- Highs: Affordable, fixed transaction rate of 1.69%. No other ongoing costs to worry about.
- Lows: No phone support on Sundays or late evenings (Mon-Fri 8am – 7pm, Sat 8am-5pm).
- Buy if: You need an affordable, easy solution for taking card payments.
Accepting card payments is a must in today’s just-about cashless society. Increasingly, vendors need to be able to process a wide range of cards anywhere, at any time.
One of the mobile point of sale solutions for small businesses growing fast in the UK is SumUp. Having merged with Payleven, it now rivals iZettle and Square (see comparison table) and offers more competitive rates than PayPal Here. It has no fixed monthly fees or minimum transaction volumes.
The company launched its new Air contactless card reader in the UK in November 2016. Featuring the latest in chip and PIN and contactless technology, the new reader is a step up from SumUp’s PIN+ from 2014.
How to get started
To start accepting cards with SumUp, you first need a smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth. Download the free payment app on an iOS or Android device with an internet connection (via WiFi or 3G/4G) – and you’re ready to go.
SumUp’s wireless Air card reader connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth. The cloud-based processing power contained within the app is what allows it to actually process your payments.
How it works
With SumUp, the payment process itself is simple: you first enter the transaction amount in the app. Then the customer inserts their card into the reader and confirms payment with their PIN code, or taps their contactless card or mobile phone on the card reader.
Once the payment has gone through, an email or text receipt can be sent to the customer.
The SumUp Air card reader is operated from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Photo: SumUp.
In addition to Visa, V PAY, Maestro and Mastercard, SumUp also accepts American Express. You can accept international cards, as long as they belong to the Visa, Mastercard or American Express brands.
The Air device accepts contactless cards, so your customer can just tap for amounts up to £30 without entering a PIN. The terminal takes Apple Pay and Google Pay as well.
SumUp initiates payments to your bank account daily, although it takes 2–3 business days for payments to be credited to your account.
Affordable, fixed transaction fee
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 recommended retail price for its Air card reader is £59 excl. VAT.
SumUp’s 1.69% transaction fee is technically one of the best fixed rates available on the mobile card reader market in the UK. SumUp’s competitor iZettle charges 1.75%, but services like PayPal Here or the Barclaycard Anywhere terminal for mobile devices will set you back significantly more.
An added feature of SumUp is the option to take phone and SMS payments. These are, however, charged at 2.95% + 25p. SumUp is currently one of only two providers in the UK who can offer card-not-present transactions without a mandatory monthly charge (the other one is Square).
|In person with card machine||1.69%|
|SMS payments||2.95% + 25p|
|Telephone payments / virtual terminal||2.95% + 25p|
Just beware that you need to contact customer support to get the virtual terminal for phone payments and SMS payments activated, as these will not automatically be available in your account. The support team will then review your details and account as a whole, and if it looks acceptable, they will grant you access to them.
The virtual terminal rate is definitely more attractive than what you’ll get with PayPal’s at 3.4% + 20p per transaction and a monthly fee of £20, but higher than Square’s who only charges 2.5% for all keyed-in payments.
However, especially for businesses making £5,000 or less per month in card payments, SumUp remains an affordable option together with iZettle and Square.
Who is SumUp suitable for?
SumUp is a great option for sole traders, small businesses, clubs and societies requiring a single mobile card reader – as opposed to multiple card machines and staff accounts.
For lower-volume traders and businesses, SumUp’s flat fee of 1.69% is very competitive.
From 2017, SumUp started to offer a complete point-of-sale solution, making it suitable for small retailers, as well as food, beverage and service industries. If you opt to use this particular software, however, you’ll need to pay a recurring monthly fee.
SumUp is for registered businesses and non-profits like clubs, societies, schools and universities only. They used to accept accounts for private individuals, but their website now states that they only accept bank accounts listed in the name of the company you’re signing up as.
There are certain business types SumUp will not support, such as multi-level marketing, any kind of adult entertainment, door-to-door sales, and unlicensed counselling such as financial, marriage or abuse counselling. It’s important to be aware of the restrictions, as some of the negative reviews we’ve seen are from people who have had the service shut down because they traded within one the restricted business areas.
For those travelling abroad for business – to trade shows, for example –SumUp offers the flexibility of use abroad if you’ve made prior arrangements with customer service. This arrangement is available in all countries SumUp offers services to, which means most European countries, the US, Brazil and Chile.
Some accounting functionality
The online dashboard offered by SumUp is a nice 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 from a particular day, week or month, to an Excel file.
SumUp also allows you to predefine products if you need it. This allows you to click on products in the app to add them to checkout.
SumUp does not offer the option to create staff accounts where access levels for the separate user are defined by the main account holder. Yet 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 account. It’s also possible to set up a multi-user account where different users can log in using their personal details. The available account information in these cases remains the same.
Compatible receipt printers
Receipts can be sent by email or text, however for those who want to offer paper receipts, compatible printers are available at extra cost. The most affordable stationary option is Star Micronics TSP100 (LAN), available in white, putty or grey. It is the most affordable receipt printer on the market at around £125, but will still set you back significantly more than the card terminal.
The other receipt printers for countertop use are Star Micronics TSP143 (LAN) and TSP650ii (make sure you get the Bluetooth, not the USB version!).
Of the mobile options, you can get the Bixolon SPP-R200IIiK/BEGE, which connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. It’s a rugged, yet lightweight, portable printer that can either be fixed to a belt or slid into a bag. It will cost you around £190.
There’s also the slightly smaller Bluetooth printer Bixolon SPP-R210iK/BEGE that weighs 266 g including paper roll.
Bixolon SPP-R210iK/BEGE is the lowest priced of the mobile printers. Photo: Square.
The Star Micronics SM-L200 (Bluetooth) is the final portable printer option currently compatible with SumUp.
What about customer service?
SumUp offers an online support centre that will answer the majority of your questions. To contact customer support, emailing is encouraged, though a phone number is also provided for registered customers.
After signing up, you can call SumUp on weekdays between 8am and 7pm and Saturdays 8am to 5pm. If you trade on Sundays, you’ll have to wait until Monday for a response, should you have issues.
In 2013, there were some reports of non-responsive customer service experiences, however with the launch of the Air reader, SumUp is reportedly expanding its service teams.
SumUp will likely stay competitive in the years to come, having launched in a number of countries since it was first established in 2012, and merging with competitor Payleven in 2016 under the name of SumUp.
Apart from the UK, the company has rolled out services in e.g. Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United States.
It has been a successful recipient of venture capital, and its backers include BBVA Ventures, Groupon and American Express.
Particularly for lower-volume merchants, SumUp offers an app-based mobile point-of-sale solution that should definitely be considered with its low flat rate and no-fuzz model.