Updated October 17, 2023

Credit Card Reader for Android

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A credit card reader for Android lets you take card payments using your mobile devices. But not all readers are the same. Read on to find your best bet.

Depending on your equipment, you may be able to accept swipe, chip, and tap payments on your Android device. You just need an internet connection, compatible card reader, and payment processing app.

Here's how to get started:

  • Download the chosen app
  • Install the card reader via the headphone jack or Bluetooth connection
  • Set up your account
  • Accept credit card payments
  • Manage your back-office through the app

Today, there are many apps and readers available to collect credit card payments. Read on for our top choices.

What are the best card readers for Android?
These providers offer card readers for your Android device:
  1. Square: Best Overall
  2. Payanywhere: Best for Multi-Branch Stores
  3. Intuit GoPayment: Best for Bookkeeping
  4. Shopify: Best for eCommerce Sellers
  5. PayPal Zettle: Best for Accepting PayPal & Venmo

Square as Best Overall

Square was one of the first credit card processors to offer a free card reader. Today, it offers a powerful POS app alongside two powerful mobile credit card readers.

It provides many robust POS features for free. But Square also lets you add more features for a monthly fee, including:

  • Employee management: $35/mo + $5/employee
  • Loyalty programs: $45 per month
  • Email marketing: $15 per month

With Square's powerful POS, you can:

  • Manage customer information
  • Set up an eCommerce store
  • Manage inventory
  • Run robust reports
  • Send invoices and collect invoicing payments
  • Send text or email receipts instantly
  • Set up automated tipping
  • Manage split bills

Why we like it:
You can use one of the two versions of the magstripe reader since it can be connected through a headphone jack. The other one has a Lightning connector which can only be used with iPhones.

You also won't need to charge the credit card reader. This can make it more convenient since you don't need to worry about 8-hour battery life or extra devices for backup.

And if you ever find yourself in a place with no WiFi, you'll still be able to run your business. The card reader can take card payments in offline mode.

Need to take contactless payments? You can purchase their contactless and chip card reader, too. You can take Apple Pay, Google Pay, and chip card payments with it.

Pricing and Fees:
Card Reader:

  • Magstripe reader: Free (additional readers $10 each)
  • Chip or Contactless Payment reader: $59

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap payments: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction
  • Invoiced payments: 2.9% + $0.30 per invoice

Pros

  • No monthly or cancellation fees
  • Accept most major credit, debit, and gift cards
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Instant access to a breakdown of sales on your dashboard
  • Set up a free online store with your Square account

Cons

  • Merchants often experience frozen funds
  • High-risk businesses can lose their account even after approval
  • Lackluster customer support

Do you need a chip credit card reader?
While not required, chip or tap credit card readers decrease the risk of stolen information. They immediately encrypt information rather than broadcasting it like swipe readers do. Most credit card processing companies offer full PCI compliance. But there's still a risk of fraudulent activity with swiped cards.

Payanywhere for Multi-Branch Stores

Payanywhere, just like Square, lets you take offline payments when there's no internet connection. And if you have multiple card readers, you can view the precise location of the sales through the POS app.

It's a great option if you have multiple food trucks or pop-up shops in different locations.

Here are the other things you can do with it:

  • Send invoices
  • Manage employee data
  • Manage inventory
  • Access real-time updates
  • Set up tabs or open tickets
  • Automate tipping
  • Customize according to your branding

Why we like it:
Payanywhere provides a pay-as-you-go plan. It's a great way to start accepting credit cards if you don't process credit card payments often since you won't overpay for the service. If you decide you need something more robust down the road, there's no cancellation fee.

They offer a 3-in-1 card reader that lets you take magstripe, chip cards, and contactless payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. It connects through Bluetooth, so you don't need to worry about connector compatibility. You can use your phone or tablet with it.

You can also connect it to a local printer to print paper receipts for your customers. But you can send digital receipts, too, if you want to go paperless.

You can test the POS app first to see if it fits your needs. Just click "Test Drive" on the login screen after your download. You won't be needing to create an account.

Pricing and Fees:
3-in-1 card reader: $59.95

Payment processing:

  • Swipe, chip, or tap: 2.69% per transaction
  • Keyed-in and invoice payments: 3.49% + $0.19

Pros

  • Accept swipe, chip, contactless, or keyed-in payments
  • Send text or email receipts instantly
  • No monthly, subscription, or ongoing fees; only pay for processed payments
  • Set up as a traditional credit card machine or as a retail POS with inventory features
  • 24/7 customer service

Cons

  • Infrequent users may incur a $3.99 per month fee
  • Accounts may be canceled or funds frozen without warning
  • Third-party integrations can be complicated

Intuit GoPayment for Bookkeeping

Transferring data from your POS to your bookkeeping system leaves room for errors. Why risk switching numbers or missing information when you can use Intuit GoPayment for both?

