12 Step Buyer's Guide to Mobile Credit Card Processing

If you've decided to accept credit cards on your mobile phone, or you've decided to upgrade from an existing mobile credit card reader - this guide is for you.

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by PaySimple

WHo is this guide For?

Accepting credit cards on a mobile device or upgrading from one credit card reader to another can be frustrating for many business owners. This guide is here to help navigate the process easily.

  • Learn more about the product and service offerings you should consider for your business’ unique needs.
  • Each section provides a detailed view of what you should be aware of and why, and also provides a space for notes to jot down thoughts about your business’ needs.
  • Use this 12-step guide and the checklist at the end to help you ask the right questions and choose the right solution for your business
Mobile Credit Card Processing

Step 1: Business Types


Do you sell merchandise or food/beverages with stop-and-go visitors?

A simple mobile credit card reader may do the job and can be an awesome go-anywhere extension to your business.


  • Determine if you want to combine transactions from a mobile card reader to the transactions from a different register (your brick-and-mortar location, for example). The time you spend linking up these activities could eat into time you'd rather spend selling.

Service Provider

Do you have ongoing relationships with your customers? If your business sells a service rather than goods, there is likely information (buying/appointment history, payment preferences, etc.) about your customers that you would like to be able to reference throughout your relationship with the customer. If this is the case, consider a solution that links to a customer relationship management system (aka CRM or customer database).


  • While retail businesses are linked to transactions and sales. Service providers are linked to customers and ongoing relationships. Finding a solution that “thinks” in the same way is critical to a good business fit.
  • A service commerce solution will map payments and billing activity back to individual customer records, giving you access to a customer’s whole history- no matter when, where, or how he/she paid.

Step 2: Security and PCI Compliance

Are data security and pci compliance standards important to your business?

If you accept credit and debit cards, you are responsible for securing your card holder data. Be sure you have a PCI compliant solution that supports a safe payment environment. Additionally, it is important that the different platforms (software, systems, databases, etc.) you use to run your business are linked together. Linked platforms allow you to use a mobile credit card reader and app as an extension of your billing platform, so you can access your existing payment accounts.

Example 1

You run a fitness class and collect recurring membership fees, but you’d also like to sell bottled water onsite without asking for a credit card. Simply pull up the customer record on your mobile app, access the existing billing account, and add the charge to their profile.

Example 2

You’re a contractor who is charging an estimate fee, but plans (or hopes) to work with the client going forward. A linked billing system will automatically and securely keep that credit card or bank account in the system for future invoices, recurring payments, or other transactions.

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Step 3: Merchant Accounts

Why a merchant account?

Establishing a merchant account gives you the ability to accept all credit card payments and maximizes the best rate for each transaction, rather than rounding up each transaction to a flat rate. 

Do you have an existing merchant account, or plan to accept payments in other ways besides a mobile credit card reader? 

If so, some providers will let you merge a mobile credit card reader onto your existing account. This gives you a simple way to report and track deposits, as well as cut down on fees associated with having multiple accounts.


  • Some providers offer new accounts (or sometimes aggregate merchant accounts) that won’t merge with your existing account information; the upside is that they offer the benefit of a speedy signup and simple rate structures.
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Step 4: Payment Options

WHat are different payment options?

Aside from the way a customer wants to pay (like right now on your phone), there’s also the payment method to think about.

• Credit card fees can get really expensive if your average transaction is in the high-ticket arena ($1,000+).

• ACH processing (a direct bank account debit) is a really affordable option, and IS available to use on
some mobile apps. Use routing and bank account information from your customer’s voided check, and enter the information into the app on your phone. This is just as secure as entering information through your web-based application.

• PayPal is another method to consider supporting if your customers want to pay through their PayPal accounts.

Step 5: Collaboration

Existing systems

A key component to consider when choosing a mobile credit card processing solution is how it works with your existing systems.

