to reduce your mobile credit card processing costs and the risk of fraud is to use an mPOS. If you’re working with a limited budget, a simple, compact reader provides additional verification, making it easier to win a chargeback dispute.

In addition, we recommend doing the following to protect your business from the risks of mobile payment processing:
  • Send digital receipts. Most mPOS apps can send digital receipts to cardholders. Depending on the app, you may also be able to save copies of receipts on a customer’s file for easy reference if something goes wrong.
  • Use itemized invoices. Always itemize invoices so customers know exactly what they’re paying for. If possible, I recommend asking the customer to sign the invoice as additional verification they received and were happy with the goods/services provided.
  • Be aware of the signs of fraud. These change regularly as fraudsters attempt to stay ahead of the curve. Typical “tells” include customers asking you to type in card details instead of using mPOS devices, the name on the card having no relation to the payer, and defaced cards.

How To Choose a Mobile Payment Processor

Before you start looking for a mobile payment processor, it’s crucial to understand how your business operates. You’ll need to know your business’s monthly income as well as transaction size and volume. Most importantly, you must assess how many transactions you process outside your business location. You might not have this information if you’re still setting up your business, so it’s a good idea to get a financial projection before you apply.

If you already process transactions in the field, take note of the payment methods your customers prefer to use. For example, if you already take keyed-in payments on your phone, a payment processor offering a free mobile card reader and an easy-to-use app would be a good choice.

You must also determine where you take payments to determine which mPOS app and devices you need. To process mobile payments, you’ll need a reliable Wi-Fi or 4G (at minimum) connection for your smartphone and your mobile terminal (if you’re using one). If you can’t guarantee a decent internet connection, you’ll need an app that supports offline payments. A reliable option is the SwipeSimple app offered by Leaders Merchant Services.

Setting Up Mobile Credit Card Processing

Getting started with mobile card processing is simple, but depending on your payment processor, setting things up can take a few days.

1. Research Your Options

Once you’ve got a good idea of your business, how your customers pay, and where you take payments, check our top 4 mobile payment processors. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of every reputable mobile payment processor, these companies offer the best mPOS features for a reasonable price.

On top of that, make sure you read about the best credit card processing apps to learn more about specific app features.

2. Apply for a Merchant Account

Applying for a merchant account with ProMerchant
Expect to be asked about your business’s history, finances, and average transactions
Every processor has a different application process, but there are some key similarities. Most have you apply online, but you’ll usually have to complete the process over the phone.

The documentation you need will also vary between processors and your business. Some processors only ask for documentation to verify your identity, while others require more proof of financial history. In general, expect to provide:
  • Previous payment processing statements and/or bank statements
  • Proof of ID
  • EIN Number

3. Set Up Your mPOS App (and Devices)

Clover Go mPOS setup guid
Clover Go (offered through Leaders Merchant Services) has a quick start guide to set up your mPOS app
Shortly after acceptance, you should receive download links and login details for any software included with your merchant account. All you need to do is download the mPOS app to your smartphone, and the app will guide you through the setup process. You’ll usually be able to download and use the mPOS app straight away, but you may have to wait a few days for your devices to arrive.

Top Tip: Smartphone Security

While reputable mPOS apps go through rigorous testing and receive regular security patches, you must also ensure your device remains safe. Only download your mPOS app from a verified source as fake apps can and do circulate on official app stores. Use two-factor authentication where possible, and remember to set a fingerprint lock or facial recognition on your phone.

Our Top 4 Mobile Credit Card Processing Companies

Our payment processing experts spent months researching and evaluating payment processing companies to find the best options for your business. Here are our top four for mobile payment processing.

Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) offers three secure mPOS solutions: Authorize.net, Clover Go, and SwipeSimple mobile apps. You can download each app for free and purchase card readers at an additional cost. Clover Go and SwipeSimple can take payments offline, ensuring you’ll never lose business because of a weak internet connection. Clover Go also supports contactless payments through Tap to Pay on iPhone, with no extra hardware needed.

Additionally, Clover Go and SwipeSimple provide a dashboard that lets you monitor and manage your business on your mobile phone. All mPOS apps offered through LMS come with additional features like inventory management and the ability to send digital receipts. On top of that, LMS’s flexible pricing model lets you negotiate your rates and customize your plan, ensuring a payment processing solution that fits your business needs.

