This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
Mobile credit card processing allows merchants to sell products and accept card payments from almost anywhere with a smartphone or tablet. The best mobile credit card processor should be reliable, have affordable transaction fees, come with a free business management app, and function offline.
Based on our evaluation, the best mobile credit card processors are:
- Square: Best overall mobile credit card processing app
- Clover Go: Best for businesses with a merchant account
- PayPal Zettle: Best for occasional sales and PayPal users
- SumUp: Best for small, mobile businesses with low-volume sales
- Shopify: Best for ecommerce businesses expanding to in-person sales
- Stax (formerly Fattmerchant): Best for growing businesses with more than $20,000 in monthly sales
Best Mobile Payment Processors Compared
Card-not- Present Rates
Mobile App User Review
2.6% + 10 cents
3.5% + 15 cents
Next day; instant for 1.5%
Free magstripe; $49 for chip and tap
2.6% + 10 cents
3.5% + 10 cents
1–3 days, instant for 1%
2.29% + 9 cents
3.49% + 15 cents
1–2 days; instant to PayPal account
$29 for first; $79 after
3.25% + 15 cents
1–2 business days
2.4% + 30 cents to 2.9% + 30 cents
Interchange + 8 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
Next-day, same-day w/fee
$59–$75; first one free
*Rates will vary depending on your processor. The rates shown are from Fiserv (First Data).
Square Offers the Best All-around Payment Solution
In general, we recommend Square as the best all-around mobile payment processor for its free iPhone and Android processing solutions, affordable and high-tech mobile card readers, and feature-rich payment app.
When You’ll Grow Out of Square
Square is geared toward small businesses and individuals, as is PayPal. Once your business grows and is consistently processing over $10,000 monthly, you can get lower fees and a better overall value by switching from either of those to solutions like Payment Depot or Stax, which offer interchange-plus pricing.
If your business is ecommerce, you’ll likely want a mobile payment processor that’s connected to your online store. In this case, Shopify offers a much more robust online selling solution, and its mobile POS app is the best for multichannel sales.
If You Already Have a Merchant Account
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Not quite what you’re looking for? Check our guide to the best merchant services.
Square: Best All-purpose Mobile Credit Card Processing
Square is the best credit mobile credit card processor for small businesses. The mobile payment processing option has no monthly or startup fees, and the application is easy. You can get up and running in no time with the free POS app while you wait for the free credit card reader to arrive. The app works offline, is compatible with Android and iOS, and has an excellent inventory program.
Square’s transaction fees are the most expensive on our list. However, it offers the most features. For example, it has banking services, something only PayPal offers to a lesser degree. It has specialty POS software for restaurants and appointment-based businesses, something only Clover offers. Square also has an online store; Shopify, for example, charges for this, although Shopify offers greater features.
That said, Square does offer custom volume discounts for businesses processing over $250,000 annually with average transactions over $15. It also has checking and savings, payroll, and other plans you can add as your needs grow.
Want to learn more before you decide? Read our full Square review.
Clover Go: Best for Existing Merchant Account Holders
Clover offers everything a standard mobile processor does, including payment processing, inventory management, and analytics reporting. However, after Square, Clover has the most feature-packed point-of-sale app on this list. Specific plans include credit card pre-authorization, next-day deposits, exchanges, a detailed item library, and a weight-scale integration.
What makes Clover interesting is that it requires a traditional merchant account. You can either set up your account through Fiserv, which owns Clover, or one of its authorized resellers. (Fiserv offers three plans for Clover, with different prices.) While Clover provides more variety than any other app on our list, the pricing and support you receive can vary greatly depending on which merchant account provider you choose.
PayPal Zettle: Best for Occasional Payments & PayPal Users
PayPal is one of the most popular payment processors because of its versatility. It works online and in person, and with other payment processors or on its own. Plus, it even handles international sales. It also does not charge monthly fees for inactivity fees. This makes it great for the solopreneur and hobbyist as well. Like Square, PayPal can deposit sales instantly, but rather than charging, it limits this to deposits into your PayPal account.
PayPal recently replaced PayPal Here with Zettle. As of this writing, Zettle’s US version still has a long way to go before it can become as feature-rich as Here, although Zettle’s interface is more modern. We can expect more significant improvements as PayPal develops it further. Square’s sales features are more robust.
SumUp: Best for Small Mobile Businesses With Low-volume Sales
After its most recent upgrades, SumUp began making its way up our rankings by offering a unique line of advanced yet cost-effective mobile card reader solutions. Its card readers are some of the most advanced in the industry, supporting both mobile-device-compatible and standalone card readers. User interface ranges from the basic 3-in-1 (swipe, chip, and tap) reader to touch-screen keypads and all at an affordable price point ($19–$99.)
