Looking for a free POS with a free card reader?
- Date Established
- London, England
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- No monthly minimums
- PCI-compliant solution
- Affordable chip card hardware
- Ideal for low-volume merchants
- Free virtual terminal for qualifying businesses
- Limited features
- Account stability issues
- No in-app invoicing
- Limited reporting
SumUp is a UK-based payment service provider that offers in-person payment processing through its mPOS app and proprietary card reader. Its product offering is very similar to its closest competitors, Square and PayPal Here (or iZettle in the UK), making it a good option for low-volume and small-ticket mobile merchants without complex inventory.
I watched and waited for SumUp to hit the US for almost a year when it first started advertising its forthcoming US expansion. I kept checking the website frequently and emailing the staff with questions. I was, therefore, excited when the company officially opened for business in the US, and I had a chance to test drive and review the app and the hardware.
Fast forward a few years, and SumUp is still operating in the US, albeit rather quietly. Maybe a bit more quietly than I’d envisioned. All the same, SumUp isn’t just some new, untested provider angling to unseat Square or PayPal Here. Along with iZettle, the company is already well-established as a top option in Europe.
In 2016, the company merged with the German payment processor Payleven. In 2018, SumUp was ranked as the fastest-growing private company in Europe by Inc. Magazine, adding 2,000 merchants and handling 100,000 transactions per day. In June 2019, SumUp reported a user base of over 1.5 million businesses worldwide. Additionally, SumUp is available to merchants in 31 countries on three continents — a fairly impressive tally. It’s possible to temporarily set up your account to process in one of these other countries, which is ideal for businesses that travel to trade shows, conventions, and other events.
This review focuses primarily on the US-based service, though you will see us also refer to the UK service and how they differ. If you are outside these two countries, check the SumUp website in your country for specifics of pricing and available features. We’ve looked at reports specifically from US merchants as well as those from around the globe to get a picture of the overall experience and how its operations in the US compare to those in the UK and other countries.
Given SumUp’s international stature, do the company’s offerings meet our expectations? On the whole, they do, though some details still need to be worked out. Overall, though, the feature set on offer is solid. SumUp has all of the essentials you need for mobile processing, even if it doesn’t have a ton of (or any) bells and whistles. I appreciate the fact that SumUp opted for phone support right out of the gate, which should lead to a better experience overall. For UK merchants, the feature set is far more expansive and includes an omnichannel option for sellers to start making sales in person and online.
For all of these reasons, SumUp gets a 4-star score out of 5 stars. If we saw some improved features on the US side, it might be able to climb the ranks a bit. Until then, it’s holding steady with a general recommendation.
Read on for a full breakdown of SumUp’s services and what we found relating to the company’s customer service and reliability. Have experience with the company, especially in the US? Leave us a comment and give us an idea of the SumUp user experience!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
The core offering for SumUp is mobile card processing. The mPOS app is free to download, available for both Android and iOS, and must be connected to the internet to work. In the UK, you’ll find a few additional features that don’t seem to be available in the US.
mPOS App Features
- Item Library: Load items into the app, then add photos, prices, and descriptions. You can create groupings called “shelves” for like products to make everything easier to sort through. There’s no count feature, however.
- Item Variants: Specify different prices for different sizes, colors, etc. In SumUp, the variants appear in a popup screen after you choose the base item rather than as separate entries.
- Quick Sale Mode: Instead of ringing up items, you can enter a “quick sale” mode.
- Refunds: While you won’t see this feature right away in the app, it is available if you go to Sales history > Details view of a transaction > Sale payment card > More options.
- Tipping: You can set presuggested tip amounts in the app but only by percentage. For very small-ticket businesses that prefer dollar amounts, this could be a minor annoyance.
- Cash Recording: After you press “Charge” in the app, you’ll have an option to choose the payment method.
- Email & SMS Receipts: Pretty standard stuff here, but it’s always worth noting. You do get some customization options too.
