When a solution called Collect for Stripe promised businesses the ability to use their Stripe accounts to take payments in-person, it was a welcome announcement. But a closer look shows it to be an expensive option for taking credit cards in person.
The Collect app works on smartphones and tablets with or without a compatible card reader. Before you sign up, make sure you know what you’re in for.
- What is Collect for Stripe?
- How much does Collect for Stripe cost?
- Separate Processors for Online and In-Person Transactions
What is Collect for Stripe?
Collect for Stripe is an app that allows you to accept credit cards in person using your smartphone or tablet and a Stripe merchant account. You can use compatible card readers to accept magstripe or EMV chip cards, or manually enter the card information without using a reader.
Collect is technically not part of Stripe, but Stripe does officially endorse Collect for use with its credit card processing services. The screenshots below show Collect listed on Stripe’s website in the “Works with Stripe” section.
Clicking on “Collect for Stripe” brings up the following overlay:
As an officially endorsed app, Collect for Stripe works seamlessly to allow you to accept payments in person using your Stripe account. Your processed in-person payments will show up in your Stripe dashboard, and you’ll continue to work with Stripe if you have account questions or need assistance with your credit card processing.
Collect is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Enabling and Using Collect
Before using Collect for in-person payments, Stripe will need to enable your account for offline transactions. You can connect your Collect account to your Stripe account through the Stripe website or through the Collect app. (Available for download from the Google Play and iTunes app stores.)
Once you begin using Collect, posted transaction information and options (including ability to process refunds) will go through your Stripe dashboard. You can also enable functions like tax calculation and adding tips.
Collect for Stripe Card Readers
Card readers are optional. Collect for Stripe works with the Eclipse A200 or Element A100 card readers. Features of the readers are as follows:
Eclipse A200 ($69 + shipping)
The Eclipse A200 accepts all major credit cards, in both magnetic stripe and EMV chip versions. It’s EMV Level 1 and Level 2 certified, and uses encryption technology. It includes a rechargeable lithium battery and comes with a mini USB cord for charging. The A200 is slightly larger than other supported readers, though still portable. It measures 2.4” L x 0.7” W x 2.1” H and weighs about 1.4 ounces.
Element A100 ($45 + shipping)
The Element A100 accepts all major credit cards and doesn’t need to be charged due to its built-in lithium battery. It’s important to note that the A100 does not accept EMV chip cards. If you swipe a credit or debit card with a chip through a magstripe-only reader, you’ll be liable for any fraudulent transactions that occur. Using chip-capable card readers (even for small transactions) is a good idea to protect yourself and your customers.
The A100 reader connects via standard headphone jack, and features a compact size: 1.7” L x 0.7” W x 1.8” H. It weighs about 0.7 ounces.
Browse more card readers: Smartphone and Tablet Card Reader Directory.
Other Supported Services
Any service that uses Stripe for credit card processing can work with Collect. This includes Shopify, Woocommerce, Squarespace, BigCommerce, and more. If you’re not sure if your service is supported, you can contact Collect for a full list.
How much does Collect for Stripe cost?
Collect for Stripe costs 4.3% and 30 cents per transaction. It works out that way because Collect tacks on an additional 1.4% to Stripe’s 2.9% + 30 cents. That means for every transaction, you’re paying 4.3% + 30 cents in total. Ouch.
Compare that to rival Square’s 2.75% or PayPal Here’s 2.7% in-person rates for an idea of how expensive it is. That’s not even getting into the fact that Square and PayPal Here are already more expensive than some other options, depending on your business’ transaction size and monthly volume. (For a rough guide, Square or PayPal Here are likely to be your lowest cost options for in-person mobile payments if your average transaction is under $10 or if you take less than $2,000 in credit card transactions per month.)
Related Article: Square vs. PayPal Here.
Stripe charges 2.9% + 30 cents based on the risk and requirements of online transactions. By using Collect for Stripe to take payments offline, you’re effectively overpaying twice – once by paying your rates for online transactions that you’re actually swiping in person, and a second time by forking over money to an extra party on top of it.
There’s no way around it – Collect for Stripe is an expensive way to take cards in person. If saving money is important to you, look elsewhere.
Separate Processors for Online and In-Person Transactions
Taking payments online with one processor doesn’t mean you have to use that same processor for offline payments. In fact, at CardFellow, we recommend separate merchant accounts for online and in-person transactions, due to the difference in risks and the costs associated with each type of transaction.
You can continue to use Stripe for your website/online payments, and sign up with another processor to get better pricing for your in-person mobile transactions. You’ll get the best of both worlds: keeping your online account as it is, while paying lower fees for in-person transactions. You’ll just need to choose a mobile payment alternative.
Alternatives to Collect for Stripe
Any processor that offers an app and mobile card reader with EMV chip capability can be a suitable alternative to Collect. Fortunately, most processors offer a mobile solution now. In addition to the ones you’ve probably heard of, like Square and PayPal Here, there are universal chip card readers like the AnywhereCommerce and Ingenico lines, which can be used with compatible processors and their apps. Other processors offer popular choices like the Clover Go, ePN Mobile, or CardPointe Mobile apps and readers.
Trying to decide what’s right for your business? Use our price comparison tool to see what it will cost to use different readers. Try it here.