Mobile Credit Card Processing Options Compared: The Smart Phone Solutions from Square vs Intuit GoPayment vs PhoneSwipe

Snapshot of Mobile Processing Service Options

PhoneSwipe by North American Bancard is the most flexible and potentially cost-effective mobile solution for active merchants. Square offers the most simplified terms for low-volume merchants who are in no hurry to get their money and may best suit the interests of individuals who process less than $1,000 per week. GoPayments is a solution to consider if a merchant is tied in to other Intuit products (such as QuickBooks), though it offers no compelling advantages over the competition.

NOTE: Updates appear at the end of the article.

Pay-Per-Use Vs. Contract Plans

** Updated for January 2013

Many of the pricing options below might seem confusing because of the differences between "Pay-Per-Use" or "Pay-As-You-Go" options versus monthly contract terms using the same devices. While Square only offers their higher-cost "Pay-Per-Use" option, both PhoneSwipe and GoPayments have a choice for merchants who might be interested in paying monthly fees in order to get lower rates.

It should be stated right up front, for purposes of clarification, that most of the time when merchants are processing less than $2,000 per month, it will be less-expensive for them to use a "Pay-Per-Use" or "Pay-As-You-Go" style plan even if the rates look higher. For new businesses that have no processing history, it is often best to set up one of these plans first, because there is no long-term contract to contend with and it offers the opportunity to build a processing history that will help with pricing negotiations in the future.

PhoneSwipe has the lowest available "Pay-As-You-Go" rates but must be set up properly to include Rewards Cards at the Qualified rate. PhoneSwipe also integrates well with QuickBooks, has detailed online reporting, offers robust POS capabilities in the widest array of devices and platforms and has responsive live customer support. Square has consistently low rates, ubiquitous brand recognition and good iPad software, but suffers with poor customer support and limited device compatibility. GoPayments is the most expensive option but does have the advantage of being more integrated with Quicken and other Intuit-based products, as well as being processed through Inuit's processing division.

When considering whether to go for a monthly contract, it is important to consider how the cost of monthly fees and things like PCI compliance will affect the total percentage cost of processing. Unless merchants are consistently making over $2,000 in monthly credit card sales, these costs will effectively raise the percentage spent on processing above the costs of the "Pay-Per-Use" style plans. On occasion, it might be beneficial for merchants who do not always break the $2,000 mark to go onto one of these contract plans because it will provide a net savings at the end of the year. For example, if the merchant does frequent months of $10,000 or $20,000 in sales, but has one or two months with less than $2,000, it will clearly benefit the merchant to have the better rates available with the contract. For this reason, consulting with a knowledgeable agent is always a good idea before making a final decision on any plan type.

Smart Phones and Tablets

Some of the products supported
Some of the products supported | Source

Square and GoPayments

First, a disclaimer: I utilize one of the services that I am comparing here for my own clients, and thus there is a presumed bias on my part to favor it. To that end, I will acknowledge that the reason I provide that particular service is that I find it to be a superior solution much of the time. However, it is not the perfect solution for every merchant and I want to clearly and transparently state that I endorse a competitive product for the appropriate circumstances. My hope is that by reading this article, a prospective merchant will be able to determine quickly and easily which product and service is appropriate for his or her business. I will offer links to both the service I represent and the competition, along with links to pricing information and other reviews.

That said, when NAB began offering card processing solutions that could work on an iPhone or the Android platform, I was very interested in discovering how it compared to the existing mobile apps that were on the market. Specifically, I was interested in how it would stack up against Intuit’s GoPayment system (the solution offered by the biggest processing company to roll out their own software at that point) and the cleverly designed and marketed Square product. Square was something I was coming across a lot in the field and I had been quite impressed by. In fact, I was debating setting up an account of my own with Square, just to have as an alternative to PayPal if I needed it. When I received the first informational brochure on PhoneSwipe, it appeared that it had a lot in common with Square and GoPayments, if not Square’s stylish cube design card reader.

The reality is that there are some distinct similarities between the products and some important differences. However, there are good reasons for choosing each product, depending upon the actual intended use, style of business and need for flexibility. For the individual who only wants to have it handy for the outside chance a credit card may need to be used to accept payment for something once or twice a year, it almost does not matter which service is used. For the business owner looking to use this as a primary means of accepting cards, however, it is important to examine the options carefully.

The first issue that comes up is usually price. In that regard, PhoneSwipe appears to be the obvious winner. I stress “appears” in that under specific circumstances, Square will be less expensive, but only if this is generally the case: all sales are less than $10 AND there is under $2,000 of total revenue in a month. There, I’ve said it—if you sell coffee from a cart at the Farmer’s Market on Sundays, Square might be the solution you are looking for. It’s a generalization, of course, but simple math shows that the lower occurrence of transaction fees with Square indicates that it may be a better deal for purchases below $20, provided that those purchases are DEFINITELY swiped at the Qualified Rate.

It gets more complicated after that, which is why merchants may want to consider one of the other options, even if they are less glamorous looking.

  • Before going further, I am going to break down the pricing options for each platform.

