SumUp vs. Square - comparing card readers for small businesses in Ireland

SumUp vs. Square - comparing card readers for small businesses in Ireland
SumUp vs. Square

Accepting in-store payment has never been so easy in Ireland. Historically, getting a payment terminal meant committing over a long term, buying or renting an expensive card machine, and trying to understand complex transaction fees. That is no longer the case thanks to solutions like Square and SumUp.

If you are starting your company, or looking for a modern way of getting paid, Square and SumUp will certainly offer relevant solutions for your business. With no commitment, transparent transaction fees and affordable terminals, these are great tools to empower your activity.

Although Square and SumUp present many similarities, they have different features that need to be taken into account when choosing your payment terminal. We have taken a deep look into their offers, to help you find the best card reader for your business.

SumUp and Square: affordable readers for Irish entrepreneurs

SumUp and Square facilitate entrepreneurs' life

For long, in-store payment in Ireland was dominated by traditional banks and financial institutions. There was limited choice, as most entrepreneurs would go for the card machine provided by their bank. Getting a terminal was a significant commitment, both financially and legally.

London-based company SumUp first turned the tide when in launched in Ireland in 2012. With its contactless and portable devices, it provides Irish merchants with a most modern and affordable card reader solution. More than 10 years after that, SumUp is still one of the popular card reader solutions in Ireland, and keeps innovating.

In late 2021, the US-fintech Square in turn started rolling out its terminals in Ireland, making its competitive offer available to all Irish entrepreneurs. As a result, Irish small businesses now have more options than ever to get a card reader easily.

Two simple in-store payment solutions to start your business

Square and SumUp share a common mission to free merchants from expensive and committing offers, and therefore have many similarities. Here is an overview of what you can expect when you go with SumUp or Square:

  • No / low upfront costs: getting started with SumUp or Square requires minimal upfront investment. You only have to purchase your card reader from them to accept payment, with prices ranging from €20 to about €150.
  • Pay as you earn, no monthly fees: Square and SumUp charge you with a fixed percentage fee on each transaction, and that’s it. If you don't use your terminal, you don't pay.
  • No contract: you can stop using your terminal at any time if you want to. No strings attached.
  • Sleek designs and robust technology: both Square and SumUp provide modern hardware with intuitive interfaces and complete features such as digital receipts, tipping, etc.
  • Integrated business solutions: in addition to card readers, Square and SumUp provide a wide range of compatible equipment and software tools for your business, including PoS solutions and online payment features.

Square vs. SumUp readers: offers, features and pricing

Although Square and SumUp have similar value propositions, some notable differences exist in fees, terminals and features. Let’s have a closer look at how they differ and which could be most relevant for your business.

Payment terminals comparison

Entry-level readers: SumUp Air vs. Square Reader

The SumUp Air and Square Reader are amongst the most affordable terminals in the market. Both devices are minimalistic and need to be connected with a mobile device via Bluetooth to operate. While they have limited features, they enable you to accept most payment cards with minimal setup and upfront costs.

SumUp Air

The SumUp Air is available for €29, and connects via Bluetooth with the SumUp app, available on most Android and Apple devices. Customers can pay using contactless or insert, and then type their pin directly on the reader's pin pad.

Square Reader

The Square Reader costs €19 and can connect with most smartphones through the Square app. Although it was specifically designed for contactless payment, customers can also insert their card and type their pin on your smartphone.

Verdict: the choice between these two terminals will be mostly driven by customer experience. The Square Reader is a great choice if you are looking for a compact reader, and that most of your customers use contactless payment. The SumUp Air will be a better solution if you are looking for a more complete reader with a pin pad.

Standalone terminals: SumUp 3G Printer vs. Square Terminal

With the success of their compact readers, both Square and SumUp have created an offer for small merchants looking for more traditional payment terminals. The SumUp 3G and Square Terminal are two modern mobile terminals that can operate in full autonomy.

