Accepting Card Payments in Person: A Guide for Irish Small Businesses

In today’s digital age, offering card payment for face-to-face customers is a necessity for any small business in Ireland. Taxi drivers , barbers , coffee shops, food trucks , gardeners , window cleaners etc etc. Customers now expect the ease of swiping or tapping their cards, and businesses that fall behind risk losing sales and frustrating their clients.

The Benefits of Accepting Card Payments

Boost Sales:
Studies show customers are more likely to complete purchases if they can use their cards. By offering card payments, you open your doors to a wider customer base and eliminate the barrier of limited cash on hand.

Enhanced Convenience:
Card payments are faster and more efficient than cash transactions, benefiting both you and your customers. No more waiting for change or fumbling with bills – a simple swipe or tap is all it takes. No more trips to the bank and counting change.

Improved Security: Unlike cash, card transactions offer a layer of security for both you and your customers. With chip and PIN technology and fraud protection measures, you can minimize the risk of theft and fake notes.

Streamlined Operations: Modern card payment solutions often come with additional features like inventory management and sales reporting, simplifying your business operations and saving you valuable time.



Merchant Accounts: The Heart of Card Payments

A merchant account acts as the bridge between your business and the world of card payments. It essentially allows you to accept electronic payments, primarily from credit and debit cards. Here’s a breakdown of its role:

Secure Processing: The merchant account verifies transactions, ensuring the customer’s funds are available and legitimate.
Fund Transfer: Once a transaction is approved, the merchant account facilitates the transfer of funds from the customer’s bank to yours.
Settlement: Funds are typically deposited into your merchant account within 1-3 business days, minus any processing fees.


Choosing Between Banks and Payment Processors

While some traditional banks offer merchant accounts, many small businesses in Ireland opt for payment processors. Here’s a breakdown of the two options:

Traditional Banks: Banks can be a good option for established businesses with high transaction volumes. They may require a commitment and offer less flexibility in terms of pricing and features compared to payment processors.


Payment Processors: Payment processors such as Sumup and Square offer a simpler setup process and transparent pricing structures, and often integrate seamlessly with mobile POS systems.


Mobile POS Systems:

Gone are the days of bulky terminals tethered to phone lines. Mobile Point of Sale (POS) systems offer a sleek and portable solution for accepting card payments on the go. Here’s how they work:

Mobile Card Readers: These lightweight devices connect wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet, transforming them into a complete POS system.
POS App Integration: Most mobile card readers require a dedicated app to manage transactions, track sales data, and send /print receipts.
Feature-Rich Options: Some mobile POS systems offer additional features like stock management, and loyalty programs.


Popular Mobile Card Reader Options in Ireland

Square:

A globally recognized leader, Square offers a free POS system with features including sales tracking and reporting. (Squareup International (Trading as Square) is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland (the ‘Central Bank’) as an Electronic Money Institution.)

Their Square Reader (€19 plus VAT) is a budget-friendly option and requires the free Square Point of Sale app on your smartphone or tablet. The reader has no screen – so any customer PIN required needs to be keyed on the smartphone screen.

The Square Terminal (€169 plus VAT) works without the need for a connected phone or tablet. It has a touchscreen, keypad, and Wi-Fi connectivity. (You can use your phone as a wifi hotspot if you are out and about.) .
If your internet connection becomes interrupted or temporarily unavailable, you can enable Offline Mode to accept swiped card payments as a backup. (time limited).

Square POS app comes free with the card readers mentioned above . It is a useful tool for any business looking to streamline their operations and make their life easier. It’s user-friendly, customizable, and packed with features that can help you manage your inventory, track sales, and process transactions.
Square’s free electronic point-of-sale app comes without any , hidden fees or long-term commitments.

Square also has the option of Tap to Pay on NFC-enabled Android smartphones. Your customers can tap directly on your phone to pay , no need for a card reader. If your customer does not have a contactless payment method, you can also accept payments with manual card entry on your phone. Most Android devices that run on Android 9 or a greater OS and have NFC capabilities


Square Transaction Fees:

Square has 1 simple transaction fee of 1.75%plus VAT for card payments id person.

You Can find out more at Square with free trials available.


SumUp:

SumUp offers 2 mobile card reader options

The SumUp Air (€29) is the basic version , connecting only via Bluetooth to your smartphone.

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.


The more advanced option, with a screen and keypad is the SumUp Solo (€79 plus VAT).
This works with Wi-Fi, or you can use free unlimited mobile data with its built-in SIM card. A possible disadvantage is a short battery life when left on standby, so you might need access to a power socket in case it runs out.

They have a more advanced POS Lite package that includes the Solo reader and a POS Lite tablet for €349 plus VAT. Control your sales, create item catalogues, and generate reports with your POS tablet and built-in free software.

