Summing up the best features of one of the slickest mobile card readers on the market
- Low transaction fees and no hidden or monthly costs
- PCI DSS and EMV compliant
- 30-day money back guarantee
- No fixed-term contracts
- Perfect for market stalls and tradespeople
- No customer support during evenings or on Sundays
- Longer payout time than some of its rivals
- Not suitable for businesses with a large sales volume
It was the summer of 2012 when Berlin-born mobile payments provider SumUp strolled onto the scene. And it wasn’t a particularly pretty time for retailers – merchant account fees were high, credit card processing was slow, and the existing technology was inflexible and immobile.
Eight years on, and the now London-based SumUp has all but conquered the European payments landscape. Available in 31 countries, SumUp processes over 100,000 card transactions daily. And, with the cheapest rates of any other mobile small business credit card machine on the market, it’s not hard to see why SumUp adds thousands of new small business clients to its ranks every day.
But is it right for your business? And if not, what are the alternatives? Let’s dig deep, and get the lowdown on SumUp.
SumUp card readers: an introduction
SumUp offers two options for accepting card and contactless payments: the SumUp Air card reader, and the SumUp 3G card reader. Whichever you purchase, you’ll also receive a virtual terminal, a secure web page that allows you to take payments from a computer or mobile device.
So, what can you expect from each?
|SumUp Air card reader||SumUp 3G card reader|
Works with your smartphone and a wifi connection
Works with a built-in SIM card (no data costs, wifi, or smartphone required)
£29 (excl. VAT)
Discounts to £19
£99 (excl. VAT)
Discounts to £69
1.69% transaction fee. Zero monthly fees. Zero hidden fees
Accepts contactless, mobile wallet, and chip and pin payments
Ships in 3-5 business days
Payouts to your bank account in 1-3 days
SumUp Air card reader
The SumUp Air card reader pairs with a free app on your smartphone or tablet, processing payments via wifi or through your device’s mobile data. It thus allows you to take payments from a fixed location, or (providing your phone has 4G enabled) on the go.
SumUp 3G card reader
The SumUp 3G card reader, as the name suggests, comes with its own built-in SIM card – meaning it doesn’t require wifi (or any of your own mobile data) to process card payments. Better still, that data is free and unlimited, and you won’t have to rely on the battery life of your own smartphone or tablet to do business.
Both the SumUp Air and SumUp 3G card reader models do all the essentials. They accept contactless and chip and pin transactions alike, as well as mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
SumUp virtual terminal
If you run a business that relies on mail or telephone orders, you’ll want to know more about SumUp’s virtual terminal solution. It’s basically a secure online portal that you log into via the SumUp app, where you’ll enter your customer’s card details. Key in the amount you’d like to charge, hit ‘Charge’, and… well, it’s that simple!
SumUp’s virtual terminal service is included as standard when you order one of its card readers. What’s more, it’s useful even if you’re not a primarily phone-based business – if you don’t happen to have your card reader at hand, for instance, it can be a convenient (if not as speedy) way of keeping the sales flowing.
SumUp card reader: Air or 3G?
If your business operates in more remote locations, or you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, then it’s worth shelling out a bit extra for the 3G reader. For bricks and mortar businesses, though, the lower upfront cost to buy the Air card reader makes it practically irresistible.
What are SumUp’s features and benefits?
By this stage, you’ve probably got a couple of questions. What else can SumUp do? And, more importantly, how can it benefit my business?
Whether it’s getting through a queue of customers or receiving payouts to your bank account, quicker is almost always better. And that’s what SumUp does best – you can order your card reader in five minutes, and have it through your letterbox within five days.
SumUp also pays out to your business bank account within as little as a single working day – so you don’t have to face long waits to get your hands on your hard-earned takings.
Whether you want just a card reader or a complete Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solution, SumUp can help. It offers an array of tailored POS systems (pictured) for the retail, hospitality, and service industries. Packages start from £99.
