Introduction to Portable Credit Card Readers

There was a time when establishing a check-out point for your customers might have been muddled and hard to understand. Not anymore—now we have credit card readers for phones.

Technological advancements have made transaction processing significantly simpler. Nowadays, any merchant with a smartphone can start accepting payments, with minimal up-front investment, through mobile phone credit card readers.

Best Mobile Credit Card Readers

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Mobile Credit Card Readers

We’ve already done the legwork for you. Below is our review of six of the best mobile credit card readers.

See Also: The Best Prepaid Credit Cards | Guide to Finding Top, Free, Online Prepaid Credit Cards

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Credit Card Readers for Phones

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the smartphone credit card reader names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that portable credit card reader)

Top 6 Best Credit Card Readers for Phones | Brief Comparison

Portable Credit Card Reader

Monthly Payment

% Cost per Swipe

Cartwheel Register


2.6% + $0.24

Ingenico Mobile Solutions






PayPal Here



Quickbooks Payments

$0 or $19.99

2.4% or 1.6%




Table: Top 6 Best Mobile Credit Card Readers | Above list is sorted alphabetically 

Credit Card Readers for Phone—Commonly Used Terms

The terms below pop up in our article, and also likely appear in any research you’d conduct on your own regarding the best mobile credit card readers.

EMV: EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa. You likely recognize at least two of those names as popular credit cards. The EMV cards are those equipped with “the chip.” The chip is more secure than the dated “swipe” method.

NFC: NFC stands for Near Field Communication. This is the technology that enables phone and a check-out payment terminal to communicate with each other when they’re nearby (think Apple Pay).

POS: POS stands for Point of Sale. In a brick-and-mortar store, it is the location where the monetary transaction between merchant and customer takes place (typically at the cash register). Portable Credit Card Reader

Image Source: Pixabay

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AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

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Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial

accounts, firms, products, and services.

Don’t Miss: Ways to Get the Best Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit | Best Secured & Unsecured Credit Cards for Rebuilding Credit

Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Mobile Credit Card Reader Options

Below, please find a detailed review of each card reader on our list of credit card reader for phone options. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these portable credit card reader choices to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Cartwheel Register Review

We don’t want you to think this is a trick, so we’re going to break this to you right off the bat: Cartwheel Register does not actually have a card swiper.

Yes, it is first on our list of the best mobile credit card readers. And while it doesn’t have the card swipe attachment you might have been expecting, it does technically “read” credit cards.

So if there’s no cell phone card reader attachment, how does this smartphone credit card reader work?

It’s simple and clever, and the answer lies in your phone’s camera.

Cartwheel Register could be the new epitome of “wireless credit card readers.” Not only is it wireless, it’s attachment-less too.

If you have a tendency to lose small devices, or you wake up in a cold sweat worrying about keeping track of your new, fancy, wireless earbuds, this device-free credit card reader for phones is an option worth considering.

How This Mobile Credit Card Reader Really Works

You can use the camera on your tablet or your smartphone to “read” all major credit cards. You’re also able to scan barcodes if your business relies on that function.

There’s another futuristic element to this mobile phone credit card reader: it accepts Skip Wallet. Skip Wallet is a free app that lets customers link credit, debit, and gift cards to a cloud-based account for quick, secure checkout.

With Cartwheel Register, customers shopping in your store will pop up on your register. For checkout, customers don’t have to have cards or cash on hand in order to use their Skip Wallet account.

Features and Pricing

There are no contracts or cancellation fees for this mobile credit card reader. The cost of using Cartwheel Register is 2.6% + $0.24 per transaction.

There are a slew of other features for this cell phone card reader, including:

  • Wireless cash drawers
  • Wireless printers
  • Nightly deposits
  • Employee time and access management
  • Customer support from humans
  • Full and partial transaction refunds
  • Readily available daily, weekly, and monthly sales numbers

The entire process of downloading, signing up, and getting approved for this credit card reader for smartphones can occur within just a day. The approval period typically lasts between 10 minutes and 12 hours.


Encryption is key when you’re handling credit payments, and this portable credit card reader does not disappoint. All data is protected and never stored on your phone or tablet.

Credit Card Reader For Phone

Image Source: Pixabay

Related: The Best Credit Cards for College Students | Finding Best College Credit Cards

Ingenico Mobile Solutions Review

Where Cartwheel Register simplified mobile phone credit card readers for you, Ingenico Mobile Solutions takes a huge leap in the other direction: it offers an mPOS EMV SDK.

If you browsed the commonly used terms section for this best mobile credit card reader article, you’ll know what EMV is (hint: cards with “the chip”). But what are those other abbreviations?

The “m” before POS stands for “mobile.” SDK stands for a software development kit, meaning that Ingenico Mobile Solutions doesn’t provide you, the merchant, directly with an app. Instead, they supply developers with the tools to make cutting edge mPOS apps with EMV functionality.

Ingenico offers a range of mobile credit card readers, all of which are compatible with the apps built using their SDK. We’ll look at those next.

Portable Credit Card Reader Options from Ingenico

The most basic cell phone credit card reader model from Ingenico is the G5X Mobile Card Reader. It is secure and reliable and has a few standout features:

  • First and only magstripe mobile credit card reader that is Visa Ready
  • Compatible with hundreds of mobile devices, both iOS and Android
  • Custom branding available with options for white labeling

The next smartphone card reader they offer is the RP170c NFC Mobile Card Reader. Like the G5X, this mobile credit card reader is both secure and reliable. The RP170c can accept NFC (contactless) payments, adding a layer of functionality the G5X does not have. With NFC compatibility, you can accept payments from:

  • Apple Pay
  • MasterCard contactless
  • Visa PayWave

This portable credit card reader attachment connects via a 3.5mm standard audio jack, meaning just about any Android or iOS device is compatible. It’s customizable through white labeling and includes certification for EMV Level 1 Contactless payments.

