Credit Card Processing On Android: Best Tools For Accepting Payment

Matthew Hughes 11-11-2014

Your Android Phone is a lot of things. It’s your camera Google Camera: The Official Vision for An Android Camera App Today I'd like to tell you about a camera app that doesn't do very much -- by design. You should still try it, though, because it comes direct from Google. Read More . It’s your organizer. It’s your computer Ditch Your Desktop! Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop Replacement Want to ditch the desktop and just use your smartphone? You can do that! Read More . And for some people, it’s what they use for accepting credit card payments.


Yes, it doesn’t matter if you’re a street merchant flogging your wares to people passing by, or a tradesman going from house to house, you can take card payments with your phone. There are a lot of options on the market, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here are 6 that are worthy of your consideration.


The Square Reader consists of a couple inches of white plastic. It plugs into the headphone socket of an iOS or Android device and allows anyone in the US, Canada, or Japan to accept card payments through their smartphone or tablet. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

It sounds too good to be true. You get a free reader, there are no joining fees, no monthly subscription payments, and the fees are the same for both large and small merchants. No matter how you look at it, Square is pretty cool Square - Mobile Credit Card Processing For The Masses Read More .  So how does it work, and is there a catch?


Well, it’s pretty simple. Users swipe their card whenever they make a payment. You can choose between digital, paper, and text receipts, and customers sign for purchases right on the device using the Android app.


Sadly, it doesn’t accept chip-and-pin or contactless payments. The fees may also be unpalatable for some, with Square taking 2.75% of each transaction.


Square is king of card processing in the US, but what about elsewhere? Well, if you’re based in Europe or Brazil, look no further than PayLeven.

Their offering consists of an app (available for Android, from the Amazon store) and a chip-and-pin card reader. Unlike Square, this isn’t free. You can pick one up from anywhere between £45 and £60.



Like Square, there’s no monthly subscription, and you don’t have to sign up to a restrictive contract. Rather, you pay a fee as a percentage of each transaction.

This ranges depending on how many payments you take per month. Less than £2,500? You’ll be charged an eye-watering 2.75%. However, if you’re doing more than £7,500 per month in business, that drops down to a nicer 1.50%.


At first glance, there’s very little to differentiate between iZettle and PayLeven. But look a bit closer, and you’ll start noticing some key differences.

Firstly, they’re based in Sweden and operate under Swedish legal jurisdiction. This shouldn’t necessarily impact your day-to-day usage of the service, but there’s a couple of things to note. Firstly, as a seller, you agree in the terms and conditions to settle any dispute and conflicts with iZettle in Sweden, under Swedish law.


For consumers, it’s a little different. I read the UK terms and conditions, and a Google translated copy of the German terms of conditions. For consumers, it seems any arbitration or dispute resolution must be done in the country where the purchase was made.


Like PayLeven, you have to pay for your card reader, which is charged in the UK at a flat rate of £59, and supports both chip-and-pin and magstripe.

Similarly, customers pay less in fees contingent on how many transactions they make. In the UK, anything under £2,000 is charged at a 2.75% rate, whilst anything over £13,000 is charged at 1.5%.


However, where iZettle differentiate itself is in its value-added features. Take, for example, its webapp. This allows users to track their sales over time, as well as key business metrics. It’s almost a fully-featured accountancy package.

And then there’s their mobile app. Available for iOS and Android, this can best be described as a point-of-sale system in an app, allowing you to take both card and cash payments and feed them into the webapp so that you still get those great metrics.

iZettle is available in several European countries, in addition to Brazil and Mexico.

Paypal Here

Everybody knows Paypal.

If you’ve ever bought or sold on eBay, you’ve used it. For better or for worse Why You Don’t Have To Use PayPal For Online Transactions: 5 PayPal Alternatives Online shopping and online purchases have grown into something so important in many of our lives that it’s strange, at least for me, to think of a world where it doesn’t exist. PayPal is one... Read More , it’s the default standard for making payments online. But how does their card reader offering stand up in light of stiff competition from iZettle and Square?

