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This article is out-of-date. For other options, see NerdWallet's Best Small-Business Card Readers.
If you rely on PayPal to process payment from customers, vendors or both, then you might be wondering what your PayPal credit card reader options are. The online invoicing that PayPal offers can be a lifesaver for companies that need to remotely access payment from customers. But for those moments that you find yourself face-to-face with your customer who’s ready and willing to pay you for your goods or services, nothing is quite as annoying as having them type out all of their card information.
That’s why PayPal made its payment processing app PayPal Here and the PayPal card readers that allow users to process magstripe, chip and contactless payments with a swipe, dip or tap.
A rundown on your PayPal Here card reader options
There are four versions of the PayPal credit card reader that work in tandem with the PayPal Here payment processing app. PayPal credit card reader costs will depend on which option you go with, but you always have to pay a transaction fee (typically 2.7%) for each payment you process through your PayPal card reader:
The Mobile PayPal card reader requires a headphone jack to connect to a smart device and only reads magstripe payments.
The Chip and Swipe PayPal card reader connects wirelessly to smart devices and reads magstripe and chip payments
The Chip and Tap PayPal card reader connects wirelessly to smart devices and reads magstripe, chip and contactless payments.
The Chip PayPal card reader has all of the features of the Chip and Tap version, plus a keypad for pin entry.
How does it work?
How the PayPal Here card reader works will depend on which of the four versions you opt for. For instance, the Mobile PayPal card reader will plug into the headphone jack of whatever smart device you are using the PayPal Here app with. The other four PayPal card readers will connect your smart device through Bluetooth.
No matter which PayPal card reader you choose, though, you will need a smart device — whether that’s a smartphone or a tablet — to accompany it. The smart device will run the PayPal Here app, and the PayPal card reader will allow this app to process magstripe, chip and/or contactless payments (which will depend on which reader you opt for).
Pros and cons
Let’s take a high-level look into where PayPal Here shines and where it falls short.
Variety of connectivity options.
Great device compatibility.
Chip card hardware.
Best for smaller merchants.
Fewer features and options compared to Square mobile POS.
Not suitable for high-volume merchants.
Your PayPal card reader options
Let’s drill into the details of each of these options.
Mobile PayPal card reader
The simplest of the PayPal credit card readers, the Mobile PayPal card reader simply reads magstripe payments.
So, if you want your customers to have the option to pay with chip or contactless payment, then you’ll need to upgrade from this entry-level PayPal card reader.
As for cost, it will just be a $14.99 one-off fee. That said, you’ll still have to pay all transaction fees that PayPal will charge you.
A small, triangular reader, the Mobile PayPal card reader plugs into the headphone jack of a smart device and works in tandem with the PayPal Here app.
Chip and swipe PayPal card reader
The next step up from the Mobile PayPal card reader is the Chip and Swipe PayPal card reader. Unlike the Mobile version, the Chip and Swipe PayPal credit card reader wirelessly connects to smart devices through Bluetooth. Plus, as its name suggests, the Chip and Swipe PayPal Here card reader is able to process both magstripe and chip payments.
For its extra convenience and flexibility, you’ll pay $24.99 if you opt for this version of the PayPal card reader.
Chip and tap PayPal card reader
If you want to be able to process contactless payments with the PayPal Here app, then you’ll need to take the next step up to the Chip and Tap PayPal card reader. Again, this PayPal Here card reader will connect to your smart device wirelessly via Bluetooth. Plus, it will be able to process magstripe, chip and contactless payments.
To access these payment processing options, you’ll have to swallow the PayPal credit card reader cost of $59.99. If you want to purchase a charging stand for your Chip and Tap PayPal card reader, you’ll have to pay an additional $20 and a total cost of $79.99 for the bundle.
Chip PayPal card reader
Finally, the most costly but most capable of all of your PayPal Here card reader options — the PayPal Chip card reader. This PayPal Here card reader offers the same perks as the Chip and Tap reader and then some. You’ll still be able to accept magstripe, chip and contactless payments with the Chip PayPal card reader. Plus, you’ll still be able to connect to your smart device through Bluetooth.
With the Chip PayPal card reader, however, you’ll get a keypad so that your customers will be able to use their pins to verify their debit card purchases.
For this extra capability, you’ll pay a solid $99.99, so think hard about whether a pin keypad is worth the extra $40.
On top of these PayPal credit card reader prices, you’ll also need to account for the transaction fees PayPal will charge you for each payment. No matter which PayPal card reader you opt for, you’ll have to pay the following fees to process payments through PayPal Here:
2.7% per magstripe, chip or contactless payment.
3.5% plus 15 cents per payment you manually enter.
So, when you’re calculating your PayPal credit card reader cost, be sure to keep in mind that you’ll need to pay these payment processing fees for every transaction that you use your new reader for.
Which is right for you?
After learning all the details on the four PayPal credit card reader options, you might be unsure which one is right for your business. To decide which of the four PayPal Here card readers is the best fit for your business, you should focus on the following three criteria:
One of the deciding factors for choosing your PayPal Here card reader? How much it costs, of course. Although every PayPal credit card reader costs under $100 — which is pretty reasonable when measured against industry-standard — there’s still a considerable range of prices attached to your options. Decide whether you’re willing to shell out $99.99, if you’d rather stick to paying $14.99 or if you want to find a happy medium somewhere between.
What devices can each PayPal card reader connect to? And how does each reader connect to its compatible devices? Because Bluetooth versus headphone jack connection is one of the defining features of each of your options, be sure to decide what kind of PayPal credit card reader compatibility you’ll need.
You’ll need to lend a lot of weight to what kind of payment options you want to give to your customers. If your customers seem content with merely having the option to swipe their cards to make a purchase, then the Mobile PayPal card reader could be enough for your business. However, if you want customers to be able to make chip or contactless payments, then you’ll definitely need to make an upgrade beyond the entry-level PayPal card reader. If you want your customers to be able to enter a pin to verify their debit card purchases, then you’ll need to level all the way up to the Chip PayPal card reader.
Where to buy a PayPal card reader
If you’ve decided to move forward with purchasing one — or several — of these PayPal card readers, then you might be wondering where to buy it. PayPal sells its Here credit card readers through its own site and also through third-party sites like Amazon.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.