What Is the Best Card Reader in the UK?

Card machines uk

Navigating the myriad of card reader options in the UK market can be a challenging task for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small shop looking for an affordable pocket reader, or an established business in search of a comprehensive payment solution, understanding the options available is essential.

We have created a comprehensive guide to find the best card reader solutions in the UK, tailored to various business needs. If you are looking for your first card reader, or willing to get a more suitable offer, you are in the right place!

☕ As a starting business with unpredictable cash flows, you might be interested in the compact Bluetooth SumUp Air and Revolut Reader, or in the countertop Square Terminal. These affordable devices and pay-as-you-go commissions make them the best options for you.

Discover the most affordable card reader in the UK 👉 SQUARE READER

🛍️ As a more established business, we recommend you have a look into the no-commitment and complete Yavin Terminal, or the simple and seamless Dojo Go offer. These are the newest and most versatile card reader offers for merchants who want both simplicity and control.

Discover the best no-commitment card reader offer 👉 YAVIN TERMINAL

The Best Card Readers for Starting Businesses in the UK

Solutions like SumUp, Square or Revolut are certainly among the best card reader options for UK small businesses. They do not only offer affordable readers, but also a complete range of tools for small businesses to get started: invoices, bank account, payment links, etc.

Once you have purchased a card reader, with a price typically ranging from £20 to £150, you only get charged a small fee per transaction. This makes it a great deal for small companies who want to accept payments with no commitment or fixed monthly fee.

Sumup – Best Card Readers for Starting UK Shops

sumup

The London-based SumUp has been established in the UK for more than 10 years and has helped millions of starting businesses since then.

SumUp not only offers card readers, but also a full suite of tools to get a business started: bank account, payment links, PoS software… They are therefore a preferred choice for entrepreneurs who want to get started with the best tools from day 1.

⭐️ Link to SumUp offer

SumUp currently offers 2 card reader devices in the UK: The mPoS SumUp Air, and the standalone SumUp Solo. Regardless of which card reader you go for, SumUp charges 1.69% for each transaction accepted through the terminal.

SumUp Air Review

The SumUp Air is SumUp’s most affordable device, helping you accept payments from only £39. This calculator-like device is equipped with a small screen and a PIN pad, for your customers to enter their card code.

To get started with the SumUp Air, you simply have to install the free SumUp app on your smartphone, and connect it to the reader via Bluetooth. You can then enter the amount on your phone, validate it, and have your clients pay on the SumUp Air using contactless or insert. The receipt can then be sent via text or email.

✅ We like: sleek and intuitive

❌ We don’t like: requires a smartphone to operate

ℹ️ Ideal for: small shops who want a basic yet effective payment solution

SumUp Solo & Printer Review

The SumUp Solo is SumUp’s most advanced device. Equipped with a large touchscreen and 4G SIM card, it enables you to accept payments anywhere and does not require a smartphone to operate. It comes for £79, with an extra £60 if you choose the printer option.

The SumUp Solo is fully standalone, you can process refunds, access your history and much more directly from the device. It also comes with a smart tipping option, that will suggest a tip based on the transaction amount.

✅ We like: standalone and modern

❌ We don’t like: high transaction fees

ℹ️ Ideal for: travelling businesses who need a standalone yet compact solution

Square – Best Card Readers for Starting UK Restaurants and Bars

square

Originally from the US, Square has rapidly established itself as a key player in the UK SMEs space, especially in the hospitality sector. Square offers a full suite of tools to manage your business more efficiently, including an advanced PoS for restaurant management.

Just like SumUp, Square provides affordable card readers for starting businesses. Once you buy your Square device, you only get charged 1.75% per transaction. This makes Square ideal for entrepreneurs, as they can start their business with limited investment.

⭐️ Link to Square offer

Square offers two devices in the UK: the minimalist Square Reader, and the standalone Square Terminal. Each of these devices were designed for different merchant needs.