Well, it’s worth noting that Paypal Here in the US and Paypal Here in the UK are two entirely different products.

Paypal Here US is based around a swipe-only card reader available for iOS and Android. You can get this for free from Paypal or purchase it for $15 from Staples or Office Depot. Should you take the latter choice, Paypal will refund you your $15. This means whatever you do, you don’t lose out.

PAYPAL CANADA - PayPal's new mobile payment app and card reader

But in the UK, Paypal Here is based around a chip-and-pin reader that’s vastly more sophisticated than the US-only swipe-reader. As a result, UK customers have to pay for their card readers, which cost an extortionate £69.95 in the UK. Shipping is included.


When you swipe a customer’s card in the US, Paypal take a flat 2.70% of the pie. UK customers pay a little bit more at 2.75%. That’s fairly standard across the board.

So, what do you get with Paypal that you don’t get with Square?

Simply put, integration with Paypal. From paying your freelancers, to purchasing business expenses with a Paypal-branded MasterCard, you can quite happily operate as a business using just this one service.

Amazon Local Register

You probably don’t want to use their phones 5 Privacy Reasons Not To Buy An Amazon Smartphone Are you considering a new smartphone? If you are, Amazon's Fire phone might be high on your list. But there are five privacy reasons why this might not be a good idea… Read More , but do you want to use their credit card processing service?

Amazon Local Register (US only) consists of a swipe-only card reader ($10, with the $10 refunded in waived processing fees) and an app [No Longer Available].

I say “selection”, but what I really mean is the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5 phones, in addition to a handful of Fire tablets. To Amazon’s credit, they will let you use Local Register on other devices, but they make no promises as to if it’ll work.

So, why should you use Amazon Local Register over Paypal or Square? Well, the most compelling reason is the significantly lower fees. Amazon take a slightly smaller 2.5% of each transaction. They also don’t charge for chargebacks or refunds, and you can accept international cards without incurring any extra costs.

They also have a compelling range of peripherals, including receipt printers, cash drawers, and stands. You could quite easily replace your existing EPOS system with Amazon Local Register, without skimping on any features. And it’d probably be cheaper, too.

The largest downside to this service is the overwhelmingly negative reviews on both the Android and iOS apps, receiving only an average of 2 out of 5 stars for both.

Capital One Spark Pay

Capital One is one of the biggest financial corporations in the world. So it makes sense they’ve got their own card-processing service. Meet Spark Pay.

Much like Square, Paypal Here (US), and Amazon Local Register, this is a card reader and app combo, with the reader coming free. But what makes Spark Pay different from the herd is their lower fees.


There are two plans users can sign up for. Users on their Go (read: free) plan pay no monthly fees, and swipes are charged at 2.7%. But, if you expect to take a lot of card payments, the Pro plan will be incredibly interesting to you.

This attracts a monthly fee of $9.95 per month. But this comes with drastically lower fees, with only 1.95% in fees per swipe.

To sweeten the pot even further, Capital One is running an offer where you get a $50 rebate after swiping $5,000 in the first 3 months. If you process a lot of transactions, you really can’t go wrong with Spark Pay.

Processing Cards Has Never Been Easier

If you’re in the US, your options are incredible. Square, Amazon, Paypal, and Capital One each have incredibly compelling options. On price alone, I can’t recommend Amazon and Capital One enough.

In the UK, things are a bit samey. No matter what you choose, you’re still going to be paying relatively high fees, and an upfront cost for a card reader. PayLeaven stands out as the most cost efficient option, but not by much.

Are you a small business owner? Do you accept cards with your Android device? What do you use? I want to hear about it. Drop me a comment in the box below and we’ll chat.

Photo Credits: Old Square Reader, New Square Reader (Stephen Yeargin)

Related topics: Business Technology, PayPal.

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  1. Terry
    November 15, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Is there any operating in australia

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      I think Paypal has an offering for Australia.

