If your business needs to take payments on the move, you’ve probably already looked at mobile card readers.
These pay-as-you-go services allow you to hook a card reader up to your mobile device and accept payments wherever you have a mobile internet connection.
Competition in the mobile card reader market has intensified over the past few years and the segment is now dominated by four large companies. In this article, I’ll look at each service individually then pull it all together for a cross-segment comparison.
If you have any comments or think I missed something important, please leave a comment at the end of the article.
iZettle Card Reader
iZettle was one of the first mobile card readers onto the market, launching back in 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Over the years, they’ve worked hard to improve its device (iZettle actually launched their own reader called the iZettle Reader in July 2016) and developed a bunch of supplementary products like receipt printers, device stands and full POS kits.
While the secondary products are a bit pricey (a simple stand will cost you £49 + VAT), the reader itself is actually relatively affordable, costing £59 + VAT. You can also buy it via an affiliate link, which takes the price down to £29 + VAT. Here is our link.
For several years, iZettle used a sliding fee scale, meaning smaller merchants paid higher processing costs and larger merchants paid smaller processing costs.
Nowadays, things are much simpler. All merchants pay a flat 1.75% payment processing fee regardless of their monthly turnover.
- Card Reader Cost: £59 + VAT (£29 + VAT via Cardswitcher)
- Payment Processing Fees: 1.75%
Square, Inc. was founded in San Francisco back in 2009. (Yep, it’s actually older than iZettle.) However, it would take another eight years before Square made it to the UK. That’s why you probably haven’t seen many Square devices about.
The square device is slightly different to the other devices on this list. You see, the Square reader only reads the card information then uses a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to record the customer’s PIN.
Because the device is a bit simpler than other PIN-entry devices, the Square reader is a bit cheaper, costing just £39 + VAT.
Again, you can usually find discount codes or affiliate links which reduce the price even more.
Square charges exactly the same processing fees as 1.75% for all chip and PIN or contactless payments.
- Card Reader Cost: £39 + VAT
- Payment Processing Fees: 1.75%
SumUp (Formerly Payleven)
SumUp is a homegrown London-based payment processing company founded back in 2011, launching to the public the year after.
SumUp has kept their focus fairly tight, offering just the card reader (called the SumUp Air) and a simple POS system.
The card reader is super simple and costs just £29 + VAT. And if you can find an affiliate link — like ours — you can buy it as cheaply as £19 + VAT.
SumUp is actually the cheapest card reader to run, charging just 1.69% for chip and PIN or contactless payments. >
- Card Reader Cost: £29 + VAT (£19 + VAT via Cardswitcher)
- Payment Processing Fees: 1.69%
PayPal Here is a bit of a strange proposition. PayPal launched their mobile card reader in 2012, using a third-party device from Miura. (Interesting, it was the same device that iZettle used at the time.)
Fast forward six years and PayPal buys over iZettle for a cool £1.6 billion.
As far as I know, PayPal intends to continue supporting both services — PayPal Here and iZettle — going forward.
So, how does PayPal Here actually perform?
Like I mentioned, it uses a third-party reader from a company called Miura. This device was the same pebble-shaped one used by iZettle in their early years. While it’s looking a little dated, it’s still a really great reader and can hold its own against any other device.
Despite being a bit older, PayPal Here is actually one of the more expensive readers to purchase, costing £45 + VAT.
It’s also the only reader not to opt for a fixed transaction fee. Instead, it uses a sliding scale where your transaction fee decreases as your turnover increases. You can also choose between two different payment plans: Blended or Interchange Plus.
To see how each plan works, check out the table below.
|Your total monthly sales||Blended fee||Interchange Plus*|
|Up to £1,500||2.75%||IC + 2.5%|
|£1,500.01 to £6,000||1.75%||IC + 1.5%|
|£6,000.01 to £15,000||1.5%||IC + 1.25%|
|Over £15,000.01||1.0%||IC + 0.75%|
For a more detailed look at PayPal Here’s pricing, check out the T&Cs here.
- Card Reader Cost: £45 + VAT
- Payment Processing Fees: 1% to 2.5%
Quick Comparison Table
I know that that’s quite a lot to take in at once so I’ve condensed everything down to a simple comparison table. So keep reading to get a feel for how each product performed.
|iZettle||Square||SumUp Air||PayPal Here|
|Service Type||Mobile card reader and POS app||Mobile card reader and POS app||Mobile card reader and POS app||Mobile card reader and POS app|
|Card Reader RRP (Exc. VAT)||£59||£39||£29||£45|
|Connection Type||Reader: Bluetooth
|Battery Life||< 100 transactions||< 500 transactions||< 500 transactions||< 100 transactions|
|Cards Supported||MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Maestro, V pay, Visa Electron, JCB, Diners Club, China Union Pay, Discover||Visa, V pay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express||Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Visa Electron, V pay||Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express|
|Other Methods Supported||Contactless, Apple Pay, Android Pay||Contactless, Apple Pay, Android Pay||Contactless, Apple Pay, Android Pay||Contactless, Apple Pay, Android Pay|
|Processing Fee (Credit Cards)||1.75%||1.75%||1.69%||1.00% to 2.75%|
|Processing Fee (CNP)||2.50%||2.50%||2.95%||1.00% to 2.75%|
|Transaction Limits||Minimum: £1
Per Day: £200,000
Per Day: £250,000
Per Day: Variable
|Payment Settlement Delay (Business Days)||1 to 2||1 to 2 days||2 to 3 days||Instantly to PayPal Account|
|PIN entry method||Reader||App||Reader||Reader|
|Receipt Options||Printed, text and email||Printed, text and email||Printed, text and email||Printed, text and email|