Square Reader Review

The Square Reader is the most compact device that connects to your phone via Bluetooth to help you accept payments. It is available for £19, making it the most affordable card reader in the UK market. You simply must install the free Square app on your smartphone to get started and accept all payments via insert or contactless.

As the Square Reader does not have any screen, your customers will have to type in their PIN code on your phone if they pay via insert. For this reason, we recommend using the Square Reader if most of your customers pay using contactless.

✅ We like: compact and robust

❌ We don’t like: no-screen, requires a smartphone to operate

ℹ️ Ideal for: small businesses with clients paying mostly via contactless

Square Terminal Review

Square has designed the Square Terminal as a modern alternative to traditional-looking terminals. This standalone device features all the essentials of a classic card reader, with a modern twist: 4G SIM card, integrated printer, large touchscreen.

As the Square Terminal has a large touchscreen, Square has made it possible to use the Square PoS directly on your Terminal. You simply have to select the relevant products, validate them, and the correct amount will show up directly on the screen.

✅ We like: complete and modern, large touchscreen and printer

❌ We don’t like: no SIM card, high transaction fees

ℹ️ Ideal for: modern small businesses who need a PoS and card reader for their countertop

Revolut Reader – Best Card Reader for Revolut Business Clients

revolut

The UK mobile-first bank Revolut has recently been expanding its business offering with several new features, including card readers. Since July 2022, Revolut’s business clients can accept payments directly with the Revolut Reader.

To get started with the Revolut Reader, you will first have to open a business account with Revolut. The Reader is included in all the Revolut plans, including the free one.

⭐️ Link to Revolut offer

Just like a traditional mPoS, the Revolut Reader requires a smartphone to operate, as well as the Revolut Business app. The device can accept most card types in chip insert or contactless and is equipped with a touchscreen for your clients to type in their PIN.

Available for £49, the Revolut Reader then will charge you £0.02 per transaction, and 0.8% for local consumer cards, or 2.6% for non-UK and commercial cards.

✅ We like: competitive rates, simple set-up

❌ We don’t like: limited functions, no standalone reader

ℹ️ Ideal for: Revolut Business account holders who want a fast and affordable in-person payment solution

Best Card Readers for UK Restaurants and Businesses

While banks traditionally had a monopoly over card readers in the UK, new solutions like Yavin or Dojo make it easier than ever before for established businesses to accept payments.

Yavin and Dojo both offer competitive transaction rates, modern solutions, and value-added features for business owners to manage their company more effectively:

  • Yavin is the most flexible solution for UK businesses, as they offer you to buy a card reader and then to only pay when you use the device.
  • Dojo is a simple and robust payment solution for business owners willing to commit to a card machine contract for over a year.

Yavin – Best No-Commitment Solution for Modern UK Businesses and Restaurants

yavin

Yavin card readers are designed for established UK merchants, who want the same competitive rates as banks, with no commitment or additional fees.

Yavin currently offers 2 devices in the UK: the 4G Yavin Terminal with printer, and the compact 4G Yavin Reader. Those two sleek standalone devices can accept most payment methods, and come with a detailed back office for merchants to manage all payments.

⭐️ Get 50% of your first YAVIN card machine with Entrepreneur Hero

Both card readers are included in Yavin’s Pro Plan, which comes for £25 per month, and gives access to Yavin’s complete services:

  • Acceptance of all payment methods with 4G or WiFi: cards, contactless, QR codes, etc.
  • Access to Yavin’s bank transaction rates, typically around 0.6% for local cards.
  • Phone customer support on weekdays and email / chat on weekends
  • PoS integration with leading UK PoS software.
  • Yavin apps like Tipping, MOTO payments, Google Reviews, etc.

The Yavin Terminal

The Yavin Terminal is Yavin’s most complete device. It is a sleek standalone Android card reader, equipped with a 4G SIM card, large touchscreen, and a thermal printer. The Yavin Terminal can accept most payment methods, and features a detailed on-device history, enabling business owners to monitor their daily activity directly from the terminal. The Yavin Terminal can both be used at a countertop, or can easily be carried around.

