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

Zettle is not yet available in Ireland, but SumUp, Square and Elavon 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 one of the easiest and cheapest ways 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 three card readers: SumUp Air that works with an app (downloaded on iPhone, iPad or an Android device), SumUp Solo with a touchscreen and SumUp 3G with a receipt printer attached. The last two are pricier, but come with a SIM card built in so they work independently without a phone or tablet connected.

Photo: Emmanuel Charpentier, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air, Solo and 3G Printer

SumUp Air, Solo and SumUp 3G & Printer terminals.

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 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 and Business Account provide an IBAN and next-day settlement (weekends inclusive), if you can’t wait 2-3 working days to receive transactions in a bank account.

For the monthly fee, you can subscribe to a more advanced point of sale (POS) system.

SumUp
Card readers SumUp Air (with free app): €29 + VAT
SumUp Solo: €99 + VAT
SumUp 3G & Printer: €149 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.69% (all payments)
SumUp
Card readers SumUp Air (with free app): €29 + VAT
SumUp Solo: €99 + VAT
SumUp 3G & Printer: €149 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.69% (all payments)

Square

American company Square only recently launched in Ireland. It is a pay-as-you-go payment platform without contract lock-in or monthly fees for its card machines.

For €19 + VAT, you can purchase Square Reader that works with a free, feature-rich Point of Sale app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. It doesn’t have a physical keypad, instead prompting payers to enter their PIN in the app on your mobile device.

The more expensive Square Terminal works on its own with a direct connection to WiFi and prints receipts. It can’t connect with 3G/4G, so is better suited for fixed premises with a stable internet connection. On its touchscreen, you can use its many free POS features installed on the terminal.

Photo: Square

Square Reader Ireland payment

Square Reader taking a card payment with the help of an app.

One of the clear advantages is Square’s wide selection of remote payment tools accessible to all users. This includes payment links, email invoices, QR code payments, ecommerce, subscriptions, eGift cards and keyed payments. None of these have monthly fees, unless you upgrade to a monthly online store plan.

You can also upgrade from the free Point of Sale app to the Square for Restaurants or Square for Retail POS system with more specialised features (and paid subscriptions).

Transaction fees are fixed at 1.75% + VAT for chip and contactless cards, or higher for remote and online payments. Payouts take one working day to reach your bank account.

Square
Card readers Square Reader (with app): €19 + VAT
Square Terminal: €169 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.75% + VAT (all cards)
Square
Card readers Square Reader (with app): €19 + VAT
Square Terminal: €169 + VAT
Contract No commitment
Monthly fee None
Transaction fee 1.75% + VAT (all cards)

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 is rarely updated so we can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.

The first MobileMerchant card reader costs €39 (one-off price), but transaction fees are negotiated directly with Elavon. The “standard fee” starts at 2.75%, which would cover Visa and Mastercard transactions. Premium cards like Amex and Diners Club would have different rates only communicated at sign-up.

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 and Square allow). 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.

Elavon
Card reader MobileMerchant (with app): €39 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None
Transaction fees From 2.75%
Elavon
Card reader MobileMerchant (with app): €39 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None
Transaction fees From 2.75%

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 €249 + VAT for myPOS Combo with a receipt printer. The touchscreen terminals Carbon and Slim give access to apps with features relevant to serving customers face-to-face and also remotely.

Photo: myPOS

myPOS Carbon and myPOS Go terminals

myPOS Carbon and Go credit card machines.

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 and UK) cost 1.69% + €0.05 per transaction. All other cards cost 2.89% + €0.05 per transaction.

Transactions through myPOS don’t go to your bank account. Every merchant gets an online e-money account where payouts go. You can then choose to transfer this money to your Irish bank account for a fee, transfer money internationally or spend it 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 Carbon: €199 + VAT
myPOS Slim: €199 + VAT
myPOS Combo: €249 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None (other misc. fees apply)
Transaction fees Domestic, EEA, UK cards: 1.69% + €0.05
Other cards: 2.89% + €0.05
myPOS
Card terminals myPOS Go: €29 + VAT
myPOS Carbon: €199 + VAT
myPOS Slim: €199 + VAT
myPOS Combo: €249 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee None (other misc. fees apply)
Transaction fees Domestic, EEA, UK cards: 1.69% + €0.05
Other cards: 2.89% + €0.05

Shopify card reader

Alternatively, you can buy a Shopify card reader (WisePad 3 Reader) that works with a POS app on iPad or iPhone, not Android. 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 €59 + VAT, making it the most expensive app-based card reader on this list.

Photo: Shopify

The pocket-sized Shopify WisePad 3 Reader only works with the iOS app.

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% + VAT is the highest charge for card reader payments (applicable on Shopify Lite and Basic Shopify) and 1.5% + VAT 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 WisePad 3 Reader (with app): €59 + VAT
Contract None
Monthly fee From US$9/mo
Transaction fee 1.5%-1.7% + VAT
Shopify
Card reader WisePad 3 Reader (with app): €59 + 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 and Square have the best 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 free. Square’s higher transaction fees could be a deal-breaker, though.

Clover is better for stable businesses wanting multi-functional terminals with expandable POS features and negotiable fees. Elavon’s accompanying app is worryingly outdated, but you might prefer Elavon if you’re considering their other services in the future.

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, but only online merchants can justify its high price and required ecommerce subscription.

Card machine Best for Website
SumUp All-round value, good but cheap card readers, free business account
Square Smallest card reader, range of online payment tools, POS upgrades
Clover Negotiable card rates, range of POS features on terminals
Elavon Traditional company, virtual terminal included
myPOS Cross-border payments, 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, good but cheap card readers, free business account
Square Smallest card reader, range of online payment tools, POS upgrades
Clover Negotiable card rates, range of POS features on terminals
Elavon Traditional company, virtual terminal included
myPOS Cross-border payments, range of mobile card terminals
Shopify Integration with ecommerce payments, higher POS plan great for retail features