SumUp is a homegrown London-based mobile card reader launched back in 2011. Since SumUp launched its debut card reader and POS app, it’s won over thousands of small businesses with its rock bottom pricing and impressive service level.
SumUp has kept its focus tight, offering just two card readers (a traditional card reader that pairs with a mobile device and a standalone 3G option) and a simple POS system.
In this SumUp review, I’m going to dig down into what SumUp actually does and discuss what sorts of businesses will get the most out of its product and service.
What is SumUp?
SumUp is one of the four major mobile card readers on offer in the UK, alongside iZettle, Square and PayPal Here. Like all other credit card readers, SumUp works by pairing an external card reader with an app installed on a smartphone (e.g. an iPhone) or tablet (e.g. an iPad). The app sets up the transactions and the card reader accepts the payment details.
SumUp Air Card Reader: Your smartphone and our reader accept payments for you. (SumUp)
The basic credit card reader (the SumUp Air card reader) will cost you £29 + VAT (or £19 + VAT if you buy through our affiliate link) and charges a 1.69% transaction fee for all accepted payment methods.
SumUp readers will accept:
- EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa)
- American Express
- NFC Payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay)
- Diner’s Club
- Union Pay
The SumUp Air is also one of the only readers to accept all card payment entry methods: contactless, Chip & PIN, swipe and NFC payments like Apple Pay! So you’ll very rarely lose a sale because you don’t accept American Express or swiped cards!
SumUp’s point of sale (POS) app is free and is available on both Android and Apple. Once you’ve got your card reader and app set up, you can start accepting payments wherever you have an internet connection.
One bonus SumUp has over its competitors is its new SumUp 3G reader. Unlike the basic SumUp Air, the 3G comes fitted with a SIM card and can set up transactions without a paired app.
With both card readers, you don’t need to set up your own merchant account. Instead, you borrow SumUp’s master merchant account. Once a customer’s payment is processed, it lands in the master account and is then transferred to your regular bank account after a set number of days.
What SumUp products are available?
As I mentioned earlier, SumUp has kept its attention pretty narrow, focussing on creating a small number of brilliant products for micro- and small businesses. I’ll quickly recap the three main products below.
- SumUp Air: The SumUp Air is the original card reader from SumUp and is a super impressive bit of kit. It’s not much bigger than the Square Reader (roughly the size of a coaster) but manages to include a small screen, 10-digit keypad and magnetic strip reader too.
- SumUp 3G: All mobile card readers suffer from the same one flaw: If your phone or tablet runs out of battery, you can’t accept any more payments. The SumUp 3G fixes this problem by integrating a SIM card and basic POS software into a slightly larger card reader. With the SumUp 3G, you can set up transactions through the reader, removing the need for a paired mobile device.
- POS Register: Like its competitors, SumUp wants to stay attractive for larger businesses so it also offers a full POS product. This package combines a tablet, cash drawer, receipt printer and SumUp Air to create a traditional retail POS. Unfortunately, SumUp doesn’t publish its POS prices so you’ll need to contact them directly for a quote.
Unlike some of its product-happy competitors, that’s all that SumUp offers. While you lose a bit of choice, you can be sure that each and every one of those products is exceedingly well designed and built.
Is the SumUp reader easy to use?
The SumUp Air is an intelligently designed bit of kit. At 84 x 84 x 23 mm, it’s a little bigger than the pint-sized Square Reader but is smaller than both the PayPal Here and iZettle devices. Don’t let its size fool you, though, the SumUp device is reassuringly weighty doesn’t feel small or flimsy.
Whether it’s just sitting loose or is secured in its cradle/holder, the card reader feels nice to use. Once you’ve queued up a transaction on the app, ask your customer to plug in their credit card or debit card and follow the instructions on the screen. (Compare that to the Square device that requires a customer to plug their card into the reader then enter their PIN via the app.)
Unlike the PayPal Here and iZettle, the SumUp Air uses a capacitive screen instead of physical buttons. Initially, it’s a little off putting but you quickly get used to it as it feels pretty similar to a phone screen.
The SumUp Air comes fitted with an impressive Li-ion battery and SumUp claims it’ll manage about 500 transactions before the battery runs flat. Unless you’re using your reader in a very busy retail environment, it’s unlikely that you’ll hit 500 sales in a single day. If you’re worried about the charge, you can always keep a charging cable on hand. The reader can be used while charging so there’s absolutely no downtime if you’ve got a plug nearby. Also, the dock keeps the reader fully charged, which you can treat it as mains powered in a traditional retail environment.
