How to Turn Smartphones Into Credit Card Readers

The credit card is one of the easiest payment tools that could be thought up. It makes for easy transactions of large amounts and minimizes your losses as you need not carry so much cash on you all the time.

However, it can work only if the merchant accepts credit cards (and not all merchants accept all kinds of credit cards). You can only swipe your card if the merchant has a credit card machine.

So what happens when you order home delivery or get some plumbing or renovation work done, and you can’t find enough cash to pay them? You can’t expect them to carry a credit card machine around, do you?

Well, actually, now you can. As long as they have a smartphone on them, they can use the following options to accept your payment via credit card.

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From Smartphone to Card Reader

Briefly, the merchant needs a mobile app and a card reader, which comes in the form of a piece of plastic (called a dongle).

The card reader is plugged into the phone, and the app is activated. As the receiver of the payment, all you need to do is just punch in the amount for the purchase, swipe your customer’s credit card through the reader, then get their signature to authorize the payment.

Alternatively, credit cards can be manually keyed in, but there are higher transaction fees charged.

Electronic receipts can usually be sent to the buyer’s emails for verification and book-keeping purposes. Here are 10 of the most popular credit card payment systems you can adopt.

Square Register

Square Register offers a costly yet attractive monthly flat rate that forgoes pay-per-transaction fees, which is good news for those of you who make large payments regularly .

It also ensures speedy payment (by the next day) and provides email notification whenever a customer deposits payment into your bank account.

square register

If you wish to develop a loyalty program for your customer, the Square dashboard offers some level of customizability as well. It also extends to purchase receipts, where you have the option of putting your business name and logo on them and letting your customers choose whether to get these receipts as text, email, or printed out on paper.

Last but not least, Square Register’s free card reader is only an inch long and fits right into your pocket.

  • Fees: 2.75% (swiped), 3.50% + $0.15 (keyed-in) or a flat rate of $275 a month.
  • Download: iOS | Android

PayPal Here

One thing which other mobile payment services couldn’t match up to PayPal Here is that payment funds are deposited into your PayPal account within minutes of the transaction.

It also offers you an optional PayPal merchant debit card which you can then use the funds to make eligible purchases and get 1% cashback from them.

PayPal here

PayPal Here also accepts cheques. All you need to do is take a photograph of the front and back of the cheque to process it.

Similarly, you can take photographs of the credit or debit card if you do not have the reader with you, but you will still need to key in the security and zip code manually. PayPal will also charge you the keyed-in rate for that.

  • Fees: 2.70% (swiped), 3.50% + $0.15 (/keyed-in)
  • Download: iOS | Android

Currently only available in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Germany, and the UK, Zettle assures online merchants that their mobile payment service is a highly secured one that is EMV- (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) approved and complies with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) regulations.


No sensitive data will be stored on the mobile device and all data traffic will be encrypted. For an optional one-time fee of £20, you can request for an original chip-card reader (for iPhone and iPad) or audio jack reader (for Android devices). A £20 credit voucher will also be given to you to offset your initial transaction fees.

  • Fees: 2.75% (swiped), 3.5% + €0.15 (keyed-in).
  • Download: iOS | Android


The credit card reader is free, but if you happen to have already purchased one from a retail store, PayAnywhere is generous enough to rebate you $10 after your first swiped transaction. It also has extensive smartphone support with Apple, and Android.


Similar to Square Register, PayAnywhere also deposits funds into your bank account expeditiously within two business days and will inform you via email when they do so.

For sales reports and such, you will have the option of viewing them within the PayAnywhere app or by logging into the PayAnywhere Merchant Portal online.

  • Fees: 2.69% (swiped), 3.49% + $0.19 (keyed-in)
  • Download: iPhone | Android

Intuit GoPayment

Intuit GoPayment is an excellent choice for small businesses due to its multiple users function. Each account supports up to 50 users in the event that you have several people taking payments. This makes it easier for the company to manage its user content and subscription fees.


Full refunds can also be made for the original transaction amount on-the-spot, but partial refunds have to be done through Intuit’s web interface. Funds are deposited into your bank account within 2-3 days as well.

  • Fees: Non-subscription (free) – 2.75% (swiped), 3.75% (keyed-in)
  • Fees: Subscription ($12.95/mth) – 1.75% (swiped), 2.75% (keyed-in).
  • Download: iOS | Android


In PhoneSwipe (available only in the US), a single merchant account can be linked to multiple card readers so as to afford you the ease of processing credit card payments on different mobile devices.

It also has Geo Tax, a system you can turn on, which automatically calculates the tax percentages based on your location.


The account is also unique to each merchant as an added security feature. In other words, your account will not be shared with merchants and exposed to potential fraud.

  • Fees: 2.69% (swiped), 3.49% + $0.19 (keyed-in)

Groupon Payments

Groupon Payments offers Groupon merchants the lowest rates for credit card transactions, be it swiped or manual key-in, except for the case of American Express cards, where the rate can go up to 3.50% (swiped) depending on your industry category.

groupon paymeny

Groupon Merchants refer to merchants who have already signed up an account with Groupon to run daily deals. Not to worry though; the entire sign-up takes only 10 minutes to complete. Groupon Payments is therefore meant as an added incentive to encourage existing online merchants to work with Groupon.

  • Fees: 1.80% + $0.15 (swiped), 2.30% + $0.15 (keyed-in)

Download: iOS