If you are a current QuickBooks user, integrate your bookkeeping with your mobile POS, and get the best of both worlds.

The GoPayment POS lets users:

  • Scan or photograph cards rather than swiping them
  • Integrate with QuickBooks
  • Set up recurring payments
  • Track income and expenses
  • Customize text and email receipts
  • Set up multiple users
  • Automate sales tax

Why we like it:
The card reader lets you take card and digital wallet payments. But you can take keyed-in payments and send invoices through the GoPayment app as well.

Unlike Square's card reader, however, Intuit's reader needs charging. But it can stay charged for about a week or longer.

When it's ready to take payments, you can connect it to your smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth. Other app features also let you manage your employees, save customer info, and accept tips from your customers.

Pricing and Fees:
Card reader:

  • Card reader: $49
  • Power stand: $39
  • Card reader with power stand: $79

New merchants can qualify for a free card reader. You'll be notified through email after you activate your account.

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe/chip/tap payments: 2.4% + $0.25 per transaction
  • Manual payments: 3.4% + $0.25 per transaction
  • Invoiced payments: 2.9% + $0.25 per transaction

Pros

  • Easy and free setup
  • Week-long battery life
  • Real-time updates
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing
  • Next-day funding

Cons

  • No inventory management
  • No offline payment processing
  • Features require Quickbooks Payments account

Shopify for eCommerce Sellers

If you sell online and in-person, you need a system that syncs all information. The Shopify POS app, together with its card reader, can do just that. They can turn your Android phone into a powerful POS that syncs instantly with your online store.

Here are some of the features you could get:

  • Product description and pricing management
  • Employee management
  • Inventory management
  • Customer database management
  • Robust reporting options
  • Discounted shipping through Shopify Shipping
  • Emailed receipts

Why we like it:
Shopify's card reader lets you take tap and chip card payments from your customers. It can connect wirelessly through your phone or tablet. But you'll need to charge it to use it.

There's a dock available for when you place your reader on your countertop. This keeps your reader charged so you don't need to worry about low batteries and backup readers.

Also, the hardware is fully integrated with Shopify POS. You'll be getting built-in payment processing through Shopify Payments.

Pricing and Fees:
Card Reader:

  • Shopify Tap & Chip Reader: $49
  • Dock for Tap & Chip Reader: $39

Payment Processing:

  • Basic Shopify: $39 per month; 2.7% per transaction
  • Shopify: $105 per month; 2.5% per transaction
  • Advanced Shopify: $399 per month; 2.4% per transaction

You must have a monthly subscription with Shopify to use Shopify Payments.

Pros

  • Sync your online and in-person sales in real-time
  • Try it free for 3 days and extend your free trial for $1/month on your first 3 months
  • Cancel at any time without penalty
  • Sell identical or different items online and in store
  • Avoid payment processing charges you would pay with other payment processors

Cons

  • You must have a Shopify ecommerce plan
  • You can't take offline payments
  • Flat rate pricing isn't transparent

PayPal Zettle for Accepting PayPal & Venmo

PayPal is one of the most established payment processors available. PayPal Zettle makes it an even more attractive processor, especially if you have customers who prefer to pay using PayPal or Venmo.

The in-person processing rate is lower than Square's. Plus, you can even get a discounted rate for PayPal and Venmo transactions via QR code. It's a good option for businesses that already use PayPal or need the flexibility of accepting PayPal funds.

PayPal Zettle's mPOS has features that allow you to:

  • Manage products with photos and descriptions
  • Track sales by employee, product, or period
  • Manage employees' roles and permissions
  • Invoice management (sending and receiving payments)
  • Accept in-person or over-the-phone credit card payments
  • Send branded email receipts
  • Automate tipping and tax
  • Reporting options

Why we like it:
You can use PayPal Zettle with its POS app on your smartphone or tablet. What's even more convenient is that after customers make a purchase, you can access your funds in your PayPal account within minutes.

This can be a huge help with your cash flow. You don't need to wait for batches or settlement. You can also deposit the money to your bank account, but this can take a few business days.

The PayPal Zettle app is free but note that you can't use it on its own. You'll need the card reader to take payments.

Keep in mind that the device also needs charging. It can only last up to 8 hours or about 100 transactions. So it's best to keep a backup reader ready.

