One of the fastest growing ways to accept payments is with mobile card processors, which offer a fast and easy way to use your phone to accept credit and debit cards while doing business. The affordable rates, free readers, and prevalence of smartphones have all made this the latest craze among small business folk. Though Square started it all, now PayPal and Intuit offer their own flavors of payment processing. When it comes to these three popular readers, which one is right for you?
A look at the contenders
This review will be reviewing three popular payment processing options:
The Square Reader with Square Register software, the PayPal Here Reader with PayPal Here software, and the Intuit GoPayment Reader with Intuit GoPayment software.
Square: Square got started back in 2010 out of the inspiration of Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, whose friend was unable to complete a large transaction because he couldn’t take credit cards in person. From there, he worked with a friend to make a prototype of the iconic little card reader, which has been the inspiration for readers like the PayPal Here and Intuit GoPayment. The Square is a tiny little square that you can swipe your credit card through, and it connects through the headphone jack on your device.
PayPal and Intuit: The PayPal Here reader and Intuit GoPayment readers both arrived much more recently, but they bring along not just an easy to use card reader, but the backbone of two major financial firms. PayPal is already known internationally for being the foundation of online payment processing, and it hopes to bring along this network to users of its PayPal Here reader, too. Intuit, known for its popular products like QuickBooks and TurboTax, is also bringing along a long history of financial services support. Both companies released their readers in the last year or so, and are only now beginning to spread the word about them. The PayPal Here reader is a small blue triangle that sits atop your device on a slight angle, while the Intuit GoPayment is a larger pill-shaped reader, with a silicone cover on the back that lets it sit evenly across the top of your device.
But enough about these readers and how the companies that make them; what sets them apart from one another?
Intuit: Intuit’s GoPayment reader is pretty basic, but the build quality is probably the best among all three of the readers. With a solid swipe assembly that gives that really sweet feeling when you bring your card across it, Intuit’s GoPayment reader is stylish looking and very durable in design. The silicon cover on the bottom of the reader does seem a little unnecessary though, and the software Intuit throws in with it is pretty simple in nature. To make matters worse, Intuit released two versions of the software, phone, and tablet edition, possibly confusing users who don’t know which version to download. Either way, the GoPayment reader by far has better build quality even if its software is less than stellar.
Square: Square is pretty nifty for two reasons. For one, it works well with devices that have cases on due to its thinness. Second, it detects the card as you swipe it whether or not you’re ready to start payment. Much like the card reader at most major retailers, this feature is a somewhat trivial, though still nifty feature preventing the dreaded re-swipe. Beyond this though, Square’s Register software is pretty simple and straightforward.
We also love these nifty ways to keep the Square handy and safe.
PayPal: PayPal gets credit for stuffing the most features into its software, even though individual device compatibility is very finicky. The EVO 4G LTE we used is actually 100 percent compatible with the software based on our testing, but PayPal doesn’t yet offer it on the Play Store for users. PayPal got me a copy of the app regardless and is “regularly” adding new compatible devices, but we have no explanation why it’s so picky with individual devices. Either way, you get a lot of powerful features behind the software, including invoice options, easy access to Paypal account information, and even the ability to add checks right into your PayPal account for free. PayPal Here offers an impressive software back-end, even if it’s very picky with devices. The reader PayPal gives is also the most plastic-y and doesn’t sit very nicely on top of the devices, which is a little disappointing.
Accessing your money
When it comes to speed, our hats are off to PayPal, which realized that while there is a necessity to get your cash into your bank account, there is also a desire to be able to use money instantly. All three payment processing apps offer access to your bank account in a very typical three business days or so, but only PayPal lets you use the cash in a matter of seconds. All money collected with your PayPal Here reader will go straight to your PayPal account, where you can instantly use it for purchases online or with a free debit card it will send you. All the other readers simply offer your money accessible straight from your bank account in anywhere from 1 to 3 business days, which isn’t too long.
Costs and fees
When it comes to cost, payment processors are less about the upfront cost, but instead the fees you’ll pay while swiping your customers. As a result, most readers are free – either after a rebate or through filling out a form – and instead make their money the payment gateways you use with the readers. When it comes to these three readers, there are three very distinctive pricing options between them.
