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Fortunly's Guide

The Best Credit Card Readers for iPhone

By
I. Mitic

December 30,2021


Some or all of the products/services listed on this page are from our affiliate partners from which we receive commissions. This, however, does not influence the evaluations in our reviews. Learn more by reading our Advertiser Disclosure.

As the iPhone develops with each release, so does the amount of available time-saving apps increase. Now, you can effectively process credit card payments via your iPhone with the help of an app and a credit card reader.

Nearly 200 million customers own a credit card in the US alone, with almost 30% of them using credit cards as their preferred payment method. Processing credit card payments on the go has become a must for small businesses.

This guide will explore the highest-ranking credit card readers for the iPhone.

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Square Logo

Square

Our Rating
  • No monthly costs
  • Free software for swiper cards
  • No chargeback fees
Payment Depot Logo

Payment Depot

Our Rating
  • Scalable pricing structure
  • Flat interchange rate
  • Dedicated customer service support
Zettle by PayPal Logo

Zettle by PayPal

Our Rating
  • One reader for all your needs
  • No monthly fees
  • Low upfront costs for the first device
Clover Go Logo

Clover Go

Our Rating
  • Greater payment stability with merchant account
  • 24/7 customer service
  • No monthly charge for the first month
Shopify Logo

Shopify

Our Rating
  • Can be rolled into your existing Shopify subscription
  • No hidden fees
  • Dedicated customer support
QuickBooks Logo

QuickBooks

Our Rating
  • Integrates with QuickBooks
  • No setup or monthly fees
  • One reader for all credit card transactions

What Is the Best Credit Card Reader for iPhone?

Square

Square Logo Visit Square

On Official Website

Price
Free (magstripe), $49.99 (chip and contactless)
Supported payment types
Visa, American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Apple Pay, Google Pay
Transaction fees
2.6% plus $0.10 per swipe for Visa, American Express, Discover, Mastercard
Chargeback fees
None
POS system
Square POS
Supported OS
iOS and Android
Reader formats
Headset jack or lightning connector (magstripe), wireless (chip and contactless)
Monthly fees
None

Overview

Square is a financial services company that launched in 2010 with its first device, the Square reader. Ahead of the trend, the Square credit card reader for iPhone has since expanded into tablets, Android, contactless, and Apple Pay. Payments are processed via the Square Payment App.

Pricing and Features

We rank this as the best reader for small businesses as the transaction fees are low, there are no chargeback fees, and once you’ve purchased the initial reader, you have very few charges to commit to. The upfront costs are zero for credit card swipers and only $49.99 for the Square reader for contactless and chip. It’s a low-cost yet effective POS for small-to-medium businesses.

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Payment Depot

Payment Depot Logo Visit Payment Depot

On Official Website

Price
From $49 upward
Supported payment types
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay
Transaction fees
$0.07-$0.15 per transaction
Chargeback fees
From $15 to $50 (more for high-risk merchants)
POS system
Clover POS
Supported OS
iOS and Android
Reader formats
Magstripe, contactless
Monthly fees
$79-$199

Overview

Payment Depot started in 2013 and quickly gained popularity due to its affordable pricing plans, which range from $79 a month for a Starter package through to $199 for the Enterprise membership. 

Pricing and Features

The top package includes data protection, an account manager, preferential transaction fees ($0.07) and a processing cap of $300,000 per month. The company’s mobile credit card reader for iPhone accepts contactless payments, and with some plans, the device itself is free.

Unlike many other payment processing services, which take a certain percentage of the processed payment as their fee, Payment Depot’s pricing is based on memberships, which, in turn, are based on the amount you process monthly.

The company says this pricing model will save you up to 40% in processing fees, but you should use the calculator available on the site to work out the math to see which pricing model benefits your business the most. 

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Zettle by PayPal

Zettle by PayPal Logo Visit Zettle

On Official Website

Price
$29.99 for the first device, $79 for each new card reader
Supported payment types
Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, UnionPay, V Pay, Diners Club, Discover, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, contactless, chip and PIN, QuickPay, UnionPay
Transaction fees
1.75% per card transaction
Chargeback fees
Flat rate of 1.75%
POS system
Zettle Card Reader 2
Supported OS
Android and iOS
Reader formats
One reader for all payment types
Monthly fees
None

Overview

PayPal has dominated online payments since 1999, so it’s no surprise it has launched its own credit card device for iPhone. Zettle by PayPal entered the US market in 2021, slightly later than other providers on this list.

Pricing and Features

Zettle by PayPal has a flat device fee of $29.99, processes every conceivable payment type, and has one reader for chip & PIN and contactless, while the swipe method has been removed for safety reasons. All payments are processed via the free Zettle Go app.

