Best Card Readers with Apps for iPhone and Android Phones

Card readers are now more affordable and efficient than those used in retail years ago. 

A variety of contract-free, cost-effective card readers are now available, enabling card transactions via a connected mobile app. This setup is highly flexible, as the app often provides more tools than a traditional card machine. 

How Card Readers Work 

  • A wireless card reader connects to a mobile phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
  • The app on the mobile device communicates the transaction to the card reader.
  • The payer enters their PIN or taps a card just like on a standard card machine.

These devices typically have no monthly fees, lock-in, or complicated charges. Instead, you purchase the card reader upfront and pay a fixed rate per transaction. This is particularly appealing for merchants who cannot commit to ongoing costs and perfect for new businesses looking to start quickly. 

Card Reader Comparison in the UK 

SumUp Air – Excellent for Simple Shops 

Price: £49 (excluding VAT)
Transaction Fee: 1.69%
Advantages: Accessible business tools 

SumUp Air is known for its simplicity and efficiency. It features a sleek glass PIN pad that’s easy to clean and has a long battery life. The SumUp App, which it connects to, includes a product library, user accounts, sales overviews, payout reports, and online payment options. 

Pros: 

  • No monthly fees or lock-in 
  • Next-day payouts 
  • Easy to clean 
  • Various online payment tools 

Cons: 

  • Basic POS features 
  • Limited integrations 

Square Reader – Comprehensive Free App 

Price: £19 (excluding VAT)
Transaction Fee: 1.75%
Advantages: Numerous app features 

The Square Reader is compact and lightweight, lacking a PIN pad but supporting PIN entry on your mobile device. Its Square Point of Sale app is highly comprehensive, offering features such as inventory tracking, employee management, and multiple payment methods. 

Pros: 

  • Smallest card reader 
  • No monthly fees or lock-in 
  • Excellent free POS app 
  • Many online tools 

Cons: 

  • PIN pad only in the app 
  • Support only on weekdays 

Revolut Reader – Best for Revolut Business Users 

Price: £49 + £5 shipping (excluding VAT)
Transaction Fee: 0.8%-2.6% + 2p
Advantages: Low UK card rate 

The Revolut Reader is ideal for those already using a Revolut Business account. It features a basic app and requires a separate Merchant Account approval. While it offers low rates for domestic cards, the support can be slow and the app is not designed for comprehensive POS functions. 

Pros: 

  • Good business account features 
  • Low rates for UK consumer cards 
  • Payouts within 24 hours 

Cons: 

  • Slow support 
  • Basic app features 
  • Extra approval for Merchant Account 

Zettle Reader – Best Design 

Price: £29-£59 (excluding VAT)
Transaction Fee: 1.75%
Advantages: Ergonomic design 

Zettle Reader is renowned for its ergonomic design and wide range of accepted cards. It integrates with various hardware and offers a free POS app with basic features. However, PayPal’s acquisition of Zettle has led to fewer updates. 

Pros: 

  • Most ergonomic card reader 
  • No monthly fees or lock-in 
  • Wide range of accepted cards 

Cons: 

  • Limited online payment tools 
  • Few recent updates 

Shopify WisePad 3 – Best for E-commerce Integration 

Price: £49 (excluding VAT)
Transaction Fee: 1.5%-1.7%
Advantages: Shopify integration 

The Shopify WisePad 3 integrates seamlessly with Shopify’s e-commerce platform, ideal for businesses using Shopify online stores. The device requires a Shopify subscription, making it more expensive but highly effective for omnichannel sales. 

Pros: 

  • Excellent omnichannel features 
  • 24/7 customer support 
  • High-quality card reader 

Cons: 

  • Requires an e-commerce subscription 
  • Higher initial cost 

Conclusion 

Selecting the best card reader depends on your specific needs. SumUp and Square offer excellent features for small businesses, while Revolut and Shopify provide specialised solutions for business account users and e-commerce integrations. Zettle stands out for its ergonomic design, making it a versatile choice for various business settings. 

Compare Card Readers: 

Card Reader  Price*  Transaction Fee  Advantage  Website 
SumUp Air  £49  1.69%  Accessible business tools  SumUp 
Square Reader  £19  1.75%  Comprehensive app features  Square 
Revolut Reader  £49  0.8%-2.6% + 2p  Low UK card rate  Revolut 
Zettle Reader  £29-£59  1.75%  Ergonomic design  Zettle 
Shopify WisePad 3  £49  1.5%-1.7%  Shopify integration  Shopify 
Elavon  £29  1.75%-2.5%  24/7 support  Elavon 
Smartpay Anywhere  £29  1.6%  Low fixed rate  Barclaycard 

*Prices exclude VAT.