REVIEW: Is the SumUp card reader any good? Generally yes, and here is a discount code / coupon code for you

22 February 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Business Service Review

If you run a business then a key point is getting paid by your customer, and… as quickly as possible! but right now you may currently be limited to accepting:

  • cash
  • cheques
  • credit transfers


  • customers now don’t carry much cash, and do you have the right change?
  • cheques can bounce, plus in Ireland you must physically visit a bank to lodge them
  • Bank credit transfers to new accounts tend to require the sender to use their code generator, which is clunky and slow

Solution? accept credit and debit cards!

If you are in Ireland you are no longer limited to using the domestic banks for card processing. Years ago I tried to get a WorldPay account and gave up. Fortunately, now there is a German firm called SumUp who offer a device that uses the internet to authorise payments.

What do the card readers look like?

Our favourite form factor is the bluetooth device which connects to your existing smartphone. You can then use either your own 3G connection or WiFi to connect to the internet. This works most of the time, but we do find sometimes the app will not connect to the device. SumUp doesn’t display informative error messages, but eventually, we found it was because the app had defaulted to trying to connect to a previous generation of reader, and could not make a connection.
Alternatively SumUp provide what they call a ‘3G reader’ but we found it frequently couldn’t establish a connection over whatever mobile network it uses (SumUp could not tell us which Irish network it uses, so it appears to roam on a built-in data SIM)


  • No standing charge
  • Quality looking card reader
  • No monthly minimums
  • No additional fees for foreign cards
  • Virtual terminal included also, for cardholder not present payments
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Chip & Pin, NFC
  • Accepts Visa, MasterCard, and…. American Express and Diner’s Club (which almost no one in Ireland does!)
  • No contract


  • Works ‘online’ only, so you must have a working internet connection to take a payment (whereas some bank card readers will allow offline chip and PIN transactions below a floor limit). This can be awkard when visiting a location with poor internet. We have resorted to using a customers wifi hotspot in the past when this happened, or reluctantly accepting a cheque
  • Bluetooth connection between reader and smartphone can be sporadic, and app does not give informative error messages.
  • Fee for debit card transactions is the same as credit cards, whereas for terminals from merchant banks debit cards are typically cheaper for large transactions
  • 2.75% transaction fee (which is higher in Ireland than the UK, although in practice many older accounts enjoy 1.75%)
  • No in-app invoicing
  • Limited reporting
  • No ability to add a boilerplate message to email receipts (so customers routinely contact us asking whether or not VAT was included)

Accepted Cards
Accept any credit or debit card (including international cards) that displays the following logos:

  • Visa Credit & Debit
  • MasterCard Credit & Debit
  • American Express
  • Diner’s Club

Our thoughts

Physically you won’t find a device much better than SumUp ‘s Air Card Reader, it has a beautiful design worthy of an Apple product, it is even white in colour! Customers are now more aware of the device, whereas in previous years a merchant would be questioned as to why there is no paper receipt.

If these features aren’t important to you and you simply want the lowest transaction fees for a low volume of card payments, then SumUp is the easy winner. However, your decision becomes a little trickier if the more advanced payment and businesses management features available elsewhere are of value to you.

To enjoy a discount of about €20 on the cost of the reader click on this link to

Who SumUp won’t accept

The following high-risk businesses will need to seek special approval before using the SumUp card reader. We have highlighted the ones that are unusual to see on such a list:

  • Future business: where the delay between processing a card transaction and handing out the product/service is longer than 7 days.
  • Adult entertainment / Pornography
  • Airlines
    Business seminars – like real estate seminars, investment programs, business opportunities/strategies, self-help books, etc.
  • Collection agencies, refinancing of debt / factoring, mortgage, brokers/reduction services/refinancing, Payday loans
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Non-licensed Counselling centres (for example: debt and financial counselling, marriage and family counselling, alcohol and drug abuse counselling, and other personal counselling)
  • Detective agencies, protective agencies, security services including armoured cars, guard dogs
  • Door-to-door sales
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Employment agencies, temporary help services
  • Escort services
  • File sharing services
  • Fortune tellers
  • Gambling
  • Guns, firearms, munitions sale & distribution
  • Illegal or legally questionable businesses or products
  • Investor services/investment clubs. Sale of stocks, securities, options, binary options, Forex, and other investments
  • Male/Female enhancers
  • Membership fees: this is problematic as many clubs would benefit from the use of a card reader
  • Modelling/talent agencies
  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • Pawn shops
  • Political organisations
  • Products with doubtful efficiency: may include but not limited to weight loss products, hair growth products, products to boost, physical performance.
  • Protection services: protection, insurance, or registration, service against things such as identity theft, Internet, fraud, credit card theft or fraud, etc.
  • Pyramid sales/multi-level marketing
  • Religious organisations & goods stores
  • Sexual encounter firms
  • Stamp and coin stores
  • Telecommunication services including but not limited to prepaid phone services and recurring phone services
  • Used cars: this suggests SumUp do not like seeing transactions measured in thousands of euro

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