Our rating(4/5)
The SumUp Solo credit 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.

  • 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.


SumUp Solo offer

SumUp Solo $99 price
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Get SumUp Solo for $99 + sales tax. No ongoing fees or contract. Free shipping in 4-5 business days.

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We allow solution providers to offer product discounts for the benefit of our readers. These discounts do not influence our reviews or recommendations. Ratings are based on the full retail price.

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 comes with a stand, cover for the stand, a help booklet and ‘accepted cards’ stickers.

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.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners ClubDiscoverContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay

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

Payments settle in your bank account within 1-3 business days. At some point soon, SumUp plans to launch an online business account where transactions can settle instead.

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 + applicable sales taxes. No setup fee applies, and it gets delivered for free within 4-5 business 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 transaction rate of 2.75% regardless of the brand and type of credit or debit card.

Fees
SumUp Solo $99 + sales tax
Shipping Free
Contract lock-in None
Monthly fees None
Transaction fee (any card) 2.75%
Payouts in 1-3 business days Free
Refunds Before payout: Free
After payout: Transaction fee is retained
Chargebacks Just the transaction fee
Fees
SumUp Solo $99 + sales tax
Shipping Free
Contract lock-in None
Monthly fees None
Transaction fee (any card) 2.75%
Payouts in 1-3 business days Free
Refunds Before payout: Free
After payout: Transaction fee is retained
Chargebacks Just the transaction fee

Payouts are processed free to your bank account.

It is free to refund card transactions, as long as the transaction has not yet been settled in your bank account (i.e. within 1-3 days of the original transaction). After that, SumUp retains the 2.75% transaction fee to process the refund.

SumUp charges no additional fee for chargebacks, but retains the transaction fee.

SumUp Solo card reader features

SumUp Solo is a totally unique card terminal to enter the American 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 Plus – were partly designed by SumUp, using certain hardware components by third parties.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo in its dock

SumUp Solo as a checkout.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo menu.

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 colorless touchscreen is highly responsive, but with a slight time lag when tapping 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 text was still readable. But it was gray and not bright in the sun – though better than the performance of SumUp Pro’s display that has had complaints about being hard to see in the sun.

The battery life is supposed to be 100 transactions from a full charge, but it really depends 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 use 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 on the go.

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 add one amount per transaction.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo custom description

Entering a description can be fiddly.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo loading screen

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

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Ready for a contactless or EMV card.

  • 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 phone number for a text receipt.

  • Tipping: Activating ‘Smart Tipping’ will display tipping suggestions before each payment, which can 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 cellular network.

  • Sales history: View your transaction history on a list, sorted into dates. Tapping on a transaction gives you more details about it, and options to refund or resend a text 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: Change the display text to another language. This is useful if you’re 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.

Accessories and printed receipts

Since this is a standalone card machine, there are not many accessories it connects 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 card 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 are 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 Pro and SumUp Plus 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 itemized receipts.

SumUp Solo vs Plus

There are some crucial differences between SumUp Plus and SumUp Solo, in case you’re wondering.

For a start, SumUp Plus only works with SumUp App on a phone or tablet connected to the internet. Solo, on the other hand, works on its own.

Because Plus is only switched on when a transaction in SumUp App is ready for the card payment, the battery life of Plus 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 Plus
SumUp Solo SumUp Air
Price $99 $35
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
Receipt printing No compatible printers Connects with Bluetooth printers
SumUp Solo SumUp Plus
SumUp Solo SumUp Air
$99 $35
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
Receipt printing
No compatible printers Connects with Bluetooth printers

SumUp Plus 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 Plus. This is somewhat due to its dominating touchscreen that acts as both the display and keypad in one, whereas Plus has a separate display and physical – though flat – PIN pad on a glass surface.

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

Solo compared with alternatives on the market

To our knowledge, SumUp Solo is the only palm-sized touchscreen terminal that works independently in the US. The fact it only has basic card acceptance functions makes it the cheapest of its kind.

The closest alternative on a low budget is the much bigger Square Terminal that also works on its own, but only on WiFi since it can’t have a SIM card. It is therefore not suitable 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 Plus but without a physical PIN pad. It has a long 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.

PayPal Zettle offers a different, low-cost credit card reader with a physical PIN pad, but it also needs an app plus a PayPal account for settlement.

Card machines like Clover’s and PAX’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.

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 analyze sales and export reports, but it is not possible to integrate with accounting software.

You’ll also see free, additional features like invoicing and a product library.

Even if you don’t have a SumUp Plus reader, we recommend downloading SumUp’s app on your phone because it has lots of additional features. You can send payment links, accept QR code payments and generate e-gift cards to sell online.

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 call, email or message customer support on business days between 9am – 7pm (EST). There’s no evening or weekend support team to assist.

An online Support Center section contains help guides and explanations of features, which is most cases answers people’s questions. This is not accessed on the terminal – you’ll need a smartphone or computer to look this up.

Based on customer reviews, some merchants 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.

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 4-5 business days to receive it by post. Ordering it from the SumUp website is the only way you can buy the card reader at the moment, as far as we know.

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.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

SumUp Solo back

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

Our verdict

SumUp Solo is an interesting credit card machine 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 itemized receipts linked to a food menu or inventory library.

It’s fundamentally different from its predecessor SumUp Pro 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 checkout or as a backup terminal on the go.

If you want more advanced features, you may consider SumUp Plus that requires a connection with SumUp App on a smartphone or tablet to accept cards. Plus 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 4.5 Good/Excellent
Value-added services 3.6 Passable/Good
Service and reviews 3.4 Passable/Good
Contract 5 Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4 Good
SumUp Solo
criteria
Rating Conclusion
Product 3.7 Passable/Good
Costs and fees 4.2 Good
Transparency and sign-up 4.5 Good/Excellent
Value-added services 3.6 Passable/Good
Service and reviews 3.4 Passable/Good
Contract 5 Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4 Good

With Solo, you can truly use it solo, anywhere with a mobile connection or wireless internet. The accompanying stand makes it great for, say, hairdressers and pop-up stores with a counter, and the tipping options are advantageous for hospitality and professional services.

As to support, we are a little concerned about the lagging service users have pointed out. Software glitches have also caused issues for some, but it appears the Solo card reader has overall positive reactions.

Last but not least: the lack of monthly fees, commitment and complicated costs is attractive for a card reader. The upfront cost is low compared to traditional card machines, and the fixed rate competitive below a monthly turnover of $6,000.