Are you looking for a payment processing solution for your salon or spa?
If yes, then you have come to the right place.
Credit card processing and having a merchant account are some of the most essential parts of running a successful salon or spa business.
Not only can it help provide you with a steady source of income, but it also provides you with the freedom to offer your customers more payment options that they can choose from.
There are many types of credit card processing and merchant services that you should look into before making a decision.
In this post, I’ve rounded up my top picks for the best mobile card readers well suited to the specific requirements of salons and spas.
|Monthly Fee||Free||Starts at $25||Free||Starts at $24|
|Card Reader Cost||N / A||Free||Free to $49||$49|
|Free Trial||No||1 Month||No||14 Days|
|Mobile Card Reader||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Contactless / NFC||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Payment Cards||Fresha Pay||All Major||All Major||All Major|
|Countries||20+ Countries||US, UK, CAN, AU||US, CAN, UK, AU, Japan||US|
My 4 Top Picks
- Fresha: The Subscription-Free Salon Software with Integrated Payment (Supported in 20+ Countries)
- Square: The Most Complete Payment System with POS and Card Reader Hardware (US, Canada, Australia)
- Vagaro: The Best All-in-One Salon Software with (US, UK, Canada, Australia)
- GlossGenius: The Most Beautiful Card Reader and All-in-One Salon Software for Independent Professionals (US only)
Fresha, Vagaro, Square, and GlossGenius are built for salons from the start and have all the features built into the core product. This makes things easy for you – everything is there in one place.
Now let’s take a look at my 4 top picks in more detail.
Fresha – Point-of-Sale System for Salons
Fresha is a complete POS system for salons and is the only 100% subscription-free salon system. This is an excellent option for a new salon that needs to keep costs low.
Apart from the point-of-sale system and its payment processing features, Fresha offers easy-to-use salon appointment scheduling, staff scheduling, product, and stock management, payment processing, financial reporting and analytics, and a range of marketing tools.
As you can see in my full Fresha review, it gets a lot of top scores for the features listed above. This is impressive, considering it’s free.
Fresha is available in 20+ countries.
Fresha does not get a full score because they do not offer a fully mobile card reader, but you can manage the POS software in a web browser or app on your own android and iOS phones and tablets. However, Fresha does have two different types of Verifone card terminals available, both fully integrated with Fresha.
No subscription fee. Even for multiple staff members.
20% one-off charge when a brand new client books through the Fresha marketplace. Does not apply if the client books through your website or social media.
2.19% + $0.2 transaction fee when a client books through the Fresha marketplace, your website, social pages, or confirms or pays using one of their payment systems.
An essential difference with Fresha is that they offer a salon client marketplace. This allows you to promote your business and get discovered by new clients. Note that this is also where they earn their money back. When you market your salon or spa on the platform and get a new client, they’ll charge you 20% of the appointment. Also, as you’ll be using their credit card payment gateway, you’ll be charged transaction fees when clients pay online (2.19% + $0.2).
- No monthly fee
- Low transaction fee
- Complete POS system
- Salon client marketplace
- Available in many countries
- No mobile card reader
- No offline mode
- Only accepts payments through Fresha Pay
Even though Fresha is subscription-free, it has many of the features other companies charge for, which is one reason I like it.
It’s also available in many more countries than Square, Vagaro, and GlossGenius. Fresha is an appropriate POS option for individual stylists and salons on a budget who want to avoid a monthly subscription and, most likely, don’t need all the bells and whistles of the other POS systems listed here.
Also, don’t miss my full review of Fresha.
Vagaro POS and Mobile Card Reader
Vagaro is a specialized, all-in-one system for salons and spas. The Vagaro system comes with a vast array of features for salons, where POS is only one of the many tools you get.
Apart from the POS system and the credit card reader, Vagaro offers online appointment scheduling, email/SMS marketing, subscription payments, video streaming, website builder, eCommerce, payroll, hardware, and advanced business reporting, just to name a few.
You can read more about the features listed above in my full Vagaro Pro review, where the system gets a lot of high scores.
Despite the tremendous amount of features you get, Vagaro is keeping its pricing at very affordable rates. You can start using Vagaro for as low as $25/month and simply add the features and hardware your business needs.
Vagaro is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.
Vagaro Card Readers
Vagaro has both a mobile card machine and a point-of-sale terminal with contactless payment. You can also run Vagaro in a web browser, your phone, or on the dedicated pay desk hardware. The pay desk is beautifully designed and will fit the interior of all beauty salons.
Vagaro Pro pricing is transparent and modular. The base rate is very reasonable, and you can add to it with your own add-ons.
The Vagaro costs are summarized below so that you can figure out what the total cost will be for you.
Free 30-day trial
Monthly subscription fee: $25 for individuals and $10 for every additional user. Everyone after the 7th user is free.
Credit card processing fee
Small merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.75% per swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed in transaction. No monthly cost.
Multiple merchants (less than $4000/month): 2.5% + $0.10 per swipe, 3.5% +$0.15 per keyed in transaction. American Express swipe 2.75%+$0.19 and type 3.5% +$0.19 . No monthly cost.