SumUp 3G Printer

As its name suggests, the SumUp 3G Printer can connect from anywhere in 3G or Wi-Fi and comes with a printer to print out receipts. It looks and acts very much like a traditional payment terminal, and can be bought for €149.

Square Terminal

The Square Terminal is the firm’s most complete card reader, available for €169. It is recognizable by its sleek design and large touchscreen. Although it is equipped with a printer, it does not have any integrated SIM, so you will need a Wi-Fi connection to accept payment.

Verdict: you will have to choose between looks and completeness. The Square Terminal has the most elegant design in our opinion. But if you need to travel with your terminal or have occasional Wi-Fi problems, the SumUp 3G will be the safest bet, so you can accept payment anywhere.

The unclassable: the SumUp Solo

SumUp Solo

In 2021, SumUp came up with a new model, called Solo, that has no equivalent by Square. As per its name, it is a standalone mobile terminal that operates independently without a smartphone or tablet. It is SumUp’s first touchscreen-only terminal, and benefits from the autonomy of the SumUp 3G and the compact size of the SumUp Air. You can get yours for €99.

Verdict: if you can’t decide between a minimalistic and larger terminal, the SumUp Solo will provide your business an original touch. Keep in mind, it has no printer: you will have to send e-receipts to your clients if they ask for it.

Fees and payouts

Square and SumUp charge a percentage transaction fee for each payment, regardless of the terminal or the payment method used:

  • Square: 1.75% per transaction
  • SumUp: 1.69% per transaction

The difference in pricing between both offers is quite limited. Supposing you collect €10,000 with your terminal, fees will amount to €175 with SumUp, and €169 with Square - i.e. a €6 difference.

In terms of payment methods, SumUp and Square are can accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and most mobile wallets (Google Pay, Apple Pay) regardless of the terminal used. SumUp also accepts Discover, JCB, and Union Pay cards, which Square doesn't.

Verdict: SumUp is slightly more advantageous in terms of fees and cards accepted.

Online payment, PoS and others

Square and SumUp offer a complete range of integrated tools to accept payment. This includes payment links, QR codes, invoices, phone payments, etc. All transactions are then centralized in your back-office, making it easy to monitor all collections. Pricing and features are quite similar: in both cases, you will access simple services with a fixed and transparent percentage fee.

In terms of PoS and business solutions, Square has the most advanced functionalities, offering for example a dedicated solution for retailers and restaurants, and integrations to accounting software. SumUp on the contrary has a more generalist all-in-one approach, with simpler features and even offers its own bank account solution.

Finally, both Square and SumUp have their own e-commerce solution if you wish to take your business online. Setting up the store is entirely free, and you only pay a transaction fee for each online sale.

Verdict: beyond card readers, we recommend taking into consideration all the features offered by Square and SumUp based on your business needs. SumUp is the simplest solution for starting businesses, while Square offers more advanced tools for merchants with specific needs.

Summary: choosing your terminal

sumup_small square_small
Bluetooth terminals SumUp Air - €29
bluetooth, pinpad
Square Reader - €19
bluetooth
Standalone terminals SumUp Solo - €99
3G/Wi-Fi, touchscreen
SumUp 3G Printer - €149
3G/Wi-Fi, pinpad, printer
Square Terminal - €169 + VAT
Wi-Fi, touchscreen, printer
Transaction fees 1.69% 1.75%
Accepted cards Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Visa Electron, Vpay, Discover, JCB, or Union Pay Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Visa Electron, Vpay
Contactless Cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay Cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay
Funds transfer 1-3 days 1-2 days
Live support Monday-Friday: 8am - 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: 8am - 5pm
Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
Link to website Start with SumUp Start with Square

Which payment terminal for larger businesses?

While SumUp and Square are great for starting businesses and small merchants, you might want to consider more suitable options as your business grows and becomes more successful.

If you collect more than €5.000 per month with your card reader, you might consider other solutions with lower percentage fees and more advanced payment features. For instance:

📺 Watch our SumUp vs. Square video review