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 transaction rate. No ongoing costs or lock-in. Online payment features.
  • Lows: Not that many POS features. No phone support in the evening.
  • Buy if: You need an affordable and easy solution for taking card payments in any situation.

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Best price for Mobile Transaction readers

Get a SumUp Air card reader for just £29 + VAT. No monthly fees or contract. Free delivery in 2-3 working days.

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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.

SumUp rivals Zettle and Square with its low costs, superb value and ease of getting started.

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 £100 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 complimentary 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 a Mastercard, 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 Zettle 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 costs £29 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 your bank account), and SumUp will charge you the transaction fee you originally paid.

Chargebacks have an admin cost of £10 each.

SumUp charges
SumUp Air price £29 + 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, online store & payment links 2.5% per transaction
Virtual terminal payments 2.95% + 25p per transaction

Additional payment methods are email invoicing, online store payments, and transactions via payment link (SMS, email or social app) or QR code. These are automatically available in the SumUp account from the start.

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

Virtual terminal payments cost 2.95% + 25p per transaction, while QR codes, online transactions, 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 Zettle).

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

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 or iPadOS 10.0 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. Solo vs. 3G and Printer

If you prefer a card machine that doesn’t require a mobile app to accept payments, the standalone terminal SumUp 3G and Printer or new SumUp Solo are great alternatives.

Solo and 3G Printer both have a built-in SIM card with unlimited data, so you don’t need a connected mobile device to process card payments. 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 contactless and chip payments, but the upfront cost is higher at £149 + VAT for the 3G and Printer combo or £119 for Solo that does not have a printer. As with Air, there are no other ongoing costs.

SumUp Air SumUp Solo
SumUp Air SumUp Solo
Price £29 + VAT £119 + VAT
Works without phone/tablet
Network 3G, 4G, WiFi GPRS, 3G, WiFi
Size 84 x 84 x 23 mm 83 x 83 x 17 mm
Battery life 500 transactions 100 transactions
POS integrations SumUp App, Goodtill None
Receipt printing Connects with compatible mobile printers No compatible printers
SumUp Air SumUp Solo
SumUp Air SumUp Solo
£29 + VAT £119 + VAT
Works without phone/tablet
Network
3G, 4G, WiFi GPRS, 3G, WiFi
Size
84 x 84 x 23 mm 83 x 83 x 17 mm
Battery life
500 transactions 100 transactions
POS integrations
SumUp App, Goodtill None
Receipt printing
Connects with compatible mobile printers No compatible printers

SumUp Solo has a crisp-clear touchscreen that is more visible in the sun than SumUp 3G’s more primitive screen, and it has a few more features such as smart tipping and adjustment of screen brightness. Solo is not, however, connected to a product library, cannot accept special payment methods like gift cards, and cannot link to any POS system or receipt printer like Air is able to.

SumUp 3G and Printer duo also works independently, but can still connect with SumUp App over Bluetooth. That being said, the 3G reader is intended as a standalone solution and does not connect with any other POS software. It only works with its SumUp Printer attachment, not any other receipt printers.

App and dashboard features

SumUp 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 Payment Links 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, 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.

You can 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.

Reports and analytics: In the app, you can view a list of transactions and payouts and filter these according to time period.

For more reporting options, you need to log into your SumUp Dashboard in a web browser. Apart from its basic sales overview within a selected time period, you can export your sales history from a particular day, week or month to a CSV file for accounting. Payout reports are sent via email when settlements are completed and are downloadable as a PDF file.

Although you cannot integrate SumUp with external accounting software, a new SumUp Accounting system is being rolled out to users in the Dashboard. Here, you can track all your earnings and expenses, create VAT reports and submit these to HMRC easily.

Staff accounts: SumUp gives the option to create multiple staff logins with basic restrictions. The only things to restrict are whether the staff member can view all transactions, process refunds or use the Virtual Terminal. In the SumUp account, you can sort transactions according to each user to monitor sales activities.

Image: Mobile Transaction

SumUp app add new user

Staff accounts can have refunds and transaction overviews restricted.

Refunds: SumUp allows you to refund a complete or partial transaction amount via the original payment method. If the customer paid by card, the refund will be processed to that card. A refund can only be processed if there is enough balance, i.e. outstanding payouts currently underway to your bank account, to fund it.

As your business grows, SumUp can offer a more extensive – but easy – POS system called Goodtill by SumUp. This is a modular POS system allowing you to add the features relevant to your industry, such as restaurant, customer loyalty and online ordering features. The basic POS software costs £29 per month, with additional modules added to the price.

