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Last updated: 14 March 2024

IZettle vs SumUp vs Square — Which Is the Best Card Reader?

Which Is the Best Card Reader Provider?

Nowadays, contactless card readers are the preferred choice among many small and start-up businesses . They are simple and easy to use, they come at affordable prices, and can easily replace traditional card machines, which are more complex to both use and set up.

Processing payments has never been easier, and the ‘mobile’ part of these machines allows for transactions almost anywhere at any time. There are countless mobile card machines on the market, so it is imperative that you evaluate each and find the one that suits your business the best.

Some mobile card machines require you to also make an agreement with a merchant account provider, to further enable secure transactions. If you are interested in these types of card readers, check our article on the best providers of merchant account in 2019. 

10 Criteria We Compared

There are three notable frontrunners in the industry: Sumup, iZettle, and Square. To help you better understand how these mobile card readers work, we have analysed them using ten different criteria for our methodology:

  • Card reader price
  • Transaction fee
  • Monthly fee
  • Accepted card types
  • Mobile payment functionality
  • Receipts
  • Battery
  • Accessories
  • Colours
  • Tipping functionality

Comparison of the Top Contactless Card Readers 

The type of mobile card reader you will need depends on the nature of your business, design and style preferences, cost flexibility, payment solution options, and much more. The table below gives you an overview and comparison of the most important features for an easier decision making process.

SumUp vs iZettle vs Square
FeaturessumupSumUp In-depth ReviewiZettleiZettle In-depth ReviewSquareSquare In-depth Review
PriceSumUp Air £29
SumUp 3G Reader £99
iZettle Reader 2 £55Square Reader £23
Transaction fee1.69%1.75%1.75%
Monthly fee£0£0£0
Supported card types and payment solutionsvisa mastercardSumup cardsvisa masterizettle cardsizettle mobilevisa mastersquare cards
ReceiptsSMS, e-mail, printSMS, e-mail, printSMS, e-mail, print
BatteryLi-ion battery (500+ transactions a day)Low-energy battery, 30% longer battery life.Powerful all day lasting battery
PIN entryOn card readerOn card readerOn smartphone/tablet
AccessoriesTablet app support, receipt printers & scanners, cloud access to analytics & administrative toolsReceipt printers, tablet stands, cash drawers, barcode scannersDock, instant deposit, iPad POS stand, employee management programme
ColoursWhiteWhite, BlackWhite
Tipping functionalityNoYesYes

By comparing the most important features of the three different card payment machines for small businesses, it is evident that depending on the requirements, they are all great options, especially with low setup costs and no monthly fees.

Check out the winners in the major categories below: 

Lowest Price: iZettle Card Reader 2

When comparing their original prices, SumUp Air Reader and Square Reader come at a lower price than the iZettle Card Reader 2, however quite frequently, the card readers are offered at a much lower price. 

Lowest Transaction Fee: SumUp

Transaction fee of 1.69% is the lowest with SumUp, while the other two charge a fixed price for all types of transactions, a fee of 1.75%.

Most Accepted Cards: iZettle and SumUp

All three brands offer a mobile card reader that works together with iOS and Android apps for processing the payments. When it comes to the card types accepted, you get more options with iZettle and SumUp, but Square is not far behind, as it accepts all major card types. However, from the three, iZettle accepts the widest variety of cards.

Best for Contactless Payments: iZettle and Square

On top of card payments, users are also able to use contactless payment through payment services on their phones. The two most used services Apple Pay and Google Pay are available for all three card processors. However, Samsung Pay is not an option for the SumUp card reader, but is available for both iZettle and Square card readers.

Longest Battery Life: iZettle

Battery life is quite important for devices like these, as they need to perform at all times. Although all three card readers have long-lasting batteries and are able to get through many transactions, iZettle card reader is built with a new powerful battery, promising to hold 30% longer than any other mobile card reader battery on the market.

Hence, if battery life plays a big role in your choice, there is no doubt that the iZettle Card reader is the best option for your business.

Card readers comparison

User Flexibility: SumUp Air Reader and iZettle Reader 2

The placement of pin entry can also affect your decision. As you can see in the picture above, SumUp Air Reader and iZettle Reader 2 allow for the customer to enter their pin directly on the reader. Square Reader on the contrary doesn’t have this feature, and the customers need to enter the pin on the smartphone/tablet.

