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Clover Flex Review

Credit Card Machines

The Clover Flex is a portable credit card machine that joins the existing Clover family, which consists of the Clover Station/POS system, Clover Mini, and Clover Go. It’s offered by processors using the First Data platform.

With a 5” screen and weighing just one pound, the Flex is designed for portability. It also comes with a protective silicone case to help prevent damage from bumps and drops. (Pictured on the terminal in images below.)

Clover Flex credit card machine

We recently had the opportunity to test the terminal for ourselves and overall find it to be a good choice for portable or countertop usage.

During setup, it does manage to be simultaneously convenient and annoying. It’s convenient because it’s user-friendly and you can get started fast. It’s annoying because several of the built in buttons / functions actually bring you to an app download page.

You’ll need to download and enable that app (sometimes at an additional charge) in order to actually use that feature. After the third time that happened to me, it started to get frustrating and felt like it was just repeated attempts to get more money.

Don’t get me wrong – the ability to customize the Clover with only what you need is a good feature. But putting in buttons as if they’re built-in functions led to some initial frustration.

That said, the functions that don’t require separate apps / fees are handy, and once you choose the apps you want and set up the machine to your specifications, you’ll cut down on stumbling across features that the machine doesn’t include upfront.

In this Clover Flex review, we’ll go over the features and specifications, costs, and differences between the Flex and other Clover devices.

Looking for info on other Clovers? Check out our Clover Station 2018 review (that’s the full name of the machine, not the year of the review!) or our Clover Mini review.

Clover Flex Features

The Clover Flex is somewhere between a countertop credit card terminal and a POS system. It comes with the machine itself, a roll of receipt paper for use in the built-in printer, a silicone protective case, power cord, charging base, and screwdriver for removing the SIM card cover, if necessary.

Clover Flex included items

The core function is payment acceptance, allowing you to take credit and debit cards or contactless payments. However, unlike basic countertop terminals, it also includes inventory management functions and more advanced reporting.

Clover Flex screen

You can use the terminal at a fixed location, carry it with you for line-busting, or bring it to a dining table for a tableside payment. The touchscreen display lets customers sign for purchases right on the device, but if you’d prefer paper receipts with signatures, you can select that option in the Flex’s settings.

First Data offers this video introducing the Flex:

The Flex integrates with other Clover devices, so you can use it in conjunction with a stationary system if you’d like.

Inventory

The inventory catalog / management option is one of the Flex’s best features. Basic countertop terminals don’t typically offer inventory functions, instead providing just payment acceptance and limited reporting. By offering inventory capabilities, the Flex provides the best of both worlds: the compact size of a countertop machine and some of the more advanced features typically found in POS systems.

The inventory catalog is split into items and categories, with the option to add modifiers for food items and variants for products.

Items and Categories

Clover’s inventory options let you add individual items, which can be grouped into categories. “Items” is where you’ll add a single product, service, or dish. (For example, a turkey sandwich.) “Categories” is where you’ll create overall groups and assign relevant items as a member of that category. (For example, “sandwiches” or “non-alcoholic beverages.”)

I’d strongly suggest creating your categories first if you intend to use them. The reason is that when you add individual items, it’s easier to simply check a box to add an item to a category while you’re adding it to the inventory instead of going back into each item later and editing it.

That said, if you don’t want to create categories first (or if you forget a particular category or need to add a category as you expand inventory) you can always do it later and manually edit items to add them to the new category.

Modifiers and Variants

The modifiers and variants options let you give staff an easy way to customize the dish or ensure they’re ringing in the right item.

Modifiers are primarily used for food items, and refer to alterations to the main dish. For example, if you sell boneless wings, you may have a choice of sauces. You could add a “wing sauces” modifier, listing all of the sauce options, so that when the server rings in an order of wings, it will prompt for sauce choice.

You can also set whether it’s required or not by choosing the minimum number of modifiers that must be selected. (0 =  not required. 1 or higher = required.) For something like wing sauces, you may want to require the modifier so the kitchen prepares the right dish. For a modifier such as “adding cheese,” you may not want to require it, since not all customers will add cheese to their meal.