Square is the simplest breakdown because they essentially only have one “flavor” of service. Because it is the most basic of the three major mobile processing solutions, it is not surprising that it is also the most expensive. Any time there is a “cookie-cutter” or “one size fits all” option, it will necessarily be established so that everyone pays the higher rates. Square is also not an established merchant services company, and therefore cannot offer the same level of service and protection that a dedicated company can. While there is no question that Square is an innovative company, they are also trying to reinvent the market in order to gain a greater share while also locking merchants into their service for the long run (thereby limiting future choice) through their new features.

The bottom line with Square is that swiped cards are charged 2.75% and keyed charges are at the rate of 3.5% plus a fifteen cent processing fee. Transactions take an estimated three to four days to be deposited [“Square automatically initiates deposits within 36 hours of each transaction. Once a deposit is initiated, it may take a few business days (the speed largely depends on your bank and remember, weekends don't count!) to register in your bank account.” -- Source: SquareUp help pages on their main site]. Additionally, Square has a policy of holding any amount over $1,000 per week for a 30 day period, during which Square is profiting from any interest rather than the merchant. Because Square is covering their own liability in this respect, it is not surprising that they have the slowest payment period and the lowest range of available funds. Technical support is also apparently only available via email or Twitter, so it may not be a viable option for businesses that need to keep moving quickly, even when the service is down (dropped phone, anyone?).

On the other hand, if a merchant’s volume is very low and their charges are consistently under $20, it is a remarkably easy service to set up and use. Square also offers iPad users (and only iPad users) the option to add a limited catalog to the application which can make handling some transactions easier.

Intuit, the same company that provides Quicken and Turbo Tax, is also a merchant services provider that has in-house card processing software available for a PC-based POS system that they provide. If a merchant is locked into one of these services or software brands, GoPayments may be a reasonable solution to consider. GoPayments supports a wider range of devices than Square and offers a comparable rate plan. With GoPayments, regular Qualified Rate swiped charges will get a rate of 2.7% and manually entered charges have a rate of 3.7%. Downgraded charges will also be charged the keyed rate of 3.7%. This is very important to understand because many types of cards are automatically downgraded. (See my article on Interchange fees to learn more about the different card types.) This includes all Rewards Cards, Mileage Cards, Corporate Cards, Foreign Cards and just about any other card associated with a special program. The only cards swiped strictly at the Qualified rate are simple bank-issued cards with no bells and whistles. The same designations go for debit / check cards used for signature based transactions. As for availability of the funds, Intuit states that “money from your transaction is generally deposited into your bank within two to three days of the transaction.”

Intuit also offers a “merchant account” option for established businesses that do higher volume. The terms of this style account differ because there is a much lower rate in exchange for a monthly fee. The terms are good, too, compared to Square. For a $12.95 monthly cost, the swiped Qualified rate lowers to 1.7% with manually entered Qualified cards charged at 2.7%, which is already lower than Square’s base charge. However, downgraded cards at the Mid- or Non-Qualified rates are charged 3.7% plus a seven cent transaction fee, which is hidden in the fine print tucked below the rate sheet. There is also an additional 0.3% “Card Not Present” fee tacked on for transactions taken over the phone, Internet, or fax. The upside to this service is that a merchant will have better customer support, more flexible options for processing transactions in instances of equipment failure and potential savings over the standard non-contract rates if the merchant does a high volume of Qualified rate charges.

PhoneSwipe by North American Bancard

North American Bancard’s PhoneSwipe software works on a wide variety of smart phones and tablets, covering more devices than either GoPayments or Square, and also has two versions of payment options. The rates for the contract-free service are 2.69% for Qualified rate swiped charges of all credit and check/debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, and 3.49% plus $0.19 for manually entered or downgraded cards. It is only because of this nineteen cent transaction fee that this might not be the best deal for merchants consistently taking charges under $20, especially where the card cannot be swiped. Otherwise, Square is no longer offering the advantage it held previously. An additional bonus for PhoneSwipe is that all transactions are batched immediately, which translates to the quickest deposits out of these compared services. As of January 2013, new accounts are automatically set up with next day funding for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and AMEX all at the same low rates. *It should be noted that next day funding is only available for transactions that post before 5:00PM Eastern time. Any charges processed after that will be deposited along with transactions from the following day. If a merchant on the West Coast processes $400 before 2:00PM and $200 after 2:00PM, only the first $400 will appear as deposited the next day. The remaining $200 will be deposited a day later because of the East Coast bank cut-off times. This is still among the fastest deposit times available for a merchant account.

PhoneSwipe also integrates with QuickBooks, which makes it ideal for merchants who use that software. While GoPayments used to be the only option for this, now merchants have more choice. Side by side, if QuickBooks integration is the most important factor, then PhoneSwipe has the pricing advantage.

Where PhoneSwipe becomes the most interesting, however, is with the more flexible merchant contracts. This is one of the main reasons that I provide this program to my own clients: unlike the simplified plans available with the other services, PhoneSwipe can be customized in several ways just like any other merchant services plan from a major processor. These terms can use standard retail rates beginning as low as 1.59%—or even 1.19% if check/debit cards are provided at a lower rate. NAB can provide these lower rates partly because they are a “wholesale” service provider and cover their own liability rather than merely reselling access to a processing network. (Both Square and PhoneSwipe process over the same “Global Payments Network,” for example.) Because this is a certifiable merchant account, there are associated monthly fees that range approximately $20. Because this is slightly higher than GoPayments, it should be noted that there are also transaction fees (albeit lower under this plan, closer to fifteen cents) on PhoneSwipe transactions. So why choose PhoneSwipe if it has higher monthly fees AND transaction fees on each charge? The answer is simple: for most merchants, it will end up being less expensive and they will get their money faster. This means, saving time, saving money—and NAB offers the additional protection of live support from an established and reputable merchant services company. (As an aside, because PhoneSwipe is customized to the merchant when setting up this type of account, it is important to establish a relationship with a representative who is capable of understanding the business needing the service as well as providing a thorough understanding of the processing agreement. Always read agreements and ask questions.)

