The best mobile card readers for small businesses

Read up on the five best card readers in the UK – and mobilise your business


Mobile card readers are turning the payments industry on its head. Why? Because – for small businesses, at least – they’re the cheapest new way of accepting contactless and card transactions. All you need is the card reader, a half-decent wifi connection, and your smartphone (with a free app installed). It’s that easy.

So why go mobile? Well, mobile card readers don’t just give your customers a quicker, simpler way to pay; they also provide real-time reporting on your transactions. So you can monitor what’s selling, and grow your business – all with a gadget that’s small enough to fit in your trouser pocket.

There are five mobile card reader providers on the market for UK SMEs. We’ve reviewed each one. We’re talking pros, cons, prices, features… and benefits for your business. Dive into our table for prices, start comparing quotes, or jump to our readers’ FAQs.

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Card payment machines for iPhone

Card readerReader priceTransaction feeMonthly feeBest forStar rating
Worldpay reader£39.99 (incl. VAT)1.95 – 2.75%£0 – £5.99Flexible pricing plans
SumUp Air£19 – £29 (excl. VAT)1.69%£0Low fees
iZettle 2£29 – £59 (excl. VAT)1.75%£0Dynamic point of sale solutions
Square£29 (excl. VAT)1.75%£0Quick payouts
PayPal Here£54 (incl. VAT)1 – 2.75%£0User-friendly mobile payment app


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Compare mobile card machines

Low fees and ease of use make mobile card readers perfect for small businesses


When it comes to finding out how much card machines cost, it’s not always that straightforward. You’ve got monthly and transaction fees to think about, plus the cost of actually buying your card machine.

That’s why we’ve compared not only the best features of each mobile card machine, but the costs – hidden and transparent – included with each. The best mobile card machines come from Worldpay, SumUp, iZettle, Square, and PayPal.

Let’s find out why.

The best mobile card machines for UK businesses:

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Worldpay reader

Best for flexible pricing plans


best mobile card reader worldpay

The Worldpay card reader is a dynamic mobile card payment processor, designed solely for small businesses. Its flexible pricing means you can pay as you go, or commit to a monthly fee and pay less. This savvy little card reader also contains a built-in virtual terminal for taking payments over the phone. It accepts all major credit and debit cards, and offers 24/7 UK-based support for businesses. What’s not to like?

Overall Rating:

Worldpay Pay as you go plan (contract-free) pricing

Card reader cost:£69 (excl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:2.5% + 4p

Worldpay Simplicity plan (18-month contract) pricing

Card reader cost:£4.99 per month (excl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:1.5%

Pros:

  • Intuitive dashboard lets you be your own accountant
  • Highly trusted and well-respected provider
  • App lets you track what you sell, as you sell

X Cons:

  • One of the more expensive mobile card readers available

In a nutshell

Serving over 300,000 UK businesses, Worldpay is well-attuned to the needs of homegrown businesses, and offers a powerful card machine to boot.


SumUp Air

Best for low fees


best mobile card reader SumUp Air

With no monthly fees and no setup costs, the SumUp Air card reader is as affordable as it is good looking. Its transaction fees of 1.69% aren’t just simple – they’re the cheapest mobile card reader rates on earth. This breezy little device pairs with your iPhone or Android for ultimate ease of use – no pricey equipment needed. What’s more, SumUp is both a hassle-free and risk-free option for your business. Why? Because you can sign up online in the time it takes to make a cup of tea – and get a 30 day money-back guarantee, too.

Overall Rating:


SumUp Air card reader pricing

Card reader cost:£29 (often discounts to £19) (excl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:1.69%
Virtual terminal fee:2.95% + 25p

Pros:

X Cons:

  • Takes longer than some rivals to pay out funds to your business bank account

In a nutshell

Highly rated by its customers, SumUp offers your small business an inexpensive, stylish way to take contactless payments.


iZettle 2 card reader

Best for dynamic point of sale solutions


best mobile card reader izettle

The most famous of the mobile card readers, iZettle’s card reader is ever present on the countertops of small businesses nationwide. And with low, straightforward pricing and lightning fast payment processing, it’s not hard to see why. iZettle also offers intuitive, dynamic ways to expand your point of sale system. It accepts all major credit and debit cards, too – and not just at the till. With iZettle, you can take payments online, and create and send invoices in seconds.

Overall Rating:

iZettle 2 card reader pricing

Card reader cost:£59 (often discounts to £29) (excl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:1.75%
Ecommerce transaction fee:2.5%

Pros:

X Cons:

  • No weekend phone support for basic plan users

In a nutshell

iZettle is a big – if not the biggest – name in the mobile card reader market. Though its customer support lacks somewhat, it’s still highly rated by small businesses across the country.

