The Top Mobile Card Readers for Small Business or SMEs

The Top Mobile Card Readers for Small Business or SMEs

What are the best mobile card readers for SMEs in the UK in 2020? 

Card readers

The choice between mobile card readers for SMEs and small businesses in 2020 is a more crowded field than ever before. This page is written to explain the differences between readers and identify which is the best for you. We’ve compared the three market-leading card readers, and we’ve also suggested alternatives in slightly different categories at the bottom. 

Some jargon: “mobile card readers”, “payment facilitators“, “FreePOS” all refer to the same three popular brands but mean slightly different things. Mobile means they’re battery powered and can easily be carried around; “payment facilitator” refers to the kind of banking license they have; and “freePOS” refers to the free POS app that you can choose to use in lieu of paid ePOS software.

That makes them very similar – they have a headline rate of around 1.75%, they come with a cheap card reader, and an app.

 

UK Mobile Card Reader Market Leaders

The three market-leading card readers are the Sum Up Air, the Square Reader, and the iZettle Reader.

1) Sum Up Air – breezy and basic 

Sum up POS

Sum Up Air is the best choice for merchants who are looking for something very simple to help them buy and sell at a till. The rate is a little cheaper, and the free app is much more basic, than the other two payment facilitators which are popular with merchants.  It’s also quite widely integrated with UK POS systems so there is some room to grow. It will accept all popular cards, contactless payments, and Google and Apple Pay.

Costs 

Card Reader – £69 card reader, 1.69% rate, receipt printer £200-300. 

How it works

The Sum Up Air reader is the first of the three payment facilitator options which come with “free POS”, which is basic POS software which works on your phone or tablet via an app. You use the app on your device to cue the correct price on the card reader, ready for the customer to pay. You can send receipts to your customers via email or SMS, or you can buy a receipt printer. You can also use the app to send data to your accounting software via an integration, and there’s a lite library with pictures to allow you to select items easily. 

It connects to your phone by bluetooth, and your phone needs to connect to the internet, either by WiFi or cellular data.

Integrations

If you’re thinking of buying an entire ePOS system, we’d strongly recommend you start with the ePOS software and come to payments, second. However, if you expect to grow and you might purchase more sophisticated ePOS software later, Sum Up payments has a moderate variety of integration options – so you’re leaving yourself some room to grow. 

2) iZettle – the all-rounder

 

iZettle 2

iZettle Go is StoreKit’s favourite app and card reader. Although its payments rate is a hair breadth above that of Sum Up, (by 0.04%) you can get your card reader for just £9 when you sign up through this link, making it extremely cost effective. The card reader itself is sleek and durable, doesn’t require PIN-on-glass payments (unlike Square POS), and iZettle boasts the highest rating of the three softwares on the StoreKit website by customers. It can be used with all popular cards, and includes NFC payments for contactless card payments or Apple or Google Pay. The app is excellent and boasts a sophisticated suite of features for an app which is effectively free. It’s also the most widely-integrated of the three softwares among UK POS software, meaning you retain a large choice if you want to upgrade to a bigger and better ePOS.

Costs  

£9 when you sign up through StoreKit, and 1.75% rate. £200-£300 receipt printer.

How it works

Like Sum Up, iZettle reader comes with “free POS”, which is basic POS software which works on your phone or tablet via an app. You use the app on your device to cue the correct price on the card reader, ready for the customer to pay. You can send receipts to your customers via email or SMS, or you can buy a receipt printer. In addition to a basic library of items and accounting integrations, iZettle has a superior level of reporting functionality to Sum Up, as you can begin to investigate the data from your business. It also has the beginnings of a stratified permissions system

Unlike the others, you can buy iZettle in white, black, or depending on when you call us, a limited edition green may be available. 

It connects to your phone by bluetooth, and your phone needs to connect to the internet, either by WiFi or cellular data.

Integrations

iZettle has the widest number of integrations available in the UK market, so there’s lots of alternative software you can use with iZettle when the free app is no longer enough.

iZettle software 

Here’s a video which can take you through iZettle’s app functionality. We’d generally think of iZettle as having more sophisticated software than Sum Up. It’s also the best-reviewed on our website and on trustpilot. 

