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When you think of PayPal, you might think of online transactions. The company is most well-known as the original secure payment method for eBay, and has since expanded to become the payment service of choice for many customers who buy online. But PayPal doesn’t just enable online transactions. The company also offers credit card readers that connect to smartphones, allowing businesses to take payments on the go. What are the features, and how does it compare to rival Square? Read on for all the details.
In order to use the PayPal mobile card reader, you’ll need the reader itself, a compatible smartphone or tablet, and a PayPal Here account. Depending on the reader you use, Android, Apple, or Windows devices may be compatible.
Note that the reader isn't required to accept payments, as you can key-in card details instead. However, keying in cards will result in higher fees than if you use a reader and can swipe cards.
PayPal offers this introduction video showing the two methods of acceptance:
In 2018, PayPal introduced new readers compatible with its PayPal Here app for accepting in-person payments, so it now has 4 readers available. One accepts only magnetic strip cards, while the others also take chip cards. Two readers also accept contactless payments (such as Apple Pay). The previously available chip with PIN reader is still available and is still the only model that allows for PIN entry at the point of sale.
The magstripe reader connects only via headphone jack while the other three readers connect via Bluetooth. Additionally, the magstripe reader is the only model compatible with Windows. The remaining readers are compatible with most Apple and Android devices.
In addition to the two new readers, PayPal offers a chip and tap “bundle” which includes a charging stand. The bundle, pictured below, costs $79.99.
As noted above, PayPal now offers options for accepting chip cards. Since you'll be liable for fraud if you run a chip card using the magnetic stripe, it's a good idea to upgrade to a chip-capable reader. Even small businesses that only accept cards occasionally should strongly consider a chip-capable reader for their smartphone or tablet.
PayPal offers this video showing how to use the Bluetooth compatible chip and PIN reader, the only PayPal reader that allows you to accept PINs from customers. This is a good option if you accept a lot of debit cards.
As a mobile reader, PayPal Here doesn’t offer as many features as a full-fledged point of sale system, but it does provide options for inventory management, barcode scanning, multiple user support, tax, discount, and tip functions, and reporting.
You can use the PayPal Here app on your phone or your PayPal account from an internet-connected computer to set up and manage your inventory. You can upload photos of products and divide items into categories for easy management.
If you’re selling goods that have barcodes, it’s much easier to scan them than to manually enter the SKU. If you use PayPal Here with a compatible Apple or Android device, you can scan barcodes directly with the built-in camera on your smartphone or tablet. If you’re using Windows tablets, you can use compatible USB barcode scanners.
If you have multiple staff members that need access to PayPal Here, you can add them all to one account. PayPal Here has support for up 1,000 users per account, with customizable access levels to restrict employees to only the functions they need. Each user has a separate password for security.
PayPal Here can be set up to automatically calculate taxes or you can set up and store multiple tax rates. Or, maybe you need to offer a discount. With the discount feature turned on, you can easily apply a discount at the time of checkout. If you’re in an industry where tipping is common, you can enable the Tips feature to let customers add a tip. You can optionally choose to include suggested gratuity amounts to save your customers time.
PayPal Here offers a selection of reports that you can customize by setting date ranges, viewing sales for particular items, or checking on the transactions by salesperson.
The costs for credit card processing are separate from the costs of the readers. PayPal Here charges on a flat pricing model, like its competitors Square and FreshBooks mobile.
PayPal is the cheapest of the three, offering 2.7% per swiped transaction. Costs for manually entering information are the same as competitors at 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction for keyed cards. PayPal charges 2.9% + $0.30 for invoices.
Costs are subject to change, and may not include all fees, such as additional charges for cross-border transactions. PayPal’s website boasts no set up, monthly, or cancellation fees.
While a lot of business may not need to add accessories since PayPal Here is designed as an on-the-go solution, you can add accessories if you’d like. PayPal Here is compatible with printers, cash drawers, tablet stands, and barcode scanners to turn it into a more functional POS system.
A lot of people wonder if PayPal Here or Square is better for their business. The truth is, it depends. PayPal Here is marginally less expensive percentage-wise (2.7% per swiped transaction compared to Square’s 2.75%) and new Square fees in 2016 may make the difference even bigger. Square has begun imposing a 10-15 cent per-transaction fee for businesses with average tickets under $10, while PayPal Here does not impose a per-transaction fee.
Additionally, Square does not provide phone support – a sore spot for many of its current and former customers. PayPal has a customer service phone number readily available.
If you’re not sure which to go with, be sure to check out our full comparison PayPal Here vs. Square.
One thing to keep in mind is that PayPal Here can be a good option for businesses that fit a certain profile, but both are likely to be too expensive for other businesses. If your average sale is approximately $10 or less, or if you process less than approximately $2,000 in credit cards per month, PayPal Here can be a competitive choice. If you don’t fit that criteria, it’s worth your time to explore other options for mobile credit card readers.
PayPal Here's flat rate pricing may be a good choice for smaller businesses, and is a little lower than Square's. The chip card reader also has a PIN pad for taking debit cards.