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Nowadays, everything is all about convenience. This is why consumers are increasingly utilizing  online shopping, subscription services, and using their credit and debit cards.

There’s no telling how many sales and customers you might miss out on by being a “cash-only” business. You’ll need to invest in a credit card reader sooner or later. 

Which credit card readers are the best in 2023?

There are several excellent online payment solutions that can help you process customer payments. However, these are the seven options that feature the best credit card machines: 



Learn MoreOn Square’s Website

Square is one of the world’s best credit card processing systems and the best place to start your search. The card reader is the only thing that’s easier to use than the software. Square credit card readers can accept chip cards and contactless payments (such as Apple Pay and Google Pay). 

The EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) magstripe reader functions as a different device, but Square will provide one for no additional cost whenever you create an account. Additionally, Square accounts include a complimentary virtual terminal. All Square terminals are PCI-compliant.

The standard Square Reader costs $49 and can connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The Square Dock costs another $29 and will keep the Square Reader charged as you use it for card transactions. You’ll also have the option for the Square Stand ($189), Square Terminal ($298), and Square Register ($799). 

In addition to some of the best readers available, Square also features some of the best pricing options. There’s no monthly fee for using Square — and you can cancel anytime. 

These are the flat-rate processing fees that Square charges:  

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for swiped, inserted, or contactless payments
  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed-in payments
  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for invoices and 3.5% plus 15 cents for an invoice using a card on file


Learn MoreOn Clover’s Website

Clover is another prevalent, all-in-one payment processing option. The best thing about Clover is you’ll be getting more than just a POS system. There are a lot of good features offered by Clover that can help with customer support, employee management, and inventory tracking. 

Clover offers two credit card machines: the Clover Go and the Clover Flex. The Clover Go is the more basic of the two and costs $49. You’ll be able to accept chips, magnetic stripes, and contactless payments. 

The Clover Flex is a portable credit card machine and costs $499. You won’t need to rely on any software or use a smartphone/tablet with the Clover Flex. 

One of the best things about Clover is that they offer a few different pricing plans. You’ll have the opportunity to select a method that better suits your needs. 

These are a few of the pricing plans offered by Clover: 

  • Clover Register Lite: This plan is $9.95 a month. You’ll be charged 2.7% plus 10 cents for every in-person transaction and 3.5% plus ten cents for keyed-in transactions. This plan is designed for businesses with less than $50,000 in annual card purchases. 
  • Clover Register: This plan is $39.95 a month. You’ll be charged 2.3% plus 10 cents for every in-person transaction and 3.5% plus ten cents for keyed-in transactions. This plan is designed for businesses with more than $50,000 in annual card purchases. 


Learn MoreOn PayPal’s Website

PayPal has been around for a long time and primarily specializes in internet money transfers, not merchant services. In recent years, PayPal has entered the mobile payment processing market. 

It didn’t take long for PayPal to rise quickly through the ranks and become a prevalent option. One of the main reasons for the meteoric rise is that PayPal is very cost-friendly. 

The PayPal Zettle is one of the least expensive options on this list, as the first one only costs $29. If you purchase another, then it would cost you $79. Each Zettler is equipped to handle chips, magnetic stripes, and contactless payments. 

There is no monthly fee for the PayPal software, and the processing fees are among the lowest on this list:

  • 2.29% plus 9 cents for every card present transaction
  • 3.49% plus 9 cents for every keyed-in transaction 


Learn MoreOn Helcim’s Website

Helcim is an exciting credit card processor on this list specifically suited for businesses with high sales volume. 

If you’re a small business owner with less in-store or eCommerce traffic, Helcim won’t be the best fit. However, if you are a scaling business or startup with a high volume of sales, processing at least $5,000 a month in card payments, then Helcim may be a good fit. 

Still, depending on processing rates, inventory management, and POS software needs, there may be better options than Helcim.

The Helcim card terminal is one of the more expensive ones on this list, costing $199. The optional stand is an additional feature that would cost another $79. The Helcim reader comes with a built-in PIN pad, connects wirelessly, and accepts chip cards or contactless payments from various types of credit cards.

The pricing model for these items is quite high and might be overkill for some businesses. However, Helcim more than makes up for it by offering $0 in monthly and unbeatable transaction fees that are based on card volume:  

  • $0 to $25,000 monthly: 0.30% plus 8 cents in-person and 0.50% plus 25 cents keyed-in
  • $25,001 to $50,000 monthly: 0.25% plus 7 cents in-person and 0.45% plus 20 cents keyed-in
  • $50,001 to $100,000 monthly: 0.20% plus 7 cents in-person and 0.40% plus 20 cents keyed-in
  • $100,001 to $250,000 monthly: 0.18% plus 6 cents in-person and 0.35% plus 15 cents keyed-in
  • $250,001 to $1,000,000 monthly: 0.15% plus 6 cents in-person and 0.30% plus 15 cents keyed-in
  • $1,000,001 to $5,000,000 monthly: 0.12% plus 5 cents in-person and 0.25% plus ten cents keyed-in
  • $5,000,001 or more monthly: 0.10% plus 5 cents in-person and 0.20% plus ten cents keyed-in


Learn MoreOn SumUp’s Website

SumUp is another excellent option for businesses looking to maximize savings on card payment processing services. You’ll be able to accept swipes, taps, and dips as the SumUp card readers are prepared for anything. 

