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Which Smartphone Card Reader Should Your UK Business use in 2024?

A smartphone card reader could be the perfect payment processing solution for your small business if you’re setting up a retailing operation.

According to the UK Card Association, the year-over-year growth rate of credit or debit cards spending was 6.8% in April 2017.

The use of contactless card payments has grown from 16% to 30% of all transactions. This is why you should adopt the most modern and affordable technology for your business as soon as possible.

So let’s get going. 


In this guide you will find



Mobile & Smartphone Card Reader Costs


With a myriad of options available from fully fledged merchant accounts to mobile payment gateways, you should compare and contrast to decide if a mobile card reader suits your needs. In this article you will find:

  • How five major card readers measure against one another in terms of fees and functionality
  • Pricing and cost structures for your business’ sales volume
  • Software and services offered by each car reader for your business needs
  • Which card reader you should settle with


Smartphone card readers all have common functions. You can process payments using an app on your device such as a smartphone or tablet, using contactless, chip and pin, or swipe cards. Despite this, there are minor differences you have to evaluate before making a commitment. They have different price rates and various functions that can affect your operations. Take a look at the following five leading card readers available in the UK:


iZettle SumUp Payanywhere PayPal Here Square
Debit/Credit Transaction Fees 1. 75% 1.69% 1.69% – 2.69% 1.5% – 2.75% 1.75%
Other Payment Types Fees 2.5% Invoicing 2.95% + £ 0.25 Virtual Terminal & SMS Payment None Deposited to PayPal Account 2.5% Keyed-In, Online, or Invoice Payment
Settlement Time 1-2 days 2-3 days Next Day Instantly Next Day
Fixed Monthly Fees None None None None None
Receipt Email. Printed, SMS Email. Printed, SMS Email, Printed Email, Printed Email, SMS


First of all, what’s are the costs? You noticed above that none of the card readers have monthly fixed costs and they all have slightly different transaction fees. Pay Anywhere and iZettle both have premium options that include monthly fees:

  • iZettle’s Go Plus service costs £20/month. This is the same services as the £0/month account including staff-level sales reports, extended support hours and a lifetime warranty on the card reader hardware. Go Plus has a 30-day free trial.
  • Pay Anywhere’s 3-in-1 Reader costs USD £39.95. This option accepts chip and contactless cards whereas their free service only accepts swiping. This is notable as the use of contactless card payment is skyrocketing. Their ‘Storefront’ reader is built into a tablet and has a £12.95 monthly service fee. This option has a lower 1.69% transaction fee whereas their other two readers have a 2.69% fee.

Besides premium services, PayPal offers the most flexible transaction fees of the five. Their fees depend on the volume of sales your business experiences. They can charge as high as 2.75% if your sales are below £1 500 per month. They can also be as low as 1.5% of you sell between £15-55 000 per month. If you sell more using their reader, you can even negotiate for lower fees. This makes PayPal the best choice in terms of pricing if your business has high sales revenue.


What is Unique About Each Card Machine?


Before choosing the cheapest reader, check out these brief reviews of how their unique features might affect your business:



one of the most versatile readers


iZettle card machine


  • It accepts the greatest variety of payment cards among the options: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Visa Electron, V Pay, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB and most recently, Union Pay
  • It accepts chip & pin and contactless.
  • It also comes with the most comprehensive app for merchants. The app does much more than payment processing. It works as a payment terminal, cash register/POS (Point of sale) and has an extensive inventory system.
  • It is currently being used by small scale businesses such as taxi drivers, vendors, tradespeople, etc. However, for businesses such as restaurants, you should consider other options because iZettle doesn’t offer split tenders or tipping option



suitable for sole merchants


SumUp card machine


  • Accepts chip & pin and contactless payments
  • Connects via Bluetooth
  • Recently offering a complete POS solution on its app for businesses requiring only one card reader. Combined with its low, flat fee rate of 1.69%, it makes it the most affordable option for self-employed, small scale traders.
  • Accepts international cards and processes payments for business people travelling abroad
  • They do not offer add-on features at additional costs like some of their competitors
  • SumUp only allows you to have one account and one reader, which can pose a challenge for business with multiple staff members
  • Certain types of businesses aren’t supported, such as adult entertainment, door-to-door sales, multi-level marketing, unlicensed counselling, etc.



offers a diverse selection of readers


Payanywhere card reader


  • Their free 2-in-1 reader only accepts swipe cards and EMV
  • Their $39.95 3-in-1 reader accepts swipe, chip cards and contactless
  • The free built-in tablet reader accepts chip cards and swipe. This option has a $12.95 monthly fee, but had a lower rate 1.69% transaction fee. The tablet option is a good choice for higher sales volume businesses.
  • Their app allows multiple staff accounts unlike some competitors. It also offers detailed sales data and item libraries.



PayPal Here

perfect if you have a PayPal business account


PayPal Here card machine


  • Accepts chip & pin, contactless and swipe cards. Can also be used with standard cash registers, despite paying directly to your PayPal account.
  • With PayPal Here you must also have an approved PayPal business account, as it deposits the payments there as opposed to your bank account
  • PayPal Here integration with existing PayPal business accounts is an advantage if you already receive most of your revenue there. You can continue using their sales tracking services when you receive in person payments with the card reader and app.
  • Attractive POS style app offers up to 200 user accounts and comprehensive item library/inventory, tipping options and access to your existing PayPal account
  • PayPal had a poor reputation in recent years for account limitations and customer service that’s difficult to access. Many users report difficulty accessing their account and having to wait weeks to unfreeze their accounts. Fortunately, these issues have been fixed for the most part, and using the reader isn’t causing these problems.




offers the most comprehensive software


Sqaure mobile card reader


  • Square has the fastest settlement time of all the options aside from PayPal. They offer 24-hour bank deposit
  • Leading POS app with multiple staff accounts/employee permissions, sales analytics, tipping option, inventory, item library, etc. The app’s inventory management system even synchronizes with your online store. You can also send invoices and set up automatic payments for recurring jobs.
  • Square offers the Sqaure Dashboard to access real-time data to help you make informed decisions
  • Other software services include Sqaure APIs to create custom apps for your business and their App Marketplace



The Verdict


Finally, now you’ve compared and contrasted the top card readers available, it’s up to you to make a move. Here’s a quick summary of the kinds of merchants who will side with each option:

  • iZettle is a great choice for very small business who want to try a smartphone card reader for the first time
  • SumUp is an alternative to iZettle for businesses who are similarly small, but don’t have any employees. Their fees are currently lower.
  • Payanywhere should be chosen by businesses who want to use a variety of mobile devices, but with customers who simply need to swipe and pay
  • PayPal Here’s main selling point is their integration with their business accounts. If you’re already receiving payments through PayPal, you should use their card reader.
  • Square offers the most complete suite of software services among the competitors. Sign up for Square if you have complex needs for a small business, in terms of POS, sales analytics, inventory management, staff management, etc.


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