- Highs: Excellent mobile app. Accepts the widest card range. Very competitive rates.
- Lows: Does not print receipts, but printers are available. Phone support only from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
- Buy if: You want an easy solution for taking payments that comes with a ton of free extras to grow your business.
* Offer for new business users.
iZettle – the low-down
iZettle’s compact card machine works in tandem with a clever mobile app, making it possible to take payments anywhere. You just need a tablet or smartphone with a WiFi or 3G/4G connection, on which you can use the iZettle Go app whilst connected with the card reader through Bluetooth.
The system operates on a pay-as-you-go model, which has been the main driver of iZettle’s popularity in the UK. You simply pay a fixed 1.75% transaction fee for card payments. There are no monthly fees, unless you upgrade the free payment app to one of their more comprehensive point-of-sale (POS) apps – and once bought, the competitively priced card reader is yours to keep.
In addition to the app, merchants get marketing, bookkeeping, invoicing and sales analytics tools. iZettle customers can also get access to small business financing based on sales history.
iZettle accepts a broader range of credit and debit cards than any other card reader in the UK. Visa, Mastercard, Visa Electron, V PAY, Maestro, American Express, JCB, Diners Club and UnionPay are all accepted, as are the mobile wallets Apple Pay, Google Pay (formerly Android Pay) and Samsung Pay.
Apart from accepting contactless, chip and PIN, and chip and signature payments, you can accept swipe as well as keyed-in payments through the card reader.
In online reviews, iZettle is the face-to-face payment solution that sole traders, entrepreneurs and start-ups love the most. But does it live up to the expectations?
Signing up is easy. In contrast to the wearisome application processes traditional payment processors require, you just go to iZettle’s website to fill in some basic details to get started.
Upon signing up, iZettle performs a “unique risk assessment” involving a credit check to verify your bank account and identity. Only bank accounts in your company’s or company director’s name will be accepted. Sole traders and partnership businesses may need to submit additional documentation. When we tested registering as a sole trader, the automatic check went smoothly without the need to submit more than the information on the sign-up pages.
Once signed up, you can order the card reader. It normally takes 1-3 working days to receive this by post – we got it two days after placing the order. DHL sent a text message the day before, saying when it would arrive and that a signature will be required. The package was neatly wrapped up in a padded envelope and the card reader was ready to set up for immediate use.
The box the iZettle Reader came in, and close-ups of the top and bottom parts of the card reader. Photo: Emily Sorensen, Mobile Transaction.
Before you take your first payment, you need to pair the card reader with your Bluetooth-enabled mobile device. This is done swiftly through the iZettle Go app by following some simple instructions via the Settings tab.
Then you can take your first payment by entering the amount in the app and tapping “charge”. Transaction details are sent wirelessly to the card reader through Bluetooth. The customer can insert their card in the card reader and key in the PIN on its PIN pad, or tap it with their contactless card or mobile phone.
Inventory items can also be preprogrammed, complete with names, prices, descriptions and even images. Tapping a product image in the app allows items to be added to checkout quickly. As such, iZettle is more than just a payment terminal – the free app is a POS system in its own right with the mobile device working as a cloud-based cash register.
Costs and fees
As well as being simple and transparent, iZettle’s fees are on the low side compared with other mobile payment solutions in the UK.
Until September 2017, iZettle’s fee system operated on a sliding fee scale with the transaction rate starting at 2.75%, and decreasing as the sales volume increased. The rate is now fixed at 1.75% for all card reader transactions, regardless of card type and sales volume. Invoicing is an additional feature available to you, although this costs 2.5% of each card payment made through the invoice.
The card reader itself is extremely good value at £59 excl. VAT (exclusive offer for our readers: £19 excl. VAT through this link).
There are no monthly fees, rental charges, monthly minimums or other fixed costs that traditional payment providers normally charge.
Refunds are free to process, and you also get the transaction fee refunded. Processing foreign cards does not incur extra charges, as is common with other providers.
Funds are credited to your bank account within 1-2 working days of each transaction, minus the transaction fee. Whether it’s the following weekday or two weekdays after depends on your bank’s processing times.
What do you pay?
1.75% per card reader transaction
2.5% per invoice and e-commerce payment
No additional fees for foreign or premium cards
No monthly fees
If you need more than the free point-of-sale features in the Go app, iZettle also offers a Go Plus package costing £29 monthly. This contains additional features such as staff-level sales reports, making it possible to evaluate performance for various staff members and across different locations. Importantly for some businesses, it now includes a self-sufficient e-commerce platform too, with a 2.5% transaction fee.