Receipt Functionality: All Are Winners

Depending on the business and how the card reader is intended to be used, there are extra accessories and features that can be purchased for additional fees. From receipt printers and scanners, tablet stands, cash drawers, to analytics and administrative tools, all three brands offer a variety of additions for a full mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) system. With all the three card readers, receipts can be sent through SMS, email, or can be printed.

Colour Options: iZettle

The design of all three different mobile card readers is very slick and modern. However, so far, only iZettle card readers come in both black and white colours. The rest only come in white for now.

Best Tipping Options: iZettle and Square 

Lastly, we have compared the three card readers in terms of tipping options. Only the SumUp card reader doesn’t allow for tipping – iZettle and Square have implemented this in their products. Thus, if you are in the restaurant industry, for instance, this is something to keep in mind.

SumUp Card Readers Review — Is It the Right Choice for Your Business?

SumUp is one of the leading electronic point-of-sale (ePOS) companies in Europe. They have built their own payment solution end-to-end, and are also working on developing a suite of APIs and SDKs in order to implement SumUp payment into other apps and services.

There are currently two card readers offered by SumUp: SumUp Air Card Reader and 3G Card Reader.

SumUp Point of Sale

Sumup point of sale

Check out prices on Amazon:

SumUp Card Reader

SumUp Air Card Reader vs 3G Card Reader

Although SumUp Air is created to be one of the most advanced devices in its category, with the 3G Card Reader SumUp has gone a step further in creating a unique device that has some features that we haven’t seen in other card readers before.

The original SumUp Air Card Reader works accompanied by a smartphone or tablet. Hence, the owner enters the amount on the mobile/tablet, and the customer can proceed with the payment using a card, contactless, or through mobile payment services.

With the new 3G Card Reader on the other hand, some of those steps are skipped. Only one device (the card reader) is used for the payments. All you need to do is to enter the amount directly on the device, tap the ‘charge’ button, and allow the customer to pay with the preferred method. All the payment methods are available here as well (chip, contactless, or mobile payment services).

SumUp Air Key Features
  1. OLED Display
  2. NFC antenna
  3. EMV chip reader
  4. Powerful battery (500 transactions)
  5. Accepts chip, contactless and mobile payments.
  6. Connects to your smartphone/tablet via bluetooth.
  7. Connects to the internet through WI-FI.
  8. Micro USB charging port.
3g reader key features
  1. OLED Display
  2. NFC antenna
  3. EMV chip reader
  4. Powerful battery
  5. Accepts chip, contactless and mobile payments.
  6. Connects to your smartphone/tablet via bluetooth.
  7. Connects to a 3G network through a built-in SIM card.
  8. Micro USB charging port.

As the name indicates, the biggest novelty of the 3G Card Reader is that it automatically connects to a 3G network via built-in Sim card (no data costs). It was launched in 2018, and is the first and only card reader on the market with this feature for now.

The new SumUp card reader costs £99. It is clearly a higher price, however expected, with all the new features that come with it. Transaction fee is the same for both card readers.

Unique feature

The new 3G Card Reader connects to a 3G network via built-in SIM card. This card reader is the first in the market to have this outstanding feature.

“When we created Air we selected the best components to make sure it is the most advanced in its category. Air sets the standards for mobile card terminals” – SumUp

IZettle Reader 2 Review — The Best Card Reader on the Market?

IZettle revolutionised mobile payments, developing the world’s first mini chip card reader and software for mobile devices back in 2010. They have continued to facilitate payment processes for UK businesses, accepting payments through a card reader and an app, creating a full mobile point of sale solution (mPOS).

IZettle Reader 2 (a second generation) is currently one of the best mobile card readers on the market, allowing for contactless, chip and pin, and mobile payments.

Key Features
  1. Fast to set up, elegant design, and easy to use.
  2. Best card reader battery on the market 30% longer compared to the average device on the market).
  3. It can be charged with micro USB cable or the new iZettle Dock 2.
  4. Fast card payments that take five seconds to process.
  5. Takes two seconds to power up the card reader.
  6. Connects to your smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth.
  7. Does not require a merchant account to use the reader.
  8. Secure payments.
  9. Comes in two colours (white and black).

