What’s the best – or cheapest – mobile card machine for small businesses in Ireland? Actually, there are not that many cheap ones with a reasonable (or no) contract.

iZettle or Square card reader are not yet available in Ireland, but SumUp and Elavon’s MobileMerchant are. Clover Mini and Clover Flex are popular touchscreen terminals offered by AIBMS on a contract. myPOS also sells standalone credit card machines without lock-in and with plenty of payment features.

Certain independent sales organisations, such as Paymentsense, rent out mobile card machines with contractual commitment. Those contracts have multiple different fees and terms better suited for high turnovers and a steady stream of transactions.

Let us compare the best credit card terminals for a small business in Ireland.

SumUp

In Ireland, SumUp is definitely the easiest and cheapest way to get started with payments. There’s no contractual commitment, no monthly fee and no long sign-up. You just create a SumUp account online, order the card payment device and wait 3-5 working days to receive it.

There are two card readers: SumUp Air that works in conjunction with an app (downloaded on iPhone, iPad or an Android device), and SumUp 3G that works independently. The latter is pricier, but comes with a SIM card built in so it works without a connection to a mobile device.

Photo: Emmanuel Charpentier, Mobile Transaction

SumUp 3G vs Air

SumUp Air and SumUp 3G card readers.

SumUp merchants also get free access to payments links for remote payments, QR code payments, email invoices and electronic gift cards. If you want a super-simple online store to share on social media, the free Online Store Starter lets you create one in minutes.

The only thing you’re paying is a transaction fee: 1.69% for all card payments. The free SumUp Card provides instant access to transactions, if you can’t wait to receive them in your bank account.

For the monthly fee, you can build a full-fledged online store or subscribe to a more advanced point of sale (POS) system.

SumUp
Card readers SumUp Air (with free app): €17.99 + VAT
SumUp 3G (standalone): €99 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.69% (all payments)
SumUp
Card readers SumUp Air (with free app): €17.99 + VAT
SumUp 3G (standalone): €99 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.69% (all payments)

Clover by AIBMS

Clover produces standalone payment terminals with large touchscreens. Clover Flex is the smallest one available. It is portable, prints receipts and has POS features directly on its screen, meaning you can use it as a complete checkout with card payments built in. Clover Mini is more like a tablet terminal, best stationed on a counter (although it can be carried around).

The amount of POS features on the terminals depends on the chosen software plan, which you have to pay monthly fees for. The simplest subscription only works with WiFi, so a truly mobile terminal reliant on 3G requires a higher monthly cost. There are additional features to download from the Clover App Market, but these have separate costs.

Photo: Clover

Clover Flex and Clover Mini.

The main provider of Clover terminals in Ireland is AIB Merchant Services. Here, you can expect to commit to 3- or 4-year contracts with a merchant account, payment processing, terminal lease and software subscription included.

Suffice to say, the Clover solution is better suited for merchants with a stable turnover, as you will be locked into a contract with at least €70+ paid monthly just for the lease, merchant account and basic software. On top of that, you pay transaction fees and miscellaneous costs for setup, chargebacks and PCI compliance.

Businesses with a larger turnover can, however, benefit from lower transaction fees negotiated with AIBMS. Moreover, the software customisation options are attractive for those who like to pick and choose till features.

Clover
Card terminals Clover Flex (portable):
€630 upfront or €44/mo
Clover Mini (tablet terminal):
€495 upfront or €32.50/mo
Contract Up to 4 years’ lock-in
Monthly fee Various for software, merchant account, PCI compliance, etc.
Transaction fee 0.18%-1.49% + 2¢ with AIBMS
Clover
Card terminals Clover Flex (portable):
€630 upfront or €44/mo
Clover Mini (tablet terminal):
€495 upfront or €32.50/mo
Contract Up to 4 years’ lock-in
Monthly fee Various for software, merchant account, PCI compliance, etc.
Transaction fee 0.18%-1.49% + 2¢ with AIBMS

Elavon MobileMerchant

Elavon offers a pay-as-you-go card reader called Elavon MobileMerchant. It works with a free mobile app, which hasn’t been updated in two years so we can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.

MobileMerchant is, however, the cheapest credit card terminal: the first one is free. Additional card readers cost €39 each (one-off price). You then only pay a 2.75% transaction charge for Visa and Mastercard payments, 1.9% for American Express and 2.5% for Diners Club, JCB and Discover payments.

Photo: Elavon

Elavon MobileMerchant card reader

The Elavon MobileMerchant reader is very basic – and so is the connected mobile app.

The mobile app is extremely basic, but does the job of accepting cards. Payment amounts have to be entered manually as opposed to adding items from a product library (which SumUp allows). It cannot connect to a Bluetooth printer for paper receipts, but sends digital receipts.

Then again, the complimentary virtual terminal is attractive for over-the-phone payments. Furthermore, Elavon MobileMerchant doesn’t come with lock-in or monthly fees, and the lower transaction fees for non-Visa and non-Mastercard transactions could make it cheaper than SumUp.