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Clover Go

Clover Go Logo Visit Clover Go

On Official Website

Price
$49
Supported payment types
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay, gift cards
Transaction fees
$0 for the first 30 days, then 2.6% plus $0.10 for in-person transactions, 3.5% plus $0.10 for keyed-in transactions
Chargeback fees
$25 per transaction
POS system
Clover POS
Supported OS
Android and iOS
Reader formats
One reader for all payment types
Monthly fees
Waived for first month, subsequent months $9.95

Overview

Clover Go is one of the best portable credit card readers for iPhone, with its POS system used by a range of other developers such as Payment Depot. One of its most prominent offerings is the customer service and dedicated merchant account to avoid hidden fees being charged for certain transactions.

Pricing and Features

The company describes its technical support team as a ‘concierge’ service, with 24/7 customer service support. The monthly fees are waived for the first month, with a full refund within 60 days of purchase.

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Shopify

Shopify Logo Visit Shopify

On Official Website

Price
$49 for iOS reader (swipe, tap, chip)
Supported payment types
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, and Google Pay
Transaction fees
1.5% - 1.7% per transaction
Chargeback
$10 per transaction
POS system
Shopify POS
Supported OS
Android and iOS (but on separate readers)
Reader formats
One reader for Android and one for iOS, one dedicated reader for iOS credit card swiping
Monthly fees
$9-$299; app is $89

Overview

Shopify first launched in 2006. Today, it’s well known as a one-stop-shop for online retailers. It provides payment, marketing, analytics, and logistics tools for those in eCommerce.

Pricing and Features

Shopify’s card readers are a part of its standard subscription. There are three card readers, Chipper 2X BT credit card swiper for iPhone and iOS only, Shopify Tap & Chip Card Reader, and a chip & swipe reader for Android only. 

One of the best things about Shopify’s card reader for iPhone is that it can be included as part of your existing subscriptions. 

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QuickBooks

QuickBooks Logo Visit Quickbooks

On Official Website

Price
$49
Supported payment types
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay, contactless
Transaction fees
2.4%, plus $0.25 per transaction
Chargeback
$25
POS system
QuickBooks POS system
Supported OS
iOS and Android
Reader formats
One reader for all payment types
Monthly fees
None

Overview

QuickBooks has existed since 1983 and offers comprehensive financial software for small-to-medium businesses. The company offers its own card readers that work independently of the QuickBooks subscription, although you can benefit from the integration with the accounting software. 

Pricing and Features

The aforementioned integration is a big benefit for QuickBooks customers using the card reader, as all transactions can be entered into QuickBooks software. The device is also extremely convenient as it covers all payment types on one device. There are no monthly fees upfront.

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How To Find the Top Credit Card Reader for iPhone

As you can see from our review of the top six portable credit card readers for iPhone, there are a number of factors to take into account when looking for the reader that works best for your business. This guide will cover the key points to consider when purchasing a reader.

Pricing

There are many costs to take into account when selecting a card reader, such as the price of the device, setup costs, monthly, chargeback, and transaction fees. There are also hidden costs you shouldn’t forget when choosing a device, such as minimum monthly fees, payment card industry compliance, and authorization fees.

Upfront Costs

Upfront costs are generally simpler than the hidden fees to decipher. They include:

  • Setup costs vs. initial price. This can be one and the same cost, or you may be charged two separate costs for the device and its setup. You might also be charged separately for the price of the app vs. the price of the device. 
  • Monthly fees. Even if you have a monthly subscription to a service like Shopify, you may also need to pay for either the device or app in addition to your standard subscription.
  • Chargeback fees. Chargeback fees are different from refunds as they involve a third party - your card provider. These fees are charged when the customer disputes the transaction. Chargeback costs can be significantly higher than the original transaction price.
  • Membership fees. Some credit card readers for iPhone require a membership fee to use the service. 

Hidden Costs

Note that for many mobile credit card readers for iPhone, the hidden costs won’t be visible on the site.

  • Minimum monthly fees. Some device contracts include a minimum monthly fee for using the reader.
  • PCI-compliance fees. Payment card industry compliance is not federally mandated in the US, but is an industry standard that requires merchants to adhere to a set of criteria. On average, PCI compliance costs around $300 a year. However, this is usually far more cost-effective than remaining noncompliant, as merchants are charged a hefty fee per transaction if they don’t conform to regulations.
  • Authorization fees. Authorization fees are an additional cost that comes with every transaction.
  • Interchange fees. Interchange fees are a charge that the merchant’s bank has to pay to cover the costs of the payment by the card-issuing bank. Payment Depot mentions the interchange rates in its payment plan, but generally, you won’t see this information online.

