What is the Best Card Reader in 2022?

What is the Best Card Reader in 2022?

Here at Cardswitcher we understand that as an owner of a small business, customers are at the heart and soul of what you do. So, providing them with the best service and experience possible is a priority for you.

Providing a great service from start to finish is the goal, but did you know that the customer experience doesn’t end before payment and that it actually includes payment?

With billions of global card users, choosing the best card reader for your business well and truly shapes the customer experience as it’s the last thing they do. It can also have a huge impact on your take home profits!

To ensure you get the most out of your card reader and provide your customers with the best possible experience, we’ve rounded up the Best Card Readers for Small Businesses.

card-inserted-reader

Types of Card Reader

There are loads of types of card readers available to you. We will only be exploring card readers here, rather than card machines (or PDQ machines) but we’ll break down the differences here first.

 

What is a Card Machine?

A card machine is the traditional card machine we still see on many countertops today, particularly within larger, chain establishments.

They can be characterised by their large size, screen, chip and pin insert, keypad and swipe option.

Card machines can be fixed to a countertop, portable or on a mobile.

What is a Card Reader?

A card reader is a more modern option, and they are easily identified against the standard machine. They are significantly smaller in size and can be as small as the payment card itself, with a small screen and pin pad. Read about how card readers work here.

A reader is both portable and mobile at once, and they generally require a mobile or computer app to function. What both options have in common is that they are both equipped to accept payments from a registered merchant.

However, if you feel that a machine is better suited to you, then we recommend exploring our ultimate PDQ machine guide before we continue on with our reader breakdown.

 

Best Card Readers

square card reader

Square

First on our list is the hugely popular Square. It was the first of its kind to hit the markets in 2017 without a keypad or screen, making it a fully mobile, contactless card reader. It has quickly established itself as one of the top-rated mobile card readers for small businesses in the UK.

Signing up with Square is a straightforward process – it typically takes around 4 days to connect up to your bank account. You’ll find more information below but you can also read our full Square card reader review.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

Square is best suited to:

  • Businesses who take less than £1500/month in card transactions.
  • New/Small businesses
  • Mobile Professionals (hairdressers, plumbers, roofers, electricians etc.)
  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (Small food vendors and food trucks)

Note: Square does not provide readers to businesses it deems as “high risk”. This includes those who may be operating illegally, within gambling or adult services, or providing certain legal, financial or marketing services. Square has provided a comprehensive list of prohibited goods and services.

 

Features

Square is ideal for small retailers, especially those who are not overly interested in or familiar with technology. It is simple to use and allows you to accept payments with ease. Here are some of the main and additional features:

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.Dashboard provides you with real time sales data, where you can view all transactions and deposits.
Powered by a free Android/iOS app that connects with the rest of your business.Pay to upgrade to instant deposits where you will receive payments within 20 minutes.
Powered by rechargeable battery.Customers are able to tip within fixed percentages.
Virtual receipts can be sent by text, email or physical copies can be printed.App provides you with inventory management, accepts eCommerce payments and can be a virtual terminal.

 

Pricing

There are a few different charges you’ll need to consider. This includes various card payment processing charges and the cost of the reader.

Card Reader NameSquare
Cost of Terminal£15 + VAT with our affiliate link
Monthly Fee£0
Transaction Fee1.75%
Card Not Present Fee2.5%
Warranty1 year
Money Back Guarantee30 days

 

Payment Time

The Square reader processes payments within seconds. You’ll receive money into your account within 3-5 business days.

 

What add-ons are available?

The card reader alone is enough for some folk, but you might benefit from some extra hardware for a complete point of sale system. Square offers:

  • A two-screen register
  • USB or ethernet printer
  • Cash drawer

 

SumUp

sum-up-air-reader

The next card reader worth considering is SumUp Air. This card reader has been hugely popular amongst smaller businesses, and has recently dropped its prices in a bid to match competitors like Square and Zettle.

This is one of the best mobile card readers in the industry, and offers to be so much more than just a card reader for your business. Applying for the reader is a straightforward process and you will receive the terminal within 3-5 business days. You can read our full SumUp card reader review here.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

SumUp Air is best suited to:

  • New & small businesses
  • Businesses who take less than £1500 / month in transactions
  • Businesses who occasionally take card payments
  • Mobile Professionals (hairdressers, plumbers, roofers, electricians etc.)
  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (small food vendors and food trucks)

Note: SumUp has guidelines in place for which businesses they will provide their services to. As a regulated finance entity their licence is not limitless, so they have a list of restricted businesses – check that your service is not excluded before purchasing the reader.

