PayPal Here card machine review

We put the PayPal Here card reader to the test, and help you compare it with the UK's leading card machines today: iZettle, Square, WorldPay and more

PayPal Here is a user-friendly device with a trusted brand, but these comforts come at a cost – high transaction fees.

With 78% of retail sales in the UK being paid by card, many small business owners are finding they’re quids in with a card machine.

But is PayPal Here the best option for you? We put the PayPal portable card reader under the microscope, and compare it with the alternatives to help you decide for yourself.

You’re probably already familiar with PayPal as that helpful online payments system which makes checking out a breeze. It’s a company that has been looking out for the littler business pretty much since its inception, and their card reader offers another helping hand here.

But how does the new PayPal chip and PIN machine compare with leading mobile card readers like iZettle, Square, WorldPay, and SumUp?

Having just acquired iZettle, PayPal is certainly pitching to take the European market by storm, but we still find their less than competitive transfer rates might make it difficult to catch up over here.

So, to help you decide if they’re right for you, now let’s explore the nuts and bolts…

In this article you will learn:

The pros and cons of PayPal Here

The pros

There are two main benefits to the PayPal card payment machine: the card reader’s ease-of-use and the comfort of the PayPal brand.

Many small business owners rate the PayPal machine for its simple interface and easy navigation. That makes PayPal Here perfect for events, since you can just turn it on and start taking payments on the go.

What’s more, if you’re already using a PayPal business account for your online sales, it can be handy to sync it with your card reader. That way, you’d be able to manage your online and face-to-face sales together, although this is possible even with other providers.

On top of these, you’d also benefit from:

  • Security – PayPal Seller Protection and fraud screening protect your business
  • Convenience – Customers find they can pay quickly and easily
  • Easy integration – PayPal works with the major e-commerce platforms and devices
  • Reduced admin – You can send e-invoices

The cons

The chief pain point of PayPal Here – and we think it’s a big deal for small businesses – is its lack of value for money.

Essentially, unless your monthly sales are exceeding £1,500, you’ll be better off with a more affordable alternative like iZettle or SumUp. In addition, many small business owners find the fee structure complicated, so it can be hard to stay on top of your charges. We’ll explain this fully below.

For such a user-friendly device, there are quite a few limitations to PayPal Here which make it less friendly for small businesses. These include:

  • High fees – The charges are not competitive for smaller sales volumes
  • Limited cards supported – PayPal accepts only the main card brands
  • Questionable customer service – Some small businesses find it unreliable
  • Shaky features – The fingerprint scanner can be hit-and-miss
  • Glitches – Not every (especially Android) device works perfectly with the app


The PayPal card machine decoded

PayPal Here is a POS (point of sale) system that combines a mobile card reader and the mobile PayPal Here app.

The PayPal card machine lets you take payments in pounds sterling from wherever you are, and the app can help take care of some of the admin, including: invoicing, reporting, and inventory management.

Of course, many start-ups use the PayPal Here mobile card reader to take debit or credit card payments face-to-face, but it’s also handy for requesting money from customers, sending funds abroad, and setting up recurring payments.

Here are all the ways you can use PayPal Here:

paypal here payment methods

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How does PayPal Here work?

PayPal Here lets you process a payment anywhere. That makes it ideal for mobile small businesses like taxi drivers, market stall holders, food delivery services, and festival pop-ups.

Taking payments is easy – you just need to pick up a PayPal Here card reader and download the free app (available on Android and Apple phones and tablets). You’ll be able to connect the device to your mobile app via Bluetooth.

Then, you’ll just need to set up a PayPal business account, and make sure you have an Internet connection (either Wi-Fi or mobile data), and you’ll be ready to go.

This video below will walk you through how PayPal Here works:

PayPal Here vs iZettle, Square, WorldPay & SumUp

What are the alternatives?