Another very important distinction with PhoneSwipe’s fee schedule is that it can also be set up as an “Interchange Plus” account. For some merchants, this is a way to increase their savings even further, depending upon the type of business and the cards typically used by their customers.

The PhoneSwipe software is also more robust. It allows for generating reports, cataloguing, including photographs on emailed receipts (of either the customer or the sale items) and many more productivity features normally only found in a full-scale POS system. This alone may make the option more appealing to merchants with needs for inventory control. Integration with Google Maps, geo-tax options and even tip lines complete a best-in-class feature set. (The other services do allow for tips, although the rest of the features do not appear as flexible or complete.)

When weighing the cost of a dedicated POS system, PhoneSwipe becomes a tremendous bargain, and the same account can be shared among multiple devices.

At the end of the day, there are good reasons to use each of these services, but a merchant’s specific needs will dictate which service suits the business best. Often times a consultation with a legitimate merchant services professional can help a merchant determine the most appropriate and cost effective solution. Even then, there is no substitute for personal education and a comprehensive understanding of the products on the market.

Problematic Device List as of Sept. 2011

Although PhoneSwipe is a very terrific and versatile application designed to work across platforms, there are still a few devices on the market that are not fully functional for various reasons.

Unlike Apple, which has tight control over both hardware and software design to ensure that all of their products function the way they are supposed to (which is why the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch are preferred devices for using as processing solutions), there are a number of Android based phones that have limited functionality or simply cannot run the PhoneSwipe software.

Because the card reader requires three-channel audio in the headphone jack to get power and operate, several new Android phones that only have two-channel audio jacks will not work with the card reader. The software still functions fine and can process manually entered card numbers at the higher rate or merchants can use them as Mail Order / Phone Order account processing solutions where no card would be present anyway.

These phones include:

Droid 2 Global and Droid X2 from Verizon;

Evo 3D and Transform from Sprint;

HTC Inspire and Motorola Atrix from AT&T.

Additionally, the hardware on the following list of phones renders the software completely unusable because it will either not load properly or buttons do not respond within the app:

HTC MyTouch 4G and Samsung Dart on T-mobile (please note, the My Touch 3G does work);

Samsung Replenish on Sprint;

Motorola Citrus on Verizon;

Huawei Dts on Metro PCS.

If you have one of these phones, the software will not function according to the latest tests.

If you have questions about your device, feel free to ask them here. I have a list of approximately 40 phones and tablets that have been tested to work perfectly fine.

Square Updates for 2012

SquareUp has made several significant changes in 2012, some very positive and some less so. Starting with the positive, SquareUp now claims total PCI compliance, including an encrypted card reader. Information is available on their web site.

On the down side, Square has dramatically limited the range of its device support. Essentially, Square software only works on iOS devices that run iOS 5 or later, meaning no devices prior to the iPhone 4. The current software for Android does not support Honeycomb, so most current Android tablets will not work at all. And although Android 2.2 (and "higher") is supposedly supported, only about four Android phones are listed on the site as officially supported. I know it works on a lot more than four phones (my phone works fine even though it is not on the list), but there do not seem to be serious efforts to greatly broaden the software's reach beyond basic Android phones and recent Apple products. There is also absolutely no Blackberry support.

PhoneSwipe Updates for 2013

It may be of interest to merchants that PhoneSwipe has rolled out new compatibility options that include printing of receipts or reports, as well as cash drawer compatibility. Obviously a printer or cash drawer would need to be purchased separately.

An additional point that is going to be very important for small ticket merchants is that for "Pay-As-You-Go" accounts, PhoneSwipe does NOT charge a transaction fee on qualified transactions (only on manually entered or downgraded swipes). This means that even for the small coffee vendor, PhoneSwipe is potentially a better deal with the Pay-As-You-Go plan. For this type of merchant, however, it is essential that they work with an agent who can set their account to include rewards cards in the qualified category because rewards cards are typically downgraded by default.

Better yet, with new accounts, set up is automatically putting AMEX charges at the same rates as Visa, MasterCard and Discover, with the additional bonus of next day funding. This means, PhoneSwipe has the lowest rates and fastest payment of the current crop of mobile services.

Blackberry Support now available for PhoneSwipe

PhoneSwipe is now supported by these models with Blackberry OS 4.7 or later:

  • Bold 9000 on AT&T
  • Bold 9650 on Sprint
  • Bold 9650 on Verizon
  • Bold 9700 on T-Mobile
  • Bold 9700 on AT&T
  • Bold 9780 on T-Mobile
  • Curve 2 8520 on T-Mobile
  • Curve 2 8520 on AT&T
  • Curve 2 8530 on Sprint
  • Curve 2 8530 on Verizon
  • Curve 2 8530 on U.S. Cellular
  • Curve 3G 9330 on Verizon
  • Curve 3G 9330 on Sprint
  • Storm 2 9550 on Verizon
  • Torch 9800 on AT&T
  • Tour 9630 on Sprint
  • Tour 9630 on Verizon

More by this Author

Comments 57 comments

frugalfamily profile image

frugalfamily 5 years ago from Houston, TX

Great detail, I guess great minds think alike? I just wrote a similar article, but my preference is Square. My batches are delivered into my checking account every evening, so I don't have a wait on my money.

