Our rating(4/5)
The SumUp Solo card reader is unique and fits in your pocket.
SumUp Solo is a standalone, handheld card reader with a touchscreen. For just an upfront price, it is an affordable terminal without monthly fees, commitment or a complicated setup.
  • Pros: Compact and sleek. Works anywhere with 3G or WiFi. No ongoing fees. Simple to use. Dock included. Free business account.

  • Cons: Few terminal features. No POS integrations. Short battery life. Software glitches. Customer service complaints.

  • Buy if: You want a stylish, pocket-sized card terminal for basic card payments with tipping options.


Lowest price of SumUp Solo

SumUp Solo €99 price
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Get SumUp Solo for just €99 + VAT. No ongoing fees or contract. Free shipping in 3-5 working days.

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How it works

SumUp is known for its user-friendly, simple card payment solutions for small businesses and sole traders alike.

The latest card terminal, SumUp Solo, is a special one: a square-shaped, standalone card reader without a physical PIN pad. Instead, it is operated exclusively via the front-facing touchscreen, like a purpose-built mobile device for card payments.

Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo and box contents

SumUp Solo being unboxed.

The card reader comes with a built-in SIM card with unlimited data for 3G connectivity, but it works through WiFi too.

It is therefore ideal as a mobile card terminal that works on even low network connections, as well as for table-service in, for example, a small café with a secured WiFi network.

To accept a card payment, you enter an amount and custom description on the screen, proceed to add a tip (if relevant), process the card and send a digital receipt. Transactions can be viewed and refunded on the terminal.

Solo accepts a wide selection of chip and PIN and contactless cards and mobile wallets.

Accepted cards

VisaV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners ClubDiscoverUnion PayContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay

Payments settle in your bank account within 2-3 working days, or 2-3 days longer with American Express. If you direct payouts to the complimentary SumUp Business Account, you will get transactions the next day – weekends included. This online account comes with a free Mastercard and IBAN for cross-border transfers.

Mobile Transaction rates card machines – including SumUp Solo – in six different areas: product, pricing, transparency and sign-up, value-added features, reviews and support, and contract.

Each criteria gets a score ranging between 1 and 5, resulting in one overall star rating reflecting SumUp Solo’s value for a small business.

A card machine’s primary function is to take card payments in person, so the device quality and experience of payment acceptance have a higher weighting – this falls under the product criteria.

We have thoroughly tested SumUp Solo to know its limits and advantages. We have also researched and tested SumUp as a wider service to establish scores for the other rating categories.

Our assessment breakdown is outlined in the verdict of this review.

Fees and pricing

SumUp Solo only costs a one-off price of €99 + VAT. No setup fee applies, and it gets delivered for free within 3-5 working days. If you change your mind about the purchase, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.

There is no monthly fee, contractual commitment or other ongoing costs, just a fixed rate of 1.69% per card payment.

Charges
SumUp Solo €99 + VAT
Shipping Free
Contractual commitment None
Monthly fees None
Transaction fee (any card) 1.69%
Payouts in 1-3 working days Free
Refunds Before payout: Free
After payout: Transaction fee is retained
Chargebacks €10 each
Charges
SumUp Solo €99 + VAT
Shipping Free
Contractual commitment None
Monthly fees None
Transaction fee (any card) 1.69%
Payouts in 1-3 working days Free
Refunds Before payout: Free
After payout: Transaction fee is retained
Chargebacks €10 each

Payouts are processed free to your bank account, or to the SumUp Business Account if you are directing payouts there.

It is free to refund card transactions, as long as the transaction has not yet been settled in your bank account (i.e. within 2-3 days of the original transaction). After that, SumUp retains the 1.69% transaction fee to process the refund.

If a customer disputes a payment, a chargeback fee of €10 occurs.

SumUp Solo card reader features

SumUp Solo is a totally unique card terminal to enter the Irish market. It is the first card machine 100% designed by SumUp in-house by a team of over 100 engineers and product designers. Previous card readers – such as SumUp Air – were partly designed by SumUp, using certain hardware components by third parties.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo payment amount screen

SumUp Solo checkout screen.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo menu screen.

