Point of sale applications and card readers

These days, in most cases all it takes is a quick swipe of plastic to pay for something. With people increasingly expecting to pay by card, it can be extremely worthwhile for a leisure-time music group to take card payments. 

Whether payments are being made for member subscriptions, on the door ticket sales, donations or for merchandise such as CDs, a card reader and Point of Sale (POS) system can be very handy.

Most of the services work by issuing you with a card reader that you link to your smartphone or tablet. So all you need is a smartphone/tablet and an internet connection, and you can take card payments on the go and offer a convenient and easy way for members and supporters to pay you. 

Under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS), charities also have the added bonus of being able to claim Gift Aid on donations made by contactless card payments – read our full guidance ‘How to claim gift aid for your group’ to see if your organisation is eligible to claim gift aid under the GASDS.

This guidance covers just some of the different POS systems which are currently available; although not an extensive list we have picked a selection of devices and providers to get you started. If there are other systems which are available and not currently listed then please do contact us and we will add them to this guidance.

For ease of reading, this guidance has been split into a few sections; the things that you may need to consider when signing up to use a card payment service, a comparison table and a more in-depth analysis regarding the pros and cons of each provider and point of sale application.


  1. What do we need to consider when picking a provider?

  2. Some card payment systems - a comparison table and in-depth analysis

1. What do we need to consider when picking a provider?

There are a few areas to consider before making a decision about the best provider and system for your organisation. 


The first and most obvious area to cover is cost. Most providers charge a one-off fee for the card reader, whereas others such as SmartTrade charge a monthly fee which is dependent on the number of people who will be using the point of sale application. If your organisation holds multiple events where payment for event tickets are usually asked for or members tend to pay their subscription fees per session then it might be worth paying a monthly fee. If, however, you will only require the device for the odd occasion then paying a monthly fee might not be worhtwhile. This is of course completely up to the you to decide what is best for your group but the ongoing cost of a using a service is definitely well worth thinking about.

As well as the cost of the device/point of sale application, additional costs are added per transaction. All of the companies mentioned in this guidance charge a percentage on top of each transaction which is how they make their money. However, the amount charged does vary. Some companies like iZettle charge a set fee of 1.75% on top of any transaction taken, whereas others, such as Square charge different amounts depending on the type of payment taken. For example, Square will charge 1.75% for each payment where the card is present or 2.5% for a transaction where a card is not present (e.g. if payment is taken over the phone). It is worth knowing how much will be taken off the full amount paid to your grouop. For example, if the charge is 1.75% and somebody pays £10 then the total amount that would go into the organisations account would actually be £9.83.

Transaction settlement time

Another key thing to think about is how long it will take for the payment made to reach your group's account. Once again this varies across companies – some, such as PayPal transfer funds immediately, whereas others, such as SumUp Air and SmartTrade take more than a few days. This might not be an issue if the organisation can afford to wait for the payment, but for smaller organisations the wait could cause some unnecessary stress, especially if fees are due and the funds gained are not readily available. This issue can be managed of course, ensuring that payments are given plenty of time to settle before any outgoing payments are due. 

Transaction limits

Although most of our member groups won't be taking single card payments over thousands of pounds it is still good to take note of any minimum or maximum transaction fees applied and question how these could affect your organisation. Devices such as iZettle and SumUp Air have a minimum transaction fee of £1 and other devices like PayPal can take a maximum of £5500 per card transaction. It could potentially put off willing donors if they are expected to pay over a certain amount and similarly, if the organisation is lucky enough to have donors willing to pay thousands of pounds then it is useful to know the transaction limit of each device just in case.

Battery life

Imagine this: you're running an event, taking multiple donations by credit card, and then suddenly, the device runs out of battery. Not an ideal situation to be in and one that can easily be avoided by picking a device which has a suitable battery level for your groups activities. If the organisation tends to host day-long events where donations are taken regularly throughout the day, it would be wise to pick a device that can handle such demand – Square as an example. If however, your organisation will not be using the device on a regular basis or for long periods of time, then the battery life would not be a massive issue and you could choose to go for a cheaper option, such as the iZettle which has a shorter battery life than some other providers.

Checking the compatibility with your device

All of the providers listed below require you to link a smartphone or tablet to their payment system. This means your smart phone/tablet needs to be compatible with the provider’s app. All the below are compatible with Apple and Android devices. If you are not using an Apple or Android device you can find out if the selected provider works with your smartphone/tablet by looking at the provider’s websites or contacting them directly.

  1. Some card payment systems

Although not an exhaustive list we have chosen to focus on IZettle, PayPal Here, SmartTrade App, Square and SumUp Air, as we believe that these are the most suitable devices for the majority of our member groups. We have provided more information about each device below but for a quick overview of all of the devices we have also created an easily downloadable comparison table which provides an overview of each . 

