Best Credit Card Readers for iPhone in 2021

The best iPhone credit card readers accept all types of card transactions: swiped, dipped or tapped.
Whitney VandiverSep 22, 2021

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When paired with a mobile point-of-sale app, iPhone credit card readers can allow you to accept and process credit cards via Magstripe, chip and even contactless payment.

Ultimately, the best credit card reader for your iPhone should take all types of payment methods (tapped, dipped or swiped) and be compatible with useful POS software and cost-effective payment processors. These iPhone-friendly credit card readers meet the criteria.

A white square Clover Go card reader

Image courtesy of Clover.

Clover Go: Best overall

Accepts: Magstripe, chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $99. Fees: 2.3% plus 10 cents and up depending on monthly plan.

Pros

  • The reader processes all three types of payments.

  • Clover's transaction fees are transparent.

  • The POS software is well-developed.

Cons

  • Most plans require a monthly fee.

  • It doesn't have a screen to display transaction details.

Why we like it: The Clover Go is a compact, portable card reader that connects to comprehensive POS software. Clover offers a free monthly plan for those looking for just the basic features. Paid plans come with highly competitive transaction rates that start at 2.3% plus 10 cents.

A customer holds a credit card up to the SumUp Plus reader

Image courtesy of SumUp.

SumUp Plus reader: Best value

Accepts: Magstripe, chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $19. Fees: 2.75% and up depending on method.

Pros

  • The reader processes all three payment types.

  • There is no monthly fee.

  • Fees are transparent and easy to understand.

  • It has a screen to display transaction details.

Cons

  • SumUp has less robust POS software features.

Why we like it: SumUp’s Plus reader can process more than 500 transactions on a single power charge. It has a screen to display transaction details, so you won’t have to share your personal device with the customer. SumUp charges a competitive rate of 2.75% for in-person transactions — and there are no monthly fees or contracts. Its POS software also offers nifty features like customizable smart invoicing to make business easier.

One hand on the right holds up a smartphone to the Payanywhere 3-in-1 reader on the left

Image courtesy of Payanywhere.

Payanywhere 3-in-1 reader: Best for small transactions

Accepts: Magstripe, chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $49.95. Fees: 2.69% and up depending on method; volume-based discounts available.

Pros

  • Payanywhere doesn't charge a monthly fee.

  • Transaction fees are transparent.

  • The 3-in-1 reader can process all three payment types.

Cons

  • It doesn't have a screen to display transaction details.

  • Payanywhere's POS software is not as advanced as some of its competitors.

  • There's a $3.99 inactivity fee for 12 months without a transaction.

Why we like it: Payanywhere’s versatile card reader comes with low payment processing rates starting at 2.69% with no fixed fee on top. This makes it a cost-effective option for businesses with smaller transaction totals — for example, transactions of $10 or less. Customers who process more than $10,000 a month in transactions can qualify for lower rates.

Image courtesy of Square.

Square reader for contactless and chip cards: Best for POS features

Accepts: Chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $49. Fees: 2.6% plus 10 cents and up depending on method.

Pros

  • Square fees are transparent.

  • You don't have to pay a monthly fee.

  • Square's POS software is well-developed.

Cons

  • You can't swipe cards.

  • It doesn't have a screen to display transaction details.

Why we like it: Square’s free POS software is among the most feature-rich out there; it can give you the full range of business management capabilities, including customized digital receipts, invoicing, customer profiles for repeat buyers, inventory management and more. The company has standard processing fees across the board, and there’s no monthly fee.

Square POS

Square
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on Square's website

The PayPal Zettle card reader sits on a coffee shop counter

Image courtesy of PayPal.

PayPal Zettle: Best for alternative payment options

Accepts: Chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $29 for new customers, $79 for additional readers. Fees: 1.9% plus 10 cents (for QR code payments under $10) and up depending on method.

Pros

  • PayPal doesn't charge a monthly fee.

  • Fees are transparent and easy to understand.

  • It has a screen to display transaction details.

  • PayPal Zettle's POS app offers a variety of features.

Cons

  • The Zettle doesn't process all payment types.

Why we like it: Unlike competitors, PayPal Zettle works with PayPal and Venmo. Lower transaction fees apply when customers pay with PayPal or Venmo QR codes. All transactions made with Zettle go straight into your PayPal account and can be transferred to your bank.

A customer holds a credit card up to the QuickBooks Card Reader

Image courtesy of Intuit.

QuickBooks card reader: Best for accounting integration

Accepts: Chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $49. Fees: 2.4% plus 25 cents and up.

Pros

  • There's no monthly fee unless you choose that option for lower processing rates.

  • Processing fees are transparent.

  • It has a screen to display transaction details.

Cons

  • It doesn't process all payment types.

  • POS software options are limited without a QuickBooks Online account.

Why we like it: If you have a newer QuickBooks Online account, you can use this card reader to automatically record your transactions in the accounting software. The sleek design and flat rates make it a smart option for businesses already working with QuickBooks.

Helcim card reader: Best for high-volume sales

Accepts: Magstripe, chip and contactless payment methods. Price: $199. Fees: Vary by card type and monthly average transaction total.

Pros

  • No monthly fees.

  • It processes all three payment types.

  • It has a screen to display transaction details.

  • Helcim has a good variety of POS software features.

Cons

  • The transaction fees are not easy to understand and can be difficult to estimate.

Why we like it: Helcim calculates transaction fees based on card networks’ interchange fees, which are determined by several factors including the individual card a customer uses, such as Mastercard or Visa. This can be a more cost-effective option for businesses with high sales volumes — generally, those that have $10,000 or more in card processing per month. It also offers volume-based discounts, which apply a rate discount based on your monthly average of transactions. In short, the higher your transaction total, the bigger your discount.

iPhone credit card readers comparison

Reader

Price

Types of Payments

Fees

Clover Go

$99.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

SumUp Plus

$19.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.75% plus 10 cents and up.

Payanywhere 3-in-1

$49.95.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.69% and up.

Square Contactless and Chip

$49.

Chip and contactless.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

PayPal Zettle

$79 ($29 for new customers).

Chip and contactless.

1.9% plus 10 cents and up.

QuickBooks

$49.

Chip and contactless.

2.4% plus 25 cents and up.

Helcim

$199.

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

Varies by card type.

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Randa Kriss, a small-business writer, contributed to this article.

A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.