The premium package is the POS Pro for larger businesses. This is a subscription service (minimum €55 a month) . It works with iPads and can be tailored to retail or restaurant businesses – with loads of available features such as

  • table plans
  • receipt printer,
  • cash drawer
  • barcode scanner
  • send orders directly to your kitchen printer
  • kitchen display
  • bill splitting
  • tips


If your business is expecting to grow – you can find out more and request a free demo of the POS Pro at the Sumup Website


Sumup Fees


SumUp charges a flat 1.69% fee per transaction. (No VAT in Ireland because they are UK-based.)

There is also the option of a “Sumup One” subscription. This is €25 per month but you pay only a 0.99% transaction fee instead of the standard 1.69% . You save 0.6% in fees – so this is worth it if you take in €4200 or more a month on card payments).

(Fees on the POS Pro package can vary and are usually tailored to your business.)

(SumUp Limited is an authorised Electronic Money Institution regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.)


MyPos

myPOS card readers are designed to function independently and don’t require connection to any other device
The cheapest model is the MyPos Go2 (€39) with a pre-installed 4G SIM card, no monthly fees. (Wi-Fi connectivity also available.) (No smartphone needed.)

You also get a free multi-currency business account with a dedicated IBAN. Money from customer card payments immediately arrives straight into your myPOS account. You also get a myPOS Business Visa card for spending.

If you have a “main” business bank account elsewhere – you will probably need to transfer money from myPOS . Transfers to other bank accounts cost €3 each time (SEPA transfer).

Payment Fees are 1.69% plus 0.5c per transaction.

Visit the myPOS Website

Payments and E-money services are provided in the EEA by myPOS Ltd, an Electronic Money Institution authorised and regulated in Ireland by the Central Bank of Ireland


Other Card Payment Solutions

While Square and SumUp are popular choices, there are other options to consider:

Traditional Banks: AIB and BOI offer fixed-price plans for businesses with varying card spend levels. These plans can be a good option for businesses with predictable transaction volumes.

BOI Payment Acceptance

BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA) is a marketing alliance between the Bank of Ireland and EVO Payments International. For small businesses, they seem to have various offers (mainly aimed at taxi drivers)

For example – a fixed fee of €45 a month to cover the card reader rental and up to €2000 of card sales. (2% fee for sales over €2000)

They also offer pay-as-you-go rates of 2.5% for card sales (Visa/Mastercard ). (You pay upfront for the card payment terminal (€99 refurbished) . The card reader has a built-in SIM. (No Wifi needed).


AIB

Allied Irish Bank Merchant Services (AIBMS) is the largest provider of payment acceptance in Ireland, offering card payment solutions to businesses of all sizes. These are more suitable for an established business with a stable, large turnover.

AIB Merchant Services is a joint venture between AIB and First Data Corporation, a global acquirer processing payments and providing merchant accounts. Because First Data created the Clover brand of card terminals, AIBMS tends to recommend these products for in-person payments, but other card terminals are available too.

With AIBMS , detailed prices are not given until you’ve given details about your business.
We have seen quotes of 1.58% per transaction (in the UK) with a minimum transaction fee of £40 a month plus a reader rental fee of £28 a month and other monthly account and admin fees of around £13. So – a total minimum charge of £81 a month . The fees are assumed to be similar in Ireland .



Revolut Reader: This basic option from the financial services company Revolut offers a competitive charging rate with per-transaction and percentage fee. You need to open a Revolut business account to use their reader and all money from the sales will go into that account. Funds will be available in your Revolut Business account within 24 hours.

Transaction fees are 0.8% plus €0.02 per transaction for Mastercard and Visa consumer cards issued in the Republic of Ireland or EEA . Higher fees of 2.6% + €0.02 apply for other cards.

The card reader costs €49 to purchase. It uses the WiFi, 3G, 4G or 5G of your connected smartphone or tablet to process transactions.

You can create a catalogue of all your products to ring through customer carts more efficiently and take faster payments with the Revolut Reader. Your catalogue sits in the Revolut Business app and doesn’t cost extra to use. You can apply for a Revolut Business Account Here.

It does not work independently. Revolut doesn’t have a point of sale (POS) app dedicated to in-person payments. The reader It does not integrate with other POS apps, making it unsuitable for retailers who need extra features like tipping, inventory management and loyalty functions.


The ideal card payment solution depends on your specific business needs. Here are some key factors to consider:

Transaction Volume: A traditional POS system might offer greater efficiency for large businesses that process a very high volume of transactions.
Budget: Mobile card readers offer affordable entry points, but factor in transaction fees and any monthly subscription costs. If your sales are not steady all year round – you might be better off opting for Square or Sumup
Features: Do you need advanced features like inventory management or CRM tools? Some mobile POS systems cater to these specific needs. Square has more features available for free .

On the Go – Some card readers have built-in SIMs so they don’t need to rely on Wifi . (Sumup Solo). If you are a mobile business, you might be better off using Sumup for connectivity reasons.