You can also set a maximum on modifiers. For example, if you have a choice of 12 wing sauces but only want customers to be able to choose 3 per order, you can limit the modifier to 3 sauce choices.

Variants are primarily for non-consumable / retail items, and refer to the same product but with a difference, such as color or size. For example, if you’re selling a shirt and offer small, medium, and large sizes, you can set those as variants of one item.

Register and Payments

You can process payments from a few different screens with the Flex. If you have an open order in the “Orders” screen, there will be a payment button there. Alternately, if you’re ringing in the order through the register screen by selecting items from the inventory, it will be there as well. Lastly, if you just need to ring in a sale manually, you can use the “Sale” option and simply enter the total to be charged.

From there, the system will give you the option of accepting payment by cash, card, or check. If you choose card, it will expect you to swipe / dip / tap the card by default, but there will be a link for entering the card manually instead. However, keep in mind that entering card details manually typically incurs higher processing fees than swiping / dipping / tapping. Whenever possible, run the cards through the machine rather than hand-keying the card info.

The Flex has a chip card slot and a magnetic strip reader on the bottom of the device (pictured) while the NFC/contactless reader is at the top.

Clover Flex chip slot

If you key in the card details, you’ll simply enter the card information using the on-screen keypad that will appear for manual entry. If you choose pay by cash, it will give you several options of set dollar amounts or you can enter a specific amount the customer gives you.

Cash payments can be a little cumbersome for portable use unless you have a lockable, portable cash box. If you accept a lot of cash, you may want to consider using the Flex as a stationary, countertop device.

Refunds

Wondering how to do a refund with the Clover Flex? Processing a refund is easy. In the “orders” screen, you’ll see all of the current orders, whether they’re open, paid, or already refunded. You can select the order you’d like, and press the “refund” button. The system then gives you the option of refunding specific items or the entire payment.

Note that you can control which “roles” have permission to perform refunds. If you only want managers to handle refunds, you can restrict the “employee” role from access to refund capabilities. You can read more about roles and permissions in the staff management section of this review.

Do I get processing fees back if I process a refund?

Maybe. Some processing companies don’t give you back the fees paid on refunds. However, other companies do. In fact, CardFellow requires that processors pass refund fees back to our members.

If you process a lot of refunds (common at places like clothing stores), it’s a good idea to ensure that your processor will refund interchange fees for returns. Otherwise, you’ll be leaving money on the table.

Tips

The Flex does not have tip capabilities enabled by default, but you can update it in the settings. You can also choose whether to suggest tip amounts, and even what to “call” the different tip rates. For example, Clover lists suggested tips as Good (15%), Great (18%), Wow! (20%) and Best Service Ever! (30%).

One “downside” to the suggested tips option is that it doesn’t do the math for the consumer until it’s totaled. Meaning, the suggested tips screen simply lists the percentage. Once they choose the percentage, it goes back to the total screen, where it has added the tip. Some customers prefer to see the tips as a dollar amount or the percentage and the dollar amount before it goes to the total screen.

Receipts

The Flex has a built-in receipt printer, but you’re not required to use it. You can select whether receipts print automatically or on a case-by-case basis. Customers can elect to skip the printed receipt entirely, instead opting for an email or text receipt. You can also enable an opt-in marketing prompt for customers that choose email / text receipts. If you enable that function, a checkbox will appear asking customers if they would like to receive coupons / deals from your business. You can customize the message that appears.

Note that both the email and text receipt technically direct the customer to an online receipt, as shown below.

Clover online receipt

The online receipt link can also be printed on paper receipts. This option is enabled by default, but you can turn it off if you’d like. In fact, Clover offers many options for customizing receipts. In addition to the online receipt link, you can add a logo, include a personal message, and choose whether to display the cashier’s / server’s name on the receipt.

Staff Management

Another handy feature not typically found in countertop terminals is staff management. The Flex lets you assign users to specific “roles” within your company. By default, it includes owner, manager, and employee. From there, you can determine which functions each role can and can’t access.