- Receipt Printer Connectivity: You can also connect a receipt printer and use it with the app.
- Analytics: SumUp’s analytics are pretty simple right now, but you can analyze sales data by date ranges, types of transactions, and average sales amounts, for starters.
- Multiple Tax Rates: When you set up an item, you have the option to associate it with a tax rate. You can create new tax rate options within the app, and you can also apply multiple tax rates. However, you can’t delete a tax rate that is associated with a product. You’ll have to delete the item first, then redo it all. This is not my favorite system, but at least you can modify tax settings from within the app, which is important for mobile. Clover Go, by comparison, only lets you change tax settings from the web browser.
In my experience using the app, it is fairly intuitive. Whether this is your first time using an mPOS service or you’ve dabbled in them all, you should be able to quickly find your way about, at least for the core functions.
If you’ve looked at any of our other reviews, you’ll probably notice a lack of certain features:
- Inventory counts
- Bulk product import/export
- Modifying items from the dashboard
I take issue with the lack of universally-available discounting (it’s only available in the UK). The rest of the features make my wish list only because Square has raised the bar pretty high. However, they aren’t essential to an mPOS and certainly aren’t ubiquitous among its competitors.
Finally, take note that if you are a high-risk merchant, SumUp will not do business with you. (Examples of businesses considered “high risk” by payment processors include pawn shops, adult entertainment, and debt service businesses.) Instead, you’ll need to find a high-risk merchant account. SumUp is also very clear that certain business types are not supported, so make sure you take a look at the restricted businesses list. Generally speaking, if Square, Stripe, and PayPal don’t support your business, there’s a very good chance that SumUp won’t either.
Virtual Terminal & Mobile Payments
Another SumUp feature is its Virtual Terminal, which allows merchants to process card-not-present transactions in the absence of a card reader. Another service SumUp offers for card-not-present transactions is Mobile Payments, a service that sends a link to a payment form via email, SMS, or WhatsApp message to a customer, who then enters their payment details into a web form to complete the transaction.
In both cases, the rate charged is 2.95% + $0.15/€0.25/£0.25 (the currency used depends on your location), which is a pretty good rate for a virtual terminal/CNP processing service.
Unfortunately, you have to apply for approval to use the Virtual Terminal and Mobile Payments, and not everybody will be approved. According to SumUp, the company can verify your business if you submit any of the following:
- Business registration number
- EIN/copy of EIN letter
- Registration documentation issued by the official authorities
- Annual business tax returns
SumUp also asks you to submit links to your business’s online presence in the form of websites and/or social media accounts.
Established SumUp users (or established businesses in general) would appear to stand a better shot at getting permission to use the Virtual Terminal and Mobile Payments features. This seems to be mostly because of licensing and risk issues.
In February of 2019, SumUp announced the acquisition of Shoplo, a multichannel eCommerce platform that would allow sellers to manage all their sales in one place. SumUp has recently introduced its Online Store Starter, a trial program for eligible merchants in the UK to launch their own eCommerce shops.
However, these features are not advertised to US merchants, only those in the UK. SumUp does also offer APIs for eCommerce, so developers can build SumUp payments into their checkouts. However, the site does not make it clear who is eligible to use the APIs, so you should do your research and contact the company if you’re interested in developing payment flows with SumUp’s tools.
There is one thing that will set SumUp apart from the rest of the mPOS providers, especially for companies that sometimes handle international business: It’s available in 31 countries at the time of writing this. If you contact the company in advance, it will enable you to process payments in the other countries where SumUp operates. Right now that list includes:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
- United States
Essentially, that’s Europe, the US, Brazil, and Chile.
If you do trade shows, conventions, farmer’s markets, or other events abroad, SumUp starts to look like an appropriate choice. Just note that your fees will vary, depending on the country in which you are doing business.