Pricing and Fees:
Card Readers: $29 for the first reader; additional card readers cost $79 each[1]

Payment Processing:

  • Swipe, chip, and tap (US cards): 2.29% + $0.09
  • QR code transactions $10.01 and above: 1.90% + $0.10
  • QR code transactions $10 and under: 2.40% + $0.05
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.49% + $0.09
  • Invoice: 3.49% + $0.09

Pros

  • Accept PayPal and Venmo payments in person
  • No cancellation fees
  • Only pay when you process payments
  • Pay one fee for any type of payment or credit card
  • No inactivity fees or monthly minimum sales requirements
  • Get help from a live customer service agent

Cons

  • Limited POS features
  • No offline sales feature
  • May encounter account holds and freezes

Other Credit Card Readers for Android to Consider

These readers didn't make our top list. But they offer features and benefits that may suit some businesses.

Stax

If you want your own merchant account, consider Stax. Established businesses with a history of credit card sales do well with Stax because of its membeship-based pricing. You get your own merchant account and decrease the risk of canceled accounts or frozen funds.

Stax offers an Android app that makes it easy to accept credit card and cash payments. You can also manage inventory, invoices, and reporting. Plus, its online dashboard provides a lot more and is included with your monthly subscription.

Pricing and Fees:
Card Reader: Not disclosed online—you must call Stax when you sign up for pricing[2]

Payment Processing:

  • If you process up to $250,000/year: $99/mo
  • If you process $250,000 to $500,000/year: $199/mo
  • If you process over $500,000/year: custom pricing

Pros

  • Transparent membership-based pricing
  • Track all payment types in the app, not just credit cards
  • Customer service is available around-the-clock
  • No cancellation fees
  • Accept all types of credit card payments including swipe, chip, or tap payments

Cons

  • Underwriting requirements are tougher
  • You must pay the monthly subscription fee even if you don't process any payments
  • The mPOS has limited features

SwipeSimple

SwipeSimple lets you accept credit card payments and manage your back-office. It isn't a payment processor, though. You'll need your own merchant account that syncs with SwipeSimple in order to use its system.

With SwipeSimple, you can:

  • Accept swipe, chip, or tap payments with the SwipeSimple card reader and interface
  • Store customer information for fast processing
  • Set up an item catalog
  • Preset discounts
  • Accept tips
  • Set up quick payments
  • Send receipts via text or email
  • Get robust reporting options and insights
  • Process voids and refunds

SwipeSimple doesn't disclose the cost of its readers for Android phones online.

Pros

  • Accept payments in offline mode
  • Works on most Android models
  • Send and manage invoices
  • Customize the interface settings for your business
  • Check your business' dashboard from any device

Cons

  • Having a separate merchant account can get confusing
  • Non-transparent pricing
  • Customer support comes directly from your merchant provider, not SwipeSimple

What to Look for in Credit Card Readers

Searching for a good credit card reader for Android leaves you with many choices. How do you know which one is right for you? Consider the following factors.

Are Android phones safe for accepting credit card payments?
It's safe to take payments from Android card readers as long as the processor provides end-to-end encryption and is PCI-compliant. But some forms of payment are more secure than others. For example, taking EMV chip card payments are more secure than magstripe cards since EMV is a more updated technology.

Pricing

Start by asking yourself:

  • Is there a monthly fee?
  • Is the reader free? If not, what's the cost?
  • What's the payment processing structure?
  • Are there miscellaneous costs or monthly minimum sales requirements?

If you don't process many payments, paying a monthly subscription fee may not make sense. Think about how each aspect of pricing affects your bottom line.

Fee Structures
Android phone credit card readers range in price from free to up to $100 or more. The price you pay depends on the features you require. This includes more than just the cost of the reader.

You need a service to transmit the data to the appropriate parties for processing. This may require some or all the following fees:

  • Subscription or Membership Fee
    Some companies charge a monthly fee. You'll pay regardless of whether or not you processed any payments that month. Only companies that frequently accept credit card payments benefit from this model. If you infrequently accept credit card payments, stick with a pay-as-you-go model.

  • Pay As-You-Go
    These companies only charge you for the payments you process. That means no monthly fees or monthly minimum requirements. You can typically cancel the account at any time or leave the account unused, coming back when you need it. Be careful, though, because some companies do charge an inactivity fee.

  • Processing Fees
    All processing companies charge processing fees. Some charge a flat rate for all transactions while others charge interchange-plus pricing. Either way, you pay a percentage of the transaction amount for each credit card payment you process.