When you’re doing a day’s business in a remote location, the last thing you need is your card machine running out of juice. It’s fortunate, then, that SumUp boasts Mo Farah-like endurance when it comes to battery – you’ll get up to a whopping 500 transactions on a single charge.
The SumUp 3G card reader accepts card transactions without wifi or the need for a smartphone – meaning you can take payments from almost anywhere. The SumUp Air, meanwhile, measures up at a tidy 7x7cm in size – so small it can fit in your pocket.
SumUp’s card readers are easy to set up, and even easier to use. And with no hidden fees, straightforward pricing, a 30-day money back guarantee, and no lock-in contracts, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.
SumUp is more than just a humble card reader – its app allows you to track sales, add to and edit your product catalogue, and produce personal revenue reports to simplify taxes. You can also set VAT totals for your various products for quick reference, and manage the accounts of your employees from SumUp’s intuitive dashboard.
The app (pictured) also makes life easier while at the till – you can manage cash payments, stay on top of your tips, and offer your customers digital receipts, all from your smartphone or tablet.
How much does SumUp cost?
Unlike the range of complex (and often confusing) fees associated with traditional merchant accounts, SumUp’s pricing is refreshingly transparent. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay:
Card reader: £29 (excl. VAT) (SumUp Air), £99 (excl. VAT) (SumUp 3G). This is the upfront cost which you’ll pay to purchase the card machine.
Transaction fee: 1.69% on each card payment processed with a SumUp card reader.
Virtual terminal fee: 2.95% + 25p on each card payment processed through SumUp’s virtual terminal.
And… that’s it! You won’t be charged for any payments that don’t go through. You also won’t be charged for any cash payments you log with SumUp, and no VAT is levied on its transaction fee. No monthly fees apply, nor do those for PCI compliance or early termination.
“Is SumUp right for my business?
So, SumUp offers relatively low (but simple) fees, plus a range of tangible benefits for businesses. But it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, and as such, won’t be right for all UK SMEs. We’ve assembled a range of questions from business owners below, to help you decide if SumUp is a ‘fit’ for you.
“I want to process a small amount of card transactions every month.”
Whether you’ve just started out in business, do infrequent card sales, or simply operate seasonally, there are a whole heap of reasons your monthly card sales volume might be low. And in these situations, the last thing you need is to feel pressured to make a specific amount just to keep your head above water.
That’s why, if any of the above rings a bell, SumUp is ideal for your business. There are no recurring fees, and no minimum monthly charges to use the service. Rather, you’ll only pay a percentage of what you actually take in card sales – a model that’ll scale with you, rather than drag you into a cycle of debt and worry.
“I will be accepting a large amount of card transactions every month. What about me?”
If the opposite sounds more like your situation, you’re better off looking at a traditional merchant account provider. Sure, you’ll have a wider range of costs to think about (including minimum monthly service charges, PDQ machine rental costs, and PCI compliance), and more recurring fees, too.
However, your transaction fees will be a lot lower – sometimes as low as a third of what SumUp charges. So, if you’re processing a great deal of individual transactions, a traditional merchant account from a provider such as Handepay or takepayments represents far better value in the long run.
“I run a market stall selling spices. Is SumUp right for me?”
Like salt and pepper, the SumUp card reader and market stall trading go hand in hand. That’s because, with a battery life covering up to 500 transactions and built-in 3G capability to boot, the SumUp card reader doesn’t require much in the way of shop infrastructure to do its job.
Plus, the card reader’s size also makes it perfect for the small and often sparsely-fitted nature of market stands. Because, with your phone in one hand and the card reader in the other, you won’t require much space to get paid.
“I want to take card payments, but I don’t have a physical store.”
Jackpot! SumUp is so perfect for your business, you could be on one of its marketing brochures. The 3G card reader runs on its own internet (supplied and paid for by SumUp), meaning it’s perfect for nomadic salespeople – whether you’re a plumber taking payments from the back of a van, or a vegetable-grower peddling your wares at an East London farmers market.
