It’s now easier than ever to accept credit and debit cards in the UK. Forget the costly card machines of yore. Instead, check out these contactless card readers that can process payments with a smartphone or tablet through neat and easy-to-use POS apps.
In 2018, the race between the most popular mobile card readers in the UK is hair-splittingly close. On our top 3 card reader list, newcomer Square has replaced PayPal Here, as it simply offers more features at better rates. For cost-conscious start-ups, SumUp has the most attractive flat rate, while iZettle and Square pack more features into their superior free POS software.
|Solution type||Card reader + mobile app||Card reader + mobile app||Card reader + mobile app|
|Card reader price||£39 excl. VAT|
|Transaction cost debit/credit card||1.75%||1.69%||1.75%|
|Transaction cost cardholder not present||Invoice (app and email) and e-commerce: 2.5%||Virtual terminal and SMS payments (conditions apply): 2.95% + 25p||Keyed in, invoice, online, virtual terminal: 2.5%|
|Minimum revenue requirement||None||None||None|
|Deposit to bank account||1-3 business days in most cases||2-3 business days in most cases||1-2 business days|
|PIN confirmation method||On card reader PIN pad||On card reader PIN pad||In app on mobile device/tablet|
|Compatible receipt printers||Several Star Micronics and Epson models and all AirPrint for iOS||Star Micronics TSP-100 and Bixolon SPP-R200II||Several Star Micronics and Epson models. No Bluetooth printer support for Android.|
|Digital receipts||Text and email||Text and email||Text and email|
|Accounting||Exports to Excel and CSV. Integrates with Xero and Debitoor||Transaction and payout reports||Exports to Excel and CSV. Integrates with Xero and Enterpryze|
|Use abroad||No||Yes, if customer service is notified||No|
All three systems share characteristics that make them very attractive to small businesses. Initial setup costs are very low, and there are no fixed monthly rental fees and no minimum transaction volumes required.
SumUp Air, iZettle Reader, and Square Reader are therefore all suitable for infrequent use, as well as for processing multiple transactions daily as a primary POS solution.
As opposed to traditional chip and PIN readers, you purchase the card readers for a low price with no future rental charges or lock-in to worry about.
Cards and charges
iZettle currently accepts the most payment cards. On top of Visa, Mastercard and American Express included by all three, iZettle can handle Diners Club, JCB and UnionPay too.
iZettle used to offer an incentivised transaction rate scheme but has opted for a fixed percentage. SumUp now offers the best flat fee in the UK at 1.69%, beating iZettle and Square by 0.06 percentage points.
However, iZettle and Square will deposit your funds in your bank account slightly faster – expect them to appear within one or two business days. With SumUp, you are more likely to get your funds after three business days.
The iZettle and Square apps are ahead of the game, with more features than SumUp.