These are the most popular card machines for small businesses in the UK today:

  • iZettle – Great for low costs and keeping things simple
  • Square – Great for features that go the extra mile
  • SumUp – Great for getting started with card payments
  • WorldPay Zinc – Great for more payment options (including phone)
  • PayPal Here – Great for integration with PayPal

Each one is a simple chip and PIN machine with an app attached, and has no monthly fees attached. And here is how they compare with PayPal Here:

Card Reader Device Cost Transaction Fee Settlement time
iZettle £59 (incl. VAT) 1.75% (flat rate) 2 – 3 business days
square logo £39 (excl. VAT) 1.75% Instant deposits (1% fee applies),
bank account times vary
sumup logo £59 (incl. VAT) 1.69% Mostly 3 business days
worldpay logo £39.99 (incl. VAT) 2.75% – 1.95% 3 – 4 days
paypal here logo £75 (incl. VAT) 2.75 – 1% (depending on sales) Instantly to PayPal,
bank account times vary

To compare PayPal Here with even more chip and PIN machines, we’ve written a review of the top credit card processing companies for you to read here.

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PayPal Here card machine fees

The PayPal Here card reader costs £75 (including VAT), and there are no monthly fees. Once you buy it, it’s yours to keep, but you’ll be paying between 1% and 2.75% per transaction.

We’ve mentioned how the pricing is where PayPal Here pales in comparison with other leading card machines in the UK today.

It’s easy to get your hands on the card reader – it costs £75, but you can usually find it on offer. Then, the app is free to download, and you’re safe from monthly rental charges.

But we found the transaction fees a bit of a headache. It all depends on a series of factors that can be hard to get your head round. These include:

Now, let’s walk you through the full costs involved in each of these.

1) The PayPal Here plans

PayPal Here offers a two-tier pricing structure: the Blended Plan and the Interchange Plus Plan.

  • The Blended Plan – More predictable pricing (a set rate regardless of the fees charged by cards like Visa and Mastercard)
  • The Interchange Plus Plan – More variable pricing (your card provider’s interchange fee – a handling fee, usually between 0.2% and 2.0% – plus PayPal’s fee)

PayPal is on its own in charging a sliding rate starting from 2.75% (unless sales are over £1,500 a month). Most other leading card machine providers have a flat fee payment structure, regardless of how you customer pays. In contrast, SumUp offers a flat fee of 1.69%, and with iZettle and Square it’s only 1.75% per transaction – these are flat fees, so it doesn’t matter how your customer pays.

2) Your monthly sales

Lower transaction fees (1.75% – 1%) are available only if your monthly sales exceed £1,500. Just remember though, if they ever dip below, you’ll be back to the top rates, regardless of your average earnings.

This table breaks down the PayPal Here fees you can expect to pay depending on your sales volumes (IC stands for the card interchange rate):

Total monthly sales Blended Plan Fee Interchange Plus Plan Fee
Up to £1,500 2.75% IC + 2.5%
£1,500.01 – £6,000 1.75% IC + 1.5%
£6,000.01 – £15,000 1.5% IC + 1.25%
£15,000.01 – £25,000 1% IC + 0.75
£25,000+ Negotiable Negotiable

3) The type of card used

Visa and Mastercard can enjoy lower rates of between 1% and 2.75% for monthly sales exceeding £1,500, but AmEx is always charged at the top rate of 2.75%.

4) The payment entry method

Swipe or manual entry payment methods are processed at higher transaction rates of 3.40% plus 20p.

5) The card issuing country

PayPal charges some hefty (and highly variable) fees for foreign cards, so if your small business serves international customers, PayPal Here could be a no-go.

Additional fees

As well as these variable payments, you can expect to pay 2.9% plus 30p per invoice, and 1% for cross-border transfers. Maybe that seems like a lot to remember? We think so too, which is why PayPal Here doesn’t get the thumbs up for pricing.

When and how can I access the payments?

You’ll usually get your payments in your PayPal business account within 2 hours.

There you’ll have the option of spending this money directly via PayPal transfers, but if you’d like to move it into your account, you would have to do this manually (unlike with other card payment suppliers, where it’s automatic).

If you’d like to understand these costs a little better, you may like to give this article a read.

6) Cards supported with PayPal Here

visa logo mastercard logo maestro logo american express logo

PayPal Here accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro and AmEx. Of course, these are the must-haves, but it’s still a more limited selection than its competitors like SumUp (which also supports V Pay), and iZettle (which includes Union Pay, USB, Diners and Samsung Pay).