And the result? A simple touchscreen terminal that can constantly evolve with software updates. It is comfortable to hold in your hand, lightweight and easy to slide into a pocket. The built-in software is quite basic at this point, but SumUp may add features down the line.

Tech specs
Dimensions 83 x 83 x 17 mm
Card reader weight 147 g
Display Touchscreen, greyscale
PIN pad On touchscreen (no push-button PIN pad)
Connections GPRS, EDGE, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth
SIM card & data Built in, unlimited free data
Card reader technology EMV (chip), NFC (contactless)
Battery life 100 transactions from full charge
Accessories included SumUp Solo card reader, USB-C charging cable, charging cradle with clear lid, card brand decals
Tech specs
Dimensions 83 x 83 x 17 mm
Card reader weight 147 g
Display Touchscreen, greyscale
PIN pad On touchscreen (no push-button PIN pad)
Connections GPRS, EDGE, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth
SIM card & data Built in, unlimited free data
Card reader technology EMV (chip), NFC (contactless)
Battery life 100 transactions from full charge
Accessories included SumUp Solo card reader, USB-C charging cable, charging cradle with clear lid, card brand decals

The (non-colour) touchscreen is highly responsive, but with a slight time lag when you tap letters and numbers on the virtual keypad.

When it’s on standby and not in the accompanying dock, you simply tap the dark screen to show the checkout screen. If stationed in the dock, you have to press the power button on the side to activate the screen.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Solo’s display in strong sunlight.

You can adjust the screen brightness to suit any environment and set it to turn off the screen after 30 seconds, 1-5 minutes or never.

We tested the maximum screen brightness in strong sunlight, and the screen was still readable. But it was grey and not bright in the sun – though better than the performance of SumUp 3G’s display that has had complaints about being hard to see in the sun.

The battery life is officially 100 transactions from a full charge, but in reality, it depends a lot on how it’s used.

With maximum screen brightness and frequent testing, the battery did not take more than an hour to use half its power. If you only used it for transactions, with low screen brightness, it would last longer. It also drains the battery within hours to keep it on standby.

It takes a few hours to charge Solo from 0% to 100% – not quick, so you should always make sure it’s got enough power when it’s most needed. With a portable power bank in your bag, you can always charge it anywhere.

What about the software and its limitations? Here are the features:

  • Checkout screen: Numerical keypad where you enter a transaction amount and custom description to go on the receipt. You cannot enter multiple amounts for one bill or add products from an inventory library.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo transaction

You can only enter one amount per transaction.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo custom description

Entering a transaction description can be fiddly with big fingers, as the keys are small.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo loading screen

It can take several seconds before it’s ready to accept a card.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Ready for a contactless or chip and PIN transaction.

  • Digital receipts: After each successful transaction, you can send a receipt via email or text message (it’s all free).

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo send receipt

Receipt options after a payment.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo text receipt

Entering a mobile number for SMS receipt.

  • Tipping: Turning on ‘Smart Tipping’ will display tipping suggestions before each payment, which has been shown to increase your tipping income. The customer can either choose a tip like €2 or 15% (depending on transaction value), add a custom amount or choose not to tip.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo smart tipping

Smart tipping options before a payment.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo tipping settings

Tipping settings.

  • Connections: Toggle on/off WiFi and log into your WiFi network from the main menu. If it’s switched off, the terminal will use its SIM card to connect with the best available mobile network.

  • Sales history: View your transaction history on a list, sorted into dates. Tapping on a transaction gives you more details about the transaction, and options to refund or resend an SMS or email receipt.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo sales history

Sales history section.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo transaction options

Transaction options.

  • Languages: Set the language to almost any European language. This is useful if you’re going on a business trip abroad (SumUp Solo can be used abroad under some circumstances) or serving clients who don’t understand English.

That’s it for features. You cannot connect the terminal with a point of sale (POS) app or add more features, but SumUp may decide to add new functions through its regular software updates.

For instance, we experienced a sudden increase in language options from one day to another while testing. But since we received the Solo in the summer of 2021, we have not seen an expansion of other features on the Solo terminal.