Rated Up.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I noticed that in your hub, you only compare GoPayment and Square. Have you been using Square more frequently since you wrote it? I only ask because my research has indicated that it typically takes up to six days for Square users to get their money and rarely less than three. That, and the $1,000 per week limit on deposits are among the biggest complaints.

The biggest "selling points" for PhoneSwipe are the faster payments coupled with the better software. I don't really see anything that stands out with GoPayment unless it is integrated directly with other Intuit products. But I do see where some individuals and small merchants with limited needs may find Square to be a perfect fit.

frugalfamily profile image

frugalfamily 5 years ago from Houston, TX

Hi Jeffrey, I only compared these two because there is no required amount of useage on each of them. Square offers a deposit every single night. I don'thave to wait three days. The only time there is ever trouble is in the first few months if your daily amounts are more than $1,000. I'll have to look at PhoneSwipe's software again, because without the iPad, both Go and Square are seriously lacking. I would still warn clients of any of the systems that pending transactions could cause them some grief. All three options are far better than where we were just a few years ago, and I'm finding my rates with Square actually beat the rates my salon owners are paying with the big boys.

Rowdy P 5 years ago

I agree that merchants should be wary of pending charges. PhoneSwipe appears to be processed through a company with the best BBB rating. And Square is partly owned by Visa now. I have looked at eaach of the apps and I think only PhoneSwipe has a full feature set, but I am looking only for iPhone or Android, not iPad. Did not even know about PhoneSwipe until I read this. Glad I did because the reviews in the Apple App Store are not clear and look padded or Spammed. The PhoneSwipe app rocked though, even if it took longer to set up than my Square acct. I use both now- Square for my small sales and PhoneSwipe for my big ones. But if my sales stay strong I am definitely going full PhoneSwipe with a merchant acct.

Jack 5 years ago

Okay, first, thank you for writing this. First time I have seen someone make sense of these options. I do a steady business and had a wireless unit before, but now I see that going on contract could actually save me money using my phone instead of the wireless Nurit unit I had. And the software you describe sounds impressive. I am going to download the apps and look them over, but I REALLY like the idea of getting Interchange Plus pricing...

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Jack, most merchant services providers won't offer Interchange Plus pricing to small retailers, and many have restrictions on the level of volume or number of transactions a merchant must meet in order to "qualify" for the program. I've seen merchants who were steered away from it even though they were high volume / high transaction businesses, because they were sold a bill of goods on some "special rates."

It's true, many merchants have a hard time understanding Interchange Plus pricing, but finding someone who will try to set you up with an appropriate (and equitable) plan is essential. Needless to say, there ARE times when a three, four or six tier plan is going to be better for a merchant, but I always consider offering Interchange Plus as an option, even for the little guy who is just starting out or who simply does not do a huge amount of actual card processing.

Jack 5 years ago

Just following up. I did download the PhoneSwipe and also got Square just for a comparison. First, the PhoneSwipe software was waaaay better. Add another "a" to that. The no-contract rates were coming in just a little higher than the costs I was having with my Nurit mobile unit, but I am canceling that completely anyway because it is not nearly as convenient and I have decided to go under contract with PhoneSwipe to significantly lower my rates. Yes, there are a few monthly fees, but not much more than a traditional account and LESS than my former mobile account set up. But the great thing is, the reduced processing rates are going to save me quite a bit. Thanks again for the tip.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I wanted to update that I have now tried PhoneSwipe's Android app and found it to be every bit as useful and feature packed as the iPhone version. In fact, there are some aspects to using an Android device that I actually prefer (and I am a long-time Apple devotee). Depending on the actual device, however, your mileage will vary. I've seen the PhoneSwipe app in action on iPhone 3GS with excellent results, and I know that the iPhone 4 is even better with the camera integration and speed (one of my clients recently wrote a glowing testimonial on the product). I recently loaded it onto an Atrix 4G running Android 2.2 and the experience was virtually identical to using an iPhone 4, maybe even faster. The handwriting capture is fantastic and the network speed cannot be beat. I would caution using it on an under-powered Android phone, however. To take advantage of the full cataloging features, you will need a device with enough memory and a good camera—this is one area where Android devices have a huge advantage, with removable MicroSD cards, although both Android and iOS devices can take advantage of "cloud" storage as well.

Meanwhile, I hope to hear back from either frugalfamily, Rowdy P or Jack with an update on their experiences.

mtheresabrown profile image

mtheresabrown 5 years ago from NC

I have been carefully following all of this. Been in the art business for years and watched the dynamics change drastically with merchant processing :-). We ditched Way systems and its First Data leasing co after small hidden fees kept cropping up..never again. Once we returned the leasing equipment they still kept debiting for this and that and the annual Compliance fee of $99.00...we strongly urge people not to make a decision based on those "low fees". They come with a contract and that will produce some serious hidden fees folks :-). That's why we went to Square-been very happy with it. The money is in the bank within 4 days at most for us. Yes, the $1000.00 a week is occasionally a problem and we went with 2 apps-two phones anyway for those shows where the income amounts to those figures.

