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How to accept credit cards with your iPhone

By Eric Fleming

The ability to accept credit cards no matter where you are means your business is wherever you are or, in this case, wherever your iPhone is.

Credit Card Terminal

Credit cards are ubiquitous in today's world and, more and more, Apple's iPhone is becoming so, too. Can you use your iPhone for credit card processing? With the help of iPhone applications, accepting credit cards on your iPhone is a snap.

The first step toward credit card processing on your iPhone is selecting the iPhone application that is right for you. Each application's Web site details the features of the software. Transactions is available in both a free and paid version, while Credit Card Terminal and ProcessAway cost around $50 and $20, respectively.

Once you have purchased and installed the iPhone application of your choice, you still aren't ready to process credit cards on your iPhone just yet.

Each iPhone application uses Authorize.net, a credit card authorization gateway for businesses, so you will need to sign up for an account with that company. You also will have to obtain a merchant account. Credit Card Terminal, for example, has partnered with Merchant Focus to provide that service. You also have the option (with Transactions) of processing PayPal payments via your iPhone. Depending on which vendor you use, you can expect to pay roughly $25 a month in merchant account and credit card processing fees, as well as a per-transaction fee (to Authorize.net) and a percentage of the credit card charge to the credit card company.

Using iPhone credit card processing applications is pretty straightforward. Each iPhone application offers the ability to:

  • Ring up standard charges.
  • Void a transaction that has not been settled.
  • Refund charges.
  • Place holds on a credit card (reserving a particular amount of money to be charged later, as is common with security deposits for car rentals, for example)..
To use these iPhone applications, simply type in the number of the credit card, the expiration date and the amount to be charged. In most cases, it is best to grab the security code from the back of the card (for verification purposes), as well as the customer's billing ZIP code.

When you hit the "Charge" button in the iPhone software, credit card processing begins. Your information is sent to Authorize.net servers, which will check to see if the card has sufficient funds for processing. Depending on your iPhone application's features, you may be able to print a paper receipt or e-mail an electronic one to your customer.

Accepting credit cards via your iPhone is something to consider, especially if a lot of your business is conducted on the road or in remote locations on a regular basis.

Article by Eric Fleming

Published: May 25, 2009

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