At £29 full price and £19 via our affiliate link, the SumUp Air is great value. It’s comfortably the cheapest of the four main readers but it really doesn’t feel like it.
(We haven’t tested the SumUp 3G yet but the reviews are all pretty positive.)
How good is the SumUp POS app?
As I’ve mentioned in other articles, the mobile card reader is only ever one part of the puzzle. To offer a great service, the point of sale (POS) app has to be just as good as the card reader.
Well, the SumUp app is good but it’s more limited than its competitors.
Setting up your business on the app is easy. You can predefine products in your product library and add images, variants, prices and categories. When you’ve got everything set up, it’s easy to tap the product and add it to your current transaction. For basic POS functionality, SumUp is just as good as any other app.
However, the Square app doesn’t do some more advanced things like track stock or add multi-level product variants.
The checkout process is efficient but again lacks the in-depth functionality of some of its competitors. Card and cash transactions are simple to set up and quick to process. However, you can’t manually add special payment types like vouchers, cheques, gift cards or accept split payments. Additionally, you can’t add tips, which is a killer for hospitality businesses. SMS and email receipts are offered as standard and a printed receipt is available if you’ve got one connected.
Finally, the POS app provides reports and analytics, which are okay for an overview but won’t give you much in-depth detail. In the reports section, you can select a time period and access some top-level sales information like best-selling products, total turnover and so on. For more in-depth analytics, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
How much does SumUp cost?
SumUp is relatively transparent surrounding pricing. If you visit SumUp’s website, you can find pricing information for SumUp Air (and SumUp 3G) and its debit/credit card processing costs. For the retail POS system, you need to either sign up or contact SumUp directly. However, that’s still miles better than the traditional card machine rental companies who hide their pricing behind pushy sales staff.
When you’re comparing the price of a mobile card reader, you have two separate costs to think about: first, the card reader and second, its ongoing payment processing costs. In the next few sections, I’ll run through each cost and will then compare SumUp with its main rivals.
SumUp card reader cost
If you buy directly through SumUp, the SumUp Air card reader will cost you £29 + VAT. (Unless there is a sale on, which there is fairly often.) However, it’s usually cheaper to find an affiliate link as these give you a great discount on the reader. Our link, for example, reduces the price of the card reader from £29 to £19 + VAT — a great saving if you ask me!
SumUp transaction fees
SumUp operates a pay-as-you-go pricing model with a fixed 1.69% transaction fee for all cards. What that means is that once you buy the card reader, you only pay SumUp when you process a card payment.
If you process a £10 order, SumUp charges 1.69% or £0.17. If you process a £5,000 order, SumUp charges 1.69% or £84.50. And so on.
Unlike traditional rented card terminals, the SumUp doesn’t charge a monthly subscription or minimum monthly fee.
The only caveat is for ‘virtual terminal‘ transactions. With these transactions, your customer doesn’t actually plug their card in (usually because the transaction is processed over the phone) and their card details are entered via the keypad. These types of transactions are slightly riskier so carry a higher payment processing fee of 2.95% + £0.25. So if you process a £5,000 order using the virtual terminal, SumUp charges £147.75. (Compared to just £84.50 if you accept payment via Chip & PIN.)
SumUp compared to other readers
Now you know how much SumUp charges, it’s time to compare its pricing with some competitors. While it might sound surprising, SumUp is really competing against two types of payment processing services. First, it’s competing against other mobile card readers. And second, it’s competing against traditional rented card machines.
Let’s start by comparing SumUp to its direct competitors in the card reader niche.
|Product||Payment Processing Fee|
|PayPal Here||1.00 to 2.75%|
|Shopify||1.5 to 1.7%|
As you can see, there’s not a massive amount of pricing differentiation in the card reacher niche. SumUp, however, is slightly cheaper across the board in both costs.
SumUp’s card reader is cheaper to buy than the iZettle, Square and PayPal devices. In the case of iZettle, it’s almost half the price! This is especially impressive considering that, unlike other small readers like Square, the SumUp reader doesn’t compromise on functionality.
The processing fees comparison is also fairly tight. SumUp is the cheapest option for most merchants, charging just a fixed 1.69% fee per transaction. iZettle and Square charge a slightly higher fixed fee of 1.75% and PayPal Here operates a sliding fee scale, ranging from 1.00% to 2.75%. (To get the cheapest rate with PayPal you must process between £15,000.01 and £25,000, which is unlikely for PayPal’s target demographic.)
