5 Best mobile card readers
Looking for a mobile card reader, UK provider? Or simply in need of some mobile card payment machine quotes – whatever you need, we’ve got you covered
A mobile card reader is a small but mighty piece of hardware. It works by connecting to a tablet or smartphone and accepting payment from debit or credit cards, essentially turning the device into a mobile Point Of Sale system (mPOS).
Great for businesses like coffee shops, beauty salons, bars, restaurants and any form of retail – a mobile card reader will quite literally mobilise the way your business takes payments, boosting sales and increasing your capacity for great customer service.
And, with 75% of UK customers now preferring to use card not cash, if your business isn’t set up to take card payments, it’s high time you were. We’re here to help you choose the perfect mobile card reader for your business.
Before we tuck into some side-by-side reviews, let’s spotlight the top three card readers:
The best mobile card readers at a glance
Mobile card readers from the likes of iZettle, Square, SumUp, Worldpay, PayPal and Barclays are now making credit card processing a budget-friendly and convenient option for both business and customer. Here’s how they compare:
|Card Reader||Best for…||Device Cost
|Transaction Fee||Worldpay reader||Best for a variety of pricing plans||£69 (excl. VAT)||2.5%|
|SumUp Air||Best budgets||£19 (excl. VAT)||1.69%|
|iZettle 2||Best a variety of POS options||£29 (excl.VAT)||1.75%|
If you’re ready to compare quotes now, simply fill in the form at top the top of the page.
Now you know who’s on the mobile card reader podium, read on to find out our pick of the five best mobile card readers. We’ll also cover:
- SumUp Air
- iZettle 2
- Square reader
- PayPal Here
- Which is the best mobile card reader for me?
- The best mobile card readers: a recap
- Compare mobile card readers: what next?
Before we continue, here’s total transparency on the costs and transaction fees involved in the top mobile card machines:
Best for variety of pricing plans
A petite and stylish reader that won’t intrude on your business’ aesthetic, the Worldpay reader contains an in-built virtual terminal, allowing you to take payments over the phone – great for providing a varied and accommodating level of service to your customers.
All major credit and debit cards are accepted by Worldpay – plus, you’re in safe hands as you can access 24/7 UK-based support on the Worldpay business helpline.
No contract: Worldpay pay-as-you-go plan
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£69 (excl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||2.5% + 4p|
Contracted: Worldpay Simplicity plan (18 month contract)
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£4.99/mo (ecl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||1.5%|
Worldpay pros and cons
✅ Dashboard-style interface makes self accountancy a doddle
✅ Well-known and trusted provider
✅ Handy (free) app that tracks sales as and when they happen
❌ A little on the pricey side
❌ Dull, calculator-like card reader
Is the Worldpay reader right for me?
The reader that’s best for a variety of pricing plans and, serving 300,000+ UK businesses, one of the better known brands. The Worldpay reader has the dynamic and flexible needs of the modern startup at heart: allowing you to pay as you go, or tie into a monthly fee (and pay a little less).
Although a little more expensive than other providers, Worldpay is great for businesses looking for a trusted household name, with an attentive helpline and a variety of pricing structures.
Best for budgets
A nifty little number, SumUp Air is swish and affordable. With looks as modern as its tech, the device is able to pair with an Apple/Android tablet or phone – saving you both money and space on any extra bits (like a till stand, for example).
With a quick and easy online signup, and the cheapest transaction fees we’ve seen (coming in at 1.69%), SumUp Air is the speedy gonzales of the mobile card reader world. In fact, in the time it takes to read this article, you could have created an account and applied for a device… It really is that quick.
SumUp Air costs
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£19|
|Card transaction fee||1.69%|
|Virtual terminal fee||2.29% + 25p|
SumUp Air pros and cons
✅ Highly rated by customers on Trustpilot
✅ Simplistic, minimalist design, suited to any business aesthetic
✅ Great value for the hardware itself
❌ The pure white pinpad might get a bit grubby and need replacing if used a lot
❌ Can take a little while transfer funds into your business account
Is SumUp Air reader right for me?
Inexpensive, speedy and swish: SumUp Air is great for businesses looking to get up and running with accepting card payments quickly, easily and on a budget.
Whether you’re running a mobile coffee stall, or simply want something a little more compact in-store, SumUP Air travels well and has a long lasting charge charge to boot. This makes it a popular option amongst businesses fresh on the startup scene.
iZettle 2 card reader
Best for variety of POS options
A big name in the mobile card reader world, and probably one that you recognise from hipster cafes, food trucks and pop-up shops alike, the iZettle 2 card reader has made its mark in the market, and for good reason.
Intuitively designed with the dynamic startup in mind, this little device is a great way to diversify your POS options with an already familiar and trusted brand.
