Zettle by PayPal review: is it the right POS for your small business?

Find out how Zettle performed during our recent POS testing, including a full breakdown of its perks, problems, and hidden costs.

Our Research

Our expert team of writers and researchers worked to identify the best payment processing and merchant account providers by focusing on the factors small businesses care about most – value for money, including fees and hidden extras; security protocols and fraud protection; customer support, and ease of access across platforms including mobile.
Written and reviewed by:

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4.4 out of 5
  • Price
    5.0
  • Help & Support
    3.0
  • Till Features
    4.3

Our dedicated team of researchers found Zettle to be a stellar choice for those who are just starting their selling journey – in fact, it’s one of the best value POS systems on the market. The software garnered full marks during our rigorous testing, largely thanks to its excellent till management features and budget-friendly pricing structure.

However, while Zettle shines brightly in one corner of the market, it casts a shadow over another. Our findings revealed that Zettle may not be the ideal choice for online sellers, as its lacklustre business and stock management tools significantly restrict its suitability for more advanced sales requirements.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the reasons behind Zettle’s dual nature, providing you with a detailed analysis of its strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed choice for your specific business needs.

We’d also highly recommend taking a minute or two to compare costs on POS systems, using our simple tool, below. After answering just a few questions about your business needs, it can help you compare pricing quotes from top suppliers:

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Zettle: introduction

Zettle is a renowned financial technology company offering a suite of payment and business management solutions.

It caters to small and medium-sized businesses, providing technology for accepting card payments, tracking sales, and managing inventory easily. Founded in Sweden in 2010, it quickly gained a reputation for its user-friendly, affordable, and innovative tools.

Its primary offerings include point-of-sale (POS) systems, card readers, and payment processing services (it offers one of the best card readers on the market). Zettle was later acquired by PayPal in 2018.

Over the years, we’ve introduced and reviewed Zettle in various ways, including comparisons with other market leaders, as seen in our articles on Zettle vs SumUp and Zettle vs Square, as well as our article on the best free POS software for small businesses.

We strongly recommend Zettle for small businesses. During thorough analysis of the platform, our experts awarded Zettle an overall score of 4.4 out of 5. Its fees are reasonable, with a big value-indicator being Zettle’s seamless integration with existing PayPal accounts – handy if you sell via online marketplaces.

Zettle: pros and cons

We like Zettle because it does not pretend to be more than it is.

As an easy way to start taking payments, it’s a good option for startups and those with low-maintenance POS needs. But there are important features missing that will make it a poor choice for certain businesses. For example, higher transaction fees for payment links make it a poor choice for remote-based companies like telesales.

Some other pros and cons of the software are highlighted below:

Pros
  • Easy to use. It's as simple as creating a Zettle account and starting to manage your payments and expenses
  • Zero monthly fees. We gave Zettle five out of five for pricing thanks to this
  • Zettle came top for till management in our research, beating first-place Square. Zettle has a repeat payment option - useful for street vendors with small product lists
  • The Zettle card reader is 100% portable. As long as you have signal, you can process payments from any major credit card
Cons
  • Transaction charges are very expensive. Payment links cost 2.5% per sale. Setup fees are cheap, however
  • Payments can take 2-3 working days to settle. This depends on the type of card used
  • From the 1st of April 2021, the ecommerce subscription is no longer an offering at Zettle. If you’re selling online, you’ll need to purchase an online store builder separately

Zettle: pricing

In terms of POS equipment, there is the Zettle card reader (£29+VAT) but also a terminal and Zettle stand to consider. One of the best things about Zettle is its transparent pricing, which is why our expert researchers awarded it a total score of 5 out of 5 for this research area.

There are no monthly contracts for its paid products. Instead, the only thing Zettle charges for is card processing fees, which is a positive for many people.

Previously, these were charged on a sliding scale ranging from as high as 2.75% to as low as 1%. They’re now at a competitive rate of 1.75% for chip or contactless transactions.

Virtual payments are where Zettle starts to struggle. Those paying online or by invoice are charged 2.5% – which is considerably higher than rival POS option Square (1.9% for European cards). Direct ecommerce payments also aren’t available.

That means Zettle users running a physical store and taking lots of small payments will get the most value. Online sellers will find Zettle an expensive choice with few payment options.

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Zettle by PayPal

Software cost

Free

Hardware cost

Starting from £29 + VAT

Transaction fees
  • 1.75% for all contactless or card payments

Zettle: taking payments

Zettle has a range of products available to help you start taking payments, and you can use their Zettle Go app to manage them, which is designed to give users greater control over their payments and the ability to accept a transaction using a payment link.

Below, we’ll go into each of these options in detail based on the insights and experience gathered by our expert reviewers:

Zettle’s card reader and POS equipment

Zettle has a range of products available to help you to start taking payments. In terms of POS equipment, there is the Zettle card reader but also a terminal and Zettle stand to consider.

iZettle card reader

Measuring just 11 x 7cm, the Zettle card reader (pictured above) is for small businesses that are short on space and staff.