Ingenico offers three more mobile credit card reader options:

  • RP350x Chip & Sign Mobile Card Reader
  • RP450c NFC Chip & Sign Mobile Card Reader
  • RP750X Chip & PIN Mobile Card Reader

As their names indicate, each subsequent tier of smartphone card reader adds another level of functionality in terms of payment compatibility. By the time you reach the RP750X, you are dealing with a standalone device, where customers can key in their PIN. You can connect via a cable and the headphone jack, or you can use Bluetooth to stick with a wireless credit card reader.

If you want a cell phone card reader that accepts NFC, EMV, and signatures, as well as one that connects directly to your phone without Bluetooth or a cable, the RP450c is worth a look.

PayAnywhere Review

PayAnywhere is an ISO (or Independent Sales Organization) of Wells Fargo Bank. Customer support, ease of use, and quick setup all make this one of the best mobile credit card readers on the market.

Features and Pricing

Part of the appeal behind PayAnywhere is its straightforward pricing:

  • 2.69% per swipe
  • No setup fees
  • No monthly fees
  • No hidden fees

With the 2.69% standard swiping fee, you can accept all the big-name cards at the same PayAnywhere swipe rate:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • Discover
  • American Express
  • PayPal

This is a good credit card reader for phones, whether they’re iOS or Android, because it has a highly customizable app. The app and the card reader itself are both free when you sign up for a merchant services account.

Signing up for an account with this portable credit card reader provider takes just minutes.

The smartphone credit card reader package also includes live customer support and technical support through chat, email, and over the phone. They also have a video tutorial section in their FAQ, if you need a quick answer to a common problem.

PayPal Here Review

PayPal Here is, of course, the mobile credit card reader extension of PayPal, the money transfer behemoth.

In addition to letting you accept credit and debit cards in the moment, you also have the option to invoice a customer and receive the payment later.

The three-step setup process is easy:

  • Sign up for PayPal Here
  • Download the app (available on iOS, Android, and Windows devices)
  • Choose your mobile credit card reader

Features and Pricing

The costs of this smartphone credit card reader service are straightforward:

  • 2.7% per US card swipe
  • 2.9% + $0.30 to invoice a customer
  • 3.5% + $0.15 per card key in
  • 1% for transfers crossing a border

There are no monetary commitments. There are no fees for setup or cancellation. This helps with a quick setup, and you only pay as you sell.

Select Your Credit Card Reader for Phone of Choice

As far as the physical mobile credit card readers go, PayPal Here offers you a choice.

You can pick the Mobile Card Reader, which connects via the audio jack on your smartphone or tablet. The first reader is free, additional readers cost $14.99 a piece. These readers accept magnetic stripe debit and credit cards.

You could also pick the Chip Card Reader, which accepts more payment forms:

  • Magnetic stripe (debit or credit cards)
  • Chip cards
  • Contactless payment
  • Apple pay

This option is only available for Android and iOS devices. This wireless credit card reader connects to your phone via Bluetooth. The price is $149.00.

Popularity Article: Top Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit | Ranking & Reviews | Best Cards for Rebuilding Credit

Quickbooks Payments Review

Intuit Quickbooks offers a mobile processing service, Quickbooks Payments. It is your standard “credit card reader for cell phone” service, with an extra bonus: your transactions sync with your QuickBooks business management software.

If you don’t have any Intuit Point of Sale or Quickbooks products, that likely isn’t exciting. If you do, it could make running different elements of your business that much more seamless.

Features and Pricing

This cell phone credit card reader offers two plan options:

  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Low monthly rates

The pay-as-you-go plan has no monthly fee. You pay per smartphone card reader transaction.

The low monthly rates plan costs $19.95 per month, and you pay less per swiped transaction through your smartphone card reader.

  • 1.6% per card swipe
  • 3.2% per keyed-in card
  • $0.25 transaction fee

Both plans provide you with the free app and a free credit card reader for cell phones, supported on iOS and Android.

If you like brand integration, you’ll be happy to know that you can customize your receipts and add your business logo.

This is a secure portable credit card reader service. If you try it and decide it’s not for you, there are no termination fees to worry about.

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Square Review

Out of all the best mobile credit card readers, Square might be the most well-known. Whether you’ve heard of it or not doesn’t matter—it’s a solid option for a tablet or smartphone card reader service. Let’s talk about why.

Features and Pricing

Square accepts all the big-name credit cards all at the same rate.

  • 2.75% per swipe
  • 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction
  • No monthly or hidden fees

When you sign up, you receive a free Square credit card reader for smartphone and tablet use. If you’re interested in options outside of the free cell phone credit card reader, you’ll be happy to learn you have options. Square offers three choices:

  • Free magstripe reader
  • New Square reader (accepts chip cards and NFC transactions)
  • Square Stand (accepts all forms of payment, sets up stationary iPad POS)

Digital receipts let you gather feedback from customers. Taxes, tipping, and discount settings can be customized, and you can manage your inventory in real-time.

This is yet another high-function, low-commitment mobile credit card reader option.

Read More: Top American Express Card Offers & Benefits | Ranking | Compare Top AMEX Card Offers

Conclusion—Top 6 Best Mobile Credit Card Reader Options

There’s a lot to compare in the market of credit card readers for cell phones. The good news is, as you’ve likely deduced from our review, there are a lot of solid options out there for you.

The barrier-to-entry is low for all the credit card readers for smartphones on our list. Similarly, there are no long-term contracts; switching to a new service requires minimal effort.

Don’t let the process of picking your credit card reader for phone-based sales delay your business dreams any longer.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.