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Square may qualify as the leader of mobile credit card readers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best deal for everyone. Originating in Germany, SumUp has been in business for as long as Square and offers low-cost card readers to compete.

They also offer solutions for online payments. While Square wins the prize for breadth of payment options, SumUp isn’t doing badly with its professional invoicing software, payment links and virtual terminal within its app.

So how do the two compare in fees, point of sale features and remote payments exactly?

small Square logo SumUp
Products Card machines, POS software, online payments, online store, credit card processing, business account, finance Card machines, POS software, online payments, credit card processing
Contract No lock-in – pay as you go No lock-in – pay as you go
EMV/tap rate 2.6% + 10¢ 2.75%
Card machines $49–$299 $35–$99
POS systems Square Point of Sale (free)
Square for Restaurants
Square for Retail
SumUp App (free)
Remote payments Payment links, online store, virtual terminal, invoicing, gift cards Payment links, online store, virtual terminal, invoicing, gift cards
Payouts Payouts in 1-2 business days
Available within hours for 1% extra fee
1-2 business days
Accepted cards VisaMastercardDiscoverAmerican Express VisaMastercardDiscoverAmerican ExpressDiners Club
Accepted mobile wallets Apple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay Apple PayGoogle Pay
Support Phone/chat/email support
Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm (EST)
Phone/email support
Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm (EST)
small Square logo SumUp
Products Card machines, POS software, online payments, online store, credit card processing, business account, finance Card machines, POS software, online payments, credit card processing
Contract No lock-in – pay as you go No lock-in – pay as you go
EMV/tap rate 2.6% + 10¢ 2.75%
Card machines $49–$299 $35–$99
POS systems Square Point of Sale (free)
Square for Restaurants
Square for Retail
SumUp App (free)
Remote payments Payment links, online store, virtual terminal, invoicing, gift cards Payment links, online store, virtual terminal, invoicing, gift cards
Payouts Payouts in 1-2 business days
Available within hours for 1% extra fee
1-2 business days
Accepted cards VisaMastercardDiscoverAmerican Express VisaMastercardDiscoverAmerican ExpressDiners Club
Accepted mobile wallets Apple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay Apple PayGoogle Pay
Support Phone/chat/email support
Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm (EST)
Phone/email support
Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm (EST)

SumUp’s card readers better value

To date, Square has launched 6+ different devices for card payments. The first ones were focused on swipe payments: the original magstripe Square Reader with an audio jack for Android and iPad (there’s now one with a plug for iPhone) and Square Stand with a swipe slot.

Eventually, it launched the ever-popular Square Reader for Contactless and Chip (Swipe payments require Square Reader for Magstripe).

Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal and card reader

Square Terminal (left) and Reader for Contactless and Chip (right).

The only portable Square device that accepts swipe, contactless and swipe in one machine is the pricier Square Terminal, but it only works with secured WiFi, not 4G. Yes, it is rather confusing.

SumUp makes things easier with the same terminal for EMV, swipe and contactless payments at a very low price. The company has handled EMV payments for several years already, evident in the SumUp Plus reader featuring a convenient, glass keypad for chip and PIN.

The newer, handheld SumUp Solo only lets you insert and tap a credit card, but then it has a beautiful, simple touchscreen for basic card payment features. This doesn’t need to connect with an app like SumUp Plus, as it has the software built in.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Plus card reader up close

SumUp Plus takes chip, tap and swipe cards.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo in charging cradle

SumUp Solo in its charging dock.

Except for Square Terminal and Solo, the aforementioned SumUp and Square card readers work in conjunction with a free point of sale (POS) app. In order to take payments, you therefore need to connect the credit card reader with a compatible smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. It is the mobile phone’s cellphone network or WiFi connection that is used for credit card processing and the SumUp or Square app that controls the card reader.

Both SumUp and Square meet the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), so you can be confident transactions are processed securely.

Similar pricing systems, different costs

SumUp and Square have very similar fees, but differ more when it comes to card machine prices. There is no contractual lock-in with either of them, nor is there a monthly account fee.

SumUp Plus costs $35 while the comparable Square Reader for Contactless and Chip costs $49, including a free magstripe reader (additional ones are $10 each).

The standalone terminals are more expensive: $299 for Square Terminal and $99 for SumUp Solo. A freestanding card reader called SumUp Pro is also available for $69.

Square charges 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe, chip dip or contactless tap via any of their terminals. SumUp charges a simple 2.75%. None of them have additional fees for foreign or premium cards, nor is there a monthly fee (though Square offers certain add-on features with monthly fees).

Square logo SumUp
Card reader Square Reader (EMV, tap):
$49
Square Reader (swipe):
First one free
Square Terminal:
$299
SumUp Plus:
$35
SumUp Pro:
$69
SumUp Solo:
$99
Card reader transactions 2.6% + 10¢ 2.75%
Online transactions 2.9% + 30¢ 2.9% + 15¢
Keyed transactions 3.5% + 15¢ 3.25% + 15¢
Instant transfers 1% added to card fee n/a
Chargebacks Free Free
Refunds Free Free
Square logo SumUp
Card reader Square Reader (EMV, tap):
$49
Square Reader (swipe):
First one free
Square Terminal:
$299
SumUp Plus:
$35
SumUp Pro:
$69
SumUp Solo:
$99
Card reader transactions 2.6% + 10¢ 2.75%
Online transactions 2.9% + 30¢ 2.9% + 15¢
Keyed transactions 3.5% + 15¢ 3.25% + 15¢
Instant transfers 1% added to card fee n/a
Chargebacks Free Free
Refunds Free Free

For an additional 1% added to the card processing fee, Square can transfer transactions to your bank account the same day – this is called ‘Instant Transfers’. SumUp does not yet have an instant payout option.