Hospitality organisations can easily move it around an entire restaurant floor so that customers aren’t having to come to a till and wait in-line for front-of-house. It’s worth knowing the Zettle also features in our ranking of the best restaurant POS systems.

Despite being unimposing, Zettle is still a PCI-compliant company and its machine meets strict security standards. Customers can pay smoothly with a tap, or slide their card into the slot for payments that require pin entry.

Users are not just limited to the Zettle card reader, however. Terminals are available for a flat fee of £149. Sellers can also acquire a complete POS setup via the basic shop kit – which includes a card reader, docking station, and iPad stand – starts at just £189.

Rural sellers, or those with poor broadband connection, should note that Zettle’s POS equipment uses bluetooth or WiFi connectivity to run. That means users need a mobile or ethernet internet connection to process a payment.

The Zettle Go app

When it comes to features the Zettle POS app, Zettle Go is fairly basic. The system is designed to give you exactly what you need to get going, without making you pay for a ton of features that you don’t necessarily need.

It’s also incredibly easy to navigate, winning points with our analysts for its simple layout that users don’t need to spend hours mastering.

What is good about Zettle Go?

  • You can use it to track and add stock. The app will even flag up when you’re running low on something – handy for those with bespoke handmade products
  • Have more than one user, and track how many sales each user makes – great for employing commission-based salespeople
  • Keep two eyes on business performance by tracking sales and refunds, and see which of your products sell best
  • Sell Zettle gift cards to build brand loyalty. These also help you with cash flow by keeping money in the business
  • In 2020, Zettle added QR codes to the app so vendors, particularly cafes or those with a longer customer interaction, can offer a QR code for contactless payments

To make things easier for more specialist salespeople, Zettle also has specific software bundles available for hospitality and retail businesses (if you run a shop, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best POS systems for retail businesses).

You can use these unique packages for more niche requests like forwarding food orders to the kitchen printer.

What is bad about Zettle Go?

Zettle Go does allow you to collect customer information – such as email addresses – but isn’t compatible with CRM software, which is what allows you to manage customer relationships.

The reporting functionality also isn’t the best on the market. Users can check out cash payments, card payments, and invoices, and look back at historic receipts, but that’s about it.

Like Zettle hardware, the app does lack an offline mode; you’ll instead need a data or WiFi connection to process payments. Other brands like Vend, Clover, and Shopify have this option so it’s a weak point for Zettle in what is otherwise a high-performing POS app.

Zettle payment links

Payment links allow customers to make orders from wherever they’re located using a link generated by Zettle’s POS software.

These are a common feature amongst POS options. However, in a world where emails containing spam links are running riot, the trustworthy Zettle by PayPal name helps to reassure customers that its links are fully secure and PCI compliant.

Zettle charges 2.5% for each Payment Link transaction made. This might sound like a lot, but it’s actually fairly average (our top-rated platform, Square, charges the same amount).

Zettle: features

We analysed and rated Zettle’s POS features across three key categories – till management, stock management, and business management. This is what we found.

Zettle’s till management features

Our score: 4.3 out of 5

We gave Zettle a high till management score due to its huge range of till systems that can suit virtually every type of business. In fact, this is the only category where Zettle beats our top-rated POS, Square.

In terms of reporting, you’ll be able to get a breakdown of sales by product/category, as well as the top-selling products. This data can then be used to drive greater sales.

Zettle’s stock management features

Here, Zettle scores a disappointing 3.3 out of 5 to come ninth overall in our ranking. Inventory management is available but more advanced functions, like being able to order stock directly from the app are missing.

That puts Zettle far behind Lightspeed, our top-ranked option for stock features. Lightspeed’s advanced tools even provide an inventory warning if a product remains on the shelf for too long.

Zettle’s business management features

In the realm of point-of-sale solutions, Zettle, unfortunately, doesn’t offer much to boast about, scoring just 3 out of 5. While it does allow for certain management functions, such as staff hour monitoring, the trade-off for its smaller price tag becomes evident. Zettle’s affordability comes at the cost of valuable tools that many business owners find essential, including the ability to track staff performance, a feature readily available on pricier platforms like Vend. (Vend was included in our article on the best free POS software however, as it has a great free trial.)

Zettle: integrations

Zettle offers a versatile software ecosystem that seamlessly integrates with various business applications, setting it apart from competitors like Square and Epos Now. One of its key strengths lies in its compatibility with a wide range of third-party apps, enabling businesses to tailor their operations to their specific needs. From accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero to e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, Zettle provides flexibility and adaptability that many businesses find invaluable.

In comparison, Square offers a competitive software suite but is not as extensive in terms of integration options. While Square’s software is user-friendly and feature-rich, it may not cater to all the diverse needs of businesses requiring specialised solutions.

On the other hand, Epos Now primarily focuses on comprehensive EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) solutions, which can be a better fit for specific industries like retail and hospitality. However, it lacks the extensive app integration options that Zettle provides, such as inventory management and online ordering.

Ultimately, the choice between these providers depends on a business’s unique requirements. Zettle’s broad integration capabilities make it a strong contender for businesses seeking a customisable and adaptable POS solution.

