Mobile credit card readers have been around for a long time, but I feel that they are just recently becoming a viable solution for associations. Past swipers have required expensive bulky equipment, duplicate or specialized merchant accounts and were just plain complicated to manage! Plus, members didn’t trust security and didn’t understand how the

Now, it seems like everyone has an Android or Apple mobile device and the secure apps for these are well-designed and really easy to use. There are many providers on the market that offer services, merchant accounts and readers, but here’s a comparison of the ones that I believe will become the market leaders.

Square Intuit PayPal
Works with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, debit cards, cash, check capture, PayPal, electronic invoices
Cost per Swipe 2.75% 2.7% 2.7%
Cost per Manually entered numbers 3.5% + 15 cents 3.7% 3.5% + 15 centsChecks/Invoices free
Service Plan None Optional: $12.95 per month, 1.7% per swipe, 2.7% manually entered
Operating Systems iOS 4.1 or higher Android 2.1 or higher(no Blackberry) iOS 3 G or higherAndroid select phones iOSAndroid
Merchant Account None. Enter your bank account and routing numbers for deposits. (Currently the only provider that does not require a merchant account.) Apply for merchant account online or by phone, 10 minute application, credit review.
Card Reader 1 free, free shippingAlso available at retail stores for $10 with $10 rebate (Radio Shack, Best Buy, Walmart) Intuit reader free with merchant account; iPhone reader $79.95 at Apple retail stores; Blue Bamboo Bluetooth swiper with receipt printer $218.95 + $15 paper roll refill (does not work with Apple devices) Free
Deposits Transaction taken during business hours (PST) deposited the next day Deposits stay in Merchant Account or EFT to bank account within 2-3 business days. Offers debit Visa to access funds in Merchant Account. Deposits stay in Paypal account or EFT to bank account in 3 business days. Offers debit MasterCard to access funds in Paypal account.
Refunds Within 60 days of original transaction. Processed on iPad Register app or online account. Partial refunds not yet available. Processed in Merchant Account. Partial refunds ok
App Free; iPad app allows more features than phone app.Requires Username & Password. Up to 10 users can be linked to 1 account with same username & password Free; Up to 50 users with individual Usernames & Passwords can access 1 account Free
Receipts Finger-sign on mobile device, receipt sent by email or text. History saved to reissue receipts if needed. Receipt sent by email or text Receipt sent by email or text
Notes Ridiculously intuitive and easy to begin*June Update: Square card readers are now for sale at even more locations. It’s popularity is skyrocketing! My hairstylist has one… Export history to QuickBooks Coming soon! Not yet available but GAM is on the wait-list for more information

*June Update: does a great review with screenshots of the Paypal Here against his existing Paypal Merchant account.