SumUp charges a flat, per-transaction fee of 2.75%, which is most economical for small ticket sales. The other options on this list charge a 10–30 cent transaction fee, which can be expensive for businesses selling $5–$20 items.
Although the mobile app has mixed user reviews (especially compared to Square and Clover, which have very positive reviews), ratings are slowly climbing and should only improve as its developers continue to upgrade the system.
At the moment, SumUp provides in-person payment processing methods, as well as a virtual terminal and online invoicing solution. It also includes a basic inventory management system plus a suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) for customizing payment features.
However, SumUp misses crucial features, such as ecommerce integrations and omnichannel tools, needed to compete with top alternatives like Square and PayPal. This is why we only recommend SumUp for small retailers and other mobile businesses without a storefront that have simple inventory needs and an average ticket sale well below $50.
If you are running a fully mobile small business, read our full SumUp review and find out if its mobile-first payment solution is the right fit for you.
Shopify: Best for Online Businesses Needing a Mobile App for In-person Sales
If you want to sell primarily online but need a mobile app for in-person sales, then Shopify could fit the bill. It’s our top pick for best ecommerce platforms and scores very well for mobile apps and merchant services. Other apps on our list, like Square, come with online stores, but none have the power of Shopify. It ties your online store to your mobile POS so that as you sell items, inventory stays up-to-date in both applications.
Like PayPal, Shopify has a wide international reach—133 countries. Its transaction fees are close to Square’s, and, like Square, it offers some business services. However, while Square has banking, Shopify has marketing and shipping tools.
Stax (Formerly Fattmerchant): Best for Growing Businesses With More Than $20,000 in Monthly Sales
Stax (formerly Fattmerchant) offers wholesale interchange-plus pricing in exchange for a monthly fee. Its small business plans start at $99 each month, with interchange-plus at 8 to 15 cents per transaction. This is the most expensive monthly fee on our list, but the rates are excellent, especially if you process more than $20,000 a month. With Payment Depot dropping from our rankings, Stax is also the only provider offering interchange-plus pricing and a subscription-based plan.
Since Our Last Update:
For this round of evaluations, we awarded premium points to providers that offer the most convenient and affordable mobile credit card processing solution for small businesses. Both Stax and Payment Depot scored low because of the monthly fees, however Stax managed to make our list since it fared better with its free mobile card reader and zero chargeback fees.
You can use SwipeSimple as your mobile app, although Stax also has one of its own. Its reader includes a full POS system and even lets you scan barcodes with your phone. And, while relatively new, Stax Pay, Stax’ payment processing solution for small businesses, offers a wide range of features including a product library, tax settings, digital signature capture, and customer management.
How We Evaluated the Best Mobile Credit Card Processors
The best mobile credit card processor is convenient and flexible with low or no upfront costs and competitive processing rates. It also has to be reliable—you need to depend on it in many different environments, even with an unstable internet connection.
We evaluated 12 mobile credit card processors based on price, ease of use, the mobile app, reliability, and web-based and general account features, then narrowed the list down to the six best solutions. Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
To receive a perfect score, mobile processors need to offer month-to-month billing with no contracts, cancellation fees, chargeback fees, monthly minimums, or strict application processes. Square alone earned a perfect score.
20% of Overall Score
We awarded points for each type of payment each mobile processor can handle, including point of sale, invoice, virtual terminal, and contactless payments. We also awarded points for mobile apps with split tender options and flexible tipping solutions. Square got a perfect score, followed by Shopify with a 4.88 out of 5.
20% of Overall Score
The best mobile processors can accept payments offline, operate on iOS and Android devices, issue SMS and email receipts, and be used to manage a product catalog. The best systems also have a free POS app with business management functions like reporting. Square earned the highest score of 4.75 out of 5.
20% of Overall Score
We prioritized mobile processors with free 24/7 customer support, fast deposit times (next day or sooner), multiple card reader options, and robust sales tax management. The mean score here was 3.88, with most solutions losing points for lack of 24/7 support.
20% of Overall Score
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Whether you’re a brand-new business that is starting out with mobile credit card processing or an established store looking to take your business on the go, you need a solution that is cost-effective, reliable, and easy to use. It’d be even better if you didn’t have to deal with monthly transaction minimums, fees, or contracts.
Square is a great mobile credit card processing company for small businesses. It is easy to use, has a full POS, and lets you accept payments anywhere, even offline. No applications, startup fees, or hardware costs mean it’s a risk-free investment. Plus, the Square app comes with the point-of-sale features you need to manage a business on the go. Visit Square to get started with a free account and mobile card reader.