Compare mobile card machines
Thanks to developments in technology, businesses no longer have to accept card payments only at the till.
Mobile card readers allow businesses to accept credit and debit card payments almost anywhere, making it easy for businesses like hairdressers, food vendors and tradespeople to take their services on the road.
What is a mobile card reader?
A mobile card reader is a card machine that lets you take customers’ card payments wherever you are. It differs from a fixed card reader, or countertop card machine, that can only take card payments at a permanent location within the business premises.
A mobile card reader can use Wi-Fi hotspots or adopt 3G/4G technology to connect to a GPRS signal in your location. The card reader reads the customer’s card details and then uses GPRS technology to process the payment.
What is an example of a mobile card reader?
SumUp has a range of mobile card readers, including SumUp Air, SumUp Solo and SumUp Solo and Printer.
Other options include Square Reader and Barclaycard’s mobile card reader and Anywhere card reader.
These card readers are portable and lightweight, so they can easily come with you on your travels.
Top 10 mobile card readers in the UK
- Square Reader
- SumUp Air card reader
- Revolut Reader
- Barclaycard Anywhere
- Dojo Go
- Takepayments Mobile
- Zettle card reader 2
- Tide mobile card reader
- myPOS Go 2
- Worldpay Mobile
How do mobile card readers work?
Mobile card readers come with a SIM card that enables the device to connect wirelessly with the mobile network. They connect to an app on your smartphone or tablet, enabling you to take payments anywhere.
Customers can pay contactlessly or by inserting their card into the device and entering their PIN. Many mobile card readers also accept payments with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay.
If the device has a printer, you can also print a receipt for the customer, or you might be able to send it by SMS or email. Payments are usually transferred to your business bank account within 1 to 3 working days.
Mobile card readers usually have a long charge to last you a full day, so you don’t need to worry about recharging it or the battery dying while you’re on the move.
Why use a mobile card reader?
Mobile card readers offer a convenient way to take card payments from your customers wherever you are. This means you won’t lose sales if your customers don’t carry cash. Mobile card readers can be particularly beneficial if you’re a business that often travels around, for example, if you run a pop-up store or you’re a taxi driver.
These devices are often lightweight and easy to set up and start using straight away. They have a long battery life, and some also let you print receipts. Because you don’t need to carry around a lot of cash with you, mobile card readers are also safer.
Mobile card reader costs
Mobile card reader costs vary depending on the provider. Costs also depend on whether you pay for the device upfront or you pay a monthly fee to rent it.
If you pay for the device outright, you’ll likely pay somewhere between £19 and £139, depending on the type of features it offers. Rental costs, on the other hand, might be £10 to £25 a month.
On top of this, you might have to pay transaction fees. These are typically around 1.75% for each card payment, but again, this varies.
Other costs to check for include:
- Chargeback costs. You might have to pay a fee if a customer disputes a transaction and the card payment is returned.
- Refund costs. Some card readers charge you for refunding a customer for a purchase.
- Set-up fees. Occasionally, you might have to pay a set-up fee.
- Early exit fee. If you’re tied into a contract and want to leave early, you might have to pay an early exit fee.
- Shipping costs. Sometimes you’ll be charged a small fee to have the device sent out to you.
Pros and cons of mobile card readers
- Enables you to take card payments wherever you are
- Convenient for both you and your customers
- Immediate and secure transactions
- Range of models and features to choose from
- Range of different fees
- Delay in receiving funds compared to cash
Who are mobile card readers best for?
Any business can use a mobile card reader. But they are particularly useful for those who travel a lot for business, whether you run a market stall, a pop-up shop or a mobile food van. They can also be useful for tradespeople, taxi drivers and mobile hairdressers and beauticians – anyone who runs a business from multiple locations rather than a fixed premises.
What is the best mobile card reader for small businesses?
This depends on the type of business you run. If you run a pop-up store, for instance, and only take payments from time to time, you might want to look for a mobile card reader that has one upfront cost and no monthly fee.
But if you take payments regularly, you might be better off paying a monthly fee, particularly if it means you get a lower transaction rate in return.
You’ll also need to consider factors such as whether you need a printer included in the device and how many transactions you can carry out before the battery needs to be recharged.
How to compare mobile card readers
When looking for the right mobile card reader for your business, consider the following:
- Is there an upfront cost for the device, or will you pay a monthly rental fee? What works out to be more cost-effective?
- Will you be tied into a contract, and are you happy with that? If you’re concerned you might need to get out of the contract early, it’s best to look for a card reader that doesn’t tie you in.
- What transaction fees will you pay? Are fees fixed, or do they depend on the size of your business and volume of sales?
- Does the card reader include the features you need? If you need a printer, look for one that includes this.
- How long will it take for funds from a payment to be transferred into your bank account? This can be between 1 and 3 working days.
- Will the card reader accept all payment types? If you want to accept Amex payments, make sure you choose a card reader that allows this.
- Does the card reader come with a warranty? If so, for how long?
Bottom line: Are mobile card readers any good?
Mobile card readers can be essential for businesses regularly on the road but still want to accept card payments easily. They can help you to potentially acquire more customers and can be safer than carrying around lots of cash.
However, it’s crucial to compare the fees and features carefully to make sure you pick the right device for your business.
Frequently asked questions
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