You can also now pay using contactless on PayPal Here. But whereas most other contactless card machines in the UK support Apple Pay and Google Pay (formerly Android Pay) for transactions over £30, PayPal Here is not currently able to.

For a full break-down of the costs involved in a chip and PIN machine, you might like to read this article.

PayPal’s customer service

Plenty of online support, but shaky call centre

PayPal isn’t famous for providing first-class customer service, and there’s a reason for that. Quite simply, many small business owners find that it doesn’t.

PayPal claims to be able to answer 95% of queries online, either through their Community Forum or over their Facebook and Twitter channels.

But for that other 5% of issues, their team are reachable by phone five days a week, during set hours. Just be aware that there isn’t a specific PayPal Here helpline, and do expect to hang on the phone a while before you get through.

The PayPal Here app

Easy to use, but with limited functionality

The PayPal Here app works just like any other POS (point of sale) system. You can programme in the products or services you are selling, along with images, VAT rates, discounts and tipping options.

To take a payment, you can either select an item from your inventory, or key in the amount manually. Just note that it is not currently possible to track your stock availability.

paypal here app

Thanks to a revamp, the PayPal Here app now has a cleaner interface

PayPal Here’s features

PayPal Here is user-friendly, but doesn’t offer the most features-packed card machine on the market today. In this area, alternatives like Square will give you more bang for the same buck.

Here are the main features to bear in mind:

  • Quick Sale Mode – You can just key in an amount and take the payment right away (but of course, the items won’t be recorded your sales reports)
  • Invoicing – Create your inventory of products, including sorting them into categories
  • Item library – Create your inventory of products, including sorting them into categories

Overall, PayPal Here offers everything you would expect from a card reader, and a more limited range of features compared with its competitors.

PayPal Here FAQs – Your top 5 questions answered

1) Do I need an Internet connection to use PayPal Here?

Yes, as with most card readers, you’ll need to be connected to the Internet. And remember, your transactions will be fastest via a Wi-Fi network or mobile data with 3G or 4G.

2) Do my customers need a PayPal account?

No, anyone can use the PayPal Here card reader. It works just like Apple Pay and Android Pay,so customers can pay using their debit or credit card, cash or cheque.

3) Which cards are accepted?

You can accept chip & PIN, contactless, debit and credit cards from: VISA, Mastercard, Maestro and American Express.

4) Can I use the card reader abroad?

You can only join PayPal Here if your business is UK-based, but you can use it abroad (so long as you charge in pounds sterling). As is standard with card payment devices, you’ll also be able to accept supported cards from overseas customers.

5) Can I print receipts using PayPal Here?

Yes, the device is compatible with selected printers which you can find listed here.

In a nutshell

Now more than ever, small businesses are finding they are able to grow faster and boost their revenue by accepting card payments.

As one of the most popular card machine suppliers in the UK today, PayPal Here is a great option. But is it the best one out there for small businesses? Overall, the PayPal card reader gets top marks for:

  • ✔ Ease-of-use
  • ✔ Secure payments guaranteed
  • ✔ Newly revamped app (now more in line with the iZettle app)
  • ✔ Slick integration with PayPal

But it does lose brownie points for its transaction fees – they’re complicated to understand, and the rates are not competitive compared with its top rivals like iZettle, SumUp and Square. On top of that, common gripes for small business owners were:

  • ❌ Need to sell over £1,500 a month to get reasonable fees
  • ❌ Less reliable customer support
  • ❌ Only main card types served

Since value for money is one of the top priorities for most small businesses, we have to say this PayPal credit card machine is very good – but not quite a superstar.

Our Startups verdict: With competitors offering more value for money, we suggest shopping around for the best deal.

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How do I decide?

If you’re keen to cash in on a card machine, but would like to have a longer read of all the options available to you, you can check out our comprehensive card reader reviews here.

Or, for an even speedier and more personalised way to help you decide, we’ve made a quote-finder for our readers. You just tap into our short form exactly what you’re looking for to be matched directly with the best card machine providers for you.

They can give you the most accurate quotes for you to compare, plus you’ll get the chance to ask any questions you have, and complete the final stage of your research.

To access these quotes, you can simply click this link to hop back to our form, and see how quickly you can get the answers you need.