According to the help center, the SumUp app requires the following specs:
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Minimum Apple iOS 9.0 or Android 4.4
That’s it. There’s a handy tool within the app that can check whether your device is compatible with the card reader. Speaking of which, SumUp’s card reader reminds me of Square’s. It’s sleek, sexy, and minimalist. (Yes, I just called a piece of hardware sexy. Deal with it.)
The device works similarly to how a lot of other EMV card readers work these days, including Clover Go and PayPal Here. It connects to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and supports magstripe, EMV/chip cards, and contactless payments (including Apple Pay and Google Pay) all in one.
I say it reminds me of Square, but it does stand out because it has an integrated magstripe reader, which is a nice touch. It’s not my favorite style card reader (the Miura M010 holds that honor), but it works well. Points to SumUp for creating a true all-in-one card reader, unlike Square’s Contactless + Chip Reader.
Check out our full unboxing review of the SumUp reader. It’s worth mentioning that this card reader won “Best Physical or Virtual Design” in the Emerging Payments 2017 awards.
One thing SumUp has introduced in the UK — but does not yet offer in the US — is a 3G card reader, available for £99. It does almost everything the standard reader does but without requiring Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and it works without a smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t connect to receipt printers like the standard card reader does (though it does send digital receipts), nor does it support integration with POS systems.
The 3G reader was launched in the UK in October 2018 — there’s no sign of it being introduced in the US, but the market doesn’t currently have a lot of use for this type of reader, either.
Fees & Rates
SumUp’s payment scheme isn’t anything new, but it’s a good model that works: a single standard pay-as-you-go rate of 2.65% for card-present transactions in the US. This stacks up well with Square (2.6% + $0.10) and PayPal Here (2.7%). With Square’s recent rate change (from 2.75% to 2.6% + $0.10) negatively impacting small-ticket merchants — particularly those doing a decent volume — SumUp may warrant consideration from Square merchants disadvantaged by Square’s recent changes. However, unless you’re processing huge volumes, your savings are going to be quite small. For this reason, price shouldn’t be your sole determining factor.
For card-not-present payments accepted via the Virtual Terminal or SMS, SumUp’s rate is 2.95% + $0.15 per transaction.
Like Square, there are no monthly minimums, no setup fees, no cancellation fees, and no ETFs.
It’s also worth noting that in the UK, SumUp’s pricing is 1.69%. Generally, credit card processing costs a lot less in Europe than it does in the US, a fact that I am sure many small business owners lament.
SumUp will deliver your funds (minus its fees) to your bank in one to two business days (two to three business days in the UK). There’s no instant deposit option, but this timeframe is pretty standard for any kind of card processing.
SumUp Card Reader Pricing
You can’t manually enter card information into SumUp (though qualifying businesses can do this on the SumUp app via the Virtual Terminal), which means you’ll need to buy the SumUp card reader to process payments. That’ll run you $19 (£29 in the UK). That’s an awesome deal for a device that can process magstripe, chip, and NFC transactions.
I’m also happy to see that SumUp has recently added an affordably priced charging dock for the reader. You can get both for $39, which is significantly less than the Square Contactless + Chip Reader and the PayPal Chip & Tap Reader and their respective docks.
I don’t love that the price of the reader isn’t disclosed until you make an account on the SumUp website. I find that kind of gatekeeping to be a huge turn-off, especially given what a value this little card reader is.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
It looks like SumUp US is working toward expanding some of the content on its site, which is nice to see. The new and improved help center makes a big difference. There are no gimmicky offers on the site and no undeliverable promises.
SumUp also has social media, like any business worth its salt. There’s a Facebook page that seems mostly abandoned as well as a much more active Twitter account. There’s also an Instagram account, a YouTube account, and a LinkedIn account.
Like most other mPOS providers, SumUp mostly relies on word of mouth and online advertising. You’re not going to encounter a sales team in the field offering demos. I really like this approach because independent resellers and sales reps tend to promise the world to merchants — but they rarely deliver.
