Our rating(4.5/5)
SumUp Air is an easy-to-use card reader with an affordable, flat card rate.
SumUp Air is a compact, low-cost card reader for contactless and chip card payments. It works in conjunction with a mobile app and is super-easy to get started with. The only ongoing cost is a 1.69% transaction fee.
  • Highs: Easy to use. Low price. Affordable, fixed transaction rate. No ongoing costs or contractual commitment.
  • Lows: Not that many app features. No phone support in the evening.
  • Buy if: You need an affordable and easy solution for taking card payments.

Looking for SumUp 3G or 3G with Printer?

Or the reviews of SumUp US or SumUp Ireland?


Best price for Mobile Transaction readers

Mobile Transaction readers can get a SumUp Air card reader for just £19 (normally £29) + VAT. No monthly fees or contract. Free delivery in 4-5 days.

Mobile Transaction is an independent payment industry resource trusted by over a million small businesses per year.

We allow solution providers to offer product discounts for the benefit of our readers. These discounts do not influence our editorial content such as reviews or recommendations. Ratings are based on full retail price. (Full policy)

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The lowdown

SumUp’s wireless Air card reader connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth, processing card payments securely over the internet. Transactions are stored in the cloud, allowing real-time access to sales from the backend dashboard.

Accepted cards

VisaVisa ElectronV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressUnion PayDiners ClubDiscoverContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay

The card reader accepts chip (PIN or sign) and contactless NFC payments from any credit or debit cards with the Visa, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Diners Club, UnionPay and Discover logo displayed. Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted too.

SumUp is a no-fuss service with only the essential tools needed to take face-to-face payments easily with no contractual obligation. You just sign up (takes 5-10 minutes), purchase the card reader and pay a fixed-rate transaction fee. There are no hidden fees and no monthly fixed costs.

Having merged with Payleven, SumUp rivals iZettle and Square and offers more competitive rates than PayPal Here.

Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction

contents of SumUp Air parcel delivery

Box contents of our SumUp Air delivery.

How SumUp payments work

The payment process is simple: the main screen of the app shows the product menu (with products you’ve added) and the option to manually enter an amount in pounds. Entering an amount allows you to type a description of the purchased item/service. You can enter more than one price if wishing to itemise the bill manually.

When ready to pay, you tap “Charge”. If cash payments are enabled in settings, you can enter an amount paid in cash. If choosing card payment, the transaction amount will be sent to the card reader – provided it is connected and nearby – and the card reader display will switch on prompting the customer to insert or tap their card or phone.

Once the payment has gone through, an email or text receipt can be sent to the customer, or you can print a receipt from a wireless printer connected in the app.

Photo: SumUp

Contactless payment with SumUp Air

The SumUp Air card reader is operated from an app on a smartphone or tablet.

The minimum possible payment amount is £1. Customers can tap a contactless card or phone for amounts up to £30 without entering a PIN, but the card terminal will require authentication for amounts above. There’s no transaction limit on Apple Pay and Google Pay payments.

SumUp initiates payments – minus transaction fee – to your bank account daily, although it takes 1–3 working days to clear in the bank account.

You can also choose to be paid weekly or monthly on a schedule.

The new SumUp Card offers an alternative way to get paid the next day (including weekends), instead of clearing in your bank account.

SumUp Card is a prepaid card linked to your SumUp transactions. Since it is Mastercard-branded, you can use it in shops as much as you want, or withdraw from a cash point up to three times a month without monthly fees.

SumUp Card with smartphone

Affordable, fixed transaction rate

Like its competitors iZettle and Square, there are no ongoing or monthly fees with SumUp – you only pay a flat rate of 1.69% per transaction. The Air card reader currently costs just £19 excl. VAT.

No monthly minimum sales volume is required, so you’re not charged anything if you don’t make sales for any length of time.

Refunds are free if processed before the transaction has been paid into your bank account, i.e. within a couple of days of the original purchase. After that, you can only process refunds if there are enough outstanding payouts (money not yet settled in bank account), and SumUp will keep the 1.69% card fee originally paid.

Chargebacks have an admin cost of £10 each.

SumUp charges
SumUp Air price £19 + VAT
Setup fee  Free
Delivery  Free
Monthly cost  Free
Card reader transactions 1.69% (any card)
Cancellation fee  None – no contract
Refunds  Free within 1-3 days, 1.69% after
Chargeback fee £10
Minimum monthly sales volume  No minimum, no fees
Invoicing & mobile payments 2.5%
Virtual terminal payments 2.95% + 25p

Additional payment methods are email invoicing, SMS, payment link and QR code payments. These are automatically available in the SumUp account from the start.

A Virtual Terminal can also be activated for qualifying merchants. You’ll need to contact customer support, answer some questions about your business and payment usage, then they will review your account as a whole and activate the Virtual Terminal if all is well.