I like what I am seeing with the Phone swipe but today is Sunday. I have called their 24/7 number 3 times to talk to someone (did I misread that customer service time frame?) and I am a little concerned about links on their website going nowhere. That is a bit unprofessional for a banking site. To add to the confusion, there is also and a .net and a seller site(?) It is a little confusing. I have spent years paying hidden fees through Processors and I might consider adding the phoneswipe without a contract. Square did not charge a $19.95 "shipping and processing" fee but it looks as though Phone swipe does. Still the lack of call back is what concerns me most. That plus the fact that until I talk with someone, I have no intention of downloading the application. Just plain silly.

I did appreciate the time put into the review of the 3 products. We had looked into Intuit-monthly fees-no thanks. And honestly, after going over and over the Phone swipe site, there is nothing that indicates there are charges other than % per transaction so your article was most helpful in showing that there is more than the site is sharing at first glance! So, more digging!

Thank you.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

mtheresabrown, thought I would address some of your issues right away. First, I the 24/7 customer support is for existing customers, not their sale line. Honestly, though, unless you are having processing issurs, it is always easier and faster to contact any of these companies during "normal" hours... Square is the exception, of course, because they have no phone support at all.

Downloading the PhoneSwipe app is free and sets up a demo mode to play with before setting up your account. You can do a mock transaction without putting in any actual information, just to get a feel for it.

The main reason that the PhoneSwipe sites are vague is because you will be contacted by a rep to set up your account or you will be directed to a choice of application options based on which kind of service you want.

Anyone who downloads the app and wants to set up an account would press the "new account" button and could input this referral code: 16732. That number will route the application to me and I can ensure it is set up appropriate to the merchant's needs.

Rowdy P 5 years ago

Okay, I am a troll on this site again. Since there was more discussion about it I will give my response about my test between square and swipe.

Here is what I liked about square: it was the easiest and fastest set up and it is good for giving cash invoices.

But what matters to me most is money in my pocket. So I compared the services by runn ing charges on both for similar dollar amounts. It was hard to tell at first, because deposits were staggered and there was a learning curve for me. But I did a lot of transactions and also worked with a friend at a flea market to do the test, so we had to get together and compare.

I gave it a full month of use to figure out (well, the test was more like 21 days). This is what I figured: if I was only selling something small and consistent like coffee by the cup, I would probably just stick with square because the way I figured it (I am no economist) there was a savings of a few cents maybe less per square transaction on the lower tier sales. Overall, though, for MY sales, which ranged from $40 to $450, I saved over $50 with PhoneSwipe over three weeks. Your mileage may vary. And the square deposits were usually one or two days later than the phoneSwipe deps. Not a huge deal, but I do need to pay suppliers, so the faster pay was nice.

I am not going on the contract plan just yet - need to figure out if I would save enough on lower rates to compensate for spending $15 to $20 per month and $75 for annual compliance, and I don't think I am there yet (but if I start consistently making sales of 2-3 grand per month every month, I am going to reevaluate).

I hope that helped.

M Theresa Brown 5 years ago

Good to know there can be a no contract option on Phone Swipe. Still that 3.47% no swipe fee is pretty high as some of our clients are "over the phone" people and at $900-1500.00 that's a big bite :-).

Still have not heard from Phoneswipe so will do a M-F test. I agree-Square has no phone support.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Ms Brown, if you go to the PhoneSwipe info link just above these comments, it will take you to a web page that will allow you to contact me directly through an email form.

M Theresa Brown 5 years ago

Thanks for the contact Jeff-have followed up and downloading the Phoneswipe and trying it our at a no-contract level, Thanks for your help!

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Theresa, it was my pleasure. And I wish you the best of luck with your art sales. The work on your site is quite excellent.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Jack 5 years ago

It took longer than anticipated to get set up, but only about three days. That wasn't so bad. But we take a lot of corporate cards and often a lot o cards over the phone. The Interchange plus pricing is making a huge difference, but also surprisingly with the purchases where they use debit cards. Thanks for the tip!

mtheresabrown profile image

mtheresabrown 5 years ago from NC

Thanks Jeff for all your help in helping us expand our options by adding PhoneSwipe to our merchant plan. We timed it just right as our sales the past two weeks went over the initial allowance through Squareup and we did not have to worry about a "hold" being put on our account for 30 days while someone else had our money :-)

We opted for the non-contract plan and will re-examine it later but right now we are pleased-PhoneSwipe is a couple of days faster than Squareup we discovered.

Again, thank you for the personal touch in the info and set up.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I am so glad to hear that you are happy with the results — it's always a good feeling to know that your advice has helped someone. Thanks for the feedback.

merchantdoctor profile image

merchantdoctor 5 years ago from Reno


Thanks for the great comparisons. As a quick update it is also interesting to note that PhoneSwipe can now accept cash payments and email receipts (which helps to build a marketing list), add percentage discounts, and store transactions if you are out of the service area and send them later when you get back in range!

I appreciate the time and depth you put into your articles!

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Yes, the feature set just keeps growing! I especially like the addition of being able to store transactions when there is no data connection. Thank you very much for the feedback.

