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Michelle Monck

Michelle Monck

Consumer Finance Expert
Published: 18/12/2020

At a glance

  • Card readers are now easy to use with a mobile or tablet device
  • Options to scale into point of sale system if needed
  • Payment services extend beyond physical cards to remote payments, PayPal and online reviews: online payment and card machine services

Payments made in cash now only account for 23% of all total payments made in the UK. Data from trade body UK Finance shows that the number of people choosing cash for payments has declined since 2014 from just under half to now less than a quarter. 62% of all card payments are made using contactless debit and credit cards.

Covid-19 is expected to see the share of card payments increase further as consumers and businesses worry about the risks of handling cash. Another effect of the Coronavirus pandemic is an increase in consumers purchasing goods online.

As paying by card and shopping online becomes more and more popular, small businesses need to find easy to use and low-cost options to accept card and online payments. Our guide reviews some of the best and most well-known companies offering card machines and online payment services.

How do we review the best card machine and online payment services providers?

Moneyfacts has over 30 years’ experience in providing impartial and accurate information about products in the financial services space. This review focusses on three specific brands and looks at their range of products and services to help small business to manage payments.

Featured Card and Online Payment Providers

    • Competitive and transparent Card processing rates
    • No monthly fees or setup costs
    • Speedy payment options
    • Opportunity to be part of Shop Small*, a campaign dedicated on promoting local businesses to our Cardmembers
    • SafeKey – Our Strong Customer Authentication solution to detect and reduce online fraud
    • Merchant App to manage payment information on the go
    • Free American Express signage and online logos
    • Free digital marketing tutorials
    • 24/7 customer support

    *Eligibility Criteria Applies

    • Tools to run your business - even when it's not business as usual
    • Reach more customers online
    • Take your business remote
    • Sell a little more safely
    • Get set up with the right solutions for you
    • Sell in new ways
    • More tools to meet every business challenge
    • Hardware for every kind of sale

Links to third parties on this page are paid for by the third party. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting their site. will receive a small payment either if you click the links or if you use their services after you click through to their site. All information is subject is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions.


The list of card and online payment providers on this page is a selection of services available and gives you an idea of the kind of options available. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting any of the providers listed. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

Square – use with your own mobile for quick and easy payments

How does Square work?

Square offers businesses the ability to accept card payments including contactless cards for purchases made in store and online. They also offer point of sales (POS) systems.

Payment services from Square include hardware and software to process your payments both in store and online or in App. Hardware options include terminals to accept chip and PIN card payments and to print and email receipts.

The software from Square processes your business payments going through the relevant networks and acquirers. They are accountable for making sure all these payments are processed to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance standards, removing the burden from you and your business. They also complete anti-money laundering and know your customer (KYC) checks on all transactions too - free of charge. Payments made through Square are data encrypted for security processes.

Square also offers businesses the option to key in card details of their customers (useful for purchases made outside of an ecommerce site or remotely) and for sending digital invoices.

Point of sales services include the Square Stand that transforms an iPad into a point of sale system and can be used in conjunction with a reader to accept card payments. Businesses that have a point of sale system already can also integrate Square with systems including vend, Woo, Wix and Go Daddy.

Who owns Square?

Square was founded by Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey. Jack Dorsey is Square’s CEO and Chairman and the CEO of Twitter. Jim McKelvey is a member of the board at Square. They are headquartered in San Francisco with additional offices in the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia and Ireland. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

How much does Square cost?

Square offers no monthly fees and instead takes a share in the value of the transactions they help the business to make. The Square fee structure is 1.75% for in-person transactions including Chip and PIN, mobile payments and contactless payments. Online payments are charged at 1.09% for European cards and 2.9% for non-European cards of the transaction value. Manually keyed in transaction fees using the Square Point of Sale app and for payments made over the phone using a virtual terminal are charged at 2.5% of the transaction value.

Businesses can buy a Square Reader to manage payments through their mobile device for £19 inc VAT or a Square Terminal that does not require a mobile for £199 plus VAT. The Square Stand to convert an iPad into a point of sale system is £109. There are no monthly rental fees to pay. Square also sells a range of accessories for accepting payments in person.

