Written by Lucas Pistilli Reviewed by Ruairi Shirlow Updated on 30 January 2023 On this page What is a mPOS? Why accept card payments via your mobile phone? What are the different types of mPOS systems? How to take card payments via your phone What businesses are mPOS systems best suited to? Alternative ways to take payments Our methodology Next steps FAQs Expand All providers have been reviewed and tested by our Research team. By requesting a quote, we can match you with a potential supplier, and we may earn a small commission for this referral To all business owners looking for a quick and easy way to take payments: you can find one in your pocket. A mobile point of sale (mPOS) system transforms your smartphone into a payment taking device, which is an excellent way for your business to start charging without shelling out big figures for hardware.If this sounds appealing, give our free quote comparison tool a try. It allows you to get bespoke quotes from our trusted providers for you to compare.If you’d like to know more about mPOS systems, stick with us. In this article, we’ll cover their features, benefits and drawbacks.You’ll also find a step-by-step guide on how to take payments via your phone – but if you’re part of the TL;DR crowd, the steps are: 01 | Explore your options 02 | Open an account with a payment processor 03 | Get a mobile card reader 04 | Open the POS app 05 | Connect your device to the card reader 06 | Start accepting payments! What is a mPOS?Simply put, mPOS is a system that makes your smartphone and tablet act as a payment register. This allows you to take payments virtually anywhere. All you need is: a smartphone or tablet, an internet connection, and a card reader.By running on your smartphone via an app, mPOS systems don’t require you to buy or lease pricey hardware, such as countertop displays or portable terminals.Unlike traditional POS systems, you’re not bound to fixed-term contracts or account fees with a mPOS. Instead, you’re only charged transaction fees according to your usage.Because of all that, mPOS systems require a low initial investment, which made them grow in popularity in recent years. Why accept card payments via your mobile phone?mPOS systems are widely used due to their low cost and ease of use. However, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution and come with their set of limitations. Pros Low cost Ease of use Extra portability Cons Less comprehensive than fuller systems Battery drainage Phone is more prone to damage ✔️ Pro: Low costBy foregoing account fees, mPOS systems ditch the bulk of the fixed costs you'd pay with traditional POS systems. Conveniently, you can also buy their readers outright, whereas traditional systems only lease them on a monthly subscription.✔️ Pro: Ease of useBefitting a solution fitted into a device you already use heavily (and one that you may be reading this on), mPOS systems are very easy to grasp. Also, since they don’t require new hardware (apart from a card reader), its installation is quick, painless and free of charge.✔️ Pro: Extra portabilityFree from the constraints of countertop devices or corded card readers, mPOS systems allow you to go about your business day and charge your customers by quickly pulling out your reader and phone. This makes mPOS a great tool for mobile businesses.❌ Con: Less comprehensive than fuller systemsmPOS systems tend to support less currencies and offer less reporting tools than traditional POS ones. While these shortcomings don’t affect all ventures, mPOS systems with few reporting tools are ill fits for small businesses that need data insights to plan their growth.❌ Con: Battery drainageAnything you use too much is more likely to wear out and the same goes for your phone’s battery. Running your mPOS will require a constant internet connection, plus a Bluetooth connection to sync with the reader. These, combined with the power required for the app itself to function, can quickly reduce your battery life over time.❌ Con: Phone is more prone to damageThe moment you decide to make your phone a work tool, it becomes more prone to damage than it would be if you only used it for leisure. Plus, considering that any accident could financially impact your business, you may need to insure your phone in case you don’t already, which would mean an extra fixed cost. What are the different types of mPOS systems?The mPOS market is fast-paced, with new variations launching regularly. Below you have three of the most popular mPOS systems.Phone-basedA phone-based mPOS system transforms your phone into a payment register with the aid of an app, a card reader (paired via Bluetooth), and an internet connection.Tablet-basedThis mPOS system works in a similar way to the phone-based mPOS one, but replaces the phone with a tablet. The rest of the setup remains the same: your mPOS app must be installed, you must use a card reader and you must have an internet connection.Tap on phoneAn evolution of the phone-based mPOS, tap on phone transforms your own phone into a card reader, so you don’t need to buy a separate piece of hardware just to do that. You still need to have the app of your mPOS installed and to be connected to the internet. How to take card payments via your phone 1. Explore your options Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Score 4.8 Score 4.8 Score 4.4 Score 4.4 Score 4.2 Score 4.0 Best For Cheap transaction fees Best For Convenience Best For Faster payouts Best For Low-cost hardware Best For 3G connectivity Best For Reporting Cost £49 + VAT Cost From £59 + VAT Cost From £19 + VAT Cost From £6.99 + VAT/month Cost From £39 + VAT Cost From £49 + VAT Transaction fee From 1% + 20p online0.8% + 2p in person Transaction fee 2.5% online1.75% in-person Transaction fee 2.5% online1.75% in-person Transaction fee 1.50% Transaction fee 2.5% online1.69% in-person Transaction fee Bespoke online1.4% + 20p in-person Free Trial/Plan Free Trial/Plan Free Trial/Plan Free Trial/Plan Free Trial/Plan Free Trial/Plan Start venturing into the brave new mPOS world and checking providers, looking for the one that best suits your business. A surefire way to do that is by comparing quotes, which we can help you with once you fill in our free comparison tool.You should look for transaction fees and hardware costs that fit into your budget, as well as features that are useful to you. For instance, an invoicing platform is a tool consistently mentioned as important in our audience research, so it’s worth choosing a provider that offers one. 2. Open an account with a payment processorIn case you don’t already have an account with a payment platform, you’ll need to sign up with one in order to use its service. If you already use a payment processor, you can skip to Step 4. 