The card machine automatically shows when new updates are available, but you can also check software updates manually on the terminal. Unfortunately, we have experienced some frozen screens rendering it unusable until switched off, so it is not without temporary issues.

If you need to, you can log out of the SumUp account from the settings menu (you must log in with your SumUp account details the first time you use it).

Accessories and printed receipts

Since this is a standalone card machine, there are not many accessories to connect it with.

The main accessory – included in the package – is a non-slip display stand to put on a countertop. This doubles as a charging dock with an internal storage compartment for a USB charging cable that is also included.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

inside SumUp Solo

Solo stand’s compartment with its USB charging cable.

You can either plug the charging cable into Solo directly, or place Solo in the cradle and plug the cable into the dock to charge the card reader. You’ll need your own adapter plug for the USB cable, or charge it through a USB charging socket.

The dock’s clear, magnetically attached lid is a great, stylish protection to keep the reader free from dust and dirt.

The included decals showing all the cards accepted by SumUp Solo can be stuck onto the lid perfectly.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo in charging cradle

SumUp Solo in its dock with the lid on.

Photo: Emmanuel Charpentier (EC), Mobile Transaction

Chip cards can be inserted at the top.

A major downside is its lack of compatibility with a receipt printer. SumUp is planning to release a special receipt printer to connect with Solo. In the meantime, SumUp 3G and Printer and SumUp Air with a compatible Bluetooth printer can be used for paper receipts.

You cannot connect Solo with point of sale equipment like a cash drawer, barcode scanner or kitchen printer. It is meant purely for card and mobile wallet transactions, not cash or POS setups where you scan products or print itemised receipts.

SumUp Solo vs Air

If you’re facing a choice between SumUp Air and SumUp Solo, there are some crucial differences.

For a start, SumUp Air only works when it’s connected with SumUp App on a phone or tablet connected to the internet. Solo, on the other hand, works on its own.

Because Air is only switched on when a transaction in SumUp App is ready for the card payment, the battery life of Air is much better than Solo at 500 transactions from a full charge. Transactions on Solo are created from start to finish via a power-consuming touchscreen, so it only lasts 100 transactions from a full charge (if you don’t have the screen on maximum brightness).

SumUp Solo SumUp Air
SumUp Solo SumUp Air
Price €99 + VAT €29 + VAT
Works without phone/tablet
Network GPRS, 3G, WiFi 3G, 4G, WiFi
Size 83 x 83 x 17 mm 84 x 84 x 23 mm
Battery life 100 transactions 500 transactions
POS integrations None SumUp App, SumUp POS
Receipt printing No compatible printers Connects with Bluetooth printers
SumUp Solo SumUp Air
SumUp Solo SumUp Air
€99 + VAT €29 + VAT
Works without app on mobile device
Network
GPRS, 3G, WiFi 3G, 4G, WiFi
Size
83 x 83 x 17 mm 84 x 84 x 23 mm
Battery life
100 transactions 500 transactions
POS integrations
None SumUp App, SumUp POS
Receipt printing
No compatible printers Connects with Bluetooth printers

SumUp Air connects with a good range of mobile receipt printers over Bluetooth. Solo cannot yet connect with a receipt printer, but SumUp is developing one that fits specifically with Solo. We don’t know when this will be released.

Size-wise, Solo is a bit smaller and lighter than Air. This is somewhat due to its dominating touchscreen that acts as both the display and keypad in one, whereas Air has a separate display and physical – though flat – PIN pad on a glass surface.

And speaking of glass surface, Solo has one both on the front (the touchscreen) and the back, meaning you should be careful not to drop it. Only SumUp Air’s front is made of glass, so it is somewhat less fragile.

Solo compared with alternatives on the market

In Ireland, SumUp Solo is the only freestanding touchscreen terminal with just basic card payment functions. This also makes it the cheapest of its kind.

The closest alternative on a low budget is Square Terminal which also works on its own, but only on WiFi since it doesn’t have a SIM card. It is therefore unsuitable for on-the-go payments.

Like Solo, Square Terminal has a touchscreen, but a large one with many more free point of sale (POS) features built in. Square doesn’t require a contract, nor does it have a monthly fee, just like SumUp.

