Being able to accept credit cards is essential for any modern business. Cash is dead and moving with the times can transform a small business – it did for me! Today I’m going to take you through how to use a Zettle card reader – from initial set-up to configuration of more advanced features such as barcode scanning and more.
Before I start, this article is NOT sponsored by Zettle. I’ve been using a Zettle card reader for my own businesses since 2017 and I paid for my reader with my own money! I am an Zettle affiliate and this helps to cover the costs of running this independent website – you can read more about affiliate links here. It would be massively appreciated if you could use this link to purchase your Zettle card reader – you’ll be able to get yours for just £19+VAT.
Also, a quick update. Since making the below video iZettle was taken over by PayPal and it’s now called Zettle. From my experience the functionality is the same. Thank you for supporting this site!
You can watch the video about this article here or skip below to read the article:
What is a Zettle card reader?
We’ve already discussed why I think cash has had its day and modern businesses NEED to accept electronic payments. Zettle are one of a bunch of mobile card payment providers who make use of existing technology in modern smart phones to allow you to accept credit cards. Zettle make this work by providing a cheap little card reader that speaks to your phone via Bluetooth. You install the Zettle Go app on your phone and the encrypted transaction is carried out securely via the internet connection on your phone. YES you need to have an internet connection for this to work! I’ve only ever had one time when I didn’t have a signal for some reason and I just hooked on to the customer’s wifi. It’s pretty rare not to have an internet connection these days so this has genuinely never been a problem. Even at busy exhibitions at Birmingham NEC it worked flawlessly over 4G.
It’s disturbingly simple to set up and once you’re up and running you can take payments via:
- Chip & Pin
- Payment Links
- and even by cash!
Every conceivable modern payment method is accepted including:
- Visa & Mastercard
- American Express
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay (Android Pay)
- Samsung Pay
- JCB card and many others
How does a Zettle card reader work?
You pay a flat fee for the Zettle card reader and they take 1.75% of each face-to-face card payment. The money hits your bank account minus the fee a couple of days after you’ve taken payment. The normal price of the card reader is £59+VAT however at the time of writing you can use this link to buy it for just £19+VAT. There’s no contract (other than standard terms & conditions), no monthly fees and you can use your reader as much or as little as you like. There are also separate charges for things like invoice payments and setting up your own online shop – more on those later.
Zettle Reader 2 – What’s the difference?
There are 2 main versions of the Zettle card reader – the older one has the blue tab, the new one has the green tab.
The new version 2 reader is a fairly minor upgrade so don’t worry if you’ve still got the original one (like me!). The main difference is that the magnetic swipe reader has gone. It’s still the same USB Micro B connector (presumably for backward compatibility), it’s 10g lighter and it uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology. I’ve never had any issues with Bluetooth connectivity on my original version. It just works and is very fast.
How much does a Zettle card reader cost?
For normal face-to-face transactions (chip & pin etc.) your only costs will be for the Zettle card reader and the 1.75% transaction fee, regardless of card type (yes, even Amex!). Things get a bit more complicated if you want to start using some of the more advanced features so here’s a complete run-down:
- Card reader: £19+VAT (special offer)
- Face-to-face card payments: 1.75%
- Monthly fee: £0
- Invoice payments: 2.5%
- Payment Link payments: 2.5%
- Cash payments: £0
- Zettle online shop: £29/month
- Online shop fees: 2.5% or 2% for Paypal
Please double check the Zettle website for the latest prices.
Basic configuration of a Zettle card reader
Zettle setup via the website
You can do a lot of configuration via the Zettle Go mobile app however I find it easier to do the bulk of the set up via the web interface. Once you’ve ordered your card reader and it’s arrived just visit login.zettle.com and log in with the account details you set up when you ordered the reader. You can get the bulk of the configuration done in about 10 minutes but I’ll also show you some of the more advanced features.
You can use the wizard to set things up but really the only thing you need to sort to get started is to add your bank details. You’ll need your account name, sort code and account number. Double check these as if you get it wrong then you ain’t getting any money!
