What is it? More than just a card reader
Revolut’s QR codes are already used by many Irish businesses, such as hairdressers, to get paid from customers in person.
But Revolut Reader takes this a step further – launched in 2022, this wireless card reader works in conjunction with the Revolut Business app. It accepts contactless and chip cards of the Visa, Mastercard and Maestro brands, as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
All transactions clear in your online Revolut Business account within 24 hours, so you can use it for expenses with the accompanying Debit Mastercard soon after seeing the customer.
Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction
The Revolut card reader we tested.
Despite having a European banking licence, Revolut Business is still an e-money account, not bank account. That said, it can be used as a current account with its own IBAN for international transfers. What’s more, you can create different currency accounts to keep EUR, USD, GBP and other currencies separate.
In fact, having the business account comes with many free and optional features like team expenses, bulk payments and integrations with other software. Whether you’re a freelancer or company, there’s a free or paid subscription to suit your size of business.
You can view all transactions and use account features in the Revolut Business app. This includes sending payment links, invoicing, generating QR codes and managing cards and team members.
Eligibility and sign-up – what’s required?
The solution is available for companies, partnerships and sole traders registered in Ireland with a Revolut Business account. You don’t have to be Irish personally, as long as you have a legal residency status in the Republic of Ireland.
If you already have a Personal Revolut account, you still need to apply for either a Freelancer or Company Business account. To qualify for payment acceptance and the card reader, you also need to apply for an additional Merchant Account after your business account is approved.
The Business Account registration is done online in 10-15 minutes. It requires the following from everyone:
- Business address
- Short description of business
- Intended account usage
- Photo of passport or national ID
If you’re not a citizen of Ireland, you’ll have to submit proof of your right to reside there. Companies need to also submit a few details about incorporation and identity checks of each shareholder or director. If the applicant isn’t a director or shareholder, a Power of Attorney is required to proceed with the registration.
Additional information or documents may be required, depending on your business. Revolut prefers documents in English, though other languages can be accepted. In some cases, you need to submit a website address for your business to prove its legitimacy (a non-public LinkedIn profile does not suffice – we tried).
If all goes well, the Business Account is verified within a day. You can then apply for the Merchant Account through the Business app or web dashboard. This is quicker and may not require more documents, but Revolut could still ask for extra proof. It can take a day or more for this application to be approved, depending on your type of business.
The Revolut card reader costs €49 + VAT upfront, plus a €5 shipping fee (free delivery is not an option).
The card terminal comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you the option to change your mind for a full refund. A 1-year warranty also covers the cost if it has an internal fault.
You can only order the card reader after the Merchant Account has been verified. That’s because you can’t accept card payments without it, whether online or in person. The order is placed within the account online or in-app.
There are different business account subscriptions depending on the amount of features required, but a free plan is perfectly fine for using Revolut Reader. A Company account costs €0-€100 monthly and a Freelancer account €0-€19 monthly.
|Revolut Reader||€49 + VAT|
|Business account||From €0/mo (depends on plan)|
|Domestic (excl. Northern Ireland) & EEA* consumer cards||0.8% + €0.02 per chip & tap transaction|
|Non-EEA** (incl. Northern Ireland) & all commercial cards||2.6% + €0.02 per chip & tap transaction|
|Refunds||Original transaction cost is retained|
*Including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, not Northern Ireland/UK. **Including Northern Ireland/UK.
Transaction fees are low at 0.8% + €0.02 for Mastercard and Visa consumer cards issued in the Republic of Ireland or EEA, but high for premium, corporate, commercial and non-EEA cards at 2.6% + €0.02.
All Northern Irish and UK-issued cards qualify for the higher non-EEA rate, which is not great if you get a lot of business from there. If most of your customers are from the Republic of Ireland or within the EEA, the domestic fee is a very competitive rate that’s worth getting the card reader for.
If you decide to refund a transaction, the transaction fees are retained by Revolut, though no other refund fee is applied. Chargebacks incur a fixed fee of €15, should a customer dispute a transaction.
Next-day payouts in your Revolut account are free. You receive funds in the Merchant Account within 24 hours of each transaction, even on weekends. To spend the money, funds have to be moved to the Business Account from the Merchant Account (takes an instant to move), which is either done manually or automatically at the end of each day.
Once in the Revolut Business account, you can spend it immediately on expenses with your free Mastercard Debit card sent to your postal address. You can use it to get cash from ATMs for a fee of 2% of the withdrawal amount. This is more expensive than using a bank card.