  2. Mark
    November 12, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Interesting no mention of Beanstream that appears to have two options one standard swipe reader and another for chip/pin. The swipe has a cost but they have similar options and is a Digital River company. (Just ordered to try it as it seemed to have more options than square.)

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Not used BeanStream. Any good?

    • Mark
      December 3, 2014 at 4:54 am

      So far so good .. payment within 3 days and no thresholds like Square (Might have been a credit check but not sure) They provide some other options that I have not used that allow recurring payments.

  3. Matt
    November 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I'm not sure why the ~2.75% fee is bad. I mean, any money I'm not putting in my pocket sucks.

    But, consider:

    a) That's the going rate (look at the services you listed, they're all about the same)

    b) Depending on the service you're currently using, the monthly fees, processing fees, and/or additional fees for special bank accounts or services can really add up to more than that

    c) Arguably it's easier to switch than ever. Depending how deep into a particular ecosystem you go, you can move from one to another pretty easily. This will drive competition and hopefully keep rates reasonable. This is a big departure from even a couple years ago when you had to buy expensive equipment, have a merchant account, etc and you were pretty deeply integrated and invested.

    • Kai M.
      November 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      @ Matt - I was thinking the same thing as I read that part of the article. I run a small computer consulting business off of Square and have convinced several other local businesses in my area to switch to mobile card readers.

      They especially came on board after they found out that I was being charged 2.75% and that they were being charged a merchant fee as high as +- 5% for Amex and Discover, plus a batch fee, and an annual fee for the credit card processing machine.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      I suppose that yes, compared to normal card processing machines, it is relatively cheap. But there is some variation in the market. Amazon and Capital One have lower fees than the going rate.

  4. Kai M.
    November 12, 2014 at 12:31 am

    @bben - I can't speak to the others but I've been a Square user for my business for years. Square recently announced that they will be releasing readers for chip & pin systems to replace the older ones here soon and that you will be able to use the devices for both magnetic strip and pin & chip cards.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Do you know how much the chip and pin readers from Square will cost?

  5. Doc
    November 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    "But in the UK, Paypal Here is based around a chip-and-pin reader that’s vastly more sophisticated than the US-only swipe-reader." For better or worse, the US is going to chip-and-pin by October 2015, with the President urging the transition to start as early as January.
    There's going to be a boatload of used swipe readers hitting eBay real soon.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Most likely. I doubt there'll be much of a market for them though.

  6. robbin
    November 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Note: I'm not recommending Square, it's just what I know -- and I know your feature list is incomplete.
    Square has a fully featured POS app, a moble marketplace for selling online, and a range of hardware like Amazon's.

    • bbrand
      November 11, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      He also says paper receipts are an option, but it's not available for Android, only on iOS devices.

    • Matt
      November 12, 2014 at 12:50 am

      Yeah- I noticed they left out a number of good points regarding the offerings of some of the services.

      Also, Square has said they will be able to support chip and pin via their new reader that supports EMV [Broken Link Removed]

  7. bben
    November 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    With the credit card companies in the process of changing over from swipe only to chip & pin here in the US how does that affect the US card reader business?

    • bbrand
      November 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      All of the companies are working on chip devices. They most likely won't be free. The fees are not expected to go up except in cases where a chip card is swiped, and if its not a chip transaction the liability for fraud or NSF falls to you.

  8. Jeff
    November 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Square recently announced they won't handle firearm business.

    Which of the ones above will?

    • Ian H.
      November 12, 2014 at 3:30 am

      How would Square know? I've got the reader, and while you can pre-enter certain amounts that are reusable and have a description attached, you can also just charge a bare amount with no other data attached. So how would Square know you were selling a gun, or drugs, or prostitutes or anything else they find unsavoury?

    • Drew M.
      November 12, 2014 at 7:07 am

      None, sadly. Even the formerly-friendly Intuit Go-Payment does'n't accept firearms related sales these days.

      You're most stable option is, but I have no idea what their rates are like.

    • Matthew Hughes
      November 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I had a look. Unfortunately, I've not been able to find any. Sorry man. :(