Square: With Square, you can pay either 2.75 percent on all sales, or you can pay $275 a month for 0 percent as long as the item price doesn’t exceed $400. Square’s pricing gets a little confusing with the flat-rate option, but unless you’re selling more than $10,000 worth of stuff with credit cards in a month, then it may not be worth worrying about anyway. Either way, Square offers a simple and affordable option of swiping for the small scale or large scale operation alike.
PayPal: PayPal offers a very straightforward pricing plan: 2.7 percent on everything, no matter your volume or item prices. PayPal technically argues the fee is only 1.7 percent, but that’s only if you use the money with its free debit card with 1 percent cash back. While this is its way of getting to 1.7 percent, it’s only true in very specific spending circumstances and doesn’t offer much flexibility. If simplicity isn’t what you had in mind, then PayPal takes the cake in pricing.
Intuit: Intuit’s GoPayment offers two main pricing structures n a somewhat similar way to Square. The GoPayment will charge 2.75 percent on all swipes, or you can opt-in for a monthly plan of just $13 a month, which drops the swipe rate down to 1.75 percent. For the monthly payment to pay off, you’d need to be selling more than $1500 a month or so in stuff. $1500 isn’t much to someone with serious small business, but it’s not meant for the once-in-a-while user. Still, the company also appears to charge extra fees of up to 15 cents per transaction if you pay with a rewards card, or cards considered “Non-Qualified” transactions. this fee also applies to American Express cards too.
As you can see, what makes each one cheaper is not really the pricing itself, but instead, the amount that you gross in sales each month. If you’re planning to use them for little purchases here or there, then all three will cost just about the same. If you’re racking up more than $1500 or so, then GoPayment will be the cheapest. If you’re making more than $10,000 a month though, Square has the most economical option. When it comes to the greenbacks though, all three are good for once-in-a-while users.
Service and support
One important (and final) aspect we’ll look at is the overall amount of service you get with your card reader. These readers, designed to be simple in design and easy to use, also offer limited support in most cases. However, each of the three companies offers different levels of support.
Square: With Square, there actually is no telephone support offered with the device, meaning one-on-one and fast support can be hard to find when you need it most. Instead, Square offers a Twitter account you can request help through, as well as a knowledge base and an expedited email service. While this is certainly satisfactory access, and we love it when companies head to Twitter to talk with customers, it doesn’t replace the fast and personal experience phone support offers.
PayPal and Intuit: Both PayPal and Intuit, already with a big financial background, offer up both phone and email support, as well as a knowledge base. Intuit offers GoPayment support separate from other Intuit products, while PayPal tries its best to integrate PayPal Here into the rest of the services the company offers, which offers a very seamless experience from your PayPal account to your PayPal Here reader. As a result, PayPal and Intuit are both better off for those who want a lot of hand-holding and easy access to support for their readers.
Which one is right for you?
Figuring out which card reader is “right” for you depends on all of the features already mentioned so far. Do you need money the moment you swipe? Do you want a discount for high-volume selling? Do you want to scan checks? Does build quality matters? These questions are just a few of the many you may ask yourself when figuring out which reader to grab, but in the end, they all are solid choices for the businessperson, whether they be for once-in-a-while purchases or serious sales volume. The extra features and quick access to your cash makes PayPal Here outweigh Intuit’s GoPayment to us, but GoPayment has a solid pricing structure, too. Square’s pricing structure is a little irrelevant, and its software is pretty simplistic, but you can’t deny the iconic and easy access it offers. With all these thoughts in mind, go out and grab whichever one you feel is best for you. If you don’t like it, an alternative reading is just a simple form or rebate away!
Personally, we highly recommend PayPal.
Here’s versatility in software, as well as the Intuit GoPayment’s price structure and build quality. Good luck finding the right one for you!
So, tell us – Which one do you use? What do you love about it? What don’t you love about it?
Update: 1/13/19 – Cost, Fees and some services updated for Paypal
Update: 8/2/13 – Intuit has instated additional fees that are not made clear upon sign-up. If you serve a credit card that Intuit deems to be a rewards card, or an American Express Card, there may be an additional charge of up to 15 cents per transaction. These cards are classified by Intuit as “Non-Qualified” cards. Please read here for full details (scroll down to “important disclosures”).
Original Post Date 3/13/13