How to find the right credit card reader for your Android device.
Credit: Credit card image via Shutterstock
Not a big iOS fan, and wish to start accepting credit card payments using an Android device? Although mobile credit card processors once only supported iOS devices, there are now plenty of Android credit card readers for businesses.
But finding the right mobile credit card reader for your Android smartphone or tablet can be a challenge. Most Android credit card readers work the same way: A vendor will typically send a credit card swiper to attach to your Android device, and then have you download the vendor's Android app to process payments; text or email receipts; gather data; and more. Businesses, however, must consider their individual needs and requirements. Greg Goldfarb, CEO and co-founder of Flint Mobile, an Android and iOS mobile credit card processor that uses a mobile device's camera to process payments, said there are several things businesses should look for in a mobile credit card reader.
First, determine how much the service really costs. Fee structures can be very confusing, so avoid surprises by asking what the real rates are. "Many companies charge two different fees and don't make it very clear," Goldfarb said. "For example, for swiped transactions with a card reader, the rate [could be] 2.75 percent per transaction for both debit and credit cards, but the cost of nonswiped — or manually keyed — transactions jumps up to 3.5 percent plus 15 cents." [How to Accept Credit Card Payments from Anywhere]
Businesses should also ask how long it takes before they can start using the service, and how easy it is to use it. "Check to see how long it takes to get your account approved," Goldfarb said. For instance, while some vendors have a two-day turnaround time for approvals, others may take much longer. There's also the setup time — some Android mobile credit card readers can be used instantly (Flint) or the next business day after approval (Flagship), but others may require additional setup time.
Processing credit card payments, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. Business owners should choose an Android credit card reader with additional easy-to-use features that will allow them to grow their business via repeat customers.
"If you are tied to your mobile device, check to see how easy it is to customize your setup like receipts, item lists and coupons from the mobile app," Goldfarb said. For instance, does it provide easy tools like coupon generation for future visits and email marketing solutions? "Fundamentally, if your customer has provided you an email address to send a receipt, you should have access to it for follow-up communication."
Last, but certainly not least, businesses need to make sure that their Android credit card reader is safe and secure. "Consumers are increasingly conscious of security these days, and business owners should be, too," Goldfarb said. "A payment-solution app should make it clear that sensitive information is not stored on the phone and that information is encrypted. Some customers have concerns that credit card information can be stored on separate hardware accessory devices and wonder what happens if they get lost. Some apps associate card numbers with customer email addresses, which can be a bit scary for the consumer."
To help business owners, Business News Daily's sister site Top Ten Reviews does extensive in-depth reviews to help find the best Android credit card readers and credit card processing services. Here are Top Ten Reviews' top three recommendations for the best Android credit card readers.
#1 Flagship Merchant Services
Flagship Merchant Services is the top-rated credit card processing service and earned this year's Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for Android credit card processing. Businesses owners can apply online and are quickly approved 98 percent of the time. The Android card reader costs users nothing, and the mobile app includes features that demonstrate that Flagship understands what business owners expect in a point-of-sale (POS) system. Its Android credit card reader accepts all types of credit cards, as well as debit cards. Should the mobile device lose its signal, businesses can continue to make sales because the system will store all of the data and then transmit the transactions once the device is back in range.
Pricing: It's free to apply for the service, as is the Android credit card reader once the business is approved. There is a $7.95 monthly wireless-access fee, as well as a cost per transaction of 19 cents plus a percentage, which can range from 1.58 to 2.56 percent of the cost of the purchase.
Hardware and Compatibility: In addition to supporting Android phones, the ROAMpay hardware provided by Flagship can attach to iOS and BlackBerry devices. The hardware is small and light, and it plugs into standard headphone jacks. Should business owners run into any problems with their hardware, support services are available by toll-free telephone and email 24/7, 365 days a year.
Transaction Features: The Flagship service supports payments via American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. It can also record all cash transactions. In addition, the service can build a targeted marketing campaign based on the customer contact information that the system captures. The service also lets businesses build in tax calculations and accept tips, and allows customers to sign for the transactions using the mobile phone's touch screen. The service is extremely secure: Its mobile app is password protected and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. In order to be PCI compliant, Flagship adheres to such practices as not supplying default passwords, protecting stored credit card data and encrypting each transaction session.
#2 Leaders Merchant Services
Leaders Merchant Services earned this year's Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for fees that are substantially more affordable than most of its competitors', as well as its array of features, including the ability to accept all types of payments. The service also offers top-notch security in the form of transaction encryption and password protection. For those who run into trouble, customer support is offered around the clock.
Pricing: There is no charge for the Android card reader, and no charges for applying or setting up an account. For transactions in which a customer runs an actual credit card through the Android credit card swiper, the transaction fee is 0.35 percent; however, that cost jumps to as much as 1.99 percent when the credit card number has to be keyed in manually. There are also flat fees per transaction that run between 10 and 26 cents.
Hardware and Compatibility: Leaders Merchant Services also teams up with ROAMpay data to provide the Android credit card reader, which plugs directly into phones via the headphone jack. The devices' magnetic strips can read both credit and debit cards.
Transaction Features: The service provides recurring billing options, the ability to accept tips and the chance to use saved customer data for future marketing campaigns. Leaders Merchant Services also strictly follows the security guidelines defined by the Payment Card Industry to minimize the impact of credit card fraud and to keep merchants and customers safe.
#3 Intuit Merchant Services GoPayment
Inuit Merchant Services was given this year's Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for its low pricing, top transaction features and ability to integrate with Intuit's QuickBooks accounting system. Intuit's GoPayment service allows businesses to accept payments on all Android phones.
Pricing: There are no fees for setting up the account or the Android card reader itself. In addition, there are no transaction fees, except for American Express sales. Unlike its competitors, Intuit offers flexible payment choices, including a flat monthly service fee or a pay-as-you-go option. For businesses that choose a monthly service fee, the average rate for swiped transactions is 1.75 percent and 2.75 percent for keyed-in transactions. Businesses that select the pay-as-you-go option pay 2.75 percent for card-present sales and 3.75 percent when the card is not present.
Hardware and Compatibility: In addition to working with Android phones, Intuit's GoPayment service is compatible with iPhones, iPod Touch devices and iPads. However, BlackBerry devices are not supported.
Transaction Features: Intuit's GoPayment allows users to see transaction details from within the app, add sales tax automatically based on their location and void transactions when necessary. The GoPayment app is password protected, and all transaction sessions are encrypted.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.