Top 5 card readers for your business

Top 5 card readers for your business

What card machine are you using?

I get asked this regularly when I’m out and about selling crepes.

The mobile credit card machines that I’ve listed below make it easy for small businesses to accept card payments almost anywhere, whether in a field or on the street without the need for a PDQ machine or merchant account

This is perfect for small businesses just getting started. No Monthly contract fees, no rental fees on PDQ machines and no hidden charges. That said the compromise is that they often charge higher fees compared to other payment processing businesses and may not look as professional as regular PDQ machines.

Take look at the companies below.

1. Square

Square is an American company and is the largest provider of mobile credit card machines and readers in the world. Even though they’re still fairly new in the UK, they have very rapidly become the second most popular for small businesses. I use this quick and easy card reader and app for the crepe business.

So, check out the costs along with some of the pros and cons of the Square Reader.

The Features

Square lets you take chip and PIN cards, contactless cards and other mobile payments through a Bluetooth connection, Visa, Mastercard and American Express all for one low rate which has been recently matched by iZettle.

You will see funds enter your bank account by 4pm the next working day which I’ve found to be great if you’re juggling cash flow. An Option to save cards on file can also be used to sell online, by phone and collect payments via invoices. There is also a feature to issue instant receipts via email or SMS

How much will it cost you?

Naturally you get the free point-of-sale app which works on Apple and Android devices including both Smartphones and Tablets. The Square card reader normally £39 + VAT but often you can pick it up for just £19 + VAT when they run discounts making it very affordable.

You can buy it directly on the Square website.

Square’s transaction fees are pretty much the same as iZettle’s just 1.75% for chip & pin or contactless payments (for all cards including Amex). For keyed-in, online or invoice payments they charge 2.5% due to the slightly higher risks involved.  And unlike iZettle there are no minimum transaction value.

There are no monthly contract fees. If you want to sign up to square then click here to get your first £1000 free of fees.

In summary

While the Square Reader is the core payment processing product offered by Square, it’s more than just a simple card machine. If you wanted to, you could use Square to manage payments across your entire business..

To get started click here to sign up and get your first £1000 transactions fee free.

2. SumUp (payleven)

SumUp is a devoted, standalone credit card machine provider similar to Square. They also recently bought payleven. I use this for my retail business.

SumUp’s key selling point is that it offers a flat transaction fee. This is good for small businesses that process low volumes of card transactions. But, for businesses that process a higher volume of payments it might not be the right choice.

The Features

SumUp Accepts all debit and credit cards Pay with contactless, Chip & PIN or magnetic swipe. There are no fixed monthly costs, its an online application with no contract and no paperwork. As with Square and iZettle Card readers it connects via Bluetooth and is compatible with iOS / Android phones and tablets.

You will get your money with in 2-3 working days, not a fast as Square.

How much will it cost you?

The SumUp Air card machine usually costs £29 + VAT. This is in line with Square’s normal card reader price, but like Square you can get offers on the card reader for just £15 + VAT here. SumUp’s major selling point is the low initial transaction fee of just 1.69%.

Similar to all the other companies here, there are no set-up except for the card reader. You also get free delivery of your card reader, free Android / iOS app, free dashboard with reporting, and free telephone and e-mail support.

Unlike Square, SumUp does not offer official add-on products to extend the usefulness of their card reader. However, they do list compatible receipt printers that work with the SumUp Air.

In summary

SumUp is super competitive with lower transaction fees, but without any add-ons it a little bit limiting. To get started visit their website or click here to get £14 off your purchase


3. iZettle Card Reader

The iZettle card reader is pretty much one of the most popular mobile card machines on the street food and event catering scene.

The Features

The iZettle card machine accepts chip & pin, contactless and magstripe payment, also Apple and Android pay.

The card machine works with an app and connects via Bluetooth. You can charge the battery via USB cable or through the dock (purchased separately). Charge time: 1-2 hours. The battery lasts for up to 8 hours or 100 transactions.

Most importantly when will you receive your funds. You can choose when to receive your money on the dashboard, Daily, weekly or monthly.

How much will it cost you?

The point of sale app is free and the card reader will cost you £29 + VAT, Or £19 + VAT if you click here. Every contactless transaction will have a 1.75% fee attached to it.

Before, its transaction fees were charged on a sliding scale. Merchants with low payment volumes were charged 2.75% per transaction. This fell to as low as 1% per transaction for businesses processing more than £40,000 worth of payments per month.

