Best mobile card payment reader of 2018

Mobile card reader
Best mobile card reader

1. SumUp

2. PayPal Here

3. QuickBooks Payments

4. iZettle POS System

5. PayAnywhere

Read on for our detailed analysis of each platform  

Business is now transacted on the move. According to the latest figures from the UK Cards Association, total spending on payment cards in April 2018 reached £58 billion (around $77 billion, or AU$102 billion), with rises partly attributable to the impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  

Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, said: "Making a contactless payment is fast, easy and secure. With so many retailers now accepting this technology, we are sure consumers will continue to vote with their wallets and use contactless cards as their preferred way to pay."  

There is no doubt that the success of contactless payments is heralding a new era of mobile commerce. Consumers want to pay quickly and conveniently, and contactless payments are predicted to become the predominant way to pay with Juniper Research expecting them to account for 53% of POS transactions by 2022.  

For SMBs, offering the right payment methods has always been a vital component of their businesses. With more consumers wanting to buy on the move, ensuring your business has the right mobile payment methods is a commercial imperative that can't be ignored.  

The smartphone and tablet have not only delivered a mobile digital wallet to consumers, but this technology can also be used by your business to enhance its payment systems. With the addition of some low-cost hardware coupled with an app, it is possible to turn a smartphone or tablet into a fully functional payment device.  

Let’s look at some great choices to transform your smartphone into a mobile payment platform. 

SumUp

1. SumUp

A cost effective mobile card reader

No minimum on transaction volume  
Affordable card reader that supports chip cards 
No instant payout  
Cannot enter transactions manually 

SumUp is mobile card reader that is available in thirty-one countries, although it is a more recent entry to the US market. Notably, it supports cards with EMV, popularly known as the newer ‘chip cards.’  

This mobile card reader solution is well suited to lower volume users as it offers a fixed 2.65% transaction cost, with no monthly minimum. The card reader is available for a one time fee of $69 (£52), and connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone and a downloadable app.    

There is also support for a wide variety of credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover Card, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Payouts to your bank account take an efficient 1 to 2 days. Unfortunately, the card reader is required for any transaction to occur, as transactions cannot be manually entered. 

PayPal Here

2. PayPal Here

The mobile card reader from the online transaction juggernaut

Affordable card reader with available accessories  
Tiered transaction fee structure  
Simple to use app 
Customer support is lacking 

PayPal Here is the mobile card reader offering from the online transaction juggernaut that brings instant name brand recognition to the space. There is a low cost of entry to acquiring the card reader, there are offerings of accessories such as a bouncepad and charger for a professional look.  

The PayPal Here reader is available for an affordable £29 ($39), and connects to the phone wirelessly, and interacts with a smartphone app. For less than £1500 ($1996) of transactions monthly, the transaction fee is a higher 2.75%, although this drops to 1% at the highest amounts of transactions, and can potentially even be negotiated further down with a custom tier as the top option. While the app offers plenty of features for invoicing and tracking, users describe the customer support as less than consistent. 

QuickBooks Payments

3. QuickBooks Payments

The small business accounting software mobile card reader

Tightly integrated into the QuickBooks ecosystem  
No minimum volume of usage 
Higher transaction fees 

From the folks at Intuit, best known for TurboTax, is their QuickBooks small business accounting offering, and under that umbrella is their mobile card reader entry, which is known as QuickBooks Payments. Their choice of mobile card readers, which start at $19 (£14) integrate well into the QuickBook ecosystem.  

Transaction fees are not the lowest with this otherwise slick offering as they cost 2.4% plus $0.25 (£0.19) for each swipe, and for a keyed entry this rises to a lofty 3.4% plus $0.25 (£0.19) for each transaction, but at least it offers this option. The plus is that there is no setup fee, nor any minimum, making QuickBooks Payments more attractive for the lower volume user. 

iZettle POS System

4. iZettle POS System

The card reader for entrepreneurs

Versatile card reader  
Wide range of accessory offerings  
Long battery life 
Reader costs more 

iZettle is a suite of products focused on the entrepreneur. Their mobile card reading solution is the iZettle Point of Sale (POS) System. It is a branded card reader that supports all the major payment platforms, including credit cards as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and input via a “Tap, insert or swipe,” to cover the full range of customer inputs. They claim eight hours of battery use, and speedy ‘tap and go’ payments in five seconds. Their card reader is available for £59 ($78), and features a whole line of accessories, including docks and retail store kits.  

PayAnywhere

5. PayAnywhere

The mobile card reader that's part of the PayAnywhere ecosystem

Free card reader  
Accepts contactless payments 
Opaque pricing requiring sign up to be revealed  
Annoying inactivity fee 

PayAnywhere is a mobile card reader solution that integrates into the larger PayAnywhere ecosystem. Their reader accepts the full range of payments, including traditional magnetic swipe, the newer chip payments, and even the latest contactless payments, including Samsung Pay.  

The notable feature of the PayAnywhere card reader is that it is part of the larger family of PayAnywhere services. These include being able to send invoices from within their app, accepting card payments on your website, and being able to apply discounts to invoices. For processing less than $10,000 in transactions each month, there is no monthly fee, and a transaction fee of 2.69% with a free card reader included, although the catch is that there is an annoying inactivity fee of $3.99 (£3) for no transactions in the last year, assessed monthly.