Point of sale software from Square – including for use in restaurants has no monthly fees and is free to use. Only the transactions incur a charge at the rates quoted above.

Square suggests that businesses with more than £250,000 in credit and debit card sales should speak with them to find out how much they might be able to save by switching.

How safe is Square?

Square has a team of fraud experts as well as sophisticated systems to monitor and identify suspicious payments. Square alerts their customers to any suspicious activity. Their platform is fully encrypted, and it operates to PCI compliance standards, meaning they do the hard work to keep your customers’ data away from hackers and fraudsters. Square also has 2-Step Verification to help keep your account safe too.

Any payment disputes are managed on your behalf by Square, that deals with your customer’s bank to resolve the issue. Square does not charge its customers for any disputed payments.

The firm is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under E Money regulations.

SumUp – easy payments and good for ecommerce

How does SumUp work?

SumUp offers payments services to help businesses receive payments in store, online and on the go. It is probably best known for its card reader devices, but it can also help with businesses needing to create ecommerce sites, manage invoices and with a business payment card.

SumUp offer three card reader devices to help your business accept credit card and contactless payments. SumUp Air connects to your smartphone or tablet through Wifi and you can use a free App to manage your payments. This device can make up to 500 transactions on a single charge. Businesses can also add a cradle to the SumUp Air that will show your customers that you are ready to accept card payments.

SumUp 3G works standalone and comes with an in-built SIM card with free and unlimited mobile data and Wifi connectivity. However, it is designed for fewer transactions, with one charge being able to make up to 50 payments. Businesses can also choose to upgrade this to include a printer. There is free access to a dashboard and reporting of your transactions plus telephone and email support. Payouts to your bank account will take between one to three days.

The Starter Plan from SumUp is an easy wat to get selling products online. Simply load up images and details of your products plus your shipping details to create an online store. The Starter plan is free of charge to use but all transactions made within will have the 1.69% transaction fee applied.

Businesses can have any funds received through SumUp devices or online stores paid into their bank account, taking between one and three days or into a SumUp Card and receive the money the next day.
The SumUp App allows you to create invoices easily and quickly. You can create new invoice templates and the system automatically allocates your invoice numbers and calculates prices and VAT. Your customers can pay their invoices to you easily and securely. All payments are then tracked and matched to your invoices automatically and any late invoices can be followed up.

Who owns SumUp?

SumUp was formed in 2012 and is backed by investors including American Express, BBVA, Groupon, Holtzbrinck Ventures and other venture capital investors. It was established to create a device that would accept card payments and fit into the pocket of busy retailers and small business owners. It is now present in 33 countries across Europe, North America and South America.

What are the costs for SumUp?

SumUp has no monthly fees or rental costs. Businesses will need to buy the payment devices and then SumUp takes a percentage fee of the value of each transaction made. The transaction fee for card, contactless, Apple and Google Pay payments is 1.69%. There are also no fees for using the dashboard or reporting services.

The SumUp Air costs £29 and the SumUp 3G £99 both excluding VAT. The SumUp Air Cradle is £55 plus VAT and the SumUp 3G Printer is £169 plus VAT. Those wanting a professional looking POS system can purchase the SumUp POS for £139.

Those businesses using the SumUp app to generate invoices will also avoid paying any additional fees if their customers pay for this using the payment link provided (only the transaction fee of 1.69% of the transaction value will be due).

The card readers and associated hardware come with a 30-day moneyback guarantee and a 1 year warranty.

How safe is it?

The SumUp Air Card Reader has received full certification from a range of regulatory bodies for its security of processing payments. These include meeting the required standards of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, Mastercard and Visa accreditations.