You can change your bank details at any time using the ‘Bank details’ menu option. Once you’ve done that you’re pretty much done with the wizard but there’s some extra changes you can make so that everything looks pretty.
Adding your logo to Zettle receipts
Make sure you’ve prepared a copy of your logo. It should be no bigger than 2MB and should be in .png or .jpeg format. I’ve found a 500px square .png works great – the one I use is 19KB in size so well under the 2MB limit. Use the hamburger menu button in the top right of the screen and select ‘Settings’:
Then click the ‘Change’ button and upload your logo. You can crop it to the correct size:
Other things you might want to change on the ‘Account settings’ page are:
- If you need to change your main account ‘Email address’ and ‘Password’ this is where you do it.
- If e-mail notifications for every deposit from Zettle are getting too much, this is where you can switch it off.
- Change your VAT settings to 0% if you don’t charge VAT (and leave the VAT number empty).
- If you’re likely to issue refunds you can set a ‘Minimum account balance’ so that there’s always some money left on the account. If refunds aren’t likely then leave this as ‘No’.
- I would suggest leaving the ‘Collect customer data’ option switched off unless you’ve done your homework with regards to GDPR are privacy implications.
- I generally leave ‘Scheduled deposits’ on Daily. However if you receive a lot of small value transactions you may want to set this to monthly instead. This will cut down on the number of transactions hitting your bank account and your accountant will probably be happier.
Adding business details to your Zettle card reader receipts
Navigate to the ‘Receipt information’ tab and add all of your business information as you’d like the customer to see it. This might be different to your master account information (for example if you have a different trading name) and can be updated at any time. If you’re a Limited Company you can’t change your company number – contact Zettle support for more information on this. You can see a preview of what the receipt will look like either based on the Printed version (if you have a separate receipt printer) or based on the Email version (more likely). Only the e-mail version shows your logo.
Also note that although an ‘Org nr:’ seems to be shown even if you’re a sole trader, this doesn’t seem to show on the final receipt. You can also add extra information in the ‘More information’ box such as current offers or the URL of your terms and conditions. Once you have everything looking nice just click ‘Save’. You’re pretty much ready to rock!
Setting up the Zettle Go mobile app
Pairing up Bluetooth for the first time
Once you’ve set everything up via the web interface there’s very little you need to do via the mobile app (Zettle Go) other than taking payments from your customers. I’m assuming you’ve installed the Zettle Go app on your phone.
- Log in to the Zettle Go app on your phone
- Click the menu button on the top left and go to ‘Settings’
- Click ‘Card Reader’
- Select your Zettle reader (probably Zettle Reader 2)
- Switch your card reader on and make sure it’s in pairing mode (should look like the screen below).
- Click ‘Next’.
- You should see a screen on the app that says ‘Activate pairing mode’. If your card reader isn’t displaying the Bluetooth symbol then you’ll need to activate pairing mode by holding your finger on the ‘tick’ (confirm button) for 5 seconds.
- Click ‘Next’ and select your card reader.
- You DON’T need to give it access to your contacts and call history so just click ‘Pair’ in the app AND click the confirm button on the card reader. You should then get a message ‘Card reader connected!’ and your reader will probably say ‘Hello!’.
Remember you only need to do this once for the first time you pair the reader to your phone. You should never have to do that again.
Taking simple payments by ‘Amount’
You should now be ready to take your first payment. You can accept payments in two different ways. Either by ‘Product’ or by ‘Amount’. If you provide a service you’ll probably want to use the ‘Amount’ method. If you sell actual products you may want to use the ‘Product’ method. The minimum transaction value is £1. It’s worth doing a couple of test transactions just to familiarise yourself with how it all works. We’ll try the ‘Amount’ method first.
- Amount – great for one-off payments of a fixed sum, ideal for electricians, mechanics, plumbers, joiners, basically anything provided as a service.
- Product – great for shops with a range of actual products.
- The Zettle Go app will default to the last used transaction method. If you’re totally lost click the menu and select ‘Take payments’.
