How to Accept Credit Card Payments On Your Phone- Steps & Fees

Jin Hyun9/8/2020

Having variety and flexibility in the payment processing stage can give businesses a competitive edge and enhance their customer service.

By accepting credit card payments on a mobile device, companies can drastically reduce wait times and cater to a wide variety of consumers.

Mobile POS - Who Is It For?

Accepting smartphone payments may seem like a niche function for small vendors. However, the popularity of mPOS systems is quickly rising among stationary and mobile merchants. Below or some of the main industries that can benefit from mobile POS technology.

  • Artists & Craftsmen
Today more and more consumers prefer to pay by credit cards, even in trade shows and pop-up fairs. For merchants operating at art shows, conventions, or other events, a mobile POS can assist with processing transactions from any location.

  • Independent Consultants
In direct sales scenarios, merchants need to be able to accept credit cards in order to capture any impulse purchases.

  • Farmer's Markets & Food Trucks
In these situations, space is generally very limited. Putting in a standard POS system will take up additional space while also being more costly. Alternatively, mPOS systems are compact and allow users to send digital receipts by SMS or email, eliminating the need for a physical printer.

  • Cafes & Restaurants
With handheld mobile POS devices, servers will spend less time walking back and forth to take and process orders, creating a more efficient and seamless experience for customers. Processing payments at the table can also increase service speed and table turnover rates to potentially bring in more sales.

  • Service Businesses
For businesses without an office or storefront (electronic repairs, movers, mobile beauticians, etc.) having a mobile POS system will enable them to travel to appointments and accept payments immediately.

  • Retail Stores
Businesses don't need to be small-scale or mobile to benefit from mPOS systems. Even regular retailers may find that accepting credit card payments on their phones can streamline the checkout process through reduced wait times.

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3 Steps for Accepting Credit Card Payments

Businesses introducing mobile POS technology into their operations can follow the 3 general steps when choosing a mobile device, credit card processing company, and safe usage protocol.

#1- Choose the Mobile Device

Almost all mobile credit card readers can attach to a smartphone device via the charger port or headphone jack. There is also an option to process payments without an adaptor, by manually entering the credit card information into a phone over the internet. However, this option takes more time and effort to process and offers less privacy.

Some services will require a mobile app to function and almost all devices will accept both credit cards and debit cards. Some payment processes may be different for debit cards, so it's essential to understand what is required for each transaction type.

All major platforms - including Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry devices - are compatible with mobile POS hardware and near field communication technology.

#2- Select the Credit Card Processing Company

The major credit card processing companies will offer similar functionalities but require various transaction fees, approval rates, and application processes. Additionally, some services may lack features such as voiding transactions from the device or capturing written signatures.

Depending on the processing company, the business would be using either a merchant account or a third-party processor. Merchant accounts are very stable, though they can take longer to set up and there may be more complex requirements in the application process.

A third-party processor is more straightforward, with the application only requiring identity verification to set up payments almost instantly. However, there is less stability in this option as there is more risk of account holds and terminations. When choosing the processing company, organizations should also consider the time it will take for the money to reach the account. Some services will offer deposits instantly or next-day, while others may take longer.

#3- Secure and Update Devices

Before processing any payments, businesses should take the time to ensure all software has been updated and the device is secure. Organizations should refrain from installing apps from websites that are not trusted sources to ensure company and consumer data security.

It is also important to enable a password locking mechanism during business hours in case the device is ever lost or stolen.

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Mobile POS Fees

There are 3 main pricing models to consider when accepting credit cards on a smartphone. The ideal payment plan will ultimately depend on the type of business, as well as the value and volume of the transactions. Third-party processors generally offer flat-rate pricing, while merchant service accounts tend to utilize interchange-plus or tiered pricing.

  • Flat-Rate
As the simplest pricing model, the flat rate may appear to have higher rates, but it usually does not involve additional fees or long contracts, making it ideal for small businesses processing less than $3,000 each month. Flat-Rate pricing is generally a flat percentage of the transaction value or a flat-percentage for all transactions, with a smaller fee per-transaction.

  • Interchange-Plus
In this model, the merchant pays a wholesale rate, as well as the markup from the processor. The wholesale rate contains the interchange fee, which is a rate set by the card networks that all processors are required to pay, as well as the assessment fee and a non-negotiable rate that card brands charge to processors.

The markup of the processor is the only negotiable cost in this pricing model. Industry experts and large companies prefer this pricing model due to its transparency.

  • Tiered
The tiered pricing model is a categorization of transactions into tiers. These are - qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified.

Qualified transactions have the lowest rates, and include basic debit or credit cards swiped at the POS. Mid-qualified transactions generally involve rewards cards being processed at the POS. Non-qualified transactions include corporate cards, keyed-in transactions, and premium rewards cards, which have the most expensive fees.

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Processors will consider the business credit history, transaction values, and the industry when determining rates. However, companies can generally expect a range of 2-4% per transaction. Companies may charge as each transaction is processed and/or charge monthly fees.

There will always be fees associated with accepting credit card payments, whether from a mobile device or a standard POS system. The advantages of accepting card payments on a mobile device, such as flexibility, cost reduction, and ease of use all present mobile POS systems as desirable tools for any merchant business.

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