Jack 5 years ago

Wow - I read about the new features and updated the App right away. LOVE that there can now be multiple accounts on the same app! Now I am going to set it up for both my business account and my personal account. Excellent! And Jeffrey, you offer great support and advice — I would have screwed up a couple of things without you. Thanks for the personal effort.

profile image

SMZSHARON 5 years ago

In the market for another phone. Bought HTC Inspire and did not work with Square after MANY tries. Thank you for the short list above. Would like the list that DO WORK please. Thanks ever so much - email:

ralph 5 years ago

Great info. I had just set up with Square and did not realize that they were going to hold onto my money so long. After reading this, I am going to download PhoneSwipe and be sure to put in that code 16732 so you will get my email right away. Looking forward to having you walk me through this... and i WILL be back to comment again. ;-)

Ralph 5 years ago

Thanks again. Per your advice, I've kept my Square account as a back-up or for strictly low-ticket items, but the PhoneSwipe software is so much more well designed and the service just all around better that it is definitely my primary choice. The industry is so confusing that I really appreciate your explanations and your patience. It is rare to find someone as knowledgeable as you who will tell it to us straight.

New User 5 years ago

We are starting a new business the common transaction will be in the field and approx $300, total for the week will be $1,500+ based on this article PhoneSwipe seems to be the direction we should focus on, but does it work on the Toshiba Thrive Tablet (Android)?

Debbie Deupree profile image

Debbie Deupree 5 years ago from Southern California


Thank you for writing this article. Not only was your article informative but also everyones comments and your replies have been very helpful.

Thanks again!

ISLANDER 5 years ago

Hello to all - I am new to this. I operate a small home based business. My items are priced under $20. Of course if shipping is involved it will be extra. Most of my sales are by check, but I do not want to turn down any credit/debit sales. Any ideas which item would best suit my needs? Thanks

nm 5 years ago

i have a commando on verizon will phoneswipe work with this phone?

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I believe that the Commando does work. Have you had a chance to check it out yet with the free software evaluation?

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

To be certain which plan is best for you, it is necessary to evaluate your real-world volume and costs. If you are in a home based business and you are manually inputting all your charges, there may actually be a better option than mobile phone based processing. The best thing would be to speak to a sales rep directly. You can always contact me for direct advice, too.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thank you for the kind words!

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

The software should work on the Thrive, but I am not certain about the card reader. There may also be better options available for you.

Anna 5 years ago

Do you have any information on what is compatable with a Samsung Google Nexus S? I've tried GoPayment, but so far have been unable to get it to work with the card reader.

Vachenzia 5 years ago

I noted that someone mentioned there is a receipt option for cash and credit purchases with PhoneSwipe. Is that available for the pay per swipe, no-contract option? Exactly how are the receipts for the cash payments generated?

tami 4 years ago

I just got a mini 3g android tablet and i cant get any of these programs to load. It always says, no android device on this account. What does that mean? I dont have a mobile phone number, just wifi on the tablet. What is the problem?

Ron Fleming 4 years ago

Jeff, I'm an independent agent for NAB, and I have some inside information you should definitely be aware of for your comparison. NAB has very recently instituted some changes to Phone Swipe that actually erase some of the advantages that the other solutions had, and is now far and away the best product, for all users. Contact me at to discuss.

profile image

debisusan 4 years ago

I have a My Touch 3G. You say it works, but no headphone jack. So how does it work?



Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

My apologies for responding to some of these comments later than I would have liked. The easiest way to get my attention is going to be through the link to the PhoneSwipe page above: ... There is an email form on the site which gets me directly and my phone number also appears at the top of the page. It makes it much easier to get your questions answered.

Additionally, if there are questions about whether the PhoneSwipe software works on your device, the easiest way to check is to download it. The software is free, and you are under no obligation to use it. But you can do a "Test Run" just to see if the app functions. If you do this, please choose the "need an account" option and use my source code (16732). This will do two things. First, it will send me your email address and phone number, so I can contact you directly. But secondly, it will also allow me to tweak your application to ensure you are getting the best rates for your swiped cards and that your plan is set up the way you want it.

I have heard from a few merchants that they accidentally got set up on a three-year term contract when they did the entire process on their own. While that is relatively easy to fix IF caught quickly, it is an unnecessary hassle.

In the interest of disclosure, the source code 16732 will identify you as a client of mine in relation to PhoneSwipe or its parent company, NAB. This does mean that I might profit from the relationship, but I would hope that would only occur in mutually beneficial circumstances. As I mentioned at the top of the article, I do have an affiliation with PhoneSwipe (and therefore my possible bias in the article), but I have this affiliation because I believe the product to be superior under most situations. I do not, however, believe it is perfect for everyone and I take great pains to either offer other solutions or point clients in the proper direction when there is a better choice for them. That said, I hope that anyone reading this who finds PhoneSwipe to be worth trying will download it and use my source code so that I can ensure a smooth experience and easy set up.

I have truly appreciated the many comments, both on and off this page, and I will continue to update the info here as well.

susan bayer 4 years ago

I have the LG Revolution. North American bancard told me that Revolution was now added to the list. So I installed phone swipe but it is still not reading the cards. I am so dissapointed I have to do everything manually. So does the Revolution work am I doing something wrong? (Sigh)

profile image

Tweak41 4 years ago

(I am on an ipad so please excuse the spacing errors as it won't let me scroll to fix them) Thank you for such an informative post. I signed up for Phone Swipe several days ago. I was so excited about the option of a free card swiper and no contract, etc. I had revealed to the company what industry I was in and everything they needed to know and I was approved very quickly.

