Lawyers have long accepted credit cards to pay for their services. In the past this meant using a knuckle-busting manual card imprinter or obtaining a credit card terminal that was rooted to your brick-and-mortar office. These days, with mobile credit card processing through your smartphone or tablet, it's easier than ever to get your fees paid by credit card--anywhere, anytime. Whatever device you use--an Apple product like iPhone and iPad, an Android phone or tablet, Blackberry--can become your credit card machine.
How It Works: The App and the Reader
Start by choosing a service provider and visiting its website or an online store that sells its app for your device, such as the iTunes App Store or Android Market. There you'll be able to download the app and supply the personal and banking information that creates your account.
The service provider will send you a card reader that plugs into your smartphone or tablet. You can also accept credit cards without using the reader by keying your client's card number into your device.
Privacy and Security
Your client's credit card information just passes through your device--it's never actually stored there. Your clients never have to hand over their card to anyone, and there's no paper imprint of credit card information that could fall into the wrong hands. All the major service providers comply with payment card industry information security standards and use encryption to secure sensitive information. Most apps are password protected, and include additional safety measures if the device is ever lost or stolen.
Choosing a Service Provider
There are many mobile credit card processing service providers competing for your business. When choosing among them, keep these factors in mind:
1. Price. Mobile credit card processors either charge a monthly price for your merchant account with them, or are "pay-as-you-go," requiring no merchant account. The percentage fee for each transaction with a pay-as-you-go account will be higher. Check both the swipe percentage and the keyed-in percentage. Other fees to compare are the fixed per-transaction fee, the price for a payment gateway (if required), set-up fees, monthly minimums, charges for the reader, and the price of a Bluetooth card reader and printer, if you need them.
2. Compatibility. Most of the major service providers work with all the most popular phones and tablets, but you should verify compatibility before selecting a provider. All major service providers can handle Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
3. Features. Options to be aware of include the ability to email receipts, customize receipts, manage transactions and view reports from within the app or online, capture signatures, void transactions and make refunds and credits, hold funds, save client information, and manage cash transactions. Most services include access to a virtual terminal, where you can process credit cards online if you need to.
You don't want to miss any opportunity to accept a credit card from a client who is ready and able to pay for your services. With mobile credit card processing from your phone or tablet, you can make that transaction as quick and convenient as possible--for you and your client.