 

Features

The SumUp Air mobile card reader is hugely popular amongst smaller vendors who don’t process a high volume of card transactions each month. Here are the notable features:

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, swipe payments, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.The compatible app allows you to create a product catalogue, where you can add and edit VAT rates for each item.
Connects to an Android / iOS app that comes with a range of features.Receive and monitor personal revenue reports.
500+ transactions from a single charge.Customers are able to give tips, which you can monitor through the digital cashier option.
Connects to Android or Apple devices easily via Bluetooth.Payment links are available, with the transaction fee increasing to 2.5%

 

Pricing

Card Reader NameSumUp Air
Cost of Terminal£29 + VAT (or £19 + VAT with our affiliate link)
Monthly Fee£0
Transaction Fee1.69%
Card Not Present Fee2.5%
Warranty1 year
Money Back Guarantee30 days

 

Payment Time

Payments made via SumUp are processed within seconds. The money will arrive in your account within 2-3 business days.

 

What add-ons are available?

As a new business, just the card reader and its charging terminal may be enough to meet your needs. But, SumUp also offers:

  • SumUp 3G for £89 + VAT OR £119 + VAT if bundled with the printer.
  • POS hardware including display screens for as little as £29/ month.

 

Zettle

zettle-card-reader

Previously known as iZettle, Zettle is of Swedish origin and was purchased by Paypal in 2018. It is Square’s biggest competitor and is a simple to use, mobile reader.

It is currently the best on the market for performance, with the reader loading in as little as 2 seconds and processing payments in as quick as 5 seconds, making it 25% faster than other readers on the market. Check out our full Zettle card reader review.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

The Zettle reader is best suited to:

  • Businesses who take less than £2000 in monthly card transactions
  • New and small businesses
  • Businesses who occasionally take card payments
  • Mobile professionals (hairdressers, plumbers, roofers, electricians etc.)
  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (Small food vendors and food trucks)

Zettle is a strong contender for businesses who accept large volumes of cash transactions, or new businesses who are not quite ready to process high volumes of card transactions yet.

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.VAT and customised discounts can be added to each receipt in fixed amounts or percentages.
Connects to an Android / iOS app Zettle Go that comes with a range of features.Can connect to a 3G/4G connection, making it fully mobile.
8 hours of active use from a single charge, or 100 transactions.A tipping feature is available for food and drinks businesses, amongst other food and drink specific features.
Connects to Android or Apple devices easily via Bluetooth.Full or individual item refunds are available with no charge.

 

Pricing

Card Reader NameZettle Card Reader 2
Cost of Terminal£29 + VAT (or £19 + VAT with our affiliate link)
Monthly Fee£0
Transaction Fee1.75%
Card Not Present Fee2.5%
Warranty1 year
Money Back GuaranteeN/A

 

Payment Time

The loading and transaction times of Zettle are the best on the market. Their deposit times are equally as fast with the money being in your account within 1-2 business days.

 

What add-ons are available?

The Zettle mobile reader has plenty of additional features to make it the perfect reader for you:

  • Funds can be in your account the next business day with an additional 1% transaction fee
  • Zettle Go Pro (an app subscription with advanced features)
  • Terminal dock
  • Compact cash drawer
  • Barcode scanner
  • Tablet stand
  • Portable printer (you can check out our Zettle receipt printer comparison)
  • Standard/Plus printer
  • Receipt rolls

 

Takepayments

Takepayments is a trusted card reader provider, with 1000s of small businesses already using the reader globally. They focus on providing merchants with the perfect payment solution, so they offer up tailored quotes to each customer depending on their needs.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

Takepayments mobile card readers are best suited to:

  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (Cafes, Bars and Restaurants)

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.Provided with a dedicated Account Manager to assist with set-up and use.
Small and lightweight, making it easy to carry around and hand to customers.Supported by Barclaycard.
Fully charged battery will last an entire day of trading.Fully portable with 50m range via Bluetooth connectivity.

 

Pricing

They don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach to their pricing. A business representative is sent to your business to assess what reader best suits your needs, and your pricing is calculated from there. Alternatively you can via their website to get an initial quote.

 

Payment Time

With the impressive and stylish Takepayments mobile card reader, your payments can be supported and secured by Barclaycard, with payments being received into your bank account the next working day.

