How to Accept Credit Card Payments on Your Phone: 6 Steps
When you’re running a mobile service business, accepting credit card payments on your phone saves you time and creates a smooth, painless payment experience for customers.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to accept mobile payments with a credit card reader and a payment processing app.
Learn how mobile card readers work, then get advice on how to choose a payment processor, prepare your phone to accept credit card payments, and promote it to customers.
1. Understand how mobile credit card readers work
Mobile credit card readers are physical devices that connect to your smartphone so you can process customer payments.
Some card readers plug into your phone’s headphone jack or charger port. Others use a wireless connection to send payments from the card reader to your phone.
Customers can either insert or tap their chip, pay with a mobile wallet, or swipe with a magnetic stripe. Using mobile credit card processing software, the card reader collects that payment and sends it to your connected business bank account.
Here’s how each type of mobile card reader works:
- Chip readers allow customers to insert their credit card into the machine and enter a PIN, either on the card reader or on your phone’s mobile payment app. These machines also allow customers to tap their card to make a payment.
- Mobile wallet payments from your customer’s smartphone are accepted by credit card machines that read chips. Customers only need to enter a PIN on their mobile wallet app ((like Apple Pay or Google Pay), and hover their digital card over your card reader.
- Magstripes (magnetic stripes) on cards let customers swipe to pay. Credit card companies are phasing them out in favor of tap technology (which is more secure), but many machines still accept magstripe alongside other payment methods.
The Jobber Card Reader takes all types of credit card payments—customers can tap, insert, swipe, or use a mobile wallet to pay for your services on the spot.
2. Choose a payment processing service and register
A payment processing service is the company that provides the device and software you need to collect mobile credit card payments. Examples of these services include Paypal, Jobber Payments, and Shopify.
Consider these questions when choosing a payment processor:
- What technology does their card reader use?
- Is your smartphone or tablet compatible with the card reader?
- What mobile field service apps is it compatible with?
- How much do their card readers cost?
- What are their payment processing fees?
- How long do card payments take to transfer to your bank account? Do they offer same-day payouts?
- Is their customer support team easy to reach in case something goes wrong?
- Do they offer easy invoicing and receipt templates for a complete payment experience?
Every time a customer pays through the card reader, you’ll pay credit card processing fees, which are a small percentage of the transaction.
What is the average fee for credit card processing?
Average credit card processing fees from credit card companies range from 1.5% to 3.5% per transaction, plus a fixed fee between $0.05 and $0.10. These numbers vary based on your business type and the type of credit cards your customers use.
Payment processing services that provide mobile card readers, like Square and Paypal, will charge you 1.5–3%, plus a fixed fee of $0.10–$0.50, per credit card transaction.
See this example of the card processing fees you can expect from a payment processing app and associations like Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.
Should you charge interchange fees to customers?
You can choose to place a surcharge on customers if you really need to cover the cost of payment processing fees. Consider incorporating interchange fees into your quoted price as part of your overhead costs.
Keep in mind that some customers won’t respond well if they see a surcharge on their bill. If you do add a visible surcharge to your invoices, be sure to explain that it’s there to help you continue providing your services to your customers.
Once you choose your payment software, create an account to register and purchase their card reader online (or in store if they’re available at electronics retailers).
Be sure to install your payment app from a trusted app store like Google Play or the iOS App Store. Then follow the app’s instructions for setting up and using the card reader so you can start collecting payments.
3. Secure your phone
Keeping your phone secure protects you, your small business, and your customers. Without strong device security, your phone is more vulnerable to cyber attacks that can leave your customers’ credit card information open to theft.
Before using your mobile credit card reader, secure your device by following these measures (and any others recommended by the payment processing service):
- Update your phone’s software to the latest version of iOS, Android, or other operating system, and allow automatic software updates.
- Set a strong password or PIN, fingerprint scan, or facial recognition to keep unwanted users from accessing your phone.
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA), such as a password combined with a one-time security code sent through SMS, to verify that it’s really you each time you log into your payment app.
- Install a trusted anti-virus app, like McAfee or Avast, to protect your phone from security threats.
4. Start collecting mobile payments and invoicing customers
Bring your credit card reader with you to every job site, market, or wherever you sell so you’re ready to collect payments on the spot.
Some businesses that collect card payments in person will invoice the customer afterwards. Others will send an invoice first, using an invoicing app, then ask the customer to review it before paying.
No matter when you send the invoice, using one app for quotes, invoices, and payments will save you hours of time and effort. That sets you up for a quick, seamless payment experience that impresses customers and helps you move onto the next customer faster.
Here’s an example of that workflow for field service businesses: in Jobber, you can convert your initial service quote to an invoice with just one tap of a button.
Then collect debit or credit card payment for that invoice with the Jobber Card Reader. Customers can pay with a swipe, tap, or by inserting their cards.
Finally, email the customer their receipt directly from the Jobber App, or let them view and download it from their self-serve client portal.
Offer online credit card payments
For customers you don’t meet in person, accept credit card payments on your phone by asking your customers to enter their credit card details online.
Your payment processing app will offer this kind of contactless payment through a secure payment gateway. This way, your customers don’t have to worry about sharing credit card details with anyone.
In Jobber, you and your clients can securely save credit and debit cards on file. From client hub, clients can add new cards to their file and manage existing ones.
When your work is done, just charge the customer’s card from your phone with the tap of a button. Or, set up recurring billing for customers that you service on a regular basis.
Promote your mobile payment options
Mobile credit card processing is fast and convenient—and that convenience is a selling point you should promote when talking to potential customers.
Let your current customers know, too, that they can pay on-site right after you’ve provided your service. Then update the payment terms on your estimates and invoices to tell customers you offer mobile credit card payments in person and online.