As you can see from the image above, you can get as specific or as general as you’d like. Want to completely deny access to refund capabilities for anyone below the manager level? You can do that. Prefer to limit just certain functions within the refund category? You can do that instead.

Reporting

As for reports, the Flex gives you options to review payments, items, discounts applied, and taxes.

The payments report shows not just the gross totals, but also tips, the number of transactions, refunds, and finally net amounts. You can select a pre-set time period to view, or define a  You can also see payments by card type, cash adjustments that employees made, and even sales stats by employee.

A dropdown option lets you choose whether you want to see consolidated reports for sales from all of your Clover devices or just the sales from the specific device you’re viewing. That’s handy for businesses that run multiple registers, but allows drilling down into an individual station’s sales at the touch of a button as well.

The items reporting screen lists the items that were sold in the time period you select. Discounts and taxes report the amount that was applied in discounts and the amount collected in taxes, respectively.

Clover Flex vs. Clover Mini

While at one point Clover had three small credit card terminals - two of which were portable - the company is now down to two: one portable (the Flex) and one not (the Mini.) Clover appears to have completely eliminated the Clover Mobile, which was the other portable terminal. Below are the existing models, with the Flex on the left and the Mini on the right. (Not to scale.)

Clover Flex vs Clover Mini

With two different small credit card terminals (in addition to the smartphone/tablet reader and the full Clover Station POS system) you may be unsure which system to choose. The Clover Mini is the larger and heavier of the small systems, and is not intended to be portable. The Mini is designed as a smaller footprint POS system and can be wall-mounted. It can also be used as a customer-facing display with a Clover Station.

The Clover Flex is designed for portability and includes many of the same features. However, not all Clover-compatible apps can be added to the Flex. Some apps will only work with the Mini or Clover Station.

Both models can accept traditional magnetic stripe cards, EMV chip cards, and contactless (NFC) technologies like Apple Pay. However, the Flex does not have the ability to connect to a kitchen printer. If that’s important to you, you’ll want to consider another model. The Mini and Flex are both able to accept transactions when offline if you’ve enabled offline transactions.

Essentially: Choose the Flex if you want portability and connecting to a kitchen printer is not important. Choose the Mini or a Clover Station if you want a fixed-location point of sale machine with kitchen printer connection capabilities.

Clover Flex vs. Clover Station

The Clover Flex is not really comparable to the Clover Station and not intended to be. The Flex is a countertop or portable machine that offers payment acceptance and inventory, but isn’t intended as a full point of sale. If you’re looking for all the bells and whistles of a POS system (accounting, kitchen printing, integrated cash drawer, etc.) you’ll want to check out the Clover Station 2018.

If you’re looking for a more basic payment acceptance terminal with some advanced features (like inventory management) that’s where the Flex shines.

The Flex comes at a much lower price point due to the fewer functions and smaller size. Where it starts around $400, the Clover Stations typically run closer to $1,000 starting. (They go up from there depending on specific accessories / packages that you choose.)

Clover Flex Costs

Costs to purchase the Clover Flex vary depending on where you buy it, but the machine starts around $400. (The official Clover website lists the cost as $449.) That is just the purchase price for the terminal – you will also pay a processing fee for each transaction you accept. Processing fees are set by the credit card processing company that you choose.

Additionally, Clover devices are required to use First Data’s TransArmor security suite, also referred to as Clover Security, which typically adds a monthly fee of $19.95.

Then you need to purchase a software plan. Software plans start at $9/month. Details of what’s included in the plans can be found in the screenshot below.

Clover monthly plan

If you want even more details on what's included and how to choose the right fit, check out our article on choosing a Clover software plan. Note that some apps require the “Register” plan. You can upgrade your plan if you choose an app that requires a higher level plan.

Rapid Deposit

As a Clover device, the Flex is eligible for Rapid Deposit. That means you can access your funds instantly rather than waiting the usual 1-2 business days for a deposit.

However, it does come with a cost. You'll pay 1% of the total. Additionally, there are daily limits on how much money you can withdraw using Rapid Deposit. New customers are subject to a max of $500 - $1,000 per day, depending on how much money you typically process. Longer term customers (which Clover calls "tenured" customers) can access up to $10,000 per day.

