What is the best card machine in Ireland ?
Whether you would like to acquire your first card machine, or consider switching to a better-suited offer, Entrepreneur Hero will help you find the very best solution for your business.
Accepting card payment is no longer an option for local businesses in Ireland. With the ever-decreasing use of cash and the shift towards contactless payment, having an effective and complete in-store payment solution is now essential.
We have compared the features, fees, and specificities of the main players on the market. While there are several parameters to consider when choosing the right partner, starting with the size of your business can help you find the best solution:
- Micro-business with simple needs: we recommend you choose between the two modern and flexible offers of SumUp and Square.
- Established merchant with regular transactions: you should try Yavin’s modern commitment-free solution, or more classic card machine from banks and traditional players.
SumUp – leading solution for micro-merchants
London-based SumUp has been operating in Ireland for more than 10 years now, where it has won over many small retailers with its simple, no-commitment offer.
Once you have purchased your SumUp terminal, you only pay when you use it. SumUp charges a flat 1.69% fee for each transaction.
This simple fixed rate makes it easy to forecast fees, and allows you to accept international and American Express cards without any additional costs. It is, however, a more expensive option than average to accept ‘normal’ card payments.
SumUp offers three terminals in Ireland: the SumUp Air, the SumUp 3G Printer, and the SumUp Solo. Each device is sold at a different price, but the same 1.69% rate applies regardless of the terminal used.
The SumUp Air is the brand’s entry-level card machine, available for €29. Its compact and sleek design makes it easy to use and carry around. The card machine connects via Bluetooth to a tablet or smartphone, and gets activated through the SumUp app. It is quite easy to set up and offers all basic payment functions such as collection, cancellation, and sending receipts by text or email.
SumUp 3G Printer
The SumUp 3G Printer is a stand-alone terminal, operating without the need to connect a tablet or smartphone. As its name suggests, it can work from anywhere via 3G (and Wi-Fi) thanks to an integrated SIM, and comes with a printer to hand out receipts on demand. Priced at €149, the SumUp 3G Printer will appeal to retailers looking for a traditional-looking stand-alone card machine, with no subscription or commitment.
Solo is the most recent addition of SumUp to its card machine range. The device benefits from both the compact size of the SumUp Air and the autonomy of the SumUp 3G. Available for €99, it can connect to the network via 3G or Wi-Fi and has a fully touch-sensitive screen, but no built-in printer. Among our favorite features: asking the client for a tip based on the transaction amount.
SumUp’s offer is great for micro-merchants who do not make regular sales. As it is very similar to Square in terms of pricing and features, we recommend:
- Going for the SumUp Air if you want a compact card machine that connects to your phone. Square’s alternative, the Square Reader, has no screen nor pin pad, making it less customer friendly.
- If you need a stand-alone solution with a printer, choosing the Square Terminal for its best-in-class design, or SumUp 3G if you need to connect from anywhere with 3G.
- Buying the SumUp Solo if you want an in-between stand-alone solution, with no printer.
Yavin Payment – modern and complete card machine offer for local businesses
Positioned as the SumUp for established merchants, Yavin has launched a unique offer for Ireland in 2022.
Yavin offers a modern and complete in-store payment solution, based on the latest generation of Android card machines, and some of the most competitive commissions on the market.
For €29 per month without commitment, you have access to the following features:
- Acceptance of most payment methods: cards, contactless, QR codes, etc.
- Competitive commissions – on average, Yavin merchants pay less than 1% per transaction
- Dedicated customer service and real-time monitoring tools
- Integration with several PoS software
- Advanced features (eligible merchants): deposit-taking, pay-in-3, distance selling, etc.
- Access to the Yavin Store with many applications available directly on the card machine
Good to know: Yavin’s fees are based on interchange+, plus 0.5% of the transaction amount and €0.05. Interchange+ corresponds to the service fee charged by banks and networks such as Visa and Mastercard, averaging 0.2-0.4% for the most common cards.
According to our tests, most merchants using Yavin pay less than 1% in fees on average. This makes the Yavin offer particularly attractive for businesses with regular cash-flows, such as restaurants, shops, grocery shops, hotels, franchises, etc.
Yavin offers a modern and stylish card machine, from the latest generation of Android 4G & Wi-Fi card machines, with an integrated printer and HD touch screen. It is both elegant and robust (waterproof and drop-resistant), with a battery that lasts for over 8 hours.
The Yavin card machine, which can be bought for €199, is currently free in Ireland – get started.
The terminal’s Android operating system enables the installation of numerous applications via the Yavin Store. Among our favorite features: sending digital tickets by email/text, asking for Google or TripAdvisor customer reviews directly on the card machine, and personalizing customer receipts.
Based on open technology, Yavin can connect (in principle) with all merchants’ favorite tools, such as cash register software, loyalty programs, etc. The complete list of Yavin’s partners is regularly updated on their website.
An amazing solution for established businesses making regular sales, who want a comprehensive and no-obligation offering. We particularly appreciate Yavin’s low commissions, although they are quite complex.