2. PAYARC: All-in-One mPOS Tool for iPhone Users

PAYARC offers a free proprietary mobile app for iPhone users (iOS 12.0 or higher). Not only does it serve as an mPOS but it’s also a comprehensive business management tool, allowing you to manage your business on the go. You can process keyed-in payments, collect tips and signatures, issue refunds, and send email or text receipts. In combination with a Dejavoo Z1 mPOS terminal, PAYARC’s mPOS enables you to take EMV and near-field communication (NFC) payments.

PAYARC is the ideal processor for businesses that handle international payments, such as hotels, travel agencies, and businesses in tourist areas. That’s primarily due to its integrations with global payment solutions such as Planet Payment and TSYS. If you process a lower volume of card transactions, PAYARC offers a flat-rate plan with no monthly fees. High-volume businesses can benefit from membership plans featuring low transaction fees that significantly lower payment processing costs.

3. ProMerchant: Free Mobile App and Reader To Accept Payments

ProMerchant offers free access to the Payanywhere app and a free Bluetooth card reader, allowing you to process EMV, magstripe, and contactless payments on your phone. The Payanywhere app has two modes. The first lets you manually enter transaction amounts, which is suitable for businesses with sales or flexible prices. Ideal for retail, the second mode enables you to select items directly from your inventory for checkout.

The app works offline, ensuring uninterrupted service even without an internet connection. You can also collect custom tip amounts and signatures from your customers. These features, along with ProMerchant’s Zero Cost Processing program for retail and restaurant businesses, make it a cost-effective mPOS solution.

4. Flagship Merchant Services: Accept Cash, Card, or Check

If your business is small, Flagship is a good choice. Not only are you encouraged to negotiate the best pricing for your business, but you’ll also be able to use MobilePay by Paysafe. While you’ll have to pay an extra monthly fee to use this mPOS app, it’s perfect for smaller businesses that need to process transactions at events like fairs and markets. That’s because it’s one of the few mPOS apps that allows you to process cash and check payments on top of keyed-in card transactions.

The built-in inventory management tool also lets you see what stock you have outside your stall so you’ll be able to stock up on in-demand items and monitor your stock levels in real time. This app also handles product delivery, helping you capitalize on impulse purchases and improve the buying experience for your customers. You’ll also be able to build and send customer invoices during the checkout process, minimizing administrative work when you pack up for the day.

Why Businesses Need Mobile Credit Card Processing

Mobile credit card processing is integral to any modern business that takes payments on the go. That said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to mobile processing. Field service businesses, for example, will have very different budgets and needs from small craft businesses that sell at markets and fairs. This makes choosing a payment processor trickier, as most only offer one mPOS solution.

Our expert payment processor reviewers know how hard it is to find a payment solution for your business, given the wide range of mobile processing software on the market today. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching the industry and individual companies to find processors that offer fantastic mobile processing solutions and budget-friendly rates. Our list of the top 10 credit card processors in 2024 is a great place to start when setting up mobile credit card processing.

FAQ

How can I accept credit card payments on my Android phone?

Almost all modern mPOS apps and devices work on Android devices, so you have many options. To accept credit card payments on your Android phone, you must apply for a merchant account with a payment processor. Once approved, download the provided mPOS application and follow the instructions to complete the setup. It’s a simple process, but it might take a few days after submitting your application to start accepting payments.

What apps can I use to accept credit cards?

Leaders Merchant Services offers all the top apps for credit card processing. The Clover Go and SwipeSimple mobile apps, in particular, let you accept offline payments, manage your back office, send invoices, and check your business’s financial health on the go.

Can I accept a credit card through PayPal?

You can, but we don’t recommend using PayPal for mobile credit card processing. On top of expensive per-transaction fees, PayPal doesn’t ask merchants to undergo an underwriting process before accepting card payments. As a result, PayPal regularly places holds or terminates merchant accounts without warning, leaving you unable to access your money. While applying for a merchant account can take a few days, you’ll get a more reliable (and affordable) payment processing service.

How can I accept credit card payments without a machine?

There are two main ways to accept cards without a machine. You’ll either need a virtual terminal or an mPOS app. Both of these software tools allow you to key in payments and, in some cases, set up recurring payments, charge cards stored in a card vault, and more. You’ll usually have to run a virtual terminal on a computer, but you can download an mPOS app to your smartphone and use it to take payments from virtually any location your phone can go.

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