I tried it on a new client who gave me a deposit for her web design work. The transaction processed fine from the ipad app. I got an email stating that funds were on its way (minus fees). I could see my sales receipt in their online portal. They had very responsive phone support for all my questions, etc.

Well, things seemed to be going fine when all of a sudden I get an email from the risk department stating that they decided they do not want me to have an account and that they closed it and any pending deposits will be on hold to give the buyer a chance to do a chargeback. I had no warning. I had no chance of even trying to refund her money so that she could just send me a check instead. The risk department did not even trynto call me to explain why nor did they explain the reason in their letter. They emailed it after their business hours(risk department operates between 9 and 6pm est, unlike the 24 hour customer support) so I now have to wait over today's holiday to speak with them tomorrow to straighten things out. The wait period for charge backs is 90 to 180 days.

I love that there is all this technology and innovative services, but I feel my case is not being handled fairly and I am now leary of merchant accounts. Everyone, be aware and alert to the unusual things that can happen.

monicamelendez profile image

monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

Very thorough comparison. I've used Square and really liked it but it's good to know more about other options. Like you said, Square doesn't really have any support which is annoying!

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

@Tweak41, I cannot address your issue very thoroughly, except to say that if you were one of my clients it is unlikely that this would be a problem. There are numerous reasons that funds can get held up by the Risk department, chief among them is that the amount of a charge is well above the parameters set in the application. Additionally, when high charges are put through as manual transactions without first advising the processor of the unusual activity, it is a double red flag.

As for your particular case, I would not attempt to address it publicly without all the details. It does sound like a serious inconvenience, and it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that problems like these never happen. In fact, I have a recent client who had a series of issues right out the gate which we had to work together to resolve. At the end of the day, however inconvenient they may have been, they were neither the merchant's fault nor the fault of North American Bancard; we merely had a situation where a number of details caused problems and delays originating from the buyer at the point of sale.

The good news is that NAB is very committed to two things: merchant satisfaction and fraud protection. The two do not always appear to go hand in hand, but ultimately work in everyone's best interest. Most merchants will never have any issue at all, a few will have occasion where funds are temporarily delayed because of suspicious activity. A good agent will be your liaison in this sort of situation and will have it all sorted out for you quickly so you don't have to spend your own time doing it. That is what the agent is there for, after all, not just signing you up for the service and then walking away. And this is another good reason to work with an agent in the first place rather than doing the sign up process on your own.

If you have any more specific questions you would like to talk about regarding this issue, feel free to contact me privately.

@susan bayer,

Regarding the LG Revolution, I hope that you had a chance to speak with PhoneSwipe's tech support and work out the issue. They are very good at walking people through the process of ensuring that all the parameters are set properly. The most common issue that merchants have with the card readers is forgetting to turn up the headphone volume all the way in order to power the card reader. I am not sure whether the LG Revolution is fully approved by PhoneSwipe. It is approved for the Payment Jack platform, which uses the same card reader as PhoneSwipe, but there are so many phones on the market that sometimes it is hard to keep all the lists completely current.

As far as compatibility goes, the general rule of thumb is that the audio jack must support three channel audio (check with the carrier or manufacturer because the specs usually are not published) in order for the power to get to the card reader, and single-core processors are more likely to work because dual-core processors suck more battery power away from the audio jack. Still, with constant upgrades in the hardware and battery technology, it is expected that more and more phones will be compatible when they are released.

michellemills 4 years ago

Any experience with a mobile credit card processing option that could be used for a nonprofit auction? We would need to be able to swipe attendees cards at registration when we hand them their paddle and then apply the total after the end of the gala. I've looked into express pay but it's too costly...

profile image

melicita 4 years ago

Can you please tell me the list of tablets compatible with Square? I am looking to buy a tablet but cannot seem to find such a list anywhere. Thanks

profile image

manitoubear 4 years ago

My sister-in-law makes her own facial products, shampoos, etc. in her home. Once a year she participates in a craft fair and would like to be able to accept charges with a smart phone. She has a regular credit card device that she uses at home. Her charges can run from $10.00 to around $300.00, both at home and at the fair. She would not want to pay an additional monthly fee for the phone app. Is there a card swiping app that could be used only once a year - or do most people use them in place of a regular device? Square seems to be for very small transactions only.

Justin Kapitan 4 years ago

Is it possible that Phone swipe will soon be available for macs and pc laptops

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Okay, a couple more delayed replies here...


I've run into this issue a few times and the best solution that I can think of is POSSIBLY using PhoneSwipe with the network connection on the device turned off. This would theoretically work by allowing the card transactions to be swiped at the start of the auction, but not processed. That means, with the connection off, a charge for zero cents (or 1 cent) could be placed on every card and the data stored. Then, after the auction, all charges can be modified before the transactions are processed. Most could be deleted, but the others would just need the totals revised. After this is done, the network can be reconnected and the transactions would be immediately sent for approvals. I would not do this without testing it first and probably walking through the procedure with technical support. (Putting a phone in airplane mode should do this, for example.) It will be a bit of work, but might be a solution for you.