Large merchants (more than $4000/month): 2.2% + $0.19 per swipe, 3% + $0.19 per keyed in transaction. American Express swipe 2.75% + $0.19 and type 3.5% + $0.19. Monthly cost $10.
- Many features
- Affordable price
- Integrated payments (inc. recurring subscriptions)
- Client marketplace
- A moderate learning curve in the beginning
- Pages could load faster
- No offline mode
As an overall system, I’m giving Vagaro top scores on almost everything. The interface of the platform is easy to use but, the learning curve for Vagaro is slightly higher than for other options because of the sheer number of features.
Vagaro is ideal for a busy salon that needs support and still has easy-to-use management.
Even if you are not tech-savvy, you will be able to get marketing campaigns, online booking, and a lot of more advanced features up and running without having to integrate a whole bunch of different tools.
So if you’re looking for a great credit card processor and an all-in-one business solution for your salon, spa, or health & fitness business, I highly recommend you sign up for a free trial of Vagaro.
Also, see my full review of Vagaro: The Ultimate Vagaro Review 2021: The Best Salon Software?
The Square POS Credit Card Reader
Square offers much more than payment processing and a card reader.
The famous mobile card reader is just one of the products in the Square family. They have an excellent appointment scheduler (read my full review of Square Appointments), an eCommerce platform, and a whole suite of marketing tools that are designed to help salons, spas, and other local businesses grow.
Square POS is also subscription-free! As Square is also a card payment provider, they earn their money on credit card transactions and will not charge you for using their POS (you still pay for the hardware terminal).
The main reason I would consider another option is if your country is not yet supported (only the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and Japan today) or if you’re looking for a super-specific feature.
Square Card Readers
Square offers three types of card readers.
1. The Square magstripe card reader is for taking swiped card transactions. It plugs directly into your phone or tablet. The first one is free. Additional mobile card readers cost $10.
2. Square’s second card reader is a sleek small terminal for taking contactless card payments (NFC via Bluetooth). It costs $49, and a Square magstripe reader is included.
3. The Square terminal is an all-in-one card reader. It comes with a touchscreen, allowing you to take payments, access your Square POS system, print receipts, and use all the features of Square’s app. The cost for the terminal is $299.
There’s no monthly fee, but there is a transaction fee for each sale. 2.6% + 10¢ for swiped or tapped card transactions. 3.5% + 15¢ when the card number is keyed in.
Square hardware costs extra. See above.
- Excellent and easy-to-use mobile app
- Free subscription – Only pay credit card transaction fee
- Fully integrated with salon appointments and client data
- Accept payments wherever your client is (for mobile salons)
- Access to Square’s business tools
- Offline mode
- Limited availability worldwide
My Square Verdict
Despite being incredibly feature-rich, it’s clear that Square has made simplicity and ease-of-use a priority. The card reader and Square terminal’s sleek design and intuitive interface make it an easy-to-use option. I highly recommend that you try out Square’s card readers and salon POS system.
Also, see my review of Square Appointments: Square Appointments Review & Discount Code (2021)
GlossGenius POS & Credit Card Reader
GlossGenius is an all-in-one payment, appointment, and marketing app for salons and spas in the USA.
GlossGenius offers support for independent salon professionals and salons with a team. Here you can manage your entire business with an easy-to-use, beautifully designed app.
Everything about GlossGenius breathes exceptional beauty. Even the card reader is designed for a high-end client experience. And it’s the combination of excellent design and simplicity that makes this tool truly unique.
The GlossGenius Card Reader
The credit card reader truly allows you to check out your customers in style. The reader itself comes in a wide variety of designs that you can explore at the GlossGenius Website.
It connects via Bluetooth directly to your phone and the app. The reader accepts all payment types, including contactless payments. The cost per credit card swipe is 2.6%.
GlossGenius is brilliant for small salons looking for a beautifully designed and intuitive credit card reader at a low monthly fee.
GlossGenius is only available in the US (at the moment).
GlossGenius has one flat fee plan at $24/month. Regardless of your team size, that’s what you pay for all the features.
- Free 14-day trial
- $24/month standard plan (unlimited employees)
- 2.6% per credit card transaction fee
- The credit card reader is $49
- Affordable and transparent flat-fee pricing
- Beautiful design
- Multiple card reader design options to fit your brand
- Fully integrated with salon appointments and client data
- Limited flexibility (you need to use the built-in format)
- Limited team management support
My GeniusGloss Verdict
I recommend GlossGenius if you value the design and the appearance of your business and need a simple salon POS that you can manage out of your phone, wherever you are.
Read my full review of GlossGenius here.
Gaining a competitive edge in the salon and spa industry is a challenging yet worthwhile endeavor. I hope you have found this overview helpful in finding the best credit card reader for salons to start accepting credit card payments in your salon with ease.
Finally, if you want to dive even deeper into salon software check out this post: 7 Best Salon Software 2021: The Ultimate Guide.