What’s the best, or cheapest, card payment machine for small businesses in Ireland? You can choose between low-cost card readers with a reasonable (or no) contract or pricier models with variable fees.

Zettle is not yet available in Ireland, but SumUp, Square and Elavon are. Clover Mini and Clover Flex are popular touchscreen terminals offered by AIBMS on a contract, while newcomer Yavin’s smart terminal is cheaper. 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 terminals with contractual commitment. Those contracts have many different fees and terms better suited for high turnovers and a steady stream of transactions.

Let us compare the best credit card machines 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.

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)

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.

SumUp merchants also get free access to payment links for remote payments, QR codes, 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.

Photo: Emmanuel Charpentier, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air, Solo and 3G Printer

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

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.

Pros

  • Cheap and easy card readers

  • No monthly fee or lock-in

  • Online payment tools

  • Free business account

Cons

  • POS system too simple for some

  • Customer support can be slow

  • No accounting integrations

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.

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)

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.

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.

Photo: Emily Sorensen, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal next to Reader

Square Terminal next to Square Reader.

You can also upgrade from the free Point of Sale app to the Square for Restaurants or 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.

Pros

  • Smallest card reader on the market

  • No monthly fee or lock-in

  • Great free POS app

  • Expandable with advanced apps

Cons

  • Only weekday customer support

  • No physical PIN pad on card reader

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).

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

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.

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.

Photo: Clover

Clover Flex and Clover Mini.

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.

Pros

  • Highly customisable with add-on apps

  • Includes unique merchant account

  • Tailored fees

Cons

  • Expensive upfront and/or monthly

  • Pricing not transparent

  • Long contract lock-in

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.

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%

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.

Pros

  • No monthly fee

  • No commitment

  • Virtual terminal included

Cons

  • App outdated and quite simple

  • High transaction rates

  • No receipt printer integration

Yavin

The French fintech company Yavon now offers a WiFi/4G mobile card machine in Ireland. It’s a Nexgo N86 model with a large touchscreen that comes with online payment features and chip and contactless card acceptance.

The terminal has a long battery life and connects with compatible POS systems. If there are any issues using the product, Yavin has a helpline to support.

Yavin
Card machine Mobile terminal: €199 (50% off with promo code)
Contract None
Monthly fee €29 incl. VAT
Transaction fees Interchange fees + 0.5% + €0.05
Yavin
Card machine Mobile terminal: €199 (50% off with promo code)
Contract None
Monthly fee €29 incl. VAT
Transaction fees Interchange fees + 0.5% + €0.05

The terminal normally comes with an upfront cost of €199, but you get 50% off if you use Yavin’s promo code through our link. Apart from that, there’s a €29 (no VAT applicable) monthly fee, but no long-term commitment so you can cancel any time.

Transactions incur card interchange rates that vary between the types of cards accepted. Small businesses can expect low rates for domestic Visa and Mastercard transactions, but the monthly fee means you should make a few thousand euros every month at least to make it worthwhile. A fixed €0.05 “transaction fee” and 0.5% commission are added to the interchange rate as well. Most Yavin merchants pay less than 1% in total per transaction.

Yavin’s card machine is a high-quality Nexgo touchscreen model.

It’s regrettable that Yavin doesn’t have a full-fledged Irish website yet, but we know that their team is generally dynamic and focused on serving small businesses.

The card machine will be sent from France, and shipping takes around 10 days from the moment you order it online. It will be connected with your IBAN and ready to accept payments upon arrival.

Pros

  • Modern smart POS terminal

  • Cancellable any time

  • Low, variable rates

  • Integrates with POS systems

Cons

  • Little info on Irish website

  • Monthly fee applies

  • Shipping is slow (10 days)

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.

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

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.

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

Photo: myPOS

myPOS Carbon and myPOS Go terminals

myPOS Carbon and Go credit card machines.

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.

Pros

  • No monthly fee or lock-in

  • With e-account and business card

  • Great choice of terminals

Cons

  • Fees for bank account payouts

  • Various additional fees

  • Laborious sign-up

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.

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

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.

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.

Photo: Shopify

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

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.

Pros

  • Small, handy card reader

  • Potentially low rates

  • No lock-in

Cons

  • Must have ecommerce subscription

  • High price for card reader

  • Reader only works with iOS app

Which to choose?

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 commission could be a deal-breaker, though.

Clover and Yavin are 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 from AIB, range of POS features on terminals
Elavon Traditional company, virtual terminal included
Yavin Competitive rates for small businesses, high-quality touchscreen terminal
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 from AIB, range of POS features on terminals
Elavon Traditional company, virtual terminal included
Yavin Competitive rates for small businesses, high-quality touchscreen terminal
myPOS Cross-border payments, range of mobile card terminals
Shopify Integration with ecommerce payments, higher POS plan great for retail features