 

What add-ons are available?

With the Takepayments service, there are a variety of add-ons to configure your ideal POS set up:

  • tPOS Counter (£45 / month Retail)(£55 / month Hospitality)
  • tPOS Complete (£55 / month Retail)(£65 / month Hospitality)
  • Cash drawers
  • Printers
  • Barcode scanners

 

Dojo

dojo-card-reader

With its sleek design, DojoGo allows you to accept card payments quickly, on the go, at the table or at the till. Secure and simple to use, the DojoGo card reader claims to be 80% faster than the industry standard.

This is a perfect choice for growing businesses as Dojo offers flexible contract terms starting from as little as 1 month if you earn >£150k in card transactions annually, and 6 months if you earn <£150k in card transactions annually.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

The DojoGo is best suited to:

  • New & small businesses
  • Businesses who take less than £1500 / month in transactions
  • Businesses who occasionally take card payments
  • Mobile professionals (hairdressers, plumbers, roofers, electricians etc.)
  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (Small food vendors and food trucks)

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.Built in thermal printer and 5-inch touchscreen
Mobile and wifi connectivity.Built in fraud monitoring.
Impressive 10-hour battery life.Receive transaction insights through the Dojo app.
Easily fully integrated with your ePOS system to reduce errors and speed up transactions.Flexible contracts.

 

Pricing

Card Reader NameDojoGo
Cost of Terminal£20 / month (6 month contract)
Monthly FeeN/A
Transaction Fee1.3% +3p
Card Not Present Fee1.8% +3p
WarrantyN/A
Money Back GuaranteeN/A
Sign Up LinkApply

 

Payment Time

With the DojoGo card reader, they guarantee that every payment will be encrypted and received into your bank account by 10am the next working day at no extra charge, even on weekends and bank holidays.

 

What add-ons are available?

The DojoGo mobile card reader does not currently advertise any add-ons.

 

Worldpay

worldpay-reader

Worldpay is the leading merchant service provider in the UK, making it a safe and secure option for your next card reader.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

Worldpay is best suited to:

  • New & Small Businesses
  • Businesses who regularly take card payments
  • Mobile Professionals (hairdressers, plumbers, roofers, electricians etc.)
  • Retail (small clothing boutiques)
  • Hospitality (small B&Bs)
  • Food and Drink (Small food vendors and food trucks)

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip & PIN, contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Compatible with all major card providers.Built-in receipt printer.
Connects via Bluetooth (100m from base) or Wifi.Provided with decals to show accepted card providers.
Extended battery life and separate charging station.Customers are able to tip within fixed percentages.
Offers cashback.Will accept AMEX for an additional fee with a separate merchant agreement.

 

Pricing

Over 300,000 businesses already trust Worldpay to provide industry leading service, and with no-joining fee and flexible pricing options they are a great choice. However, they are not overly transparent about their pricing so to find out more you will need to apply.

 

Payment Time

Funds will reach your account within a maximum of 7 working days, but usually around 3-4 working days.

 

What add-ons are available?

Worldpay doesn’t have a listed array of add-ons for their mobile reader, but you will automatically be equipped with:

  • Receipt roll
  • Installation and setup guide
  • Charging cable
  • Charging station

 

Barclaycard Anywhere

barclaycard-anywhere-reader

The Barclaycard Anywhere card reader is a card reader designed and provided by the global bank, Barclays. It is a well-trusted reader for both merchants and customers due to the Barclays logo.

It is a small, square reader with a keypad and easily read display screen. You simply pay as you trade.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

The Barclaycard Anywhere reader is best suited to:

  • Seasonal traders
  • Sole traders who only take occasional payments
  • Businesses who have an annual turnover of <£1 million
  • Small and mobile business owners
  • Mobile professionals (hairdressers, plumbers etc.)
  • Pop-up merchants

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip and pin and contactless payments. From VISA, Mastercard, JCB, Apple Pay and Google Pay.£30 cashback offered after 6 months of use and 20 completed transactions.
Compatible with the iOS/Android Barclaycard Anywhere app.Receive transaction data in real time that can be exported to make accounting easier.
Multiple employees can use the readers at once.Sales, refunds and receipts can all be managed via the personalised dashboard.
Reader can be connected via Bluetooth with iOS and Android devices.Digital receipts can be sent to customers instantly.