The minimum amount per transaction is £1 for all accounts with the maximum amount being £5,000 for Chip-card (incl. contactless) & PIN processed by business account holders.

You can also pay a monthly fee for iZettle Go, this allows businesses that take over £8000 per month in card payments to get special rates. For this you’ll need to contact them

To use the card reader, you need the iZettle app which is available for both iPhone and Android. There is also a whole load of add-ons that can use with the card reader turning it in to a full-on Point of sale system.

In summary

The iZettle app and card reader is very competitive and good for your business if you’re looking to get started taking card payments. The price of the reader is a bit more expensive than other companies but in fairness it is the better looking than most.

If you want to give them a try, get started by visiting the iZettle website here.


4. PayPal Here

PayPal here card reader

Paypal Here is PayPal’s mobile credit card machine solution. While not as competitively priced as the other 3 card readers, it does benefit from integration with PayPal, one of the best known names in online payments.

The Features

PayPal Here accept card and contactless payments without monthly fees. Payments reach your PayPal account in seconds which is a great feature, also works with Apple Pay and Android Pay. They have a UK-based customer support team, and the same as the other there is no fixed term commitment.

How much will it cost you?

The PayPal Here card machine normally costs £54 + VAT but you can get discounts on this bringing it down to £34 + VAT. This makes it more expensive than Square’s card reader.

PayPal Here’s transaction fees start at 2.75%. However, their fee structure is quite a bit more complex than Square’s or SumUp’s, with their lowest fee dropping to 1%.

To qualify for their Merchant Rate you need to process at least £1,500 worth of payments per calendar month. They then offer a Blended fee structure or an Interchange Plus fee structure. The differences between the two is not huge, which can make selecting the right even more difficult. Overall, iZettle offers lower fees at most monthly transaction levels.

There is no set-up fee except the card reader and if you already have a Paypal Business account you can get up and running right away.

There are a few add-on products you can purchase with your PayPal Here card reader, these include a Taxi Cab Bundle, retail Stands, Fast Charge Cradles, POS desk stands, cash drawer and mounts

In summary

The main selling points of PayPal Here over Square and the others are that it integrates with your PayPal Business account and may offer slightly lower fees if you know exactly how much money in card transactions you will process every month. However, if your business is mainly face to face transactions Square and SumUp seem to be more competitive.

5. WorldPay Zinc

worldpay zinc card reader

WorldPay Zinc is WorldPay’s mobile credit card machine solution for small businesses. WorldPay is the UK’s largest credit card processing company and also offers a range of other credit card machines and merchant services for both offline and online payment processing.

WorldPay Zinc’s one major advantage over the other credit card machines above is that it can be used to handle phone payments as well as in-person payments. However, the major disadvantage is that their keypad does not currently accept contactless payments.

To process contactless payments with WorldPay, you’ll have to go for one of their full priced card machines.

The Features

WorldPay Zinc gives you a secure Chip & PIN solution from the UK’s leading card payments company, it works with iPhone, iPad, Android phones & tablets. You can take payments face-to-face or over the phone and has a feature like Square to issue instant receipts via email or SMS

How much will it cost you?

At the time of writing, the WorldPay Zinc card reader is £39.99 + VAT. It has previously sold for as much as £79.99, making it more expensive than Square’s current promotional price.

WorldPay Zinc has two pricing options in terms of fees. The first is 2.75% per transaction with no monthly fee. The second is 1.95% per transaction if you pay £5.99 a month.

This means your fees with WorldPay Zinc will be higher than the top 3 above.

For the WorldPay Zinc card reader to work, you’ll need to download their free app. They also offer the WorldPay Zinc online portal where you can process phone orders. However, they do not have an official list of additional hardware you can use to extend the card reader. But, they do state you can connect a Bluetooth printer to your phone and print receipts.

In Summary

WorldPay Zinc is a very standard mobile credit card machine, probably because WorldPay does not wish to compete with its higher margin, traditional PDQ machines. This is not a service I would recommend as there is no contactless payments and you’ll be paying through the nose on fees.

This is what I reckon

·       Square is perfect if you need more than just a card machine. Sign up for Square here

·       iZettle is Great if you just need a card machine. Sign up for iZettle here

·       SumUp is Excellent for getting started. Sign up here

·       PayPal Here is Best if you want your funds in your PayPal account.

·       WorldPay Zinc is For those who need to accept phone payments or those who want to work with an established brand in the payment space. 


Note: We have a partnership agreement with Square, iZettle and SumUp we get the same deal as you if you sign up with our link

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