Squaring Off… mobile electronic payment options

Are you a small business that thinks you’re too small to accept debit or credit cards as a payment option for your services or merchandise?  

You may think so.  Costs to small merchants have escalated with bank fees that make it next to impossible for you to capture that impulse buy or convenience to your client of accepting that VISA or Mastercard, with flat fees and percentages that make it next to impossible for you to make any kind of profit.  Up until now, artists, musicians, kiosk vendors just didn’t have a cost effective way to accept credit cards.

Enter Mobile Credit Card Processing.  Now I just want to say right up front that this is not an affiliate review and that I’m not getting anything out of this monetarily by endorsing these products.

In addition to being a small business, I’m also a traveling musician.  I work with a non-profit ensemble that sells CDs on the road when we travel.  Yes, we do have a credit card system set up with our bank, but we can’t travel with it.  It’s bulky, requires a phone line and is just inconvenient.  So I introduced them to Squareup.com.

Squareup.com was one of the first companies to come on the scene by offering to processes credit cards by giving you a free, small device that you insert into the jack on your smart phone or tablet.  You then fire up the program (which is free to download, plus they will send you the device for free when you sign up), type in the amount you want to charge and swipe the card through.  Watch this small demonstration:


 So how much is it going to cost you…

Square is just 2.75% per swipe.  No extra fees.  No monthly charge. No comittments.  If you can’t swipe a card, or want to enter the transaction manually, it is a bit extra, like 3.5%+.15 cents.  The important thing is to weigh out your options.  Square is continually enhancing its product and now offers an option called Card Case for your frequent shoppers.  This is very cool.

Other companies are now following Square’s lead and you can find similar products.  Companies like Intuit’s GoPayment, now charge 2.7% per swipe and 3.7% for a  manual entry.  Slightly more reasonable and Intuit has 2 categories for their customers.  You can sign up for a Pay as You Go account or a higher volume account with a $12.95 monthly fee.  The transaction rate goes down  1% on both swipe and manual entry for the high volume account.  Another value is that you can download transactions into your Quickbooks software.

Bottom Line

Technology is making it easier for small businesses to offer the same conveniences to their customers as the larger companies.  The important thing is that you make sure these choices are for you and work with your financial plan.    

Are you a mobile credit card user?  Do you use Squareup, Intuit or similar products?  I’d love to get your feedback on how it’s working for you and your business by leaving your comments below.  


UPDATE:  PayPal Here has just been released.  According to their site, their fees are 2.7% per transaction.  Here’s a short clip of their service:

5 Comments on “Squaring Off… mobile electronic payment options”

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  3. Lisa Drew | Websites for a Song

    UPDATE: Since writing this article, PayPal has come out with their version. I just received approval and my card reader is on its way. According to PayPal’ Here, All card swipes and PayPal transactions have the same 2.7% rate with no hidden fees or commitments. Taking checks and issuing invoices are free of charge.

    Let me know your stories of using these mobile card readers!

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