SumUp card reader review
Our full-fat review of the SumUp card reader, plus the easiest way of getting quotes for your small business
With fewer and fewer people taking cash when they go out and more and more customers expecting speedy check-out with contactless payments, we think adding card payment options to your small business is now more important than ever.
So, to help you decide if they’re right for you, now let’s dive deeper and explain everything you need to know…
In this article you will learn:
The pros and cons of SumUp Air
- ✔ Affordable, fixed fees – Top rate of 1.69%, no monthly fees
- ✔ Great customer support – Quick and helpful answers to questions
- ✔ Easy-to-use app – Simple layout, easy to get started
- ✔ Nice features – Including free virtual terminals & SMS payments
- ❌ Basic reporting – Reduced geeking out on numbers with SumUp
- ❌ Limited features – Where’s the card-not-present option?
- ❌ Reader glitches – Uncommon, but some customers have had freezes
The SumUp Air card machine explained
One of the cheapest mobile card readers in the UK
SumUp Air is a wireless card reader that lets your customers pay via Chip & PIN, contactless, Swipe & Sign, or Apple Pay and Android Pay.
All you need to get going is a smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth, the free SumUp app on your iOS or Android device, and an internet connection (Wi-Fi or 3G/4G are best).
Bluetooth lets your mobile device connect to the card machine, and the cloud-based app will take care of the legwork of processing the payment for you.
Here’s what the SumUp Air mobile card reader looks like:
How does SumUp Air work?
Like most card machines, SumUp works using Bluetooth
We found making card payments really simple with SumUp. You just enter the amount in the app, and the customer either inserts their card into the reader and keys in their PIN, or taps their contactless card or phone on the reader. Once their payment is accepted, they can get a receipt via email or text.
Here’s a 90-second demo:
Is SumUp safe?
SumUp ticks all the safety boxes
SumUp is an FCA-approved entity, meaning it works with the UK government to ensure its customers (you) get a fair deal.
The Air mobile card reader also keeps your customers’ sensitive data secure. As a certified device with the PCI PTS (Payment Card Industry PIN Transaction Security) – an important standard for POS systems – it uses encryption to give your customers peace of mind.
Who is eligible to use SumUp?
SumUp is eligible for any registered business and non-profit
This includes clubs, societies, schools and universities. But you will need to register in the name of your business – they don’t accept individual merchants.
Certain businesses are also not eligible, including:
- Unlicensed counselling services
- Door-to-door sales
- Adult entertainment
Though you will be able to use SumUp abroad (in most European destinations, the US, and some parts of Latin America) if you contact their customer service team in advance.
Small businesses that use SumUp
Trusted by thousands of UK-based and international small businesses
Since making card payments affordable and with such a simple set-up and pocket-sized device, SumUp is especially popular with:
The SumUp Air features
Action-packed features, but no discount option
The biggest feature you’ll get with SumUp is mobile card processing made simple. And UK customers can enjoy everything you would expect from your card machine, including:
There are also some handy features that don’t come with every mobile card app, like:
- Multiple Tax Rates
- Virtual Terminal
- SMS Payments
Overall, the SumUp dashboard is an intuitive tool. Just like with other leading card reader providers, you’ll get a 360 degree view of your sales data, which you can export to an easy-to-digest Excel file.
Just note that small business owners sometimes find they need to contact customer service to get some of these bonus features added to their accounts, then they are easy to get the hang of.
But there are some features you might miss:
- Modifying products from the dashboard
The shiny new addition of SMS payments, though, can be a nifty way of getting round the lack of invoicing – rather than issuing an invoice, you just send your customers a way of paying you directly.
But if any of these specs are a must, you can check out the other options available to you on our page comparing the best card readers for small businesses today here.
SumUp Air fees and charges
SumUp currently offers the best fixed rate transaction fee in the UK, at 1.69%
iZettle and Square both come in a close second at 1.75%, and with WorldPay and PayPal you can expect to pay more.
That said, with these competitors you’ll get your funds that bit sooner – anywhere from instantly (with PayPal) to between one and two business days (with iZettle and Square).
Here is a breakdown of the rates you’d be paying with SumUp:
|SMS Payments||2.95% + 25p||Phone / virtual payments||2.95% + 25p|
Phone payments isn’t offered by everyone, and is a nice touch. SumUp’s virtual terminal rate is also kinder than PayPal’s 3.4% + 20p (and £20 monthly fee), but a tad more than Square’s 2.5% here.
Our verdict: If your small business is bringing in under £5,000 a month in card payments, SumUp will be a great option for you.
SumUp Air’s payment entry methods
SumUp is one of the only mobile card readers to accept all card payment entry methods:
- Chip & PIN
- Swipe & Sign
- Apple Pay & Android Pay
Plus, you don’t need to worry about a separate magstripe reader (like with Square) because it’s nicely built into the device itself.
SumUp also prides itself on accepting all credit or debit cards with a Visa, Mastercard, V Pay, Maestro or American Express logo. The competitive transaction fee of 1.69% (UK) / 2.75% (Ireland) applies to any card, even American Express, which some providers (like PayPal) will charge more for.