 

Pricing

Card Reader NameBarclaycard Anywhere
Cost of Terminal£29 + VAT
Monthly Fee£0
Transaction Fee1.6%
Card Not Present Fee2.5%
Warranty1 year
Money Back Guaranteen/a
Sign Up LinkApply

 

Payment Time

Barclay’s prides themselves on the Anywhere reader as a means of making customers feel comfortable about making card payments away from a store. With this reader you will receive payments into your bank account within 1-2 working days.

 

What add-ons are available?

With the Barclay’s Anywhere card reader there are no physical add-ons or accessories for the reader. However, Barclay’s has multiple incentives to take advantage of such as their offer of £200 cashback and free accounting software from Fresh Books if you are a customer.

 

MyPOS GO

myposgo-card-reader

MyPOS Go is a card reader that is pocket sized, lightweight and durable. It is an all in one payment solution that offers up competitive transaction fees.

This card reader is easy to use and simple in design, it is the perfect choice for professionals on the go who just need a means of accepting card payments.

 

Who is it Best Suited to?

The MyPOS Go is best suited to:

  • Mobile professionals (specifically taxi drivers)
  • Travelling merchants
  • Sales representatives on the move

 

Features

Main FeaturesAdditional Features
Accepts chip and pin, contactless and mag stripe payments from a wide range of major card providers.Dedicated International Bank Accounts in 14 different currencies.
Compatible with the myPOS mobile app, available for Android and iOS.POS tipping feature can be added to allow staff to be rewarded.
Eco-friendly and paper free device, sending e-receipts to customers.Instant access to accepted funds.
LCD display and durable keypad, powered by a powerful battery.Private label gift cards can be offered by your business to encourage customers to return.

 

Pricing

Card Reader NameMyPOS Go
Cost of Terminal£14.99 + VAT
Monthly Fee£0
Transaction Fee1.10% + 7p
Card Not Present Fee1.3% + 10p
Warranty1 year free
Money Back Guarantee30 days
Sign Up LinkApply

 

Payment Time

We were unfortunately unable to find a definitive answer for how long it takes for payment to reach your account.

 

What add-ons are available?

For the myPOS Go card reader there are a number of handy add-ons available to customise the reader to your business needs. These include:

  • Silicone case
  • Charging dock
  • Free data SIM card

 

How do I choose a Card Reader?

Now that we’ve given you an in-depth breakdown of the best card readers, it’s now time to make a decision. You should consider:

 

Transaction fees

Are the monthly transaction fees something you can afford to pay each time a customer makes a purchase? Consider what your average transaction fee is and calculate the charges for each card reader on our list.

 

Business type

What type of business are you? A high earner? Brand new to the scene? Always on the go? Choosing a reader based on your business is key to ensuring you get the best reader for you and your customers’ needs.

 

Card payment types

If you have a wide range of customers who pay with a wide range of card providers, ensure the card reader you choose is capable of accepting these payment methods.

 

Add-ons

If you are looking to create an entire POS system and add-ons are key. Alternatively, don’t be sucked into purchasing a card reader because of the add-ons if you genuinely won’t require them in the next couple of years.

 

Connection types

If your business is fully mobile and relies on a 3G/4G connection to operate, be sure the card reader can support this.

 

FAQs

What is the cheapest way to take card payments?

The cheapest way to accept card payments varies all the time with providers constantly changing prices. Read our list of cheapest merchant services for small businesses to find out more.

 

Do you need a business account for a card machine?

Yes, most providers do an assessment of your business account before issuing you a card reader. You will likely not be accepted for a reader without a business/merchant account.

 

Can you get a card machine without a contract?

Yes. Many of the readers discussed above offer contract-free options.

 

How can small businesses take card payments?

Small businesses can take card payments a number of ways, via a card reader/machine, pay-by-link, and over the phone.

 

How to take card payments over the phone?

Card payments over the phone are made via a virtual terminal, where you will contact your customer and they will provide you with their details over the phone.

 

How much does a card machine cost?

The cost varies per provider – an outline of terminal costs is detailed above.

 

All terminals are PCI compliant.

*This is an affiliate link provided via Cardswitcher, we will earn a small commission fee if you purchase via this link.

paying-with-card

Conclusion

At CardSwitcher, we help you compare card processing fees from a range of providers. You could save up to 40% on your current fees!

For further reading, be sure to read our round up of the best card reader apps.

 

 

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