It is, however, free to spend funds with the Mastercard online and in stores. If you want to pay in other currencies, Revolut has affordable exchange rates for its multi-currency accounts.
Card reader and accessories
Like other app-based card readers, Revolut Reader is small and wireless. Measuring just 78 mm x 78 mm x 22 mm and weighing 106 g, it has a chip card slot below the screen and accepts contactless cards and mobile wallets over the screen.
The terminal uses the WiFi, 3G, 4G or 5G of your connected iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone or tablet to process transactions. It does not work independently.
Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction
The card reader seen from behind, next to decals.
The card reader has a small, monochrome touchscreen display surrounded by a black frame and white, plastic casing. Overall, it looks a bit retro like a 1990s gaming device, but the style is in line with Revolut’s other products. Irish customers already familiar with the Revolut logo will trust the card reader when they see the logo etched into both sides.
The screen activates when connecting with the app via Bluetooth. It shows a contactless logo when ready to accept a payment or virtual PIN pad when a PIN is required, which is when you’d use the touchscreen.
The only other time we used the touchscreen was when we synced the card reader with the Revolut Business app. For security reasons, you have to tap to confirm a code on the terminal screen that matches the one displayed in the app.
Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction
Ready to accept a card.
Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction
Virtual PIN pad on screen.
What about accessories? It comes with a 1.5 m USB-C charging cable that can be plugged into an adaptor or computer. Once fully charged, it should last you over 200 transactions, which is decent for a card reader with a touchscreen.
It does not connect with a receipt printer, cash drawer or barcode scanner, so it’s unsuitable as a point of sale. It’s just a simple card reader for on-the-go or in-store payments with a physical card or mobile wallet.
Would it suit street vendors and outdoor merchants? If you take the card reader from town to town, unpacking and packing it, we recommend getting a protective case to avoid scratches or cracks in the touchscreen, instead of just throwing it in a bag.
The plastic frame feels like average-quality (more flimsy than durable) plastic, so you do need to take extra care to protect it. It is certainly not waterproof, so any humidity or water could get inside and damage the technology. You can’t increase the screen brightness, so the screen might be hard to read in strong sunlight. In darkness, the display is clearly visible since it lights up like a phone.
As opposed to alternatives like Square and SumUp, Revolut doesn’t have a point of sale (POS) app dedicated to in-person payments. Instead, Android and iOS users can log into their Revolut Business app, navigate to the ‘Merchant’ section and create a “Request” for money.
In the Request menu, you can choose between creating a payment link, email invoice, QR code, payment page or card reader transaction. All but the card reader option are for payments processed online, whereas the card reader allows you accept a chip or NFC (contactless) transaction electronically. You cannot register cash payments through the app.
Unless you’ve just taken another card reader payment, the first thing that happens when creating a new request is connecting with the reader. This takes a few seconds if automatic, or slightly longer if you need to confirm the security code in the app and on the terminal screen. With leading alternatives like Square Reader, you don’t have to reconnect after a significant break.
Payment request options.
The payment screen gives you two ways to create a transaction. The default option is to add a single EUR amount and short description, which could be the product or transaction reference.
The other is to tap items in a product menu to add to the cart. This requires that you’ve added items already, along with a tax rate, product category, unit type and icon colour. It’s not a fully fledged inventory system that tracks stock levels and analyses what’s selling. It’s just a means of adding items to bills quickly and itemising receipts.
Export transactions to CSV.
When the card reader has successfully processed the payment, you have the option to send a digital receipt via a messaging app, email or text message.
Transactions can be exported from the app to a CSV file for accounting, Excel or other spreadsheet software. Revolut doesn’t give you sales analytics like showing best-selling products or times of day you’re selling more.
An overview of transactions is shown in the Merchant section. To refund a payment, you tap on the transaction and input the refund amount (partial refunds are accepted) and refund reason. The amount will then be processed back to the customer’s card.
But note: you cannot immediately refund a transaction since it is marked as ‘pending’ for a short while after the card payment went through. Only when it is ‘completed’ in your business account can you initiate a refund, and only if you have enough funds settled in the Revolut account to cover the refund amount. This could lead to some awkward moments with customers if they regret a transaction or a mistake was made.
If you’ve team members, you can set up individual user profiles in your account with permissions that let them accept card payments.
There are no other features related to card reader payments. Apart from the Revolut Business app, the terminal only connects with Nobly POS, a UK-based company not yet prevalent in the Republic of Ireland.
