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Top 8 Portable Mobile Card Reader Providers – Updated January 2020
Mobile card readers are perfect for small businesses who don’t want the hassle of signing up to a merchant account but still want to accept card payments. In this article, we look at the top 8 mobile card readers. In this article, we explore leading providers such as iZettle, Sumup, Square, and several more.
If you are about to start a new business, buying a portable mobile card reader may be the most cost-effective option. Traditionally as a business, you would have needed to take out a merchant account with one of the prominent providers such as Worldpay, Barclays, or Sagepay if you wanted to accept card payments. However, the emergence of mobile card readers has given small businesses a quick, cost-effective solution to taking card payments. Yes – you’ve all seen them. Tiny little compact machines that are no bigger than a credit card are presented to you when you buy an item that accepts contactless payments. Now you can get your hands on a mobile card reader for your business. But first, let’s compare the top mobile card reader providers.
How does a mobile card reader work?
Mobile card reader devices connect to Android/Apple smartphones through wi-fi or Bluetooth. Although the individual transaction fee is higher than the traditional credit card terminal machine, it works out more economical because there are no lengthy contracts or rental fees to pay.
UK Mobile card reader comparison
*Please note: Sign-up to Worldpay Zinc mobile card machine is currently unavailable.
1. IZettle Reader
IZettle has made payments secure, easy to process, and quick to set up. Izettle was initially launched in Sweden in 2011; businesses are using it across the UK, Norway, France, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, and Spain.
An updated version of the iZettle mobile card reader was recently launched in the market which costs £29. It charges via a USB cable, or if you have an iZettle dock, then it’s more convenient. Once fully charged, it has a battery life of 8 hours and can process chip and pin, contactless and magnetic stripe payments from all major credit cards, including Diners Club International.
IZettle is a compact mobile card reader that connects to a smartphone app allowing the flexibility to take payments anywhere. It is a truly revolutionary system that functions on a pay-as-you-go model. It accepts all cards, including Visa, Maestro, MasterCard, and American Express. There is a 1.75% fee involved, and the maximum amount allowed per transaction is £5000.
It is easy to start accepting payments within a matter of minutes. You are required to have a card reader and install the iZettle app. Once you have made your iZettle account, you are ready to go. The entire system is hosted on a PCI DSS server with round the clock surveillance.
You can acquire specific Add-ons for a £20 monthly fee. These include an iZettle dock, barcode scanner, cash drawer, and printing receipts.
2. SumUp Card Reader
SumUp is a dedicated mobile card machine provider that is very much like the iZettle. They have been providing services across 11 countries in Europe since launching in 2012 and are now expanding globally. In 2016 they merged with another provider Payleven allowing them to process more than 1 billion Euros worth of transactions.
There is no contract and no paperwork with the SumUp mobile card machine; you need to apply. The device is compatible with chip and pin, magnetic swipe, and contactless cards.
SumUp is authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and is certified by PCI DSS and EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa). It costs about £19+ VAT to buy this device, and you get free delivery. You also get a free smartphone app, free telephone and email support, and a free dashboard with reporting options. You can print, SMS, or email receipts for each transaction. It offers the best fee structure of 1.69% in the UK, beating iZettle.
3. Paypal Here Card Reader
Paypal Here is PayPal’s mobile card machine solution. As one of the biggest names in the online payments industry, it was smart to start providing mobile payment options for small businesses to enable them to start taking card payments via mobile phones. It is the choice of many start-ups and small businesses who want a quick solution. The Paypal Here machine is more expensive than iZettle and SumUp and costs £45 plus VAT.
Paypal Here accepts most mobile card payment options such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. There is no monthly fee involved, and payments reach your Paypal account within seconds. The transaction fee starts at 2.75% but can drop to as little as 1%, which is lower than SumUp, although their fee structure is a bit complex to understand.
If you already have a Paypal Business account, then it should not take too long to set up Paypal Here. You can manage online and offline payments in one place with this option.
You can also buy add-on features to extend the functionality of your Paypal Here card reader. These features include POS mounts, fast charge cradles, Bouncepad, and Taxi Cab bundle.
Paypal Here is a truly versatile solution as it allows 200 people to connect with one account, each having their password and level of access. It has a dedicated UK based customer service hotline, so there is help on hand whenever you need it.
4. Worldpay Zinc Card Machine
Worldpay zinc is the mobile card machine solution provided by the largest credit card processing company in the UK. They offer a range of online and offline payment processing services. It has an essential card reader, which is available for £39.99. The only disadvantage is that it does not support contactless payments at the moment. However, it does accept card payments over the phone and in person.
Worldpay Zinc’s mobile card machine provides secure chip and pin solutions for a fee of 2.7% per transaction. The keypad comes with a 12-month warranty and is compatible with iPhone, Android, laptop, and tablets. It does not require any monthly fee, and there are no long commitments or long-term contracts.
They do not offer any add-ons; however, you can connect to Bluetooth and print receipts yourself. You can also access Worldpay Zinc’s online portal to process phone transactions.
5. Square Card Reader
The Square card reader sells for £39.99 (now £19 + VAT) and is made by Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey who created Square Inc. It has a sleek, compact design that is aesthetically pleasing.
Square mobile card readers plug into both Android and IOS phones. It is compatible with chip and pin, magstripe, and contactless credit/debit cards. Square charges a 1.75% flat fee on each transaction and provide next-day settlement on most purchases. In the UK, you can download Square’s app and point of sale software for free. The app allows businesses to monitor their stock, sales, and print receipts.