    Flat-Rate Pricing vs Interchange-Plus Pricing
    Flat-rate pricing is a flat percentage for every transaction. It doesn't matter the type of credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX) or the type of payment (swipe, chip, or tap)—you pay the same fee.

    Interchange-plus pricing, on the other hand, varies. You pay the card network's cost (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express), plus the processor's markup. You'll see interchange-plus pricing as interchange plus $0.15 for example. You pay the posted card network's fee plus the flat $0.15 for every transaction.

  • Other Processing Fees
    Most credit card companies include other fees that they don't readily advertise. Ask the processing company for full disclosure of all possible charges.

    In particular, look for these types of fees:

    • PCI Compliance
    • Inactivity
    • Chargeback
    • Refund Fees

Features

Consider what features your business requires:

  • Will you accept more than swiped credit card payments?

  • Do you want to manage inventory, employees, and customer data?

  • What type of reporting do you need?

  • Are tipping or tax rates important for your business?

  • Do you want to integrate services like bookkeeping or marketing?

Your credit card reader does more than accept card payments, it can serve as your back-office assistant.

Payments

Each company has different payout schedules. Do you want immediate funding or can you wait a few business days?

Card reader companies also have their own definition of high risk. Find out if your company qualifies. If so, you may have to wait up to 30 days for payouts. Knowing this information upfront may help you decide.

Offline Payments
If you'll accept payments anywhere except in your store, you may want offline payment options. Without it, you can't accept payments with a weak or non-existent signal, which could hurt your business.

Card Reader Alternatives for Android

There are other ways to take payments from your Android phone. Maybe you don't want to spend money on a card reader. Or maybe you need backup since your card reader has limited battery life.

Here are your other options:

  • Virtual Terminal
    Virtual terminals let you take keyed-in payments from your customers. Just manually input their credit card information to make the transaction.

    Although virtual terminals are typically used on desktops, mobile POS apps are also considered virtual terminals.

    They also typically have other features like inventory management, customer management, and integrations with accounting software.

  • QR Codes
    QR codes or "Quick Response" codes can be used for taking payments. You can create a QR to direct the customers to your online checkout page. If you don't have a website, you can direct them to your PayPal or Venmo instead.

    You can have your customers manually type in the price of the product or service. But you can also have it pre-filled.

    For more convenience, you can print the QR code and have it displayed on your store counter (if you have a physical store). iPhones and Androids can both scan the codes through the main camera app.

    Did you know?
    Some restaurant POS let you use QR codes for ordering or viewing menus, aside from paying the bill. This can help increase table turnover and increase your profit!

  • Tap to Pay on Android
    Some payment processors let you take contactless payments (i.e., Apple Pay and Google Pay) through Tap to Pay. But you will have to use their mPOS app to do so.

    If your customers have a contactless card with them, they can just tap it on the back of your Android phone to make the purchase. No other hardware needed!

  • Payment Links
    Aside from QR codes, sending payment links is another way to help your customers pay easily. Many payment processors offer this feature. And you don't need to have your own website to take payments.

    You can typically customize the links (i.e., add an image) before you send them. Once your customers click on them, they'll be sent to a checkout page. They'll have to input the necessary card details to complete the transaction.

  • Smart Terminals
    Smart terminals aren't any less expensive than card readers. But they are another means to take card payments.

    They're typically integrated with your POS system so all your data can be synced in real-time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I accept payment with my Android phone?
You can take credit card payments through your Android devices with the use of card readers. You can choose from wireless options or those you connect through a headphone jack. They work hand-in-hand with mobile POS apps to process your transactions.

How much is a credit card reader for an Android?
Some payment processors offer free card readers. But you can also purchase them for around $10 to $80. Typically, your first card reader will be cheaper than your additional ones.

What is the cheapest credit card reader for Android?
The Square reader for magstripe is one of the cheapest card readers you can get. It offers a free card reader, while additional readers cost only $10. Even the POS app is free. You're essentially only paying for the transaction fees (and other possible add-ons).

Bottom Line

You have plenty of credit card reader options for your Android credit card reader options, so don't rush into choosing one. Ask questions about the features and pricing.

It may be best to start small when accepting credit card payments. You can always upgrade to a more sophisticated (and likely, more expensive) option later.

References

  1. ^ Paypal. Pricing, Retrieved 5/25/23
  2. ^ Stax Pricing, Retrieved 5/26/23

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Square Reader: Free Mobile Credit Card Reader

Square Reader: Free Mobile Credit Card Reader

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