Accepting credit cards on your mobile phone – it seemed so bleeding edge a few years ago  but now, new apps for small businesses to accept credit cards on their mobile phones seem to be popping up every day.  With so many choices available, how do you know which one is right for your small business?

We compiled a checklist to help you analyze your mobile credit card processing needs and select the app that’s best for your business.checklist

What Are Your Small Business Mobile Payment Needs:

  • Do you already have a merchant account?  If you don’t have one, you’ll want to find a mobile credit card app that comes bundled with a merchant account.  A merchant account is what enables your business to accept credit cards.  The process can sometimes be confusing for a small business, so it’s best to find a merchant account provider that will hold your hand through the application process.
  • Do you have repeat customers?   If you are a business that has repeat customers, be sure to find a mobile credit card app that associates payments with your customer and that will also securely store your customer’s payment account so that you don’t have to continually ask for credit card information.  A seamless payment experience where you can ask “Would you like to put that on your Visa ending in 1111?” really delights repeat customers.
  • Will you (or anyone in your office) ever want to process credit cards or manage your customers from a regular computer?  If yes, look for a mobile app that includes a web application you can access from any computer browser.  While it’s become commonplace for mobile credit card apps to include a web application, many of them just have simple transaction history lists for exporting, which might not meet your needs.  Look for a solution that provides at least all the same functions you have on your mobile app.
  • Do you want payment communications to go to you and your customers?  If you do have repeat customers and to avoid disputes, good payment communications are key.  Be sure that the mobile app you select facilitates emailing payment receipts and other communications to you, your customer and anyone else at your company that you want to keep in the loop.
  • Do you ever need to collect payment in another way beyond credit card acceptance on the mobile phone?  While some small businesses are 100% mobile point of sale, most also have some other needs such as sending off an invoice, or running occasional payments from a virtual terminal on a computer.  If you do have needs beyond just collecting payment on your mobile phone, be sure to find a payment solutions provider that offers multiple payment acceptance methods which are all integrated to work together.
  • Do you have multiple users?  Do you have other employees, associates or contractors that you would like to have access to the customer list, transactions or also collect payment for your business?  If so, be sure that the mobile app you select supports multiple users.  Be on the lookout for additional fees per user – and try to find a provider that gives you unlimited users.
  • What device(s) will you be using now and potential future plans?  Are you someone that likes to always get the latest and greatest smart phone?  Or do you have employees with a myriad of smart phone devices and versions?  Check to see if all of the features of the mobile app work across all the devices you need it to.  There are some apps out there with some pretty fancy advanced features, but be sure to take the time to read the fine print since some of the cool features might only be available on a limited set of devices.  Look for potential limiters here too – for example, a sleeve that slides onto your phone to swipe a credit card is very specific to a device and likely to take manufacturers a long time to release new sleeves when new phone versions come out.
  • What other systems do you need to share your payment data with?  Be sure to find a mobile app solution that comes with reporting that can agree with your accounting system, or any other systems that you use.

The above list should help you narrow down the available credit card apps to get to a short list.  Next, it’s time to decide between the apps left on your shortlist.  Rather than just picking a credit card app based on price, here are some other factors to consider.

Some of the Finer Details of the Mobile Credit Card Solution Provider:

  • Is it secure?   The last thing your small business needs is to be the cause of credit card fraud for a customer.  Be sure the vendor you select is PCI compliant and that card numbers are encrypted and not stored on the phone.
  • Does it come with real live phone support?  As a small business, you need a real person to help with any credit card processing issues – not some help manual or list of FAQs.  Be sure that real live phone support is available for the plan you choose.
  • How long does it take for you to receive deposits?  Accepting payment anytime anywhere isn’t very valuable if you have to wait 30 days before the money even hits your account.  Be sure to review the company’s policy for deposits and check for any limits after which your money will get held.
  • Is the pricing straightforward and affordable for a small business?  Simple pricing structures are best so you can easily understand what fees will be deducted and plan accordingly.  The other thing to be on the lookout for are higher rates charged for mobile phone transactions – there’s no need for this, so don’t settle for a provider that charges a higher mobile rate.  Carefully weigh out monthly fees versus transaction fees to be sure that the plan you select will truly be the lowest cost for you.  Also be sure to read the fine print and ask about any other hidden fees such as statement fees, cancellation fees, chargeback fees, etc. so there are no surprises along the way.
  • Is the app from a proven, trusted payments solution provider?    No newbies need apply – check out how long the company has been in business providing payments?  Do they specialize in small businesses?  Can you talk to references?  Switching merchant accounts isn’t fun, so make sure to go for a secure choice that’s proven at providing payments and plans to continue to invest in its mobile payment solutions.

We hope you find this list helpful in your search for a mobile credit card payment acceptance app.  Happy shopping!