This device comes with a backup magnetic reader when a chip cannot be read to allow businesses to accept payments from magnetic swipe cards. The square card reader is only available in four other countries: the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US.
It has a long battery life that lasts up to 500 transactions before it depletes.
6. Barclaycard Anywhere Card Reader
The Barclaycard Anywhere app and card reader allows businesses to take card payments through their mobile device. The capability to accept all major credit cards on an Android or iOS device is the ideal card payment solution for small mobile businesses that are always on the go, such as plumbers and hairdressers. Barclays offer a one-off payment of £29 + VAT for the card reader on PAYG, so you are not tied into any contract. Transaction fees are charged at 1.6%. This makes it perfect and more affordable than its competitors for businesses that do not take high volume payments but accept payments occasionally.
7. PayAnywhere Card Reader
PayAnywhere conveniently accepts payments from credit/debit cards by using a dongle and smartphone. All you need to get started is to create a PayAnywhere account, and the credit card reader is shipped to you quickly.
The device works with a broad range of Android/IOS phones and tablets; however, serious sellers should invest in a more robust machine. It also lacks some of the modern features that other expensive devices offer.
Setting up the account and the reader itself is free of cost; however, you incur a fee when you make a sale. PayAnywhere takes a small fixed price along with a percentage of the transaction. For swiped cards, the fixed cost is $0.19, and the transaction percentage is 2.69. However, if you enter the card details manually, you incur 3.49% plus $0.19.
PayAnywhere is a good option if you are looking for a cheap card reader, but it does take a few attempts to set up an account for individual sellers, which can be quite inconvenient. This reader also lacks to support EMV chips, and the design itself is awkward-looking. In conclusion, if you are a durable card reader with modern features, you should avoid buying this device and save yourself from unnecessary hassle.
8. Shopify Card Reader
The Shopify card reader is now available in the UK. It’s ideal for merchants who wish to sell their products at markets, trade fairs, in-store, or on the go. Shopify is known for providing online eCommerce solutions and is the most popular platform for online stores currently. The Spotify card reader bridges the gap between online and offline. Businesses can sign up today and start accepting card payments readily through an internet connection and your mobile phone.
What is the cheapest mobile card reader?
To conclude, we will base this case study on a business that takes £10,000 in face to face card transactions in their first month with each transaction valued at £100. Let’s get to it, which card reader will be the most cost-effective based on 100 purchases at £100 each.
Izettle cost £34.8 to purchase, including VAT. A business that takes 100 transactions at £100 will incur £175 worth of charges cost. Therefore, in their 1st month with the machine, they will be charged £209.8, including card reader cost based on £10,000 revenue.
Sumup has one of the lowest transaction fees at 1.6% compared to the other card readers. Like Izettle, including VAT, the card reader will cost you £34.8. The lower transaction fee means based on the above scenario of £10,000 revenue at £100 a transaction; you will be charged £160 in transaction fees. The total cost in your first month including card reader cost would be £194.80
Squareup charges 1.75% per transaction, which is the same as iZettle. However, their card reader cost has recently been lowered and is now cheaper than the Izettle and the Sumup reader at £22.80, including VAT. Therefore with 100 transactions at £100 plus card reader cost, your entire 1st month spent with Square would be £179.8.
PayPal Here is the only provider whose transaction fees are tiered depending on monthly revenue. PayPal’s fees start at 2.75% for volume under £1,500 then goes down to 1% for volume over £15,000 a month. Based on our criteria of £10,000 in transactions, you will fall into PayPal’s tier of £6,000 – £15,000 a month in sales, which has a 1.5% transaction fee. Therefore, based on 100 transactions, you will be charged £150 in transaction fees. If we included the cost of the card reader, which is £54, including VAT, the total cost of using PayPal for your first month would be £204.
Barclaycard Anywhere cost £34, including VAT. They charge 1.6% per transaction, so based on the calculations for all the above fees of using the card reader in your first month would be £194.
The Shopify card reader costs £70.8, including VAT, and a 1.7% transaction fee. There is also a £23 monthly subscription cost. Therefore the first month using Shopify would cost a hefty £263.8 in charges based on £10,000 in revenue.
So, based on our criteria, we have…
Cheapest mobile card readers ranked by lowest cost*
So that makes the card reader £14.2 cheaper than its nearest competitor Barclaycard Anywhere while iZettle and Spotify come up last being the most expensive at £210 and £263.8 respectively.
*the above rankings assume that the business took £10,000 in card payments with each transaction at £100. The total cost per card reader provider given above is the total of purchasing the card reader with the calculated transaction costs added. Note we did not include Worldpay Zinc as they have been discontinued at the time of this article.
Final Thoughts on card readers
Although the latest mobile card machines are an excellent addition to merchants’ payment options, traditional card readers should not be overlooked.
The price for buying the traditional card readers may be high for merchants who are starting and do not expect to make many transactions. Hiring may cost between £15-20 a month, so smaller merchants who only accept card payments occasionally will need to calculate how many payments they expect to receive to pick the right card payment service for their business needs.
It is good to stick to mobile card readers if your business turnover is less than £5000 a month, but as your business grows and your annual turnover reaches £50,000, you are better off with a traditional card machine.