SumUp card reader review
Our full-fat review of the SumUp card reader, plus the easiest way of getting quotes for your small business
Founded in 2011, SumUp was the UK’s answer to making card payment processing easy and affordable, and it's still one of the best options for small businesses wanting simplicity and low costs today.
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:
02 | SumUp vs iZettle, Square, PayPal etc.
03 | How much does it cost?
04 | What is SumUp Air?
05 | Who is eligible?
07 | SumUp’s customer service
08 | Competitor reviews
09 | Our verdict
10 | Compare quotes
SumUp vs iZettle vs Square etc.
SumUp is the cheapest card machine in terms of card processing fees – for small businesses with medium to low monthly revenues (under £5,000), you won't find a transaction fee lower than 1.69%.
But for small businesses wanting to cut costs above all else, SumUp has everything you need to make taking card payments easy.
Here is how SumUp compares to the other top card machines for UK small businesses:
|Card Reader||Best for…||Device Cost
|Transaction Fee||Cheapest transaction fees||£59||1.69%|
£19 on offer here
|Best card machine for features||£39||1.75%|
|Most flexible||£39.99||1.95% – 2.75%
(depending on sales)
|Best for growing businesses||
£45 on offer here
|1% – 2.75%
(depending on sales)
|Trusted payments brand||£60||2.6%|
The benefits of SumUp Air
With one of the lowest transaction fees around (just 1.69%) and crystal-clear, flat-rate pricing, SumUp is hard to beat for affordability.
✔ 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
✔ First-rate features – Including free virtual terminals & SMS payments
SumUp's best features, as voted by small businesses, was the email receipting function, which is a hit with customers, and saves you from doing more admin.
SumUp is one for simplicity, so don't expect the fanciness of other (often pricier) credit card processing providers.
❌ 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
We asked small businesses about the SumUp reporting, and here is what Natasha Bartlett-Twivey, a floral designer at Hilda Valerie, had to say:
“To be honest, we appreciate it. We have our own over accounting system, and can easily extract the data we need. Other well-known retailers' reporting systems are more complex, and SumUp had all the accounting requirements we wanted to use.”
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 a 10-second demo of SumUp Air in motion:
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 an outline of how SumUp Air works:
SumUp currently offers the best fixed rate transaction fee in the UK, at 1.69%
SumUp charges no fees for set-up, cancellation or monthly minimums. You are free to sign up or end your contract whenever you like.
Here is a break-down of the SumUp Air fees and charges:
SumUp has the lowest transaction fee of 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:
|Payments in person||1.69%|
|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.
One high street small business we spoke tot old us that on their £1,500 monthly earnings, they spend around £26 on card processing fees.
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 and PIN
- Swipe and Sign
- Apple Pay and 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.
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: beauty salons, coffee shops, delivery services and retail stores.
SumUp business testimonials
UBS has satisfied customers
|“Through the seamless partnership with SumUp, we offer our business clients valuable next-level technology that helps them run their business more efficient.”
– Joscha Gelbach, Corporate & Institutional Clients at UBS
DHL likes the lower costs
|“Heading towards a cashless society, SumUp allows us to offer fast and reliable card payments for doorstep delivery. This partnership improves delivery times and costs of
– Carola Schmitz-Becker, Vice President Treasury at DHL
FlixBus enjoys easier card payments
|“Our partnership with SumUp has allowed us to enhance our service even before a passenger starts their journey.”
– Carina Wagner, Head of Shops and Stations at FlixBus
Florist Hilda Valerie gives SumUp top marks
|“The low transaction rate of 1.69% helps us maintain a good margin on our sales, the app is very user-friendly and the features are just what we need and create a good client transaction experience.”
– Natasha Bartlett-Twivey, Floral Designer at Hilda Valerie
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:
SumUp's best feature, as voted by small businesses: Email receipts
Email receipts are a life-saver for busy small business owners. They give the customer peace of mind as well as your company details – and they help you focus on selling rather than printing receipts manually.
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 mobile card readers, 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.
Any missing features?
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 the 6 best card readers for small businesses today here.
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, it actually works out a pretty good deal.
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 (excl. VAT)||1.75%||2 – 3 business days|
|£39 (excl. VAT)||1.75%||Instant deposits (1% fee applies),
bank account times vary
|£59 (excl. VAT)||1.69%||Mostly 3 business days|
|£39.99 (excl. VAT)||1.95% – 2.75%||3 – 4 days||£65 (excl. VAT)
£45 on offer now
|1% – 2.75%
(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.
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