I mentioned this before, and it’s important to mention again because this is one of the most touchy subjects for any small business using a mobile processing service: SumUp will let anyone apply for an account, but it will not work with all types of businesses. This is because of restrictions placed on the company by regulatory agencies as well as its financial partners. And this is exactly how Square and PayPal also work. Not all businesses will be a good fit with SumUp, and if you’re looking to switch from Square or PayPal specifically because they say they don’t support your business model, you will not have any better luck with SumUp. Check the restricted businesses list before you make an account.
Also, again, remember that SumUp is a payment service provider, or third-party payment processor. That means that every user account has an inherent amount of risk and instability to it. Not every merchant will have their account terminated (that’s a terrible business model), but opening an account with SumUp does mean you have to accept the risk. This is universally one of the biggest complaints against third-party processors, including PayPal and Square (along with complaints about unsupported business types and customer service). Before you sign up with any processor, you need to understand what you are agreeing to. Be informed, be willing to accept the risk, or look for a traditional merchant account instead.
Overall, I have every reason to believe that SumUp is straightforward and transparent in its operations. The pricing is clearly laid out. Contract terms are clear and fair. The complaints against SumUp (which we’ll get to soon) are the standard fare. They’re not unique or even uncommon, which are the sort of problems that are typically indicative of more significant issues.
Contract Length & Cancellation
SumUp is, as I’ve said, a pay-as-you-go third-party processor. You can sign up or terminate your account at pretty much any time. There are no termination fees. That said, if your account is inactive for two years, SumUp will terminate it and follow the standard procedure in your state for the disposal of any funds in the account, if there are any (there probably won’t be).
Customer Service & Technical Support
SumUp offers email/ticket-based support. You can access it through the mPOS app as well as through the website. In the past, the FAQ was a bit rudimentary, but SumUp has stepped it up with a US-based support center site that has answers to lots of commonly asked questions. It’s also searchable, and the search works. It’s still not as extensive as Square’s, but Square also has a boatload of features that SumUp lacks.
You can also get hold of SumUp via phone between 9 AM-7 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. I haven’t found much information about the quality of phone support, but I also didn’t find a string of complaints about how awful it is, either. Trying to gauge the effectiveness of phone support is as much an art as it is quantitive science; sometimes a lack of complaints can speak volumes.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
There’s a lot more data now from US- and UK-based merchants, which is both nice to see and always a teeny bit worrisome. But you should always consider the number of complaints versus the overall size of the company. With SumUp adding 2,000 merchants a day across the world, it’s not too surprising that the overall amount of chatter about the company has increased.
The few reviews I did find are pretty much all over the place. The biggest complaints I’ve seen are the same ones I’ve seen from processors here in the states:
- Account Holds & Freezes: The biggest number of complaints I see about SumUp relate to account terminations because SumUp doesn’t support a merchant’s business model. But as a third-party processor, SumUp is always going to have to assess risk carefully. Square and PayPal Here are the same way. Before you buy the SumUp card reader, you should make an account and get it verified, just be sure SumUp will work with you.
- Unreliable Customer Support: I didn’t find a lot of complaints about this and none were very specific. Some merchants had trouble finding the phone numbers, and others say the reps were unhelpful. Some were annoyed at the verification process. A few users reported extensive delays when applying to use the Virtual Terminal/Mobile Payments feature.
- Hardware Glitches: Again, this isn’t something that I see a lot of complaints about, but a few people have mentioned that they’ve had hardware that failed or glitched out. The SumUp reader does come with a one-year warranty, and I’ve seen reports from merchants who were able to replace their readers with minimal fuss. The biggest problem here is that if the card reader fails, there’s no manual entry option. So you won’t be able to process payments at all unless you have the Virtual Terminal and/or Mobile Payments activated on your app (and again, these services are not available to all merchants). That does stand in contrast to most other US-based mPOS providers, which do offer support for card-not-present transactions.
