It’s easier than ever to accept credit and debit cards. Forget the costly card machines of yore. Instead, check out these contactless card readers that process payments with a smartphone or tablet through easy-to-use, free point of sale (POS) apps.

In 2021, the race between the most popular mobile card readers in the UK is close. On our top three list, cost-conscious start-ups often prefer SumUp’s lowest transaction fee. Zettle’s card reader is simply the most loved while Square has the most superior free card reader app.

  Zettle Reader 2 SumUp Air Square Reader
  iZettle Reader 2Full review SumUp Air smallFull review Square ReaderFull review
 
Solution Card reader + smartphone/tablet app
Price £19 (full: £59) + VAT (offer) £29 + VAT (offer) £19 + VAT (offer)
Transaction fee 1.75% 1.69% 1.75%
Contract lock-in None None None
Monthly fee None None None
Minimum sales volume None None None
Cards accepted   Visa Visa Electron V Pay Mastercard Maestro American Express Union PayDiners ClubJCBDiscover   Visa Visa Electron V Pay Mastercard Maestro American ExpressUnion PayDiners ClubDiscover  Visa Visa ElectronV PayMastercard Maestro American Express
Contactless ContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay ContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay ContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay
Payouts 1-3 working days 1-3 working days 1-2 working days
PIN pad On card reader On card reader In app on mobile screen
Compatible receipt printers Star Micronics, AirPrint Star Micronics, Bixolon, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print Star Micronics, Epson
Digital receipts
Staff accounts
Product library
Tipping
Sales reports CSV, Excel, PDF, Xero & QuickBooks integration CSV, Excel, PDF CSV, Xero, Zoho Books & several other integrations
Use abroad
 
  Zettle SumUp Square logo
Zettle
Reader
SumUp
Air
Square
Reader
iZettle Reader 2Full review SumUp Air smallFull review Square ReaderFull review
Card reader + smartphone/tablet app
£19 (full: £59) + VAT (offer) £29 + VAT (offer) £19 + VAT (offer)
1.75% transaction fee 1.69% transaction fee 1.75% transaction fee
No contract lock-in
No monthly fees
No minimum monthly sales volume required
  Visa Visa Electron V Pay Mastercard Maestro American Express Union PayDiners ClubJCBDiscover   Visa Visa Electron V Pay Mastercard Maestro American ExpressUnion PayDiners ClubDiscover  Visa Visa ElectronV PayMastercard Maestro American Express
ContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay ContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay ContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay
Payouts 1-3 working days Payouts 1-3 working days Payouts 1-2 working days
With physical PIN pad With physical PIN pad PIN pad in app on mobile screen
Compatible receipt printers
Star Micronics, AirPrint Star Micronics, Bixolon, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print Star Micronics, Epson
Digital receipts
Staff accounts
Product library
Tipping feature
Sales reports
CSV, Excel, PDF, Xero & QuickBooks integration CSV, Excel, PDF CSV, Xero, Zoho Books & several other integrations
Use abroad?
Zettle SumUp Square logo

The three systems share characteristics that make them very attractive to small businesses. Setup costs are very low, and there are no fixed, monthly fees and no minimum transaction volume required. Plus: there’s no contractual commitment with any of these companies.

SumUp Air, Zettle Reader and Square Reader are therefore suitable both for infrequent use and processing many transactions daily as your primary POS solution.

Photo: Zettle by PayPal

iZettle Reader black

Zettle Reader (previously iZettle Reader) is the most user-friendly card reader on this list.

Cards, payouts and charges

As against a traditional card reader machine, you purchase the mobile card rea