The main benefit of using SumUp is that it’s trying to catch up to the competition. That means you’ll have access to their best features for some of the lowest prices on this list.

There are two card readers offered by SumUp: the SumUp Plus for $35 and the SumUp Pro for $59. 

There are no monthly fees required to use either SumUp device, and the transaction fees are as follows:

  • 2.75% for all card-present transactions
  • 3.25% plus 15 cents for keyed-in transactions 


Learn MoreOn Shopify’s Website

Shopify is a multinational ecommerce company helping small companies conduct business for nearly two decades. If you’ve already been partnering with Shopify, then using their card reader might be your best option. Otherwise, the high costs are hard to justify compared to other merchant service providers.

There are two card readers available from Shopify: the Chipper which costs $29, and the Tap & Chips, which costs $39. Both options include all the essential features needed by a countertop credit card reader and can handle chips, magnetic stripes, and contactless payments. 

The biggest issue with using Shopify is that it can be expensive. The transaction fees and monthly fees will vary based on your Shopify subscription. 

Some of the pricing plans include: 

  • Shopify Lite is $9 a month. In-person charges are 2.7%, and keyed-in charges are 2.9% plus 30 cents.
  • Basic Shopify is $29 a month. In-person charges are 2.7%, and keyed-in charges are 2.9% plus 30 cents. 
  • Shopify is $79 a month. In-person charges are 2.5%, and keyed-in charges are 2.6% plus 30 cents. 
  • Advanced Shopify is $299 a month. In-person charges are 2.4%, and keyed-in charges are 2.4% plus 30 cents.

National Processing

Learn MoreOn National Processing’s Website

National Processing makes this list as it’s the best option for high-risk industries. The other options on this list typically have strict requirements for the type of businesses they serve. 

National Processing is a bit more lenient and worth considering if you’re having difficulty finding a payment processing partner for a merchant account. 

You’ll need to enroll in a monthly subscription to use National Processing. The good news is that each plan receives a free mobile card reader and terminal. 

The four monthly pricing plans for National Processing include the following:

  • Nonprofit for $9.95 a month
  • Cash Discount for $39.95 a month
  • Subscriptions for $59 a month
  • Subscriptions Plus for $199 a month

Another helpful note about National Processing is that the transaction fees will vary depending on your business type. 

For example:

  • Restaurants pay 0.14% plus 7 cents
  • Retailers pay 0.18% plus 10 cents
  • E-Commerce pays 0.3% plus 15 cents

What is a credit card reader?

Credit card readers are an easy way to turn your smartphone or tablet into a point of sale (POS) system. You won’t need to purchase expensive new equipment or deal with confusing software. All you’ll have to do is download an app on your device and connect it to the physical card reader.

Mobile credit card readers are relatively straightforward. First, the card is either swiped or inserted into the reader. Then, the software will decode the card’s information to learn the account number, expiration date, and authorization code. 

The data is transmitted to the bank that owns the account, and the purchase will be reviewed. The bank will check the account and ensure enough money is in the account or credit line to cover the purchase. It will also review the purchase details to ensure that it’s not a cause of fraud

If the purchase passes these criteria, then the bank will authorize it. The funds will be transferred from the cardholder’s account to your business’s bank account within a few days. 

Why does your business need to accept credit cards?

The use of cards has only become more common over the years. In 2017, the average American consumer over the age of 18 made about 70 payments every month

Debit cards were the most common payment method, as they were used 32 percent of the time. Cash was next highest at 27 percent, and credit cards rounded out the top three with 23 percent. 

Since this report, using cards to make purchases has become more common. In 2020, more than 214.8 million (or 84.5 percent of) American adults had a debit card. In the Summer of 2022, there were more than 550 million open credit card accounts in the United States. It’s becoming increasingly more challenging to find an American adult that doesn’t have a credit or debit card.

The statistics have clearly shown that cash is no longer king. While it’s unlikely that society is going to be completely cashless anytime soon, your business needs to have the ability to accept credit card payments. 

The bottom line.

Mobile payment processing has become an essential part of running a business. The use of cash has been steadily decreasing for years as most people have made the switch to cards. The convenience and rewards of using cards mean they’re here to stay. 

If you can’t accept cards, then your business could be missing out on sales. There’s no shortage of quality options for mobile payment processors. The seven credit card processing companies listed above are scratching the surface. 

You’ll need to research each of them to find the one that’s best for you. You’ll need to get a credit card reader for your business soon — but there’s no need to rush into a bad partnership.

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