It does not integrate with other POS apps, deeming it unsuitable for retailers or merchants who need extra features like tipping, inventory management and loyalty functions.
How it compares with SumUp and other alternatives
Another app-based card reader has long been popular in Ireland: SumUp Air. How does Revolut Reader compare with that?
For a start, SumUp Air (and this applies to the competing Square Reader) has a simple, dedicated point of sale (POS) app that’s more efficient for in-person payments. What’s more, both SumUp and Square have a selection of terminals, not just an app-dependent card reader.
SumUp has a higher fixed transaction fee for all cards (1.69%–1.75% + VAT), in contrast with Revolut’s low 0.8% + €0.02 for domestic cards. That said, the free SumUp Business Mastercard includes 3 free cash withdrawals each month from the online SumUp Business Account, whereas Revolut always charges 2% for ATM withdrawals.
|Dedicated POS app||No||Yes||No|
|Transaction fee||0.8% or 2.6%* + €0.02||1.69%**||1.69%**|
|E-account settlement||24 hours||24 hours||24 hours|
|Bank account settlement||n/a||2-3 weekdays||2-3 weekdays|
|Cash withdrawals w/incl. card||2% fee||3/mo free, then 2% fee||3/mo free, then 2% fee|
*0.8% for ROI/EEA consumer cards, 2.6% for all others. **Applicable to all cards.
Since Revolut does not yet qualify as a bank account, you’ll have to use any other card machine solution for direct payouts into one. With SumUp, you can choose automatic settlements into the online SumUp account (within 24 hours, including weekends) or a bank account (2-3 working days). Revolut Reader always settles funds into the Revolut Merchant Account first.
Like Revolut, remote and online payments are offered through Square and SumUp, mainly QR codes, payment links, online store integrations and email invoices. If over-the-phone transactions are needed, nearly all other card reader alternatives in Ireland offer this – not Revolut.
When it comes to business account features, Revolut takes the lead with a broad spectrum of features. myPOS comes second with its cross-border payments, multi-currency accounts and complimentary Visa Business card, but Revolut is simply more streamlined and tends to be cheaper to use.
Higher-end, independent card machines can be sought from Yavin, myPOS and AIB Merchant Services (offering Clover). With Yavin, you get similarly low fees as Revolut for domestic cards, but they are more variable and therefore less predictable than Revolut.
Revolut service and reviews
Revolut users can access a 24/7 chat support in the app. There is no phone number or email support, so you have to contend with that.
Our own experience of Revolut support has been slow and inconsistent. We were repeatedly passed on to different people who did not have an answer. It may take days or weeks (like it did for us) to resolve technical issues, but then again, this is a new product that’s still improving on the software side.
We had several technical issues to begin with, but the only problem that persisted was that a different name than our business name appeared on one customer bank statement, where our transaction was listed. This may only be due to the particular cardholder bank, but we never resolved that.
Image: ES, Mobile Transaction
Box contents of a Revolut Reader package.
Judging from Revolut reviews, others are also experiencing unhelpful responses to their issues on the chat. Some have to wait for days or weeks for large transactions to be accessible in their account, while others have issues verifying their account.
Most reviews are positive about the features, though, particularly around ease of use and the convenience of the service. Revolut is a popular online bank in Ireland where more than 1 in 3 people use the service, which is a good indicator that it’s here to stay.
Our verdict: convenient for Revolut users, potentially cheap
As long as your business serves mainly Republic of Ireland- and EEA-based (unfortunately not Northern Irish) customers using a consumer card, Revolut will probably be a good money-saving option for both irregular and regular payments.
If you run into technical card reader problems, customer support will likely be slow to help. The included 30-day money-back guarantee and year’s warranty may ease your mind, but you do have to look after the hardware if travelling around.
|Revolut Reader criteria||Rating||Conclusion|
|Costs and fees||4.2||Good|
|Transparency and sign-up||3.7||Passable/Good|
|Service and reviews||3||Passable|
|Costs and fees||4.2||Good|
|Transparency and sign-up||3.7||Passable/Good|
|Service and reviews||3||Passable|
Given the lack of substantial features like tipping and sales analytics, this is only really suitable for simple transactions – especially as it lacks options to integrate with POS systems. New features are added every month, so it may become a more substantial service over the next year.
Revolut Business account holders benefit from having a card reader integrated with the account, with next-day settlement and a Mastercard included. The business banking features, online payments and multi-currency accounts are real benefits for borderless freelancers and companies alike.