The second comparison we need to make is with traditional rented card terminals. (The type you see in large retailers like Tesco and ASDA.) These terminals are provided by payment processing companies on long-term rental agreements. Because the rental contracts last several years and include minimum monthly charges, the actual processing fees tend to be much smaller than with card readers.
If you do your research and compare the best card terminal offers on the market, it’s likely you can get your payment processing fees under 1.00%.
Generally speaking, if you process more than £2,000 per month (£24,000 per year), you’re much cheaper ditching your mobile card reader and going with a traditional rented terminal.
Is SumUp safe for my business?
All payment processing companies take security very seriously and SumUp is no different. SumUp complies with PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard) so you can be confident that all the confidential payment data you process is treated securely.
One of the good things about SumUp (and card readers more generally) is that because SumUp handles the transaction from start to finish, you don’t actually have to do anything to become PCI compliant. When dealing with traditional payment processing companies, this is often an extra hoop you have to jump through.
If you are interested in learning more about SumUp’s security measures, check out the Security section in their Support Centre.
How is SumUp’s customer service and support?
SumUp tries to push all its customer service and customer support issues to their Support Centre. The Support Centre is essentially a massive collection of pre-written guides, covering everything from what cards SumUp accepts to information on SumUp’s referral program. It’s all excellently organised, well written and is a great first port of call for all your issues.
If you struggle to find what you’re looking for in the Support Centre, SumUp offers more in-depth support via ticket-based email and phone.
Ticket-based support is fairly responsive and tends comes back with helpful advice but the delay can cause issues if you need help urgently. Phone support is better for issues that require a response right now and is available between 8 am and 7 pm during weekdays and 8 am and 5 pm on Saturday. It’s one of the only card readers to offer support on Saturday, which is nice to see, especially as a lot of SumUp’s customers are nanobusinesses and microbusinesses operating outwith regular office hours.
If you’re struggling to find contact details for email or phone support, I’m not surprised as SumUp hides them deep in its Support Centre. You can jump straight to the Contact Details page here.
Should I use SumUp for my business?
SumUp is a great product at a very low price point and it’s genuinely impressive that the company has managed to keep both their device cost and payment processing costs quite as low as they are. At £19 for the reader, it’s cheap enough to pick up on a whim and give it a trial run in your business!
Across the board, SumUp’s reviews are generally positive. It’s currently rated 4 / 5 on Trustpilot, which is a little lower than some of its competitors but is overwhelmingly positive. Take a look through the reviews to get a feel for what’s good and bad about the service.
However, as I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, Square’s long-term battle isn’t against other card readers, it’s against the established terminal rental model.
As you saw in the pricing section, SumUp differs only slightly from other mainstream card readers in terms of device cost and payment processing fees. For larger businesses and long-term growth, what you need to think about is how SumUp performs compared to traditional rented card terminals.
When comparing card readers with card terminals, there’s a much bigger difference. Traditional terminals have relatively large fees and fixed minimum monthly fees, which makes them unattractive for low volume merchants. However, the crossover point is relatively low and it starts to make commercial sense to move away from mobile card readers once your turnover hits £2,000 per month.
While card readers are great for small or mobile merchants, they are almost always more expensive than a traditional card terminal above this threshold. So, whether you should or shouldn’t use SumUp for your business is half a question of whether you like the product and half whether your card turnover is below the £2,000 threshold.
How do I sign up with SumUp?
If you’ve reached the end of our article and you’re confident that SumUp is the right card reader for your business, here are the next steps you need to take.
Jump over to SumUp’s website and sign up for an account. You will need some basic information about yourself, your business and your bank account but nothing too in-depth. (One thing to watch out for is SumUp’s restricted business categories. Due to risk and reputation concerns, SumUp does not support all business categories. For a full list of restricted business categories, see here.) During your sign up, you’ll select the particular card reader you want to buy (SumUp Air or SumUp 3G) and it will usually arrive within one week.
While you’re waiting for your card reader to arrive, download the SumUp app, which is available on both Android’s Google Play and Apple’s App Store. You can use this time to set up your POS backend, adding products, customising variants, tweaking pricing and so on.
Once your card reader arrives, pair it with your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. Now, you’re all set up to start taking payments!