Virtual terminal payments cost 2.95% + 25p per transaction, while QR codes, payment links and email invoices are 2.5% per transaction. SumUp is one of a few providers in the UK that can offer remote payments without a mandatory monthly charge (others are Square and iZettle).

Many businesses making £5,000 or less per month in card payments find SumUp an affordable option, along with iZettle and Square.

Card reader specs

SumUp Air is compatible with most Android tablets and smartphones using at least Android 4.4. iPod Touch 5G-6G, iPhone 5 and newer models, as well as 3rd+ generation iPads, are compatible provided you have iOS 9.0 or higher. Bluetooth 4.0 is required to connect the mobile device with the card reader.

The Air comes with a free micro USB cable, which you can plug into a computer or power supply when the card machine needs charging (a wall plug is bought separately).

At full charge, it will last about 500 transactions. Busy stores may want to opt for SumUp’s charging station, which not only keeps the Air charged all day – it also looks good and keeps the reader in place on a countertop.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air top end

SumUp Air from the top, showing chip card slot and power button.

The card reader is quite stylish with a glass surface and plastic base that’s nice to hold in the hand. It’s tamper-proof, meaning any external effort to manipulate its technology will shut it down so it can’t be used it any more. That’s great for security, but you need to make sure it’s not near highly magnetic fields, which could inadvertently deem it permanently unusable.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air bottom end

SumUp Air from the bottom, showing charging socket.

It’s possible to link several SumUp terminals to your main account, but you can’t link any other brand of card machine to it. The SumUp app does not directly connect to POS accessories like cash drawers or barcode scanners, except for compatible receipt printers that may link to a cash drawer that way.

SumUp Air vs SumUp 3G

If you prefer a card machine that doesn’t require a mobile app to accept payments, the standalone terminal SumUp 3G is an alternative.

The 3G model has an inbuilt SIM card with unlimited data, so you don’t need a connected mobile device to process card payments through the terminal. This could be a handier solution for those who don’t need elaborate POS features, but instead prefer one portable device for card payments or just an extra terminal to use independently from the point of sale.

The card fee is the same as Air’s, i.e. 1.69% for all payments, but the upfront cost is higher at £99 + VAT. As with Air, there are no other ongoing costs, and you can expect the hardware quality to be the same.

SumUp Air SumUp 3G
SumUp Air with smartphone SumUp 3G terminal
Price £19 + VAT £99 + VAT
Works without phone/tablet
Network WiFi, 3G, 4G GPRS, EDGE, 3G, WiFi
Size 84 x 84 x 23 mm 133 x 71 x 19 mm
POS system integration SumUp App, certain third party POS software SumUp App
Receipt printing Connects with compatible mobile printers Prints via SumUp 3G Printer cradle
SumUp Air SumUp 3G
SumUp Air with smartphone SumUp 3G terminal
£19 + VAT £99 + VAT
Works without phone/tablet
Network
WiFi, 3G, 4G GPRS, EDGE, 3G, WiFi
Size
84 x 84 x 23 mm 133 x 71 x 19 mm
POS system integration
SumUp App, certain third party POS software SumUp App
Receipt printing
Connects with compatible mobile printers Prints via SumUp 3G Printer cradle

Although SumUp 3G works independently, it can still connect with the SumUp app over Bluetooth and accept cards in conjunction with the app just like SumUp Air. That being said, the 3G reader is intended as a standalone solution and does not connect with any other POS software, which the Air in some cases does.

Furthermore, the Air connects with printers for paper receipts, while SumUp 3G only works with a SumUp-branded printing cradle.

App and dashboard features

SumUp’s app for the Air reader is an efficient system for accepting cards and cash, but those looking for a feature-rich point of sale (POS) system will probably struggle with the limitations. Let’s see what SumUp can and cannot do.

Checkout features: The app accepts cash and cards (via SumUp Air) and tips. If the Mobile Payments setting is switched on, you also see options to send a payment link, SMS or QR code through which the customer can pay.

The app does not accept manual card entry, vouchers, cheques or other special payment types. You cannot accept partial payments split between cash and card.

You can, however, now accept SumUp Gift Cards. Customers can purchase these online from a fixed link you can share via social media, text, email or messaging app. The customer then receives the virtual gift card over email.

Taxes can be shown on the receipt, as enabled in your settings. After each transaction, you have the option to send a receipt via email and text or print a paper receipt. A newer handy feature is receipt sharing, enabling you to share the receipt to an app on your – or a nearby – device via the cloud or Bluetooth.

Image: Mobile Transaction

SumUp app checkout screen on iPad

The product menu is user-friendly on iPad.

Product management: In either the app or web dashboard, add products with image, category, tax rate, variants and prices. Products will be shown in the app menu so you can just tap to add them to the bill.

It’s possible to create different category labels, e.g. “Hot Drinks” and “Food”, shown as separate tabs on the screen to switch between. However, SumUp does not track stock levels or allow you to add more than one level of variants per product.

Image: Mobile Transaction

SumUp app edit product screen on iPad

You can add products from the SumUp app, with one level of variants.

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