Zettle: customer reviews

To calculate Zettle’s customer score, our researchers looked at three key areas of investigation: support options, online reviews, and user testing.

We examined Zettle’s average rating across trusted review sites including Trustpilot and Capterra. Across these platforms, Zettle scores a near-perfect 4.7 out of 5.

Our users were less impressed, however. We gave Zettle an overall score of just 3 out of 5 for customer satisfaction.

This is mostly due to its thin library of features which makes it unsuitable for a wide range of businesses. Stock management, as an example, is near non-existent, which means the app requires tailoring with a lot of third-party add-ons to carry out basic POS functions.

Zettle’s help and support provision

Given the significant impact that not being able to take payments has on a business, it’s crucial that any issues encountered are swiftly fixed to keep your sales volume consistent.

In terms of support, Zettle provides users with four resources to get help from:

  • Live chat
  • Phone support
  • Email
  • Online knowledge base

This is a considerable improvement over well-known competitors like SumUp, which does not provide live chat. (See: Sumup vs Zettle)

Zettle: POS alternatives

There are plenty of Zettle alternatives – the most notable being Square, which offers the Square card reader at the same transaction fee, and stylish POS equipment. We’ve provided you with a few other options, too – just in case.

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Lightspeed

Clover

Epos Now

Vend

Pricing from

£59 per month for the Lightspeed Restaurants Starter plan

Pricing from

Plans start from £4.10 per month

Pricing from

£25 per month

Pricing from

£69 per month

Amongst the above, Zettle stands out as a provider that has prioritised the small business customer in its design.

Its hardware is deliberately compact for users that are short on space or need to take payments on-the-go. Meanwhile, zero monthly fees and quick setup make Zettle perfect for time-stretched startups wanting to get up and running.

In what is quite a significant flaw for today’s sellers, who are increasingly based online, Zettle should not be used by strictly-ecommerce businesses.

Those that simply flog a few products online won’t find its shortcomings too restrictive. But with buyers only able to pay through a Zettle payment link, online stores are better off choosing our analysts’ top-rated option, Square.

Get matched to the top POS provider on the market with our 🔍specially-designed quote comparison tool. It’s completely free and takes your unique business requirements into consideration.

Our methodology

Over a month-long period, we dedicated our entire research team to finding out which POS system best suits the needs of a small business retailer.

We selected six key research areas based on over twenty years of hearing SME pain points and challenges when it comes to taking payments. We have then used these findings to produce the above accurate and up-to-date review of Zettle.

Pricing is one of the most important considerations for SMEs. However, cheaper does not always mean more cost-efficient. We looked at cost, but also the hidden fees, number of available integrations, and the number of channels you can sell through using Zettle.

Ease of use is another important factor for small business owners, who can’t lean on an in-house tech team or IT support in the event of an issue. We also looked at the support lines available for expert advice and guidance in the event of a fault.

Security always needs to be mentioned when you’re discussing finance. We also looked at Zettle’s PCI-compliance and data storage to ensure that small business users can build trust with their customers.

Finally, we looked at the business, till, and management features available with Zettle. These can make or break a platform’s suitability for a business. For example, if salespeople work on commission, the POS platform needs to be able to produce individual sales reports.

Zettle: verdict

There are few who’ll be disappointed with Zettle. It’s designed to cater to three of the biggest POS concerns amongst SME owners, scoring well for pricing, ease-of-use, and security.

For a no-fuss card reader with a solid app for total control over transactions, we recommend Zettle.

Still, we don’t rate Zettle highly for those who are selling online. Despite some advancements in the past few years, such as adding QR codes as a payment option, it still lags behind rivals like Square in this regard.

If you’re not convinced by Zettle, don’t worry. You can still find the right choice POS for your business via our 🔍online comparison tool. Tell us some basic details about your rim and we’ll recommend a POS provider based on your business’s specific and unique traits.

Zettle POS FAQs
  • What does Zettle do?
    Zettle provides payment processing and business management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Is Zettle the same as PayPal?
    Zettle is owned by PayPal, but they offer distinct services and products.
  • Does Zettle charge a monthly fee?
    Zettle has a free plan for which it doesn't charge a monthly fee. However, it does charge a monthly fee for more advanced services and subscription plans such as Zettle Plus (£20 per month) and Zettle Pro (£60 per month).
  • Is Zettle a good card reader?
    We rate the Zettle card reader highly as a functional, compact piece of hardware that demonstrates some clever design choices – although at the expense of looking a little less modern. It also costs just £29+VAT to purchase upfront.
  • Is Zettle better than SumUp?
    According to extensive research carried out by our small business experts, Zettle is the better POS choice compared to SumUp. We gave the former 4.4 out of 5, versus SumUp’s score of 4.2 - reflective of GoodTill’s less generous pricing for startups or micro-sellers.
  • How do you set up the Zettle card reader?
    Once you’ve purchased a Zettle card reader, you’ll be invited to download Zettle Go, the platform’s app. You’ll then be asked to fill in some basic information about your business, including bank details. Once a credit check has been completed, you’re free to start selling!

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Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.
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