Please note that all of the information provided in this guidance is correct as of August 2018, please do make sure that you check the provider’s websites for up-to-date information on each of the systems and devices before making a decision. 

View comparison table 

In-depth analysis


The iZettle system uses a point of sale application (iZettleGo) which can be downloaded onto a smartphone/tablet and then linked to a separate card reader via Bluetooth. The point of sale application has many features such as payment tracking, an inventory where regular items being sold can be listed, as well as providing quick access to receipts which can then be emailed to payees. The point of sale application also has an option to download reports which track how much has been paid into the account over a given period. 

The particulars

  • Although the application itself is free you would also need to buy a card reader which costs £29 + VAT for the first iZettle reader and then £59 + VAT for any additional readers required.
  • The smartphone/tablet needs to be connected to the internet for iZettle to work – wifi or 3G at least
  • Each transaction costs an additional 1.75%
  • Minimum transaction fee of £1 and a maximum of £5K
  • Can accept contactless, chip and pin or swiped cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and JCB union pay) as well as Apple/Google/Samsung pay
  • Payments take 1-2 business days to settle in the account
  • Receipts can be emailed or texted to payees as well as printed (printer sold separately)
  • No set contract
  • Battery life of 8 hours (continuous use)

Find out more about the iZettle POS and card reader

PayPal Here

The PayPal Here works by downloading a point of sale application onto your smartphone/tablet which is then linked to a PayPal card reader. The card reader is paired with your smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth. The point of sale application gives users the option to generate reports, set up an inventory which can include regular payment amounts, and also allows the account to have multiple users if required.

The particulars

  • The card reader costs £54 including VAT
  • The reader needs to be connected to the internet in order to work – wifi or 3G at least
  • Each transaction is then charged at 2.75% (for contactless and chip and pin) or 3.4% + 20p for payments made by swiping or manually entering the card details
  • Maximum limit of £5500 per transaction
  • The reader can accept contactless, chip and pin or swiped cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express) 
  • Payment instantly received in the bank account
  • Option to email, text or print receipts (printer sold separately)
  • The downloadable application provides the option to customise receipts
  • Battery life for up to 100 transactions continuous use

Find out more about the PayPal Here POS and card reader

SmartTrade App

SmartTrade is the only provider listed on this guidance which can take card payments through the app directly and does not require a card reader. Payments can be taken via the app by either sending a secure payment link directly to the payee or by using the camera on your smartphone to scan the card details. Card details can also be entered manually.

The particulars

  • There is a monthly charge of £9.99 for a single user or £26.99 for up to 15 users
  • If you have the single user account then there is a charge per transaction of 1.85% + 20p. There is a charge of 2.15% + 20p per transaction for those who are on the business account
  • The smartphone/tablet needs to be connected to the internet in order to work – wifi or 3G at least
  • Can accept Visa, American Express, and Mastercard
  • Payments take 5 business days to reach your account
  • Receipts can then be emailed to the payee and the receipts can also be customised

Find out more about the SmartTrade app


Square works by downloading a point of sale application onto your smartphone/tablet which is then linked to a Square card reader. The point of sale allows invoices to be sent to payees, receipts to be generated and sent to payees as well as the option to have an inventory in place.

The particulars

  • The card reader costs £39 + VAT
  • The smartphone/tablet needs to be connected to the internet in order to work – wifi or 3G at least
  • Transaction charge is 1.75% for anywhere the card is present and 2.5% when the card is not present (manually taken details). The reader accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Maestro, Visa Electron and V Pay
  • Maximum transaction limit of £25K
  • Payments reach the bank account by the next day
  • Receipts can be sent via email or text
  • Battery life should last throughout a full day of sales

Find out more about the Square POS and card reader

SumUp Air

SumUp Air works by downloading a point of sale application onto a compatible smartphone/tablet and then linking the SumUp Air card reader via Bluetooth. The application is free and there is no monthly charge, you pay for the card reader as well as transaction fees. The point of sale application allows reports to be created.

The particulars

  • The card reader costs £29 + VAT
  • The smartphone/tablet needs to be connected to the internet in order to work – wifi or 3G at least
  • There is a set transaction fee of 1.69%
  • Minimum of £1 must be spent each transaction
  • Accepts contactless, chip and pin, swiped cards as well as Apple pay and Google pay - Visa, V PAY, Mastercard, Maestro and AMEX all accepted
  • The transaction takes 2-3 days to settle into the organisation's account
  • Receipts can be emailed or texted to the payee as well as printed (the receipt printed costs additional)
  • Battery lasts for 500+ transactions

Find out more about the SumUp POS and card reader

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.