 

3) Square POS – the aesthete’s choice

Square POS card reader

Square was the original payment facilitator. The ethos is to bring the same attention to aesthetics as Apple do to their products, and it has resulted in a suite of hardware and software which are quite beautiful. Square POS has the same capabilities as the other two – it can take the same cards, and also has NFC available for contactless. Its app is the same level of sophistication as that of iZettle. It has a smaller range of integrations available than iZettle in the UK because of the US focus of the company.

Costs 

Card Reader – £69 card reader, 1.75% rate, receipt printer £200-300. 

How it works

The Square reader is the final payment facilitator which works with a phone app. Like the others, you use the app via phone or tablet to cue the correct price on the card reader. Unlike the others, for large purchases (which require Chip & PIN) you will need to give the customer the device to enter their PIN into. 

As with the others, the reader needs to connect to the device via bluetooth; and your device needs to connect to the internet. 

Integrations

If you’re thinking of buying an entire ePOS system, we’d strongly recommend you start with the ePOS software and come to payments, second. Square has a limited number of integrations available in the UK market, so if you choose Square, you could be boxing yourself into the world of Square software as you continue to grow. 

Square POS Software 

We think of Square as having good software for free software. Watch the above video for a quick demo and analysis. 

 

Other ways of taking payment

1) Order & Pay – The Entrepreneur 

StoreKit Order and Pay

One big alternative to a card reader is Order & Pay software. We’re biased towards our own system, but there are other Order & Pay software brands out there and you can read our article on the top 5 table ordering apps if you’re curious about the market. Why Order & Pay over a card reader? Well, besides having no start-up costs, Order & Pay is the only payment technology in this list which has actively been shown to boost customer spending

How it works 

Customers scan a QR code, which brings them to the menu or catalogue. The menu is table-specific which can be included in the QR code, else it will invite users to select a table. (But “table” is arbitrary here – you could call them booths, golf holes, or teams in an escape room) Then, they select their items, and pay right there through the app. You can check out an example menu – The International Chicken Bar – to give you an idea.

Costs

There’s 0% commission, and £0 recurring monthly fees. There’s also no contract. If you process cards, that’s 1.59% + 9p per card processed order. Printing out QR codes need be the only start-up cost, although you could have the menu as your home WiFi page instead. 

Integrations

Order & Pay comes with an optional paid module which allows you to integrate with over 30 ePOS systems, including Zonal, ICR Touch, Lightspeed L and K series, and many more. You can also integrate with Deliveroo, Just Eat, or Uber Eats via the same module.

The software 

SK Order & Pay is focused on conversions, and removing every last squeak of friction from the buying chute. 

 

2) Ingenico Move 5000 – The Established Merchant

Sum Up, Square, and iZettle are all “payment facilitators”. They come with the free app, they have a flat rate, and they are moderately easier to sign into. 

The alternative would be doing things the traditional way – via a type of payment processor called an “acquirer”. This would involve reaching out and asking for prices (there’s no headline rate) and perhaps negotiating. You will have heard of some of the providers – for example, barclaycard, worldpay. We also sell this type of contract via StoreKit Payments. 

The costs

Merchant accounts come with more miscellaneous costs – e.g. for example, card reader rental and PCI compliance costs. This is partially out of a culture of itemising everything, whereas the premise of the payment facilitators is to roll everything up together. 

The complexer question is, “is their rate cheaper than payment facilitators, and by how much?” This video attempts to answer, although it’s doing so from the perspective of introducing payment facilitators: 

Software

You can use these card readers as standalone. Alternatively, you can “integrate” with POS software you buy separately, which we strongly recommend. You need something called a “payment application” in order to get your ePOS software and the software on the card reader to transfer data. We’d recommend you call and ask about this, as availability is contingent on your software choice.

 

 

3) Sum Up 3G – simplicity above all else

Sum Up 3G reader takes card reading to its absolute essence. The app, the upselling, the POS system, the mobile menu, who needs it? And who needs the commitment of a full-blown merchant account? I personally find that this reader looks kind of goofy compared to the smaller payfac readers – but then, that’s part of its charn.

How it works

You type in the amount, and then you pass the reader to your customer, and then they pay. This one has a receipt printer within the reader.

Costs – £99.99, or £129.99 if you want to include the printer. Then, it’s 1.69%. 

Internet – This comes with a 3G cellular data connection ready-installed. 

Software – This isn’t designed to integrate with POS software – it’s not why people choose this reader.

 

Still not sure?

StoreKit acts as an ePOS advice hub in addition to producing payment processing softwares. Book a call with StoreKit and get in touch!

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