Also, iZettle 2 is the only card reader we reviewed that accepts all of the major credit and debit cards, plus payments from JCB, Diners Club and Union Pay – great if you’re marketing yourself to tourists.
iZettle 2 reader costs
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£29|
|Card transaction fee||1.75%|
|Virtual terminal fee||2.5%|
iZettle pros and cons
✅ Efficient payouts (made within 2 days)
✅ No fuss system that makes training and taking payments a doddle
✅ Well known brand that promotes customer’s sense of trust
✅ Small, convenient pin pad that comes in a choice of colours to suit a variety of styles
|❌ Over-the-phone support can be lacking with no support at weekends|
Is the iZettle 2 reader right for me?
A well known and popular card reader, well-suited to startups looking to take payments quickly in a no-fuss fashion. If you’re good with basic tech, and don’t often pick up the phone for customer support, then this is the reader for you. However, iZettle’s customer support isn’t known for its efficiency, which could be logistically difficult later down the line.
Best for contactless payments
Supporting card payments from all major credit and debit cards, both on and offline, Square’s minimalist, no buttons design really helps it to stand out from the crowd as the most stylish of card readers.
But, if there are no buttons, then how do customers pop in their pin?
Well, for those customers who aren’t tapping-to-pay with a contactless card or device, the pin pad will appear on the phone or tablet to which the device is linked (see image above).
This can seem a little unusual to customers who might be wary of tapping their pin into a screen, rather than punching in buttons – something to consider if you target a mature demographic perhaps.
Square reader costs
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£29|
|Card transaction fee||1.75%|
|Virtual terminal fee||2.5%|
Square pros and cons
✅Lightning quick speeds: payouts made on the next working day
✅Easy to get to grips with tech
✅Clean, modern design
✅Forward thinking app design and user interface
❌ The ‘modern’ way of tapping-in a pin number could confuse or worry some customers
❌ Designed with ‘tap and go’ in mind, rather than chip and pin
Is the Square reader right for me?
Square is great for the especially image-conscious startup. Clean and simple, Square adds a breath of fresh air into the payment process, and shows that it’s really keeping up with fintech developments. With a bold, no-buttons look: a statement that suggests Square anticipates the future to be contactless.
As it’s geared towards contactless payments, this is a mobile card reader perfect for retailers making sales of less than £30. Quirky bars, cafes and small shops would do well with Square – a mobile card reader that can fit neatly into the palm of your hand and is unobtrusive to the look and feel of your brand.
Best for high-earners
PayPal Here features
PayPal Here was designed to keep PayPal in the game as far as quick and easy card payments are concerned. This mobile card machine features one of the best selections of mobile card reader accessories Startups.co.uk has seen (you can even get a PayPal Here lanyard, to carry the card reader about in an oh-so-stylish manner).
Accepting all major debit and credit cards, and providing customer support seven days a week, PayPal brings us a reader from a known brand that’s easy to use and simple to integrate with your ecommerce platform too.
PayPal Here reader costs
The cost of the hardware is one thing, but PayPal varies its transactive charging structure according to daily sales volume, see table below for details:
|Daily sales||Transaction fee|
|Less than £1,500.01||2.75%|
|£1,500.01 – £6,000||1.75%|
|£6,000.01 – £15,000||1.5%|
|More than £15,000||1%|
And then, there’s the device itself:
|Cost of hardware (card reader)||£45 (excl. VAT)|
|Card transaction fee||1 – 2.75%|
PayPal pros and cons
✅ Known brand – customer familiarity will encourage trust
✅ Not too complex interface
✅ Can be integrated with ecommerce
✅ Great accessories
|❌ Very pricey|
PayPal Here is the high-brow member of the mobile card reader world. Charging an extortionate 2.27% in transaction fees for an intake of less than £1,500.01, it’s certainly not the reader for the lower earner.
However, if you are bringing in the big bucks, then its 1% transaction fee is actually the most competitive in the field, so its value to your business greatly depends on your profits.
Which is the best mobile card reader for me?
The rise of mobile payment devices means that it’s never been easier – or cheaper – for small businesses to accept card payments. Nomadic businesses that don’t operate from a fixed premises, like pop-up shops and market stalls, are best suited to mobile card devices.
Tips for choosing the right mobile card reader for your business
- Watch the transaction fees – Mobile card reader set-up costs are rare and card machines are cheap. It’s the transaction fees are what you really want to compare. See our handy comparatison table for an at-a-glance side by side display of the transaction fees.
- Compare payment delay times – Transfer times aren’t always instant, as card payments are processed and authorised securely through a merchant account.
- See if it’s really what your business needs – A mobile card reader requires a good internet connection, or strong 3G to work. They’re also not suitable for takings of £10,000+ per day (for this kind of quantity. You’re better off going with the more traditional chip and pin machine.
The best mobile card readers: a recap
Let’s take one last look at the mobile card readers on the market today, with a snapshot view at what they’re best for
- Worldpay Best for variety of pricing plans
- SumUp Air Best for budgets
- iZettle Best for variety of POS options
- Square Best for contactless payments
- PayPal Here Best for high-earners
Compare mobile card readers
Now you’ve swatted up on mobile card machines, it’s time to get some quotes.
We’ve created a specialised quote finder to help you find the perfect mobile card reader for your business. Simply fill in the form at the top of the page, and we’ll put you in touch with providers able to give you an individualised quote.