Can I Get a Free Credit Card Reader for iPhone?

While the device itself may be free, it is impossible to avoid all of the costs mentioned above. Transaction, authorization, and interchange fees are a standard part of any card transaction. If your business is mostly online, it might be worth considering whether the additional costs for a device are worth it.

Types of Card Readers

You want to have a device that can handle as many different payment requirements as possible, including:

Credit Card Swiper for iPhone

Credit cards initially only had a swipe service available, where the customers would simply swipe their card with magstripe to record the transaction. This functionality allowed fraudsters to replicate and clone cards, which is why some card reader providers, such as Zettle by PayPal, no longer offer it.

Credit Card Chip Reader for iPhone

Newer cards feature chips, where the user is required to type in their PIN for every transaction. This has also developed into contactless payments, which is still different from swipe technology. These technologies are considered more modern than the swipe functionality.

Some card readers support both swipe and chip technology on the same device. Some require different card readers for Android and iOS software. Carefully read the functions of each reader before you buy. Many of the devices in this list can carry out all transactions on one card reader.

Additional Services

Once you’ve worked out how much the card reader costs and what it processes, there are a number of additional services that could tilt the scale in favor of one provider or the other:

  • Customer service. If your terminal goes down, does the company have a dedicated support team on hand?
  • Software integrations. Will you benefit from integration with the credit card reader and its software - like QuickBooks or Shopify? If you already pay a monthly subscription to a service, then the device may be discounted or included in the membership costs.
  • Does the reader process all the payment types you need? PayPal credit card reader for iPhone, for example, processes QuickPay and UnionPay, which is worth considering if you are selling to customers outside of the US. Some devices will not support contactless, chip, or swipe technology or may only support Android or iOS.

Overview of Credit Card Readers for iPhone

Product

Price

Accepted payment methods

Transaction fee

Square

Device: Free (magstripe), $49.99 (chip and contactless) 

Monthly fees: None

Visa, American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Apple Pay, Google Pay

2.6% plus $0.10 per swipe for Visa, American Express, Discover, Mastercard

Payment Depot

Device: From $49 upward

Monthly fees: $79-$199

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay

$0.07-$0.15 per transaction

PayPal Zettle

Device: $29.99 for first reader and $79 per each new device

Monthly fees: None

Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, UnionPay, V Pay, Diners Club, Discover, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Google Pay, contactless, chip and PIN, QuickPay, UnionPay

1.75% per card transaction

Clover Go

Device: $49

Monthly fee: $0 for first month, subsequent months $9.95

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay, gift cards 

$0 for the first 30 days, then 2.6% plus $0.10 for in-person transactions, 3.5% plus $0.10 for keyed-in transactions

Shopify

Device: $49 for iOS reader 

Monthly fees: $9 - $299 (Shopify subscription), $89 per app

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, and Google Pay

1.5%-1.7% per transaction

QuickBooks

Device: $49 

Monthly fees: None

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay, contactless

2.4% + $0.25 per transaction

Quick Breakdown

Credit Card Readers For iPhone: Our Top Picks for 2022

  • Square - Best for small businesses
  • Payment Depot - Best for membership pricing
  • PayPal Zettle - Best for processing a broad range of payment types
  • Clover Go - Best for customer service and technical support
  • Shopify - Best for retailers
  • QuickBooks - Best for financial software integration

FAQ

Can I use my iPhone as a credit card reader?

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Yes, you can use your iPhone as a credit card reader with an app and a dedicated card reader. However, your iPhone can’t be used as a credit card reader on its own.

How much is a credit card swiper for an iPhone?

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Credit card swipers for an iPhone can either be purchased separately (Square has a credit card swiper as a free device) or be part of a card reader that also reads chip and contactless.

How do I accept payment on my iPhone?

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With your dedicated card reader app, you can accept payment on your iPhone for any transactions your card reader authorizes.

What is Apple Pay on an iPhone?

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Apple Pay is a contactless payment method for Apple devices. Apple now allows users to have a dedicated Apple Wallet, where they can digitally store their credit and debit cards.

How much does Apple charge for Apple Pay?

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Apple Pay doesn’t charge any more than a given bank’s standard processing fees for debit or credit cards. The use of Apple Pay will cost you the same as using the credit or debit card directly.

Does Amazon have its own credit card reader?

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There was a dedicated Amazon credit card reader for iPhone called Local Register, which was launched in 2014. The product was sold for two years but was discontinued in 2016.