As a business owner, I love being able to take payments on my iPhone or iPad when I’m on the go — like at my booth during Seattle Comic Con. That’s one of the reason’s I’m a big Square fan. But while Square has a beautiful design and makes taking credit card payments a snap, it lacks a lot of features real businesses need.
Enter USAePay, which, like Square, also offers iPhone and iPad-compatible credit card readers. But together with their iOS app, USAePay provides many features Square doesn’t. And it’s for that reason, I decided to take USAePay for a spin; here’s what I found.
One of the first things I liked about the USAePay system are the proper credit-card scanning clips they have available. Once attached to your iOS device, both the PaySaber Clip and PaySaber Jr. stay snugly in place and don’t twist around like the Square reader does. This makes it easier to actually run credit cards.
The paranoid out there will also appreciate the fact that USAePay readers use strong encryption to protect their credit card information. The Square reader does not.
The USAePay payment processing app (free) is also one of the better payment apps I’ve used. It’s well laid out, fairly intuitive to use, and you can tell they put at least some effort into its user interface (UI), which I appreciate. Is it as good as Square’s UI? No way, but few UIs are.
Taking a quick payment with USAePay is pretty easy though, just like it is with Square. But with USAePay, your customers can split-pay, settling their total with part cash, part credit, or part check. You could even process your customer’s payment with an authorization code from their bank (sometimes credit card companies make you call charges in). No luck doing that with Square.
But here’s where USAePay gets really powerful. Within the app, you can setup customer and product profiles and product groups. Or you can set up (or import) those profiles via the USAePay Web portal then sync them to your iPhone. With the Square app, you’re only able to enter in a charge amount, plus simple sales tax if needed (though their iPad app allows you to set up products profiles too).
And here’s something else Square can’t touch: with USAePay, you can control which parts of the app your employees can access. This means, for example, you could create products profiles with prices that your employees can’t fool with. Or turn off the ability to refund money. Very useful when you’re not the only one taking payments.
I could keep going — the USAePay system has a plethora of other features that are outside the scope of this review. Suffice it to say, while Square and USAePay both offer features aimed towards single merchants and small businesses, USAePay also offers features medium and large businesses would need.
Back to those credit card readers again. Yeah, they work well, but they’re not quarter-sized and cool-looking like the Square; each is large and clunky. You’re not going to fit one in your pocket, that’s for sure.
And while USAePay offers a gazillion features, I think for small merchants, it’s kind of overkill. There’s a reason Square doesn’t take a kitchen-sink approach to features — most small vendors simply don’t need them — they just want to take a payment.
And let’s talk design for a moment.
The Square reader; the app; the Web portal — they’re all crafted with a refined and easy-to-use aesthetic. You can tell design was important when Square was creating its product.
With USAePay, however, design seems like it was more of an afterthought; it’s like it was tacked-on. This is especially true in regards to its wretched-looking Web portal; it’s boxy, form-driven design will bring back memories of Windows 95. And these kinds of design faux pas, though less prevalent, can be found in the app too.
When I got my Square, it came in a cute little well-designed package and included a sticker. When I got my USAePay readers, instead of a sticker, I got two giant PDF manuals.
My point? If you’re a small merchant, keep it simple — stick with Square. It’s wonderfully designed and very intuitive to use.
However, if you have a business with hundreds of products and employees taking money for you, I’d recommend you consider USAePay. The product works well and has the features bigger businesses need. I just wish the company would devote some more attention and talent to their poorly-designed Web portal and mediocre app.
USAePay PaySaber Jr. CC Reader
USAePay PaySaber Clip CC Reader