IZettle’s previous card reader models came with the Car Reader Lite, which was connecting the card reader to your phone/tablet via cable. The newest iZettle Reader 2, on the other hand, connects wirelessly via Bluetooth.

It is safe to say that iZettle Reader 2 has currently the best battery on the market. The new battery lasts 30% longer than any other mobile card reader on the market, and allows for a long day of transactions. Important to add here is that iZettle Dock 2 comes with a built-in battery charger, hence if you purchase both the reader and the dock, you never have to worry about the battery time.

The iZettle Go App is easy to set up and can be a valuable asset to your business. It allows you to switch between users, evaluate your business daily, and find receipts instantly.

iZettle Point of Sale

iZettle point of sale

Check out prices on Amazon:

iZettle Card Reader

Safety plays a huge role when it comes to any kind of payment. IZettle focuses a lot on providing customers with a product that fulfils the highest security requirements and industry standards.

For this reason, they have removed the magstripe and added features such as transaction protection, payment data encryption, and a tamper-proof design. This makes the iZettle Card Reader the most well-protected payment machine on the market.

Lastly, iZettle has made the iZettle Reader 2 available in two colours, which is new when it comes to this type of card reader. So far, we have only seen white mobile card readers.

Unique features
  1. iZettle Card Reader comes with low-energy bluetooth improved battery that holds 30% longer than any other mobile card reader in the market
  2. iZettle Card Reader comes in white and black colours. It’s the first mobile card reader with this feature.

“Fast payments, powerful all-day battery and super robust. It’s our best card reader yet. “ – iZettle Team

Square Reader Review — The Best Value For Price?

Square card reader is also in the top three best mobile card readers on the market. Their secure, fast, and simple card reader is the primary choice of many businesses in the UK. Its popularity shouldn’t come as a surprise, as this card reader boasts outstanding features, and is one of the cheapest card machines on the market.

Square Reader does not require you to have a merchant account, monthly fee, or any other contract. All you need is the card reader, a smartphone/tablet with the Square app installed, and you are set to go.

Key Features
  1. Accepts chip, PIN, and contactless payments.
  2. Accepts payments digitally (over phone or virtual terminal, or owner’s website).
  3. Accepts all major card types.
  4. Process payments in seconds.
  5. Connects wirelessly.
  6. Powerful battery that keeps your card reader charged and ready for a full day of transactions.
  7. Square dock available. It can charge your card reader.
  8. Special case for iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, on which the card reader can be mounted (good for on-the-go payments).
  9. Square Stand for your iPad. Dashboard and Virtual Terminal.

With Square Virtual Terminal, you can charge credit cards on your computer directly, by taking card payments over the phone. Furthermore, once you create your Square account, you get access to a dashboard, containing all the important data and powerful tools for your business.

Square Dashboard

Square dashboard

Is the Square Payment Platform Secure?

No doubt about it. Their hardware is compliant with all EMV regulations and are PCI compliant. Furthermore, customer’s data are encrypted from the moment they type the information, until it reaches the processing environment. Lastly, Square uses a machine that analyses every payment in their ecosystem. This is to prevent any type of fraud on sellers behalf.

Unique features
  1. Once you setup a Square account, you get access to the Square Virtual Terminal. Through this you can accept card payments on your computer over the phone.
  2. If you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, you can get a unique phone case that allows you to mount the Square Reader for transactions on the go

“The chip and PIN and contactless card reader for every business. Square Reader is among the fastest out there when it comes to processing contactless payments. Let your customers tap and go-and keep your line moving fast” – Square Team

Find the Best Mobile Card Reader for Your Business

When selecting the best card reader for your business, it is important to evaluate your business needs and consider many factors to determine which machine is suited to you. Having a fully established ePOS system has many benefits, and the right card reader will make your business operations much smoother. 

Ana Kukoska
Written by Ana Kukoska, Content Coordinator

Ana is a Content Coordinator at Market Inspector. With a background in journalism and digital marketing, she has several years of experience in research, analysis, and content creation. On top of this, her focus lies on SEO and digital PR in the following areas: green sector, sustainability, business, innovation, and more. She and her content team have been featured on reputable sites like Site Pro News, Value Walk, IAmWire, WordTracker, Inc42, and more.

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