Then there’s the much cheaper Square Reader requiring an app, like SumUp Air but without a physical PIN pad. It has a superb battery life and is lighter and smaller than Solo, so might be better suited for mobile merchants who’s okay about connecting it with an app to take payments.

Card machines like Clover’s and AIBMS’s come at a much higher cost and contract lock-in, but they are better for businesses with a high, stable and long-term sales volume. myPOS offers some standalone terminals, but they are pricier and come with more fees and no automatic bank account payouts.

best card machine for small business Ireland

Reporting and other free extras

If you need more than a basic transaction overview, you can log into ‘SumUp Dashboard’ (merchant portal) on a laptop. Here, you can analyse sales and export sales reports, but it is not possible to integrate with external accounting software.

You’ll also see many free, additional features like invoicing, a product library and your online SumUp Business Account.

Even if you don’t have a SumUp Air reader, we recommend downloading SumUp App on your phone because it has lots of additional features. You can send payment links, accept QR code payments, sell and accept gift cards, and create a basic online store page. It also gives access to invoicing and business account management.

The app has an overview of payouts, employee accounts (staff can have different logins) and a product library to sell from in the app only, not SumUp Solo.

Customer service, reviews and complaints

SumUp merchants can phone, email or message customer support on weekdays between 8am-7pm and weekends between 8am-5pm.

There is also a help section online with how-to guides and explanations of features. You cannot access these guides on the terminal (the screen is too small and not connected to a browser), but it does show the web address to SumUp’s FAQs that you can look up on your phone.

Recent customer reviews show a certain pattern of complaints, though. Some customers do not get prompt support, while others do.

You’re meant to have a helpline to call, but many users have said no one is answering or that the SumUp staff on the phone do not fix the issue, stick to their promises or follow up with a resolution. Merchants are being told to use the online chat or email for help, even when the user prefers a phone call.

We have also seen several complaints about SumUp Solo in particular, mirroring our experiences of the product. This includes a short battery life (up to 4 hours maximum, according to one user), frozen screens and unwelcome updates preventing you from taking payments when needed.

If you want to cancel the account and delete all your information, it may also take weeks or months for SumUp to follow through with this. It appears they have had a backlog of communications preventing them from helping people promptly, unless it’s an urgent issue.

Getting started

SumUp is one of the easiest options around for getting started with card payments.

You simply go on the website, click to get started and complete an online sign-up form (takes about 5-10 minutes). Then order the card reader on the website and wait 3-5 working days to receive it by post. At the moment, ordering it from the SumUp website is the only way you can buy the card reader in Ireland.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo back

Solo’s back has a glass surface, like the front.

It may take a few days before your bank account – which must be in a name that matches your business name – is linked to your SumUp account, but you can still accept payments straight away in your online SumUp Business Account.

Some users have been confused when their first payouts don’t arrive in their bank account, as new sign-ups automatically get an online business account and card sent out, even when they don’t want it. You can, however, change the settings to bank account payouts when that’s verified.

Our verdict

SumUp Solo is an interesting card machine built for card payments that don’t require an integration with a POS system. It works well for simple transactions where you just enter a payment total, not itemised receipts linked to a food menu or inventory library.

It’s fundamentally different from its predecessor SumUp 3G because of its touchscreen and compact design, but they are equally basic in their features. Due to its touchscreen, Solo’s battery life is no more than a few hours, making it better for a fixed till point or as a backup terminal on the go.

If you want more advanced features, you may consider SumUp Air that connects with SumUp’s POS apps, but it requires a Bluetooth-connected mobile device to accept cards. Air has a much longer battery life compared to Solo.

SumUp Solo criteria Rating Conclusion
Product 3.7 Passable/Good
Costs and fees 4.2 Good
Transparency and sign-up 4.2 Good
Value-added services 3.8 Good
Service and reviews 3.5 Passable/Good
Contract 4.8 Good/Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4 Good
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SumUp Solo
criteria
Rating Conclusion
Product 3.7 Passable/Good
Costs and fees 4.2 Good
Transparency and sign-up 4.2 Good
Value-added services 3.8 Good