This isn’t quite as many as iZettle (which includes UnionPay, JCD and Diners Club), but these cards aren’t too popular in the UK anyway, so it’s unlikely your customers will be disappointed with SumUp’s offer.
The SumUp Air card reader cost
You can often get it discounted online
SumUp’s Air card machine costs a one-off price of £59 (excluding VAT), but you can often find it for £29 online. That’s all you’ll ever pay for it – once it’s yours, it’s yours to keep, and it comes with free shipping of three to five business days.
Just note that because you can’t manually enter amounts, you will need to purchase one of these devices to use SumUp, but we think it’s a good deal for being able to accept contactless, Chip & PIN and magstripe payments.
Card-not-present transaction fees
Thanks to the virtual terminal and SMS payment features, now you can process payments with SumUp, even without your customer’s card being present. We find these costs quite reasonable too: at 2.95% plus 25p per transaction. The only other mobile card reader provider to offer this is Square.
Payment delay time
Payouts are sent to your bank account on a daily basis from SumUp, but it usually takes two to three business days for you to get your hands on it, which is slightly longer than rivals like PayPal and iZettle.
SumUp Point of Sale Register
There are no monthly costs with SumUp, but if you’re interested in a complete POS (point-of-sale) solution, you can always upgrade to the SumUp Point of Sale Register for a custom monthly fee.
You’d need to contact them directly for a quote, but their prices generally start at around £750 (excluding VAT) to get set up with everything from the hardware (printer, scanner, tablet – all ready to roll) to the software (for bookkeeping, payment analytics and inventory management).
We thought this seemed like a hefty price tag for many start-ups, but if you use SumUp as your go-to for all your payment processing needs (including all the admin and HR outsourcing that goes with running your own business), it actually works out a pretty good deal.
SumUp charges no fees for set-up, cancellation or monthly minimums. You are free to sign up or end your contract whenever you like.
If you’d like to understand card payment processing costs a little better, we have a whole article on it here.
SumUp’s customer support
SumUp customer tend to report good customer service
SumUp’s online support centre will be able to help you with most of your enquiries. But you can also email or call their team during weekday working hours and on Saturdays (not Sundays, though).
You may also be comforted to know that native English speakers will be answering the phone. You may spot some grumbles from 2013, but SumUp have upped their support team since then, so we are happy to give them our Startups thumbs up for customer service.
Competitor reviews – SumUp vs iZettle, Square, WorldPay and PayPal
SumUp is a great card payment option for small and budget-conscious businesses
Unlike with some more traditional credit card processing companies, SumUp is an affordable option, with some of the lowest device costs and transaction fees, no monthly charges, and no lock-ins.
Though of course, it’s not perfect. For even more jam-packed features, you might like to explore Square, if a fancy app is your thing, you could try iZettle, and if your start-up is enjoying some jaw-dropping sales (upwards of £2,500 a month, every month) PayPal does become more attractive.
But even with this fierce competition from a host of mobile card payment providers, SumUp still takes the prize for affordability.
This table shows you how SumUp compares to its top rivals:
|Card Reader||Device Cost||Transaction Fee||Settlement time|
|£59 (incl. VAT)||1.69%||Mostly 3 business days|
|£39 (excl. VAT)||1.75%||Instant deposits (1% fee applies),
bank account times vary
|£59 (incl. VAT)||1.75% (flat rate)||2 – 3 business days|
|£39.99 (incl. VAT)||2.75% – 1.95%||3 – 4 days||£75 (incl. VAT)||2.75 – 1% (depending on sales)||Instantly to PayPal,
bank account times vary
In a nutshell
With one of the UK’s lowest transaction fees for mobile card readers of just 1.69%, and a friendly, flat-rate fee structure, SumUp Air is ideal for any lower-volume small businesses or sole traders.
SumUp may not have as much clout on paper as a brand like PayPal, but with backers including BBVA Ventures, Groupon and American Express, you can be sure your business and your customers will be in good hands.
Plus, SumUp’s biggest asset is its simplicity, making it ideal for busy small business owners. Here’s what you could look forward to with SumUp:
- Fair, predictable pricing – Clear fees make it easy to understand what you’ll be paying
- SMS payments – Giving your customers handy ways of paying can make balancing the books smoother and faster than ever
- SumUp Point of Sale Register – You can let SumUp take care of your entire card payment admin (that may be bad news for your existing bookkeeper, but good news for your bottom line)
So, if you’re bringing in monthly card payments of under £5,000, and wanting to make credit and debit card processing fuss-free, we at Startups think SumUp could be a top card payment processing option for you.
Still scratching your head? You won’t be alone, but we at Startups are helping to save our readers time and money with our quick quote-finder.
We don’t mean to blow our own trumpet, but we think it’s the easiest way of getting your hands on quotes from the best suppliers for our business.
You tell us your specs, and you can start talking directly with the top suppliers for you – ask them any questions you have, and get quotes to compare yourself.