Elavon
Card reader MobileMerchant (with free app): Free
Contract None
Monthly fee None
Transaction fees Visa, Mastercard: 2.75%
Diners Club, JCB, Discover: 2.5%
Amex: 1.9%
Elavon
Card reader MobileMerchant (with free app): Free
Contract None
Monthly fee None
Transaction fees Visa, Mastercard: 2.75%
Diners Club, JCB, Discover: 2.5%
Amex: 1.9%

myPOS

The payment company myPOS sells several mobile card terminals with a built-in SIM card designed to work across Europe. This makes myPOS a great choice for cross-border merchants, for example if selling both in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The card machines range in price from €29 + VAT for myPOS Go (basic, standalone card reader) to €349 + VAT for myPOS Smart N5, the most advanced smart POS terminal. The touchscreen terminals give access to apps with features relevant to serving customers face-to-face and also remotely.

myPOS mobile card machines

Selection of mobile credit card machines by myPOS.

myPOS does not have monthly fees or contractual commitment, but the sign-up process takes a few days to complete since various proof is required. Most card payments (Visa, V Pay, Mastercard and Maestro cards issued within EEA) cost 1.75% per transaction. Other cards incur fees upwards of 3% per transaction.

Transactions through myPOS don’t go to your bank account. Every merchant gets an online e-money account which is where payouts go. You can then choose to transfer money to your Irish bank account for a fee, transfer money internationally or spend the money with the complimentary myPOS Visa card.

myPOS also has a virtual terminal for telephone payments, payment links, invoicing and other online tools. There are, however, several different fees related to payment transfers, chargebacks, shipping etc. so it’s not necessarily the cheapest option.

myPOS
Card terminals myPOS Go: €29 + VAT
myPOS Mini: €129 + VAT
myPOS Combo: €249 + VAT
myPOS Smart: €349 + VAT
myPOS Smart N5: €349 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None (misc. pay-as-you-go fees apply)
Transaction fees 1.75%-3%
myPOS
Card terminals myPOS Go: €29 + VAT
myPOS Mini: €129 + VAT
myPOS Combo: €249 + VAT
myPOS Smart: €349 + VAT
myPOS Smart N5: €349 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None (misc. pay-as-you-go fees apply)
Transaction fees 1.75%-3%

Shopify card reader

Alternatively, you can buy a Shopify card reader that works with a POS app on an iPad, iPhone or Android device. This is ideal if you’re selling online with Shopify, as taking payments requires a Shopify ecommerce subscription.

It doesn’t matter which subscription you choose, so you could go for the cheapest plan (Shopify Lite for US$9/month) with Pay Buttons and invoicing, or online store subscriptions starting at US$29 monthly. The card reader costs €69 + VAT, making it the most expensive app-based card reader on this list.

Shopify card payment device

The Shopify Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader is pocket-sized, but also works well on a countertop.

The default Shopify POS app is free, but you get more inventory, staff management and order features on a Shopify POS Pro plan for $89/month. In any case, face-to-face and online sales are synced to keep inventory levels correct across sales channels.

The cheaper your ecommerce subscription, the higher the transaction fee. 1.7% is the highest charge for card reader payments (applicable on Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify) and 1.5% is the lowest (Advanced Shopify). There is no long-term commitment, but the monthly fee would likely be a deal-breaker if all you want is to get paid through a card reader.

Shopify
Card reader Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader (with app): €69 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee From US$9/mo
Transaction fee 1.5%-1.7% + VAT
Shopify
Card reader Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader (with app): €69 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee From US$9/mo
Transaction fee 1.5%-1.7% + VAT

Conclusion

Out of the credit card machines in Ireland, SumUp has the deal all-round: the software is updated regularly, card readers are cheap, there’s no lock-in or monthly fees, and plenty of remote payment tools are included for free.

Clover is better for stable businesses wanting multi-functional terminals with expandable POS features as well as negotiable fees. Elavon has the cheapest card machine since the first one is free, but the accompanying app is worryingly outdated.

Whereas myPOS has an impressive range of card terminals to buy upfront, it is better suited for cross-border merchants preferring an online account over a high street bank based in Ireland. Shopify reader works well with its app, but only online merchants can justify its high price and required ecommerce subscription.

Card machine Best for Website
SumUp All-round value, wide range of remote tools, good but cheap card readers
Clover Negotiable card rates, range of POS features to download on terminals
Elavon First card reader free, virtual terminal included
myPOS Cross-border payments, online account features, range of mobile card terminals
Shopify Integration with ecommerce payments, higher POS plan great for retail features
Card
machine
Best for Site
SumUp All-round value, wide range of remote tools, good but cheap card readers
Clover Negotiable card rates, range of POS features to download on terminals
Elavon First card reader free, virtual terminal included
myPOS Cross-border payments, online account features, range of mobile card terminals
Shopify Integration with ecommerce payments, higher POS plan great for retail features