The Yavin Reader

The Yavin Reader is Yavin’s compact version of the Yavin Terminal. It does benefit from all the features of the Yavin Terminal (4G SIM card, large touchscreen, apps, etc.) except it doesn’t have a printer. Receipts can therefore be printed through an external printer, or sent to the customer via email or SMS. The Yavin Reader can easily fit inside a pocket, making it ideal for restaurant staff, taxi drivers, or any itinerant business.

Yavin Offer Verdict

✅ We like: competitive-rates, no-commitment, next-day funding

❌ We don’t like: monthly fixed fee

ℹ️ Ideal for: established UK businesses who want an affordable best-of-breed payment solution

⭐️ Get 50% of your first YAVIN card machine with Entrepreneur Hero

Dojo – Complete Payment Solution for UK Established Businesses

dojo

The modern payment company Dojo is a fully owned subsidiary of the UK historical player Paymentsense, that has equipped thousands of merchants in the UK. With a simple and complete offer, Dojo Go, Dojo ambitions to offer businesses an alternative to traditional card readers.

The Dojo Go terminal is a sleek white Android card reader, which includes all the features you can expect from a modern card reader. The Dojo Go includes a 4G SIM card, a large touchscreen, and a built-in printer. It was also designed to be as intuitive as possible, making it easy to accept payments with the card machine from day one.

⭐️ Link to Dojo offer

The price of the Dojo Go depends on your business’ monthly turnover:

  • If you make less than £150k in card payment per year (£12.5k/month), a monthly £20 will apply, as well as transaction fees of 1.4% + 5p
  • For businesses making above £150k in card payment per year, the monthly terminal fee is £15/month, and transactions and commitment horizon are negotiable.

Pricing can therefore be specifically relevant for larger businesses.

Lastly, Dojo has built an ecosystem of tools for business owners to manage their daily activities. This includes a booking management tool for restaurants and bars, a mobile app to monitor transactions, and business funding options.

Dojo Go Verdict

✅ We like: competitive-rates, complete and intuitive

❌ We don’t like: commitment period, monthly fee

ℹ️ Ideal for: established UK businesses who want a simple yet complete card machine

Traditional UK Card Reader Offers Review: Barclaycard, Worldpay, Takepayments…

barclaycard

Historically, bank card readers were the only option available to UK merchants. Although there are now many alternatives to banks to obtain a card reader, these remain very popular as they are perceived as secure and trustworthy.

Most banks have a similar pricing model: instead of purchasing the device, merchants can rent it with a tied contract. Some banks require upfront payment and setup costs. Commission fees are commonly tailored to the sales volume, while monthly service fees vary among banks.

Barclaycard – Traditional Card Reader Offer by Barclays

Barclays is a renowned financial institution in the UK that has gained the trust of merchants over the years. The bank offers three different card readers that are suitable for businesses of any kind, with tailored transaction fees starting from 1.6%.

The most distinguished feature that makes Barclaycard stand out among traditional banking offers is their deal with Freshbooks, a specialized accounting software that is available for free when using their card readers.

Barclaycard Anywhere

The Barclaycard anywhere is the smallest device offered by Barclaycard and the best option for small retailers in the need for a pocket-size card reader. This Bluetooth mPoS costs £29, and then only charges 1.6% transaction fees when the device is in use.

Barclaycard Flex

The Barclaycard Flex is a traditional-looking card reader, for regular businesses. This device can process transactions using Wi-Fi or mobile data. Its pin pad and small touch screen make it a convenient option for most merchants. Rates are variable according to the business size, and it requires an 18-month commitment and a monthly fee of £15.

SmartPay Touch

This Android card reader is the most modern and well-equipped Barclaycard device. It offers a complete set of services, including booking, stock monitoring, and connectivity with suppliers. The monthly fee is £29 with a 12-month commitment. Rates start from 1.6% for new merchants, but an adjusted offer is available for businesses that already accept payments.

