Reviews

Zettle Card Reader 2 review: how easy is it to take card payments?

Zettle Card Reader 2
On the money: the Zettle device is cheap and efficient

If you’re a small business owner, you might need to take card payments from customers. If you do, you will almost certainly come across Zettle, a company now owned by PayPal.

Zettle offers cheap devices such as the Zettle Reader 2 that let you accept credit or debit card payments, as well as contactless payments from phones and other devices. Is this a good way to quickly get up and running with card payments? Does it work well?

I’ve been using the Zettle Card Reader 2 for an organisation I work with for the past couple of months, so here’s my Zettle review.

The Zettle Card Reader 2

Let’s start with the hardware. The device we chose to use for our business was the £29 Zettle Card Reader 2.

This is a small, handheld unit that’s little bigger than a credit card itself and about an inch thick. It’s easy to slip into a pocket or bag.

The device has a built-in rechargeable battery, which Zettle claims is good for eight hours use or 100 transactions. We’ve not stress tested the battery to that extent, but we’ve used it for a few hours at a time and never had any battery life issues. It comes with a micro-USB charging cable, which means you could use a portable battery pack to keep the Card Reader 2 topped up, or there’s a charging dock (£39) available if you wanted to leave it in place on a shop counter, for example.

The Zettle Card Reader 2 connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet, on which you install the Zettle app (see below). You enter what the customer is buying into the app and that tells the Zettle Reader how much to charge. Customers can make a contactless payment with either a card, smartphone or other electronic device, or they can slot their card into the reader and enter a PIN.

The Reader has worked smoothly on the multiple occasions we’ve used it. The only slight gripe is that the Reader puts itself to sleep when not used for a while, and it then takes a while to wake up and re-connect to the phone when you need it. That can lead to a delay of 30-60 seconds while the customer is waiting to pay. My advice is to wake the card reader as soon as you see a customer coming to pay, so that they don’t get frustrated by the wait.

The Zettle app

Zettle app with Zettle Card Reader 2

As mentioned previously, the Zettle Reader is linked to the Zettle app on a smartphone or tablet. The Card Reader 2 can only be connected to one smartphone/tablet at a time, but multiple people can have the app installed. If you were using the Card Reader 2 in a shop staffed by multiple people, I’d get a dedicated tablet/phone for the Zettle Reader to save faffing around with reconnections etc. However, if you’re a sole trader, then it’s very simple to connect to your personal phone/tablet.

To sell via the app, you first need to enter your products. Adding a product in the Zettle app is simple. You enter the product name and price, and a photo of the product if you wish.

There is the option to add further complexity. For example, you can enter the cost price of the product for your records. Then there’s inventory tracking, allowing to enter how many you have in stock, SKUs and barcodes. Barcodes work really well with the app, because you can scan a barcode with the phone’s camera, instantly adding the product to the shopping cart, instead of having to select it manually.

Further options include the ability to create variants of products. If you’re selling clothes, for example, you can create variants on the same product in different sizes or colours.

For a small retailer with a limited product range, the Zettle app provides pretty much everything you need for basic inventory management. Anyone stocking hundreds of different products will need something more sophisticated.

When it comes to selling, it’s all very simple. You either select the products the customer is buying from the app or scan the barcodes. When you’ve got all the items, you hit the checkout button and it sends the total to the Zettle Card Reader 2 for payment. Once payment has been made, the app gives you the option to send the customer a receipt, either using their email address or via SMS text message.

Sales are all logged in the app, so you can see which products you sold at the end of the day or month, along with inventory tracking if you’re using it. To be clear, I’ve not used inventory tracking, so can’t report on how well that works.

Costs and payments

One of the most appealing things about Zettle is the simple cost structure. The Zettle Card Reader 2 is only £29.99, which is ridiculously cheap for a payment terminal and means you can easily afford multiple or backup units. Zettle sells a range of other terminal hardware, if you need something more advanced.

There’s no monthly fee, but the company takes a 1.75% cut per transaction. I dare say you’ll find merchants offering cheaper fees, but in terms of a quick and easy way to get going for small businesses, it’s hard to beat. The Zettle Card Reader 2 turned up less than 24 hours after I ordered it!

We have our Zettle account linked to our existing PayPal account, which we use for taking card payments online. Zettle funds can be automatically deposited into your existing PayPal account, which keeps accountancy simple and there’s no extra charges involved. The 1.75% is all you’ll ever pay. The money can be transferred from PayPal to your bank on-demand and it arrives pretty much instantly.

Zettle Card Reader 2 review verdict

The Zettle Card Reader 2 has been a brilliant little addition to our business, helping us to take in-person card payments with very little outlay. For a small organisation such as ours, it’s helped increase revenue significantly, with most people not carrying cash post-Covid.

I know of bigger businesses that also use Zettle who also sing its praises, so I have little hesitation in recommending the service to any small business or sole trader that needs a quick way to relieve people of their money!

Zettle Card Reader 2
  • Price
  • Performance
  • Ease of use

Zettle Card Reader 2 summary

An extremely simple and cheap way for small businesses to accept card and contactless payments from customers

Overall
4.7

Pros

  • Stupidly simple to set up
  • No monthly fees and simple commission structure
  • Card reader is superb value
  • Easy integration with PayPal (if required)

Cons

  • Device can take a while to wake from sleep

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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