- Highs: Affordable, fixed transaction fee for most popular cards including Amex. No contractual lock-in or monthly fees to worry about.
- Lows: Phone support limited to working hours (9 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday).
- Buy if: You need a hassle-free and affordable solution for taking payments anywhere.
Accepting debit and credit cards is a must in today’s just-about-cashless society. Increasingly, vendors need to be able to process a broad range of cards anywhere, at any time.
Still, the cost of a card machine can be prohibitive for small business or those just starting out. Many Irish entrepreneurs are now seeing mobile card readers with a smartphone or tablet app as their best alternative to a traditional card terminal that comes with fixed monthly fees and contractual lock-ins of 18+ months.
The card reader works well with the accompanying SumUp app. Photo: SumUp
Utilising the processing power of a smartphone or tablet, SumUp can sell its device for a fraction of a traditional terminal. Merchants don’t have to worry about fixed monthly fees or minimum transaction volumes in a pay-as-you-go system like SumUp’s.
How to get started
To start accepting cards with SumUp, you need a smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth and an internet or 3G/4G connection. You register for a SumUp account online, which is simple. Once you have ordered the card reader, it will be delivered to you by post within five working days.
Download the company’s free app on your iOS or Android device and connect the card reader with your phone. SumUp Air connects with your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, so make sure this is enabled on your mobile device. And that’s it – when all of these things are connected, you are ready to take card payments.
The payment process itself is simple: firstly, you key in the amount the customer has to pay in the SumUp app. The customer inserts their card into the reader and confirms the payment with their PIN on the card reader keypad.
When the payment has gone through, you can send an email or text receipt to the customer.
SumUp Air accepts Visa, V Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club, UnionPay and Discover. Usually, you have to pay higher fees to accept the last four, but this is not the case here.
SumUp also accepts contactless cards as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay, though not yet Samsung Pay.
It typically takes 2–3 business days for payments to be credited to your connected bank account.
Affordable, fixed transaction fee
SumUp’s flat rate is 2.75% per transaction and the card terminal costs €39 excl. VAT (available for €19 through this link). Also keep in mind that you need to use a smartphone or tablet with WiFi or network data which you pay for separately. While some acquirers charge for the refunds you process, SumUp does not. Should you need to process a chargeback, this will cost you €10.
These are all the costs you pay to be able to take payments with credit or debit cards.
SumUp’s transaction fee appears to be the best fixed rate currently available in the Irish mobile card payment market. Elavon MobileMerchant used to display their transaction fee as 2.75% too, but is no longer transparent about this, so we can assume they have a more complex fee system. High-volume merchants might find better deals with a traditional card machine.
Who is SumUp suitable for?
SumUp is a great option for merchants and small businesses needing a single mobile card reader, as opposed to multiple readers and staff accounts.
For lower-volume traders and businesses, the flat fee is competitive. If your monthly card sales exceed €5000, it may be worth getting a quote from a traditional terminal provider to compare. Just keep in mind the additional monthly fees, contractual lock-in and minimum transaction volumes that other such providers often require.
SumUp is for registered businesses and sole traders only. In terms of receiving your payments, this means that only bank accounts in your business, sole trader or organisation’s name are accepted.
For those traveling for business – to trade shows, for example – SumUp offers the flexibility of use abroad if you’ve made a prior arrangement with their customer service team, and only if you’re going to certain countries.
App and accounting features
The SumUp app has the essential features you need to accept and manage your payments – and a bit more.
For example, you can add products to a product library, allowing for an easier checkout experience as you can click on these to add them to your shopping cart. Alternatively, you enter the sales total directly in the app when you take the payment.
You can’t customise staff accounts in the app (i.e. where you as the account owner can define access to information and privileges for additional account users). But if you need to have more than one person accepting card payments, it is possible to link more than one card reader to the main SumUp account. It is also possible to set up a multi-user account where different users can log on using their personal details, but under the same business name.
SumUp’s online dashboard is a great extra feature for accounting and business decision purposes. Similar to its rivals, SumUp enables you to access sales data and export either your entire sales history, or the history of a particular day, week or month, as an Excel file.
Compatible receipt printers
Receipts can be sent by email or text, but paper receipts can printed through compatible printers purchased in addition to SumUp Air. The only stationary option confirmed by SumUp is the high-performing Star Micronics TSP143 (WiFi), costing around €400 + VAT.
Compatible portable options are Bixolon SPP-R200lliK and R210iK and Star Micronics SM-L200. These connect to your smartphone or tablet via WiFi or Bluetooth. If you’re using the card reader with an iPhone or iPad, the MFi version of the Bixolon SPP-R200II is a great choice. It is a rugged, yet lightweight (at 236 grams), portable printer that can either be fixed to a belt or slid into a bag. Current prices are around €330 + VAT.
It is also possible to connect the SumUp app to printers using AirPrint (iOS) and Google Cloud Print (Android).
What about customer service?
SumUp offers an online Support Centre which will answer the majority of questions users may have. To contact customer support, email is encouraged, though a phone number is also provided for registered users.
Some years ago, there were reports that their customer service was non-responsive, but with the launch of its latest card reader, SumUp has reportedly expanded its service teams.
SumUp is likely going to be a key player in the years to come, having launched in 31 countries since it was established in 2012. The merger with competitor Payleven in 2016 made it one of the two biggest mobile point-of-sale companies in Europe alongside iZettle.
In Ireland, the only similar card reader is currently Elavon’s MobileMerchant, which has not properly caught on yet. AIB- and Eir-branded Pogo Payments used to offer a mobile card reader too, but they have stopped accepting new customers.
In terms of offering, SumUp is the best option for mobile app-based card payments in Ireland right now. Especially lower-volume merchants will find SumUp’s simple fee structure and point-of-sale app just what they need to accept and manage payments in a simple way. The card machine itself is a robust piece of engineering, and it takes just the card types and contactless options you need to satisfy most customers.