The Go Plus package also includes extended phone support until 8pm and on weekends too as well as a lifetime warranty for the iZettle Reader – hardly worth much considering the low replacement cost of the device.
iZettle Go PLUS
|Free POS with inventory tracking for one location||POS includes staff-level and multi-location reports|
|Invoicing for remote payments||E-commerce platform included on top of invoicing|
|Phone and email support Monday to Friday 9am-5pm||Prioritised support weekdays 8am-8pm, weekends 9am-6pm|
|Regular warranty||Lifetime warranty of iZettle Reader, next day replacement dispatch|
iZettle provides you with chargeback protection for up to £250 per month if you follow best practice for taking card payments. So if, for example, a customer signs for a payment, you should compare the signature with the one on the card and ask the customer for a valid ID.
iZettle does have transaction limits, yet these are unlikely to affect most business accounts where the daily limit is £200,000. Transactions using the magnetic stripe are subject to a daily limit of £100. The minimum transaction possible with iZettle is £1.
Technology and hardware
In contrast to conventional POS terminals using landlines or a GPRS SIM card, iZettle’s card reader utilises the processing power of your mobile device and internet, eliminating the need for an expensive hardware setup.
The card machine itself is tamper-proof and robust, with a slightly rubbery surface to help it stay put on a smooth counter surface. You get the sense that you can just throw it on the ground without inflicting damage (of course we do not recommend trying this – we have seen examples of broken displays!).
We love the minimalist and modern-looking design. It used to just come in white, but iZettle has recently added a black edition to suit darker or dirtier surroundings.
Internet connection: To process a payment, the iZettle app connects to its servers using your mobile device’s WiFi or 3G/4G connection. In the past, we’ve seen reports from users indicating they’ve had no problems using slower connections such as EDGE, so it appears the system is robust enough to work even with weak connections.
Mobile devices: In addition to the card reader and payment app, you’ll need a compatible iPhone, Android smartphone, iPad or Android tablet. We have noticed that iZettle tends to release new features in the iOS app for Apple devices first. For example, it took some time before the Android app began supporting contactless payments, but new features seem to find their way to both apps eventually.
Battery: The card reader is charged with a micro USB cable. It will automatically go into sleep mode when not in use, and the battery therefore lasts longer than older card reader models that received complaints for short battery life. Battery life is on average 8 hours with a transaction every 5 minutes, or about 100 transactions from one charge.
Businesses selling from a fixed location would want to use the card reader with iZettle Dock – a small table stand with an inbuilt charger (available for £39 + VAT in the iZettle accessories store). While placed in the dock, the card reader is automatically charged. We found that using the dock makes the checkout experience more efficient.
The iZettle Reader with the iZettle Dock makes for a sleek store front with easy charging of the terminal.
Receipt printers: Unlike the chunky, traditional chip and PIN machines, iZettle Reader doesn’t have an inbuilt printer, so you have to buy that separately if you want to offer paper receipts. Fortunately, iZettle is compatible with a range of Star Micronics and Epson receipt printers, both stationary and mobile. The compatible printers connect either wirelessly or through a cable with the mobile device you’re using for payments.
Other accessories: iZettle is also compatible with select barcode scanners and cash drawers, making it suitable for a busy, counter-based till point. Stationary iPad setups will also benefit from a tablet stand, which – apart from protecting the iPad – also gives a respectable feel to your customer-facing environment.
Point of sale features
The free point-of-sale app, iZettle Go, contains all the basic features small businesses would need to trade face to face. Let’s look at what you get in this package.
Product library and inventory: Add products – complete with image, description, types, barcode, and more – to a visually intuitive menu in the app, enabling you to just tap items to add them to the bill. You can add a stock count to each item, helping you to keep track of stock levels.
You can choose to track inventory and get alerts when stock levels are low.
VAT and discounts: VAT can be added to receipts at the rates of 20%, 5% and 0%, and customised discounts can be applied to individual products or the transaction total as a customised percentage or amount in pounds.
Tipping: iZettle now has a tipping option in their free app to satisfy food and drink businesses. You only need to enable this in your settings, and then customers will be asked directly on the card reader display if they want to add a tip. If they respond yes, they can enter the tip amount manually before paying.
Tipping is an option feature in the iZettle app.
Accepting cash: Cash sales can be registered in the app for free to make the system more useful for accounting purposes. If you’re selling at a fixed till point, you can connect a cash drawer with a standard 24V plug and RJ11 connection to the iZettle app.
Receipts: After each transaction, you have the option to send a receipt to the customer via text or email. In your iZettle account, you can customise what to include on this receipt. Printed receipts are also possible, although you’ll need to invest in a compatible receipt printer to provide these.
Refunds: Refunds can be processed either for the full transaction amount or by picking an individual item from the list of products on the receipt. Currently, there is no option to do partial refunds for a single item, nor can you refund tips.
Barcode scanning: iZettle recently added the option to use your phone camera as a barcode scanner, eliminating the need for a separate scanner. We tried this, and it works smoothly. There is currently no option to use the scanner for internal audits, so this is purely for scanning items at checkout after registering each barcode in the product library.
