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Choosing a Mobile Card Reader


Not long ago, the terminal hardware necessary to accept plastic card payments was cumbersome, expensive, or both.  Then along came smartphones and mobile card readers, and everything changed.

A mobile card reader is a small hardware device that connects to a tablet or smartphone with a headphone jack and turns any wi-fi or cellular device into a mobile point of sale device.  They’re convenient and easy to use.   At independent schools, their mobility works especially well for fundraising events such as auctions, sporting events, bake sales, spirit wear sales, etc.  But before you decide on a mobile card reader brand, do a bit of homework first.  Here’s a list of some questions and considerations:

  • Keep customer service high on your priority list. While obtaining mobile readers at no charge is common, the associated customer service is often virtually non-existent if you need to discuss a transaction.  Things happen.  People change minds about purchases and charges will need to be reversed.  The volunteer team for the fundraising auction may make mistakes when using the readers. You’ll need to sort through these issues and it’s best to have a customer service department available to help.
  • What are processing fees connected with the reader?  Some readers have a flat payment percentage fee, and others vary based on volume processed.  Before you commit to a card reader brand, learn what you’re signing up for.  
  • When and how will payments be deposited in your school’s bank account?  Daily?  Weekly?  This can vary based on the card reader you choose.
  • What payment data is available with your card reader?  Some collect only limited data such as a transaction amount, date, and card number.  This can make reporting and reconciling time consuming and difficult.  Other readers allow for electronic signatures, can e-mail payment receipts, and be used with your existing merchant account.  
  • Make sure all payments are fully encrypted end-to-end.   No school or payer wants the headaches that come from a payment breach!

If you’re considering how you can ease payment acceptance and increase payment activity at your school, our school payment experts are happy to help.  We’ve provided hundreds of schools with mobile card readers and expert advice regarding payments campus-wide. Call us at 888 566 0945 x777 or