SumUp is a brand of SumUp Payments Limited which is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under the Electronic Money regulations 2011.

iZettle – widest selection of POS options

How does iZettle work?

iZettle has a range of ready built point of sale (POS) products and a card reader for payments called the iZettle Reader 2. This forms the heart of the iZettle offering and makes it highly flexible and scalable for businesses as they grow. 
Businesses can use the iZettle Reader 2 to accept card and contactless payments. This card reader accepts all the major types of payments including Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Apply Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay. IZettle claims its card reader can process contactless payments in less than five seconds and for Chip and PIN in ten seconds. The battery life is eight hours or up to 100 transactions on one battery charge.
The iZettle Reader 2 is compatible with all devices that have Bluetooth and with a Wifi connection running on Apple iOS 10 and higher as well as Android 4.4 and higher. If a device is not compatible with an iZettle reader than they can claim a full refund up to 30 days after their purchase.  
iZettle then expands this payments service into packages of kit into six different configurations suitable for different businesses depending on their size and sector:
  1. The Store Kit – Mobile is small and aimed at businesses potentially with a limited or no premises designed for customers.
  2. The Mini kit aimed at small businesses that are customer facing and where space is at a premium and simplicity is essential.
  3. The Food and Drink kit aimed at the hospitality sector
  4. The Retail kit for retail stores using barcode scanning
  5. The Full configuration kit for larger retailers and businesses
  6. The Ocean Reader and Dock Set – made with recycled plastic fishing nets and ropes
The iZettle Store Kit – Mobile includes a card reader, the iZettle Reader 2 and a receipt printer. 
The iZettle Store Kit - Mini includes a card reader, the iZettle Reader 2, an iZettle Dock to hold the reader and an iZettle stand for iPads. 
The iZettle Store Kit – Food and Drink has the same spec as the Mini plus a kitchen ticket and receipt printer and paper. 
The iZettle Retail kit has the same spec as the Store kit but the printer is for receipts and there is the addition of a barcode scanner.  
The iZettle full configuration kit includes a card reader, the iZettle Reader 2, dock, stand, printer and paper as standard. Businesses may then choose to add a scanner, kitchen printer and a compact cash drawer.
The iZettle Ocean Reader and Dock Set includes a card reader, the iZettle Reader and a dock. It is a limited edition.
iZettle Go App includes Payment Link, a service to accept payments when customers are not present. The app generates a link that can be sent to a customer by text, Whatsapp, social media meesaging or email. They can then simply click and pay. 
The IZettle Go App now also includes an option for customers to pay using PayPal. This can be helpful if a customer forgets their credit or debit card. It also helps those not wanting to touch Chip and PIN devices. When the customer is ready to pay, the retailer can activate PayPal in the app and this will generate a QR code for the customer to use to scan and pay.

Who owns iZettle?

iZettle was established in 2010 by Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson. It was bought by PayPayl in 2018.

What are the costs for iZettle?

The costs for iZettle will be the purchase of physical equipment and then ongoing transaction costs. 
The iZettle Reader 2 costs £29 excluding VAT up to 31 December 2020 after this it increases to £59 excluding VAT. There is a 1.75% fee on the value of transactions made using the device. There are no monthly costs. A USB cable for charging are provided but not a wall plug.
Payment links charges a 2.5% fee on all transactions made and the use of QR Code has a 1% fee on transactions until 31 May 2021, after this it will move to the standard card present transaction fee.
iZettle point of sale kits costs:
  1. The Store Kit – Mobile costs £259 excluding VAT
  2. The Mini kit – costs £189 plus VAT
  3. The Food and Drink kit costs £399 plus VAT
  4. The Retail kit costs £599 plus VAT
  5. The Full configuration kit costs £311 plus VAT
  6. The Ocean Reader and Dock Set – made with recycled plastic fishing nets and ropes
The IZettle Go App is available for free with no monthly fee. The POS app for the Food & Drink kit is £29 plus VAT per month.

How safe is iZettle?

No card details are ever stored on the smart phone or tablet using the iZettle Go App or on the iZettle card reader. All data sent from and to the devices is encrypted. In the event of a reader or device being stolen iZettle claim that individual card details and money remains 100% safe.

iZettle is a part of PayPal (Europe) and is a licensed credit institution in Luxembourg.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

At a glance

  • Card readers are now easy to use with a mobile or tablet device
  • Options to scale into point of sale system if needed
  • Payment services extend beyond physical cards to remote payments, PayPal and online

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