Invoicing: iZettle allows you to invoice customers by email through the app. The customer can then pay by card directly through the emailed invoice, securely through a payment link. Regulars can even be added in a customer library, so you only need to create a transaction, search for the customer and tap to send the invoice.
In the backend, i.e. your iZettle account in a browser, you have extra features not available in the iZettle Go app. For example, the Customers section enables you to invite customers to your mailing list, and you can add staff members with different login accounts so you can distinguish between their sales in the analytics section.
Most small businesses will find the free POS features sufficient, but you always have the option to subscribe to the more feature-rich iZettle Go Plus point-of-sale app. Go Plus is good for businesses trading from multiple locations or expanding their business to include online sales.
On 19th April 2018, iZettle launched iZettle E-commerce as part of their Go Plus subscription. It allows you to create an online shop directly from the iZettle account. All you need is a domain, and the rest can be created, customised and hosted through iZettle. There are multiple website templates to pick from, similar to other website builders like Squarespace or WIX, and they’re all highly customisable. If you already have an online shop elsewhere, you can still manage your e-commerce through iZettle as long as you’ve inserted the right buttons and checkout elements on the website.
Restaurants, cafes and bars will find the iZettle Pro system most useful, as it includes many hospitality-focused features such as table management functions and split bills.
Accounting, sales analytics and financing
The information processed through iZettle is in effect cloud-based so you can view and use sales data in real time from any computer browser logged in to your iZettle account.
All sales are recorded, and full sales reports are always available, including cash sales if you’ve accepted these via the app.
Free analytics tools are included to help keep track of inventory and identify repeat customers, as well as helping to spot business trends, such as revenue growth and top-selling products.
All reports can be exported to Excel or as CSV files.
For those who require bookkeeping beyond what the iZettle backend can offer, the system can be integrated with the cloud accounting system Xero and invoicing and accounting system Debitoor.
Small businesses in need of a cash injection may qualify for an interest-free business loan called iZettle Cash Advance. However, this is only offered on a case-by-case basis and only after accumulating enough of a sales history.
Who is iZettle suitable for?
The iZettle platform is suitable for most trades and sectors. It’s currently being used by a range of merchants from plumbers to barbers, retailers, street vendors, hairdressers, taxi drivers to coffee shops, pubs and restaurants.
The mobility of iZettle makes it especially useful for payments at trade fairs, markets, pop-ups and car boot sales. In fact, iZettle’s card machine really excels in these environments.
Many sole traders use iZettle, but since the app allows for unlimited staff accounts with restricted access, it is also suitable for businesses with employees as well.
It should be noted that iZettle does not allow card reader payments for goods or services paid for in advance of receiving them. So you cannot accept payment for a hairdressing appointment booked for next week or an order you’re placing for a delivery.
But you can sell products online (under the Go Plus subscription) and send invoices directly from the app. These are the two only ways you can sell without the card reader or customer being present, so businesses who need to process phone or mail orders have to look for an alternative solution for those particular channels.
iZettle has become a frequent sight in independent coffee shops. Here in Over Under Coffee in Earl’s Court, London. Photo: iZettle.
The free iZettle app doesn’t yet offer table layout plans or split tenders usually required by full-service restaurants. However, the free app is definitely suitable for smaller food and beverage outlets such as cafés. iZettle Reader is actually thriving in this sector, in part because you can upgrade to iZettle Pro, the point-of-sale system with a ton to offer for hospitality businesses.
Among the fierce competition in the card payment industry, iZettle has the leading position as the most popular mobile card reader in the UK. It’s consistently the highest-ranking app-based card reader on Trustpilot UK, currently scoring 8.8 out of 10. Customer reviews in the App Store average 4.7 stars out of 5 (based on 1260+ ratings) and in Google Play, it’s 4.2 stars out of 5 (based on 26K ratings). We think the most worthy alternatives at the moment are Square Reader and SumUp Air.
Their free app features have long been a draw for mobile merchants. To name a few recent additions, their integrated barcode scanner and tipping function elevate what could have just been a basic POS app to a self-sufficient system that small businesses would be able to use on its own.
And lest we forget – you always have the possibility to upgrade to the more comprehensive Go Plus or iZettle Pro system. Currently, only Square’s breadth of free POS features really compete.
Furthermore, iZettle accepts the widest range of cards among all competitors – and all at a fixed, low transaction fee, where it’s usually the norm for card processors to charge premium rates on foreign or premium cards like American Express.
All things considered, iZettle is hard to beat for any small business wanting to set up a robust, uncomplicated and highly affordable point of sale that does exactly what you need it to do. Yes, the free customer service is unavailable after 5pm on weekdays, but needing it will be rare because the system is easy to figure out and just works.