Barclaycard Card Readers Verdict

✅ We like: tailored fees, FreshBooks plan for free

❌ We don’t like: 12-18-month commitment for the Barclaycard flex and SpartPay touch

ℹ️ Ideal for: Barclays’ business customers who need a card reader easily

Worldpay – Card Machine Offer by FIS

Worldpay, originally from the U.S., is one of the largest payment solution providers worldwide, serving over one million merchants. In the UK, Worldpay offers two card readers complemented by the Worldpay Dashboard, which facilitates a wide range of financial services, including accounting reconciliation and complete analytics. A premium version of the service is also available, offering additional services for larger businesses.

To obtain a Worldpay card reader, you must commit at least 18 months. The contract will specify different fees including the rent of the device, monthly minimums, security standard charges, and the cost of having reports and analytics. Transaction fees depend on the size of the business. For small merchants, the transaction fees are fixed at 1.5% and for merchants with annual sales above £100,000 transaction fees are customized.

Countertop Card Machine

The countertop device is designed to be used in a fixed location, making it perfect for merchants who need to process payments at their countertop. The device is quite simple to use, allowing to process transactions quickly by easily inputting the sale amount.

Mobile Card Machine

The mobile card machine is a standalone device with 4G connectivity included. It is ideal for merchants who need to process payments in various locations. However, this device can also be used as a countertop card reader. Its wide screen, like a smartphone, allows to perform different and more complete services compared to a countertop card machine.

✅ We like: Worldpay Dashboard, accepts online and phone payments

❌ We don’t like: lack of fees transparency, long commitment horizon

ℹ️ Ideal for: traditional businesses who want a most basic payment solution

Takepayments – basic card readers for rent

Takepayments is a UK company that specializes in equipping merchants with payments solutions such as card readers, online payments, and PoS systems. The company offers four different card readers and two payment plans, allowing merchants to choose the option that best suits their needs.

To rent the card readers, merchants can either choose to commit to an 18-month contract for a low-cost plan or opt for the “Easy Deal,” which charges a setup cost of £150 to gain more flexibility. Transaction fees for the four terminals are customized based on sales volume. Then, the rental cost of the device depends on the card reader and plan (long-term commitment or Easy Deal). Finally, a monthly PCI compliance fee of £15 and a £10 monthly minimum charge apply. Customers may also face additional costs, such as setup fees and 4G plan fees.

The four card readers are similar in terms of hardware, with the main differences being their level of portability and the integration with a PoS system.

Takepayments Plus

The most popular card reader is the TakePayments Plus given that is the most comprehensive. It is fully portable and has an integrated point-of-sale system. With the PoS, the card reader can register all sales no matter the payment method. This allows to track stock, identify productivity, and provide real-time reporting of all transactions including card and cash payments.

Countertop, Portable and Mobile terminals

The countertop, portable and mobile terminals are similar in terms of functionality. All three have touch screen and accept contactless payments. The main difference lies in how portable they are. The countertop version is most compact and resistant, but it must be always connected. The portable card reader has a base that connects via Bluetooth, allowing the terminal to be carried up to 50 meters away. Lastly, the mobile version works through 4G connectivity so it can be used anywhere.

✅ We like: well-rated customer service, simple PoS included in Takepayments plus device

❌ We don’t like: 18-month commitment, many additional fees

ℹ️ Ideal for: merchants looking for a tailored offer and a light PoS solution

Conclusion: What Is the Best Card Reader for Your UK Business or Restaurant?

POS

While card readers were historically offered by banks in the UK, there are now increased options to choose from.

  • For small businesses, solutions like SumUp, Square or Revolut offer affordable readers with pay-as-you go transaction fees, to help you get started easily.
  • For more established businesses, players like Yavin and Dojo provide competitive alternatives to traditional offers.

When comparing different options, remember to have a look at all the parameters of the offers. Not only transaction fees will be decisive, but also the commitment horizon, features available, hidden fees, etc.

pos
Previous reading
Tap To Pay SumUp: Complete Review and Test
Next reading
What Is the Best Card Reader in the UK?