▶ Read more: SumUp vs iZettle


Square card reader

Best for quick payouts


best mobile card reader Square reader

Square supports card payments online, over the phone, and face-to-face with the Square Reader. It’s an absolute pocket rocket of a mobile card reader, and transaction fees are fixed at a cool 1.75%– although for ecommerce transactions you’ll pay a tad more. This is all great, but what we love the most is the speed with which Square pays out. Expect to see the takings from your till sitting in your business bank account the next working day. There’s no contest – for speed, this card reader has its rivals beaten fair and Square.

Overall Rating:

Square card reader pricing

Card reader cost:£29 (excl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:1.75%
Ecommerce/virtual terminal fee:2.5%

Pros:

  • Intuitive real-time analytics and sales reporting
  • Slick look and minimal branding that’ll sit seamlessly within your point of sale
  • Refreshing app interface is easy on the eye

X Cons:

  • No weekend phone support

In a nutshell

The Square Reader looks good on your countertop, has great online customer reviews, and pays out within one working day – what’s not to like?


PayPal Here card reader

Best mobile payment app


best mobile card reader paypal here

PayPal launched the Here card machine to challenge the likes of iZettle and SumUp. So how does it compare? Well, there’s not too much in it in terms of functionality. PayPal Here is a speedy, straightforward card machine supplied by a true industry giant. And the free app it’s paired with is both stunning and easy to operate. There’s also not too much to separate it in terms of upfront cost; the Here can be bought outright for £54. Transaction fees, though, are a different story. PayPal charges between 1% and 2.75%, based on total sales volume. Jump into the table below to find out that means for you.

Overall Rating:

PayPal card reader pricing

Card reader cost:£54 (incl. VAT)
Card transaction fee:1 – 2.75% (see below)

PayPal Here fee structure

Your sales volumeWhat you’ll pay
Less than £1,500.012.75%
£1,500.01 – £6,0001.75%
£6,000.01 – £15,0001.5%
More than £15,0001%

Pros:

  • Won’t rope you into a fixed-term contract
  • Small, effective mobile card reader device
  • Funds deposited into your PayPal account immediately

X Cons:

  • Online reviews – on the whole – are less favourable than those of its competitors
  • Expensive for small businesses and start-ups

In a nutshell

PayPal Here comes with a sweet record of success, and the backing of a global payment powerhouse. But businesses with lower sales volume might find the high fees leave a bitter aftertaste.


Final verdict

For small businesses the iZettle Reader is perfect. iZettle offers easy setup, low rates and a reliable, user-friendly mobile payment app.

For mid to large-sized businesses it’s hard to see past the PayPal Here. PayPal offers the best rates for businesses that process over £6,000 of card transactions monthly, and the company makes it easy to sell online, too.

Next steps

Five mobile card readers. Five simple, inexpensive ways to take your small business to the next level. What’ll it be – Worldpay for flexibility? Square for speed? Or iZettle for building a smooth, stylish point of sale system? There’s a mobile card reader out there for your business – all you have to do is pick your favourite.

Luckily, we’ve made that easy to do. Just fill in our short webform, add a couple of small details about your business, and we’ll match you with tailored quotes from top mobile card reader suppliers – for free.

FAQs

How do credit card machines for iPhone work?

First off, the mobile credit card reader provider you choose will send you the reader. You’ll set it up on your counter (or wherever you plan to sell), and download the free app onto your iPhone, Android, or tablet.

Pair the card reader to the app on your device via Bluetooth, or a cable that goes into the audio jack. When Joe (your first customer) comes along for a cup of coffee, you’ll enter the transaction value into your smartphone. The card reader gets the signal, Joe taps his card on the reader, and hey presto. You’re £2.85 richer, and Joe gets his morning caffeine hit.

Is a mobile card reader right for my business?

If you’ve read this far, then chances are that it is. Mobile card readers are ideal for businesses that operate in more remote locations, or tend to move from place to place. And their low fees have made them a hit with microbreweries, pop-up shops, and market stalls across the UK.

However, mobile card readers aren’t right for all businesses. If you’ve got a dodgy internet connection or dubious 3G, then you should reconsider. And if you’re taking lots (we’re talking £10,000+) of card payments a month, it will pay to go with a more traditional PDQ machine provider.

Traditional card readers from merchant account providers such as Worldpay and First Data connect to your phone line to provide a fast connection you can rely on. If your business operates on a fixed premises, a traditional card reader may be a better option.

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