Online transactions cost 2.9% + 15¢ through SumUp (payment links, QR codes, invoices) and 2.9% + 30¢ through Square (payment links, QR codes, online store, invoices). Accepting keyed transactions through a virtual terminal costs the same through Square and SumUp: 3.5% + 15¢.

Square generously offers free chargeback dispute services and no fee for chargebacks, although you are still required to follow what they consider best practice at the point of payment. SumUp does not have fees for chargebacks either.

Square allows free refunds up to 120 days after the transaction, so the customer can get the full, partial or itemized amount back and you get the transaction fee refunded too. With SumUp, once the transaction has been deposited in your bank account, the transaction fee is retained – and you can only refund the amount (full or itemized) with enough outstanding payouts in your SumUp account.

Square has more POS features

You get a perfectly functioning app with SumUp – but the Square Point of Sale app has more features.

There’s a user-friendly product catalog in the SumUp app where you can enter product details and images, but you can add more attributes in Square’s product library and track inventory. Consequently, the SumUp app is best if you just sell straightforward products or services.

Square POS screen

Square POS app features are suitable for food and drink, professionals and retail shops alike.

Several user accounts for a team of employees can be added through SumUp and Square. Digital receipts can be sent via text messaging or email after payments, unless you choose to print it through a compatible receipt printer.

With Square, you can add timesheets and set advanced user permissions, but this comes at a monthly cost. In fact, a lot of extra features are available from Square if you can afford it, like payroll and an appointment system for beauty salons, hairdressers and service-oriented merchants, or Square for Retail for better inventory features.

That being said, the free Square app already comes with many features and backend tools. In the near-future, SumUp is planning to launch its own, more comprehensive POS app too, most likely at a lower monthly cost than Square’s options.

Different remote payments available

Both platforms can do online and remote payments, but SumUp is more basic.

Merchants can easily set up an ecommerce store with Square Online with a free plan available, but the website builder is rather basic. It’s enough to run a basic online store where people can order products for delivery, shipping or curbside pickup. SumUp hasn’t got online store functionality yet.

Both let you send payment links (URLs to send over text, app, email or online) or generate QR codes for payments in the app. But again – Square takes the medal for most advanced features, including the option to create links for subscriptions, donations or embedding on a web page as a button.

SumUp Invoice on cell phone

Send invoices straight from SumUp App.

While Square has its own professional invoicing app that covers most situations, SumUp offers slightly different invoice features like the option to create delivery and credit notes.

As for telephone payments, Square offers the best free virtual terminal allowing you to add items, recurring payments, taxes and more. Although SumUp does not have this as a default option, merchants can apply to have a virtual terminal activated, which can then be accessed in the app menu or in the browser account.

Online gift cards can be sold and accepted through either platform. This has proven valuable for businesses having to shut down temporarily – it’s a creative way to make money until the business is back on its feet.

Square is superior for food and beverage

If you own a coffee shop, restaurant or food truck, Square Point of Sale has more to offer. SumUp does not support split tenders or open tickets in the app, but does accept tips. So if you’re opening a café or quick-service restaurant, the choice is easy – you’d go for Square.

One of Square’s gems is currently the free online ordering page set up through Square Online (Square’s ecommerce features). This allows you to create a takeaway menu for a website or self-serve page that appears on customers’ phones when they scan a QR code on your premises.

Add to that the Square for Restaurants POS plan – but this comes at a monthly cost ($60). The point is, if you’re starting out with rapid growth in mind, the option is there to expand the free Square app to more advanced, industry-specific software.

Square is expandable, SumUp gets the job done

The Square ecosystem has grown rapidly in recent years, but many of the add-ons come at a monthly cost. You can add a payroll system, scheduling, ecommerce and even apply for small-business loans. The list is long, and many businesses are happy to stay in the Square family of services.

But if you mainly want no-frills credit card processing in person, SumUp does that for a slightly lower card rate and cheaper terminal accepting any type of card. Add to that the respectable invoice software and payment links, and you may have the best value deal for mobile merchants and small shops alike.

The upcoming year is set to be more interesting for SumUp, as additional services will be added, such as SumUp Banking and an upgraded POS system. That said, Square continues to add helpful, free features to entice any merchant on a low budget.

SumUp
Our review
Square logo
Our review

  • App-based and independent terminals

  • 4 different POS systems

  • Ecommerce, invoicing and remote payments

  • Business account, card and loans

  • App-based and independent terminals

  • 1 basic POS app

  • Invoicing and remote payments

  • Cheapest overall

SumUp card readers
from $35
Square card readers
from $49
SumUp
Our review
Square logo
Our review

  • App-based and independent terminals

  • 4 different POS systems

  • Ecommerce, invoicing and remote payments

  • Business account, card and loans

  • App-based and independent terminals

  • 1 basic POS app

  • Invoicing and remote payments

  • Cheapest overall

SumUp card readers
from $35
Square card readers
from $49