There is one curious trend of complaints about the credit card reader on Amazon, of all places: people who have bought the reader expecting it to work with Square or PayPal. Generally speaking, mobile card readers will only work with one particular processing app, and you shouldn’t expect compatibility with SumUp’s competitors.
SumUp does have an entry on the BBB website with an A+ rating, though it isn’t accredited. The company does have six complaints over the past three years, but that’s an incredibly small number for any payment processor.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
SumUp’s mPOS definitely has press coverage, which is more than we can say for a lot of mPOS providers. Mostly it relates to announcements of new features and isn’t necessarily a glowing endorsement (it’s certainly not a scathing review, either!). You can check out some of those articles on SumUp’s press page. SumUp is also proud to advertise that companies such as DHL and Staples get paid with SumUp technology (a fancy way of bragging about some of the company’s clients).
You’ll find positive reviews scattered around the web on various websites, but I find the most helpful information usually comes from app store reviews. The SumUp app in the Google Play store has over 1 million downloads and a 4.2-star rating (out of 5) on over 28,000 reviews.
I’m surprised by the fact that there are only 56 reviews for SumUp in the iTunes store (at the time of writing, at least). The rating is just a meager 3.2 stars as well. Clearly, this is an app favored by Android users.
Here’s what I’ve seen from merchants who praise the service:
- Easy To Use: SumUp is a very intuitive app. While the features are basic, that does play into the simplicity of things. Apart from creating an inventory library (if you want to), the only other settings you need to play with are the tax rates and maybe tipping. That adds to the simplicity.
- Low Fees: SumUp’s pricing is straightforward and competitive, both in the US and the UK, and that always goes over well. For very small-ticket merchants, SumUp’s 2.65% rate is marginally more competitive than Square’s 2.6% + $0.10 because that $0.10 transaction fee adds up for purchases under about $10.
- Good Customer Support: To balance out the complaints about lack of support, I do see plenty of merchants saying that support is answering their questions accurately and quickly.
SumUp has also landed an assortment of partners, from retail businesses to financial institutions and more. You can see the list of names on the Partners page, but I am sad to say the testimonials that used to be on that page are now gone, and there aren’t any others on the US site.
Despite some minor shortcomings, I’m still excited about SumUp. It’s an app that you can use (almost) right away — once you’ve got your account set up and verified and the card reader arrives, you’re all set! It’s far from the fanciest system out there, but if you’re a small business that’s just getting started or you only process infrequently, this is a good fit. (And if it isn’t to your liking, remember that you won’t be bound to any contract). While US merchants can’t access all of the features UK merchants can, it’s a solid mobile processing system. For UK businesses, it’s an exciting omnichannel solution.
What remains to be seen is how SumUp will carve out a niche in an industry that is simultaneously growing and consolidating while also weeding out any inferior competitors. I think it’s taking all the right steps. And there’s certainly no shortage of merchants who may be drawn to SumUp’s simplicity after feeling slighted by Square or PayPal.
As with any other third-party processor, there’s a small inherent risk in using SumUp. If you’re not comfortable with that risk, we recommend looking into a merchant account from one of our top-rated providers. Payment Depot has a great option for low-volume mobile merchants with its SwipeSimple app and card reader.
Tlhough the company had four+ years of processing experience in other countries before entering the US market, the company still seems to beat with a European heart. As for the processor’s stability, we had hoped to see a level of stability similar to Square or PayPal Here once SumUp had entered the US market. I don’t think SumUp is quite there yet, but it seems like part of the problem might be merchants misunderstanding how SumUp operates and its restricted businesses list.
For now, we’re happy to award SumUp 4 stars. It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s got a lot going for it right now. For more on how SumUp stacks up against Square, read this piece comparing the two, and if you’re still not sure where you’re going to land, check out our article on the Top 7 Square Alternatives.
Are you using SumUp to process payments? Leave us a comment and let us know about your experiences!
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.