Keep in mind that the 1% cost for Rapid Deposit is in addition to the transaction fees you’ll pay to accept cards. It’s best used sparingly, such as for unexpected cash flow emergencies, rather than as a default method of receiving your funds.

Clover Flex Credit Card Processing

Accepting credit cards is a primary function of the Clover Flex. In order to do so, you’ll need a merchant account with a credit card processor that operates on the First Data processing platform. Note that this doesn’t mean you need an account directly with First Data, although you can do that. It simply means you need an account with a First Data-compatible processing company. Fortunately, there are many options.

One thing to keep in mind is that Clovers can only be reprogrammed by the company from whom it was originally purchase. That means that you cannot buy a Clover online or from a friend and bring it to a processor of your choice.

It also means that if you purchase a new Clover from a credit card processor and later become unhappy with that processor and want to switch, you will not be able to continue using the machine. You’d need to buy a new system with the new processor.

For this reason, it’s very important that when you buy a Clover, you do so from a processor that you plan to stick with for a while.

Clover Rates and Fees

The “downside” to choice in processors is that there’s no single answer to, “What are Clover’s rates?” The processor you choose will ultimately set your pricing. You can get great pricing or not so great pricing with a Clover system.

This is a great case for becoming a CardFellow member. By joining CardFellow’s wholesale processing club, you’ll have access to great pricing and terms not available in the open market. When you choose a processor and buy that Clover system, you’ll know you’re getting a good deal. You’ll receive exclusive low prices, a lifetime rate lock, and independent, expert rate monitoring by CardFellow experts. Best of all, membership is free!

See CardFellow member pricing for Clovers now: Get started.

Product Features

Selective: First Data

Credit Card Machines

  • Dial-Up
  • Dual/Comm
  • Wireless
  • Wifi
  • Contactless
  • EMV/ Smartcard
  • Built in Contactless Reader
  • NFC Capable
  • Internal PIN Pad
  • Store & Forward
  • Multiple merchant support
  • Multi application support
  • Encrypted

Clover Flex Q&A

TSYS Merchant Solutions answer:

We don't support this device and not able to answer your question.

Thanks
Team TSYS


Dharma Merchant Services answer:

No, these devices are "tied" to the provider who sold them unfortunately. So if you leave Wells, your Flex will not be able to be reused somewhere else :(


TSYS Merchant Solutions answer:

We do not support this device.

Thanks
Team TSYS


Clover Flex Reviews (5)

Do you know this product? Write a review about it
from Chris, on Jun 08, 2018

I own a busy food truck outside Boston where people tend to move quickly. I switched from my old card reader to the Clover Flex after I friend showed me his and how fast it worked. The only downfall is it wont work if there’s no WiFi or cellphone service. Thumbs up!!

from Sang Roche, on Feb 27, 2018

I have used Flex few times (my monthly guest artist brings to use for his transactions), Fast processing, great looking, haven't had any problems nor had to make clients wait for transaction to go through, it's almost instant.

from Jim, on Jan 10, 2018

Sent initial machine with wrong password for set up. Couldn't be fixed over the phone so I had to pay to ship it back. Received new machine and set up was pretty easy. Processed 4 transactions and the machine flat out died! Waiting until morning to call support staff which I know from previous experience is a long, drawn out ordeal. So disappointed in Clover. Avoid!!

from Mike, on Jan 01, 2018

Processes payments offline even though I pay for a cell network. So if someone gets declined I won't know til 4am the next day. My ATT service I pay for hardly ever stays connected. It takes 6:30 to turn on after it randomly turns itself on multiple times throughout the work day. Sometimes freezes on the "processing" screen causing reboot while customers wait. Receipts print 50% of the time it fails and has to be opened and repositioned. It's 2018 and their App Store has no messaging apps. The scheduling apps are archaic. All in all, this device will embarrass you in front of your customers every day.

from CardFellow, on Jul 13, 2017

The Clover Flex is somewhere between a countertop terminal and a POS system, offering portability and features in a small package.

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