3. Get a mobile card readerNext up is buying a card reader. Most mPOS systems offer more than one, so you’d have to choose which fits your business best and then get it. It’s worth checking beforehand if the reader you’re planning to buy is compatible with your phone, as they’ll need to be paired up to work. If you own a small business, do check out our ranking of best card readers for businesses that size. 4. Open the POS appWith the hardware sorted, now comes the software bit: download your provider’s app and log in. It’s through the app that your mPOS system will process the payment and issue the payout request so the amount reaches your account. It’s also there that your transaction data will be stored. 5. Connect your device to the card readerPair your reader to your phone. While some providers offer offline mode, internet connection is usually required for the mPOS system to run smoothly. You can avoid buying a reader if you choose to get paid via QR codes and payment links, but these usually have higher transaction fees. 6. Start accepting payments!That’s it, you’re set! After these steps, your customers will be able to tap onto your reader and you’ll be able to take their payments via your phone. What businesses are mPOS systems best suited to?Due to its outstanding portability, mPOS systems are best suited to mobile businesses. It allows for more flexibility and frees business owners from having to operate from a desk or counter.Food trucks, farmers markets and arts & crafts businesses are particularly poised to benefit from these systems. To these entrepreneurs, using a mPOS will mean selling their products on the go in a very hassle-free way. If you’re one of them, your only concerns will be being online and making sure your hardware is charged.Restaurateurs can also benefit from a mPOS system and level up the dining experience they offer by having orders automatically taken at the table, rather than having waiters queuing to use a single countertop machine. Alternative ways to take paymentsVersatile and practical as they are, mPOS are far from being the only way to take payments. Some of the alternatives out there are:Traditional POS systemsThese fuller POS systems may come with more hardware costs, but they come with more features. These work better for medium to large businesses.Over the phoneIn this system, with the help of a virtual terminal, you’re able to input your customers’ card data you get through the phone into a safe online processing platform and take payments. This alternative works well if your business deals with a lot of card-not-present transactions.OnlineThis alternative is based on a payment gateway, which is a solution that allows you to take payments through the internet, without a reader. As the name implies, it’s a great choice for online businesses. Our methodologyTo provide you with this guide, our independent researchers conducted a deep dive analysis on two market fields directly related to payment taking.The first is merchant account providers, which are companies that provide card machines and other types of payment solutions. The second is EPOS systems, which go beyond that and offer features, such as data reports and stock management, that allow you to run your businesses.Our knowledge in these fields give us a solid insight into payment processing and the best current methods to do it. We’re also able to confidently explain how the different methods – such as the one discussed in this article – can affect your business, with clear benefits and drawbacks. Next stepsIf you’re a small business owner keen on taking payments without spending a lot, taking payments via your phone is a quick and easy way out. All you need to do is buy a card reader, download a mPOS app to your phone, connect it to the reader, and you’re set. For mobile businesses in particular, the extra portability makes this a very efficient solution.If you’re ready to get some signal to your business, use our quick and free comparison tool. We’ll match you with the providers most suited to your needs, and they’ll be in touch with tailored, obligation-free quotes! FAQs Can you take card payments on a mobile phone? You can take card payments on a mobile phone if you use a mPOS system. It’ll connect it to a card reader and transform it into a payment register. Can I accept contactless payments on my phone? You can accept contactless payments on your phone if you use a tap on phone system. This is an app that will enable your customers to tap straight onto your phone to pay, without the need for a reader. What do I need to take card payments on my phone? To take card payments on your phone, you need an internet connection, a mPOS app, and a card reader to connect it with. Is there an app for taking payments? There are several apps that allow you to take payments. Some examples include Zettle, Square, SumUp, Revolut, Tyl, and Stripe. Our site is reader-supported. Some featured providers are our partners, so we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through our site. This is at no extra cost to our readers, and this doesn’t affect the independence of our reviews. Whether or not we have a partnership with a company does not affect our rating and review of the service. Written by: Lucas Pistilli Business Services Expert Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions. Reviewed by: Ruairi Shirlow Business Services Researcher Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.