The Best Mobile Card Readers for Small Businesses

The Changing World
Avator By Jonathan Owen
Marketing Manager
Published 3rd May 2019
Last modified 20th June 2023
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As consumers start to move away from cash purchases and large, established retailers are feeling the hit of online competition, it’s becoming more and more important for small businesses to invest in new technologies in order to stay relevant. One of the most beneficial technologies that has emerged in recent years, and is continuing to grow, is that of mobile Point-of-Sale (POS) readers.

These POS systems allow small businesses to take digital payment from debit or credit cards – including contactless and mobile payment – in a way that suits them. That could mean a large POS system with a screen, receipt printer, and more, or a simple contactless card reader that can be used on-the-go. The key benefit of alternative systems is that they allow smaller businesses (that may also be mobile) to track payments, log inventory, and compile reports remotely, even from a mobile device.

But which mobile card reader is the best? Let’s look at the key features of some of the most popular POS systems on the market, as well prices.


Like many of the larger POS providers, iZettle offers both a traditional POS system as well as a smaller card reader – each product offering something different depending on the business needs.

The Point-of-Sale package includes an iZettle card reader, the POS app and access to your personal dashboard, which allows you to compile reports, track sales, and view performance. It also allows you to accessorise your POS system – printers, cash drawers, and much – to better suit your business. This is a good payment option for small businesses that have a fixed location and manage a variety of stock, as the app and dashboard allow you to quickly track transactions and make adjustments for the future.

For even smaller, mobile businesses who’re looking to take mobile and card payments, iZettle also offer the smaller card reader. This can be linked directly to their mobile app, which offers the same functionality as it would with POS system, as well as the ability to send text or SMS receipts to the customer.


One of the best things about iZettle is that the app is completely free to use, albeit with reduced features. However, The Go Plus account, which offers all of the features and the card reader, costs £29. With this structure, businesses pay a 1.75% card reader rate on transactions, with a 2.5% invoice rate. Additional costs are incurred if you want to buy equipment for your POS system. One of the key benefits of iZettle is that there is no early termination fee, meaning you can stop your service whenever you choose.

Square Card Reader

Like iZettle, Square also offer a holistic POS system that allows businesses to take full control of their finances.

However, their Square Reader, a small mobile card reader that’s compatible with chip and PIN, contactless, and mobile payment options, is perfect for small businesses that want to make transactions quickly.

The Square Reader connects directly to your Square mobile app via Bluetooth, which allows you to enter the transaction details before payment. This also lets you instantly see what’s been paid, so you can keep track of invoices as you work. For businesses that want a more ‘professional’ set up, the Square Stand, which integrates a standing iPad with the contactless reader to emulate a more traditional POS system, is also a good choice.


The standard Square Reader costs £29 + VAT, however, the POS software that accompanies it is free to use. This includes real-time analytics of payments, PCI compliance, and the mobile app, which allows you to take payments remotely. There is a flat rate of 1.75% on all contactless, chip and PIN, and mobile payments, however, typed-in card payments – taken on you terminal or mobile – have a 2.5% rate.

There is also a number of optional extras you can have. The Square Reader Dock and Stand – which allow you to fix your reader and iPad in place, and keep it permanently charged – cost £19 and £96 respectively, while you can increase your employee permissions for an extra £3 a month.


The SumUp Air Card Reader offers very similar features to that of Square and iZettle, with some distinct differences.

This is their standard offering, allowing for chip and PIN, contactless, and mobile payments via Apple Pay and Google Pay. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, making it easy to input payments and track data.

One difference between SumUp and the Square Reader is that the Air Card Reader includes an OLED display, allowing customers to see the transaction before they pay. While the Square Reader looks aesthetically unique, it does not allow customers to see this data. The Air Card Reader also has a rechargeable battery, which allows it to be used remotely or in a fixed location, and can handle over 500 transactions before it requires a charge.

SumUp also offer the 3G card reader, a unique device that connects to the internet wirelessly via an in-built SIM card. This means that you don’t require a Wi-Fi connect or smartphone to take payments – simply type in the amount and accept the payment. This is perfect for small, mobile businesses that want to take card payments without any fuss. What’s more, your transactions are stilled logged on your dashboard, so you can track them at your earliest convenience.


The SumUp Air Reader costs £29 + VAT for the device and the 3G Card Reader costs £99 + Vat, with no monthly costs thereafter. There is a fixed transaction fee of 1.69% on both devices, with no costs incurred for using the app or the dashboard reporting systems, making it a truly affordable option for any small business looking to expand their payment options.