And, If you’d rather not do any face-to-face sales whatsoever, SumUp has a solution for you. Its app allows you to send payment links to your customer’s mobile device, or share them via text or messaging app. The link takes just a few clicks to send, and all your customer has to do is follow it and pay via a secure webpage.
No physical store, no card machine… no problems!
What other mobile card readers could I consider?
It’s one of the golden rules of shopping – you don’t get your wallet out until you’ve seen what else is on the shelf. So what are your other options?
|Mobile card reader provider||Card reader price||Card transaction fee|
|SumUp||£29 (excl. VAT)||1.69%|
|Zettle||£29 (excl. VAT)||1.75%|
|PayPal Here||£45 (excl. VAT)||1 – 2.75%|
|Square||£19 (excl. VAT)||1.75%|
Arguably SumUp’s nemesis and closest rival, Zettle’s card reader more than matches the SumUp Air for design, speed, and… well, coolness! Zettle also pays out (slightly) faster than SumUp, and has a better range of options for cultivating the look and feel of your counter.
However, SumUp edges out Zettle in the customer support stakes; its team are available for longer days, and at the weekend, too. SumUp is also cheaper; you’ll pay less for the card reader, and its transaction fees of 1.69% trump Zettle’s 1.75%.
For more info, check out our Zettle review.
PayPal Here is PayPal’s answer to the success of Zettle (which PayPal then acquired in 2018) and SumUp.
PayPal Here boasts a sliding pricing scale, so the more you take in card payments, the less you’ll pay in fees – as little as 1%, in fact. It’s great for bigger businesses, but unless you’re taking more than £6,000 in card payments a month, SumUp will still come up cheaper.
PayPal Here’s online customer approval ratings also leave much to be desired – particularly its grimace-inducing Trustpilot rating of 1.7/5. However, some of the bad reviews may be frustrations misattributed to one of PayPal’s myriad other consumer financial services… so it’s not all bad.
With the lowest upfront cost and reasonable transaction fees, Square just about matches SumUp and Zettle for value. But, while its aptly-shaped card reader sports an iconic look (and the functionality to match), Square’s ecommerce functions are where it really excels.
As well as offering a free app that lets you create and send invoices with ease, Square’s intelligent ecommerce solution gives you everything you need to first build your own website, then start selling through it.
SumUp beats all of its biggest rivals for price. For small businesses, at least, it’s hard to knock SumUp for value – but how does it stack up on the important metric of popular opinion?
What do SumUp’s customer reviews say?
It’d be crazy to spend money on something so crucial to the growth of your business without first looking at a few reviews. That’s why we took to Trustpilot to see what SumUp’s customers make of the service and product – so how does its rating stack up?
With an overall Trustpilot rating of 4.2/5 and more than three quarters of reviewers (76%) awarding it five stars, SumUp is a clear favourite of business owners across the UK. SumUp’s team is also clearly invested in what its customers think, and is highly responsive when it comes to addressing bad reviews and escalating complaints.
For the most part, SumUp is there when you need it, too – phone support is available 8am to 7pm during the week, and between 8am and 5pm on Saturday.
There are some bad reviews, though, and SumUp has, to a degree, polarised people. 13% of reviewers slammed it with the dreaded one star, while only 11% opted for a more moderate middle ground of between two and four stars.
SumUp’s reviews are decent across the board, particularly impressive considering they come from a total pool of almost 1,700 reviews. Though Square emerges as the most sweet-smelling provider (but only just!), SumUp’s ratings are still higher than those of big players Zettle and global brand PayPal.
The SumUp card reader is pretty nifty. It boasts a simplicity of use, sleek design, and transparent pricing that combine to make it an ideal fit for your small business. That said, there are plenty of card machines out there, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
That’s where we can help. Simply take 30 seconds to pop some details into our form about your industry and sales volume. We’ll then match you with a merchant account (or mobile card reader) provider that best suits the unique requirements of your business.
After this, you’ll receive tailored quotes from leading suppliers, who’ll help you to grow your business through taking card payments. Oh, and it’s free!