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The Best Chip Readers

🕚 Updated December 2021

If you're a small business owner, a chip reader is a great investment! Nearly every credit and debit card now come embedded with a microchip, which helps to increase security and prevent the card from being misread.

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  Top Choice Best with Keypad Best Stationary Best Premium
Reader for Contactless and Chip
Plus Card Reader
Stand for Contactless and Chip Credit Cards
Our SummaryA small, portable, cordless chip reader that offers a whole new way to run your business.A sleek chip card reader with low transaction fees that supports your business.This chip card reader is a premium option that gives you the basics and lots more.This high-quality chip reader processes payments quickly and prints receipts from wherever you are.
ProsConvenient size, compatible with most payment methods, comes with an app.Accepts swipe, chip, or contactless payments, powerful processor, stylish design.Accepts all types of payment, easy to set up, speedy checkout process.Prints receipts, shows history, keypad, accepts contactless payment, chip, and swipe, works without being plugged in.
ConsSome occasional Bluetooth connectivity issues.Locks up unexpectedly, the app doesn't always work well.Longevity issues, iPad is not easy to remove.Battery won't last all day, some connectivity issues, slow startup.
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13 Models Evaluated

8 Hours Researched

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The Best Chip Readers

A credit card in a chip reader on a table.

If you process plenty of credit card transactions, it’s worth investing in a chip reader. Most customers expect small businesses to have a chip reader and giving them that option of a safer transaction will give them peace of mind. This protection is not one-sided either. Studies have shown that chip readers reduce a merchant’s risk of counterfeit or fraud, which makes purchasing one a cost-efficient and advisable decision. Here are some we recommend.

Buying Guide for Chip Readers

A person inserts a credit card into a chip reader at a store.

Why buy a chip card reader?

Chip card readers protect you and your customers! The chip in the credit card provides an extra layer of security that prevents fraud. Plus, with chip readers being the standard, most customers now expect vendors to have one. With all the available options and models, you can find the right one for your business.

What should you consider in a card chip reader?

  • Cost: Chip readers run a bit on the pricey side, but they can save you money in the long run. You can find more cost-efficient options out there, but they may not have the features or compatibility that the premium chip readers offer. Consider the needs of your customers and your business before choosing.
  • Type: Do you want a cordless or plugged-in chip reader? A portable, handheld one or one that attaches to your phone or computer screen? Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Think about which type is best suited for your business. If you have limited counter space or outlets in your store, a handheld or smartphone chip reader may be the better choice.
  • Versatility: Some chip readers offer bonus features that provide extra convenience for your customers and you. For example, plenty of people have started to use apps, like Apple Pay and PayPal, to make purchases directly from their smartphone, with no credit or debit card needed. While most chip readers only work with physical credit cards, there are some out there that are compatible with these sorts of smartphone apps, too. Depending on your customers, you may wish to invest in a chip reader that has this or other extra features.

Do chip readers come with apps or software?

Some chip card readers come with software or an app that helps you monitor your company’s finances. This is a great way to stay on top of revenue and see what products are selling. Plus, you won’t need to input any data: this feature is typically tracked automatically when available. If this is a service your business could benefit from, consider purchasing a reader that comes with this feature.

Our Picks for the Best Chip Readers

Top Choice

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip

A small portable cordless chip reader that offers a whole new way to run your business.

Pros: Whether you’re selling your goods in a store with limited counter space or simply prefer smaller, easily portable devices, the Square Reader for Chip and Contactless is the ideal choice. At just over 2.5 inches lengthwise and widthwise, this chip reader will fit wherever you need it. It’s compatible with EMV chip cards, contactless NFC cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Plus, you won’t have to deal with a cord since it connects to your computer, tablet, or phone through Bluetooth.

Cons: Since it’s Bluetooth, the connectivity could drop occasionally or take a little bit to reconnect.

Bottom Line: This is a reliable, affordable option that makes transactions easy wherever you sell your product. This chip reader won’t just provide you with an easy and more convenient way to ring up your customers’ purchases; it’ll offer you a whole new way to run your business.


Best with Keypad

SumUp Plus Card Reader

A sleek chip reader with low transaction fees that supports your business.

Pros: The SumUp Plus Card Reader is a compact unit that accepts swipe, chip, or contactless payments. There isn’t a contract or any hidden fees. It even comes with a powerful processor for faster payments. You can also conveniently connect your phone so you can track your transactions. The reader itself looks good, is super easy to set up, and is very affordable.

Cons: Unfortunately, this unit has a bad habit of locking up unexpectedly. This is a pretty annoying feature as it defeats the purpose of the entire unit. Downloading the app that goes with the reader can be a hassle as well. It takes a while to download and doesn’t always work well.

Bottom Line: There are some issues with this product, but it’s a convenient card reader that charges pretty low transaction fees. For some people, this makes up for the other issues. For others, it’s worth paying more for a more reliable reader. Make sure you’re familiar with the trade-offs before choosing this option.


Best Stationary

Square Stand for Contactless and Chip Credit Cards

This chip card reader is a premium option that gives you the basics and lots more.

Pros: The Square Stand for Contactless and Chip Credit Cards converts your iPad into a portable sales tool. It accepts every sort of payment, including tap, dip, and swipe. This unit is super easy to set up and comes with a USB port for the option to add a printer, cash drawer, or bar code scanner. If you’re looking for a way to speed up your checkout process, this is the answer.

Cons: This unit has some longevity issues. After a few months, some users found that the charger stopped working. It’s also not very easy to take the iPad out of the stand in case you need it for something else.

Bottom Line: This unit comes with plenty of extra features that make it worth the price. Customers can pay in whatever form they like. Plus, you get access to an app and online tools that let you track sales and more. While it may not last as long as you like, it’s a great option for various types of business owners.


Best Premium

Square Terminal

This high-quality chip reader processes payments quickly and prints receipts from wherever you are.

Pros: The Square Terminal card reader does a lot. It has a magstripe for swiping, a place to insert cards for chip reading, and a spot to tap for contactless payment, all in a compact device. Plus, there’s a keypad and a built-in battery, so you won’t have to keep it plugged in all day long.

Cons: It’s an expensive device. The startup can take a while when you turn it on. Some might experience connectivity issues.

Bottom Line: This is another trusted product from Square that has a lot of great features built into a compact and portable device. If you want something you can rely on, this is a convenient and high-quality option.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of options and models out there. Finding the right one is all about what you want: get a more portable option if you move around, or go with something more stationary if you’re working at a store. No matter your preferred model, chip readers are a solid investment that will pay for themselves in the long run.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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