• Merchant account or billing platforms (mentioned earlier)
• Accounting software
• Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Customer Database
• Scheduling tool

Where to start

• Ask about import and export capabilities, and find out what will work with your existing system(s).
• Check for existing app integrations.

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Step 6: Hardware

Mobile credit card readers

Not all mobile credit card readers are created equal.

• Some readers have a swiper which reads the magnetic stripe on a card.
• Some readers are wireless and just require a tap to process a payment.
• Some include an EMV card reader which processes a card when it is inserted or “dipped” into the reader.


  • If you can’t test one in hand, look for backboards or bumpers in the model design that will provide a snug fit to
    your mobile device.

Step 7: Multiple Users and Permissions

How will you manage mobile processing?

• If you run a one-man or woman shop, multiple users may not be an issue for you.                                                      

• If you would like to enable some users to accept payments on their mobile devices, but limit their access to the web platform, you’ll need to ask the provider about user permission capabilities.


  • There can be big differences in user permissions from system to system, so if this is critical in your industry or
    business, be sure to get a detailed breakdown.

Step 8: Customizable Communications

Branded Communications

Most mobile credit card processing solutions will offer automated receipts after a transaction is made. In addition, some may offer editable communications so you can add other information or links about your business.


• Future discounts or promotions
• Links to your social media pages
• A feedback survey


• This is one of those forgot-to-ask about features that may not be a deal
   killer, but can be a very nice perk.

    Step 9: Custom Reporting

    Benefits of custom reporting

    Custom reporting is the forgot-to-ask about feature that can be a deal killer and gives you the ability to:

    • Learn more about your business
    • Create special promotions to engage inactive customers
    • Dig into your customer database to understand buying preferences and trends


    • Being able to access the data you want, in a way you can use it, whenever you need it, is SO critical to tracking business performance.
    • It’s not until you discover you can’t do certain functions that the pains and workarounds start to set in. Be sure to ask up front!

    Step 10: EMV Readiness

    What is emv?

    EMV—Europay, MasterCard, Visa—is a global standard for credit and debit cards equipped with an embedded microchip. Standard U.S. credit and debit cards have a magnetic stripe that is swiped to process a transaction. These cards are being replaced by cards that will have both a magnetic stripe and an embedded microchip.


    The type of business you have will determine the level of impact the EMV
    transition will have on the way your process credit cards. For service-based merchants who primarily process
    transactions online, over the phone or with recurring billing systems, EMV is very unlikely to have an impact on your business. However, it’s important to follow best practices for fraud protection and to understand the risk you face after the EMV liability shift on October 1, 2015.


    • In-store counterfeit fraud is less likely for merchants who primarily sell services and only some products
    over the counter. Most fraudulent cards are used to purchase high-ticket items that can be easily resold and
    converted to cash.

    Step 11: Customer Service

    support when you need it

    No matter your level of tech savviness, sometimes things just don’t work the way we want them to.

    Being able to talk to a support representative can save you time and frustration. When evaluating providers, decide how important it is to be able to get support when and how you need it. Support is available in many different
    forms, including phone, chat and email. Do you have a preference?


    • Is it hard to find a way to call from the app?
    • Have you done a “service test” and actually called in to see what
    • Unless you’ve had a prior negative customer service experience with a vendor, it can sometimes be an
    afterthought. Check out call-in accessibility, click-to-email support, and overall support offerings.

    Step 12: Summary and Checklist


    The great news is that you have a lot of options available to you! The not-as-great news is the options can seem daunting, but don’t let them get you down. Document your preferences, and then make sure to get answers to the questions that are important to you.

    Your takeaway checklist

    On the last page of this guide you’ll find a handy checklist to complete when researching different vendors.

    Who are we?

    PaySimple is the leading payments management solution for service-based businesses, powering the cashflow
    of over 20,000 companies nationwide. PaySimple builds longterm partnerships with companies to drive growth
    providing flexible payment and billing solutions and personalized customer service to suit their distinct business needs.

    Learn how PaySimple can help take your business to the next level.