The point is: you shouldn’t be afraid to start with the really simple SumUp App if all you want is to receive payments now, but later anticipate growth.

Receipt printers

For those with SumUp Air who want to offer paper receipts, compatible receipt printers are available at an extra cost. SumUp’s listed options are all mobile Bluetooth printers.

But firstly, we should mention: if you’re set on the lowest-cost option, the SumUp 3G and Printer duo is the cheapest UK card terminal that prints receipts. You can buy it for £149 + VAT through our link.

Photo: Emmanuel Charpentier, Mobile Transaction

SumUp 3G Printer bundle

The SumUp 3G terminal and printer combo is the cheapest UK card machine with receipt printer.

If you get one of the following printers for SumUp Air, the total cost will be higher.

The most lightweight of the mobile printers for Air is the small Bixolon SPP-R210iK (Bluetooth) weighing only 266 g including the paper roll.

This is the printer that SumUp sells directly from your SumUp account. It costs £249 + VAT including a belt clip and power supply.

The slightly bigger Bixolon SPP-R200IIiK/BEGE 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 costs less than the SPP-R210i, around £175 + VAT.

The Star Micronics SM-L200 (Bluetooth) is the only other mobile printer compatible with SumUp, costing £170 + VAT.

Photo: SumUp

mobile Bixolon receipt printer

Bixolon SPP-R210i with the SumUp app.

SumUp Air used to be compatible with the stationary Star Micronics TSP100 and TSP143 WiFi models, which were high-performing printers that could be attached to the wall if not countertop. The latest SumUp app no longer supports these, though.

Alternatively, you can use an AirPrint printer for iOS or Google Cloud Print for the SumUp Android app.

Online payments: plenty of simple options

SumUp has really come a long way in terms of remote payments since before the Covid pandemic.

For a start, Payment Links allows you to create a transaction as normal in the SumUp App, then choose one of the following as a payment method:

  • Send a payment link via text or app on your phone
  • Copy a payment link to insert into any other message on your mobile device
  • Show a QR code for a touch-free payment when you’re face-to-face with a customer

There are also several non-POS options for receiving payments remotely. In the SumUp app, you can send and manage email invoices, create a basic online store with your products easily (great for sharing on social media), and accept payments over the phone through SumUp Virtual Terminal.

In SumUp Dashboard (not mobile app), you can also send estimates through the Invoices section, a useful addition to the invoicing features.

Who is SumUp best for?

SumUp suits sole traders, entrepreneurs and small businesses requiring an extremely user-friendly card machine with no inessential extras. For instance, taxi drivers, barbers, small shops, beauty salons and hairdressers like the straightforwardness of the product. Many cafés and restaurants also use SumUp Air.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air in a beauty salon

SumUp Air is a convenient choice for beauty salons, and generally for small businesses.

As a rule of thumb, SumUp is good if you only need a single mobile card reader and your products or services don’t need a complicated POS system with detailed analytics or things like stock level tracking (although you can always integrate with Goodtill for more features). The low, flat card rate is very competitive for lower-volume merchants.

SumUp accepts registered sole traders and businesses with a bank account owned by the organisation, business or self-employed person. SumUp also accepts not-for-profit organisations and private individuals – provided they meet certain criteria. If you’re a non-profit or private user, SumUp can advise further if you get in touch.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Air restaurant counter

The SumUp Air with charging dock looks great at a till point – here seen in a restaurant.

As with all payment companies, there are certain high-risk business types SumUp will not support, e.g. multi-level marketing, any kind of adult entertainment, door-to-door sales, and unlicensed counselling.

Those travelling abroad for business – to trade shows, for example – can use SumUp on their travels if prior arrangements have been made with the customer service team. This arrangement is available for almost all of Europe.

Customer service and user reviews

SumUp’s online support section will answer the majority of users’ questions. To contact customer support, you can phone them on weekdays between 8am and 7pm and Saturdays between 8am and 5pm. To put that into context, the closest competitors, Zettle and Square, only offer weekday support – not Saturdays.

Alternatively, you can always email SumUp, but getting a reply can take several days. We’ve experienced response times of over a week for non-urgent queries, but you can deal with pressing issues on the phone or by email if you contact SumUp during working hours.

Users tend to rate SumUp highly compared to several other mobile card readers, but SumUp is not perfect.

For example, people have complained about lack of support when they needed it. There have also been card reader issues, e.g. some users have said their old card reader has stopped working for no reason, forcing them to buy a new SumUp terminal after the warranty is up. On Trustpilot UK, the average rating is 3.9 out of 5.