You ask for a list of tablets that work with Square. Only the iPad. And only iPads running iOS 5 or above. Square no longer supports any iOS device that does not run version 5 or better, meaning nothing prior to the iPhone 4. I am not aware of any Android tablets that successfully run Square's software and can use the card reader; in fact, most of the new Android tablets will not work at all if they are running Honeycomb.


Both Square and PhoneSwipe offer "Pay-As-You-Go" style plans that merchants are fine to use once per year if that is all that they need it for. Square is more designed for the small ticket merchant, whereas PhoneSwipe has more flexibility and typically quicker payments of higher dollar amounts. However, if your sister already has a terminal at home, she might want to reconsider whether there is a need for that in addition to the mobile option. There are a number of ways that she could approach her business needs that might mean being able to do away with the home terminal altogether, especially if it is being used for key entered transactions (where merchants are typically charged much higher rates). Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss other options.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

@Justin Kapitan,

I am not sure why you would want PhoneSwipe for you laptop, but there is some functionality with Quickbooks and that sort of thing, if that is what you are looking for. As far as payment solutions go, there are already many options for using a laptop as a payment center, which I would be happy to discuss with you directly if you call or email me. There is another, similar solution, that works via a phone for card swiped transactions and also has a web-based counterpart for key-entered transactions. If all you need is a way to swipe cards into a laptop, however, there are numerous USB card readers on the market and software solutions to match. What might be hard to come by is a "pay-as-you-go" type plan. Typically, you will still have to at least set up a monthly agreement for processing using any of the software options on the market for laptop use. On the other hand, PayPal does not charge monthly fees if you are willing to pay their higher rate for key-entered transactions.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Both Square and PhoneSwipe offer "Pay-As-You-Go" style plans that merchants are fine to use once per year if that is all that they need it for. Square is more designed for the small ticket merchant, whereas PhoneSwipe has more flexibility and typically quicker payments of higher dollar amounts. However, if your sister already has a terminal at home, she might want to reconsider whether there is a need for that in addition to the mobile option. There are a number of ways that she could approach her business needs that might mean being able to do away with the home terminal altogether, especially if it is being used for key entered transactions (where merchants are typically charged much higher rates). Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss other options.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Global Pay is a re-branded version of PhoneSwipe at a slightly higher rate. The website has very vague info on the company and service, though it does appear to also offer a web-portal through another third-party. Ostensibly, these kinds of sites are mainly run by agents who are trying to repackage existing services under their own brand, which may be good for some merchants. Again, anyone with questions on alternate solutions should feel free to contact me directly -- info is available on my blog (linked above) for getting me by email or phone. I'm always happy to take questions or assist with account setups.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I am not certain if you got my reply to this (inline below) because I was moderating from a mobile platform for several months. If you are still looking for a solution, let me know. Square and PhoneSwipe would both be good options for her.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

As I understand it, Square really only supports the iPad as a tablet solution. PhoneSwipe has a wider range of Android tablets that it works with as well as the iPad. The best solution is to ensure that the tablet has a 3-channel audio jack (i.e., it could be used for making phone calls or Skype calls with a headset/microphone combination) and then also check that it is running a recent version of the operating system. If you have a model you want me to check on, I'd be happy to call on it for you, though not every model is pre-tested.

David 4 years ago


How can I contact you directly?

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author


I can be reached directly in several ways, including though my blog (linked in the article above). You can also go to this website and get my phone number: bancardsetup DOT com

With that number you will get me directly, or you can use the form on the page to send me a direct email.

Larry Pfeil 2 years ago

By "no monthly fee" they mean a $10 monthly fee, and by "no miminum monthly charges", they mean there is a $25 minimum monthly charge. But wait, it gets better, by no long-term commitment and monthly renewals with no cancellation charge, they mean a minimum of one year commitment with a $350 cancellation penalty. I will not do business with Phone Swipe and I would not recommentd to anyone to do business with them.

Jeffrey Poehlmann profile image

Jeffrey Poehlmann 2 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Larry Pfeil,

If you had signed up for the Phone Swipe "Option B" (or "Pay As You Go") account then you would have no cancellation fee, no monthly fee, monthly minimum or any other charges aside from those associated with your actual transactions. If, however, you signed up for a different program that uses the Phone Swipe software (there are several), you would have customized rates and fees and a possible cancellation fee, though those are normally waived during the application process. It is very important as a merchant to work with an agent who can walk you through the process and ensure that you are signing up for the proper plan. If you had signed up for one of the early tablet placement promotions, you would definitely have a minimum term that would be required to cover the cost of the equipment. (Did they supply you with a tablet?) There are always many variables that merchants need to be aware of, which is one of the reasons that I write these articles and maintain my blog at (which has info to protect and educate both merchants and sales agents).

In practice, Phone Swipe (also known as PayAnywhere) offers some of the most cost-effective and efficient mobile processing on the market, backed by one of the bigger processing companies in the country. There are many advantages to the software and the processing options available, but it is ESSENTIAL that you sign up for the plan that best represents your needs AND that you work with an agent who can properly explain the details. Lastly, however, you will always be advised in the digital "paperwork" of any cancellation fees that might apply, and it is always a good idea to look the details over and ask any questions before committing -- you will never have less than a month to cancel Phone Swipe without penalty.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article