Square – new card machine offer for Irish micro-businesses
US-based Square is a new entrant in the Irish in-store payment market. The company made its SumUp-like offering available in 2021, with a slightly different card machine range.
As with SumUp, you purchase your Square card machine once and then only pay-as-you-go. Square’s transaction fee is 1.75% for all terminals, slightly above SumUp’s 1.69%.
In addition to classic in-store payment services, Square offers a selection of remote payment tools (payment links, QR code payments, etc.), with similar flat-rate pricing.
Merchants can choose between two Square terminals: the minimalist Square Reader and the stand-alone Square Terminal.
The Square Reader is a most basic chip and contactless card reader. It needs to be connected via Bluetooth to an Apple or Android device, where the merchant will activate the reader and optionally ask the customer to type in their PIN code. Available for an affordable €19, it is a rudimentary – yet smart and stylish – way to accept card and mobile payment.
Simply named ‘Terminal’, Square’s most elaborate device combines the versatility of a classic card reader and a futuristic design. It costs €169 and features a large HD touchscreen, an integrated printer, and a long-lasting battery. Only drawback: it connects via Wi-Fi only as there is no SIM card.
Square’s offer is very similar to SumUp’s: it is great for micro-businesses who do not use their card machine very often. Slightly more expensive than SumUp in terms of transaction fees, it differentiates with its unique devices, 24/7 phone support, and wide range of payment solutions.
Elavon – classic card machine with high fees
Elavon is one of the world’s top payment providers, operating worldwide with more than 2 million customers in 30 countries. It is naturally present in Ireland, where it offers a wide range of payment services, including in-store payment.
Elavon provides several types of classic Ingenico and Verifone payment card machines, that can be bought or leased, with transaction fees starting at 1%.
As merchants have to apply online to get a custom price from Elavon, it is difficult to provide a definitive answer regarding the total costs of Elavon’s offer. Public terminal leasing prices are nonetheless above-market, as for the commissions reported by merchants. We advise you ask for a quote if you want to get a full picture of Elavon’s costs for your business.
To be noted: there is a high complaint volume from merchants online, with a recurring reporting of a lack of customer service.
Elavon clients will have the choice between 3 card machine families: MobileMerchant (connecting via smartphone), Tetra (traditional terminals), Poynt (touchscreen terminals).
MobileMerchant is Elavon’s response to SumUp’s Air card machine. It is a €39 card reader that connects to any smartphone via Elavon’s mobile app. The pay-as-you-go transaction fee starts at 2.75% for classic cards, and gets higher for Amex and international cards. It is a very expensive SumUp alternative, with no real added value.
The Tetra Move 5000 and Tetra Desk 5000 are two mobile and fixed traditional Ingenico terminals, that can be rented from €15 per month. They include all the features of traditional terminals, and differ mostly by their connectivity: 3G, Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth for the Move, Ethernet for the Desk. Minimum transaction fees start at 1%.
Poynt P61B and Poynt P5 are two smart Android terminals equipped with touchscreens, built-in printers, and cameras. They can be leased from €27 per year, with transaction fees starting at 1%. Although the technical specs of the devices are quite impressive, the Poynt models are still quite limited in terms of features and integrations. Merchants using Talech PoS will nonetheless appreciate the fully-integrated application.
Elavon’s offer fails to differentiate against other solutions. The MobileMerchant offering, designed for micro-businesses, is way more expensive than SumUp or Square, with no extra features. Similarly, Tetra and Poynt terminals appear to be more expensive and less complete than Yavin’s.
Banks – traditional card machine offerings
Many banks offer their own in-store payment solutions, either developed in-house or through a partnership. For instance, BOI has its own Payment Acceptance division, AIB Merchant Services distributes Clover terminals, and Ulster Bank partners with Worldpay.
Getting a card machine through your bank might be interesting in terms of transaction fees, but often comes along with long-term commitments and several additional costs.
Our advice: to get a full picture of costs, take into consideration all additional fees charged by your bank (monthly installments, commitment duration, set-up fees, transaction fees, customer service fees, network fees, etc.).
If you need a card machine on individual occasions, we recommend that you go for SumUp or Square, who will provide you with a flexible and modern solution without any fixed costs.
For established businesses and entrepreneurs, we recommend comparing your bank’s terminal offering with Yavin’s, which is more comprehensive and competitive than most traditional solutions.
In short: which card machine should I go for?
There recently has been some fresh air in the payment terminals space in Ireland. Newcomers, such as Square and Yavin, bring in greater choice to merchants who want the best in-store payment solution.
Micro-merchants who occasionally use their card machine should choose between the modern and flexible offers of Square and SumUp. Among the many devices available, there will be a card machine that ticks all the boxes for you.
For established merchants with regular cash-flows, we advise you assess the offer of your bank and compare it with Yavin’s complete solution. If you are not satisfied with your bank’s terminals and commissions, you can switch to Yavin with no commitment and without changing banks.