For many small businesses, it is essential to be able to accept payments anytime, anywhere. For instance, say you are at a small show, and you want to sell your wares. Or, you are an independent consultant, and you want your clients to be able to pay you on the spot.

There are plenty of services for collecting payments, but many require you to purchase costly hardware. There is one vendor, however, that will give you the app and the additional hardware for free — all you need is the proper mobile device and an Intuit merchant account. The product is Intuit’s GoPayment, and it works on these platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and iPad.

Supported devices

In order to use GoPayment, you need to have a supported device, which includes:

  • Android: HTC EVO, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid Pro, HTC Nexus One
  • Apple: iPad 3G/WiFi, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPod Touch (3rd Gen)
  • BlackBerry: Curve 8530, Bold 9650, Tour 9630, Curve 8520, Bold 9700

GoPayment for Android

For this post, I’ll focus on the Android version of GoPayment.

The software is free and can be installed from the Android Market. The hardware is a simple add-on credit card reader that attaches to your Android device and allows you to easily swipe credit cards.

There is no up-front cost for this service, software, or hardware; there are also no setup fees, no contract, and no annual/monthly fees. The only costs will be incurred as sales occur, and the hit you will take looks like this: 2.7% + 0.15 cents per transaction. Using this formula, you can calculate how much it will cost to use GoPayment. Of course, you have to read the fine print.

Each transaction has to meet certain qualifications for the 2.7% rate. Those qualifications are:

  • Visa/MC/Discover Network transactions that do not meet those requirements (which includes corporate cards, foreign cards) and transactions that do not meet Visa/MC/Discover Network requirements for the best interchange program, will be charged a “Non-Qualified Rate” of 3.7%.
  • Non-qualified transactions have an additional “pre-authorization” fee ($0.22 cents if you are not on a monthly plan and $0.37 cents if you have the $12.95 monthly fee plan).
  • American Express and JCB may have different discount rates.

There is also a special pricing plan for those who handle numerous transactions (a GoPayment Merchant Account is required to access the pricing plan link). For $12.95 per month, the rate drops from 2.7% to 1.7% plus $0.30 cents. The good news for smaller businesses is that, if you don’t use it, you don’t pay it.

How to use GoPayment

Follow these steps to start using GoPayment:

  1. Apply for a GoPayment merchant account. You will need the following information: business information (mailing address, establishment date), contact information (principal/owner name, address), and basic financial information (bank account number, estimated sales figures).
  2. Install GoPayment from the Android Market.
  3. Start GoPayment and log on to your account.
  4. When you receive your card reader, attach the card reader to your phone.
  5. Begin taking transactions!

As you might expect, using the software is quite simple. You can create a charge (Figure A), swipe the card, press Charge, and you’re good to go. After you make the charge, a window will pop-up asking for the credit card holder’s signature.
Figure A

Making a charge in Intuit’s GoPayment

If you’re running transactions over wireless, you should make sure that network is very secure, or else you run the risk of someone snagging the transmitted data.

GoPayment has 24/7 phone support, but Intuit’s support is spotty at best. If you’ve never used Intuit’s support, be prepared for a long phone call, and don’t expect the call to always resolve your problem.

Bottom line

GoPayment is an easy and reliable way to collect credit card payments using a mobile device. GoPayment doesn’t have a ton of features, though the ones it offers work very well. Before you sign on for the service, make sure the costs meet up with your small business needs, or you’ll wind up losing money in transaction fees.