- Make sure it says ‘Amount’ next to the menu button. If it doesn’t click on it to change it. You should end up with a screen that looks a bit like a calculator.
- Type the amount in pence (via the app, not on the card reader itself).
- It’s also a good idea to add a one line description so that you know what the transaction was for. I would normally add the first line of the customer’s address but obviously it depends what you’re using it for.
- Click the ‘Charge’ button at the bottom of the screen
- The card reader should show now the charge amount and will display ‘Tap/insert card’
- You can normally do a contactless payment for transactions under £30. Otherwise you’ll need to use Chip & Pin.
- Place the customer’s card in the reader, chip first and upwards.
- Hand the reader to the customer and get them to enter their PIN followed by the confirm button (while you look away).
- If it’s all worked it should say ‘Thank you!’ on the card reader.
- Give the customer their card back and you can now issue a receipt via e-mail or text (or printed if you have a receipt printer).
TIP: If the transaction fails for any reason or you accidentally cancel it you should still have the transaction details in your basket (top right). Don’t enter the transaction again or you might end up accidentally charging the customer twice. Just click the basket and click ‘Charge’ – pick up from point 5 above.
Taking payments by ‘Product’
Whether you’re a shop or at a craft fair, if you sell physical pre-defined products then this is the quickest way by far to use the card reader. It’s easiest to add your products via the web interface (see below) so that they’re all pre-configured and ready to use from the app. I’ll assume you’ve already done that.
- Make sure it says ‘Product’ at the top of the screen within the app.
- Each time you click a product it will automatically be added to the basket (top right).
- When you’re ready click ‘Charge’.
- Pick up from point 6 above.
To edit quantities just click the basket – you can then click on the relevant product to edit quantities, discounts and add a comment.
More advanced stuff via the web interfacce
Firstly, don’t panic! You don’t need to add any products at all. If all you want to do is take fixed one-off payments (plumbers, electricians etc.) then you can do this using the ‘Amount’ option within the app. Products can be handy if you sell… well, products. You can either add each product manually or you can import a full product list using the Excel template provided by Zettle.
From the ‘Products’ menu simply select ‘Add product’ and the rest is fairly self explanatory. There’s some limited inventory tracking if you want to control stock, you can also add product variants such as size, colour etc. I found a 500px square image works well. If you want to delve in to products in more detail I’m not going to re-invent the wheel – Zettle have an excellent article all about it here.
Barcodes can be handy if you have a lot of products or you have staff members who perhaps aren’t as familiar with your products as you. You can scan items via a mobile phone or using a dedicated barcode scanner. You can either add the barcode number via the product box (above) or you can do it via the mobile app (MUCH easier!).
Too add barcodes to products via the mobile app first of all click the pencil icon to edit products:
Then click the product you want to add a barcode to:
Then click the little barcode symbol to the right of the barcode number. You can then scan the barcode and the number should auto-populate:
Adding staff members for your Zettle card reader
If you have multiple staff members and card readers then you can invite each person to be part of your main account. This will then automatically show the staff member’s name on receipts etc. Simply add their e-mail address and name then click ‘Send invite’.
Other settings in the web interface
There’s a whole load of other stuff you can do from the web interface but this article is getting pretty long. We’ll perhaps cover some of this stuff in more detail at a later date. Just to give a very brief overview of what everything means:
- Applications – this allows integration with Xero and QuickBooks Online accountancy software. Too much for this article.
- Invoice settings – if you want to invoice your customers via Zettle you can do that too. Zettle charge 2.5% for invoice-based transactions. This can be a handy feature if you want to remotely invoice your customers and give them defined payment terms (tip – ask for immediate payment unless this prevents the sale) – if this doesn’t bother you then it keeps everything in the one place. If it does bother you then don’t use it.
TIP: Don’t be bullied in to providing long payment terms! Your default position should be to ask for immediate payment, after all your customer will probably already have credit terms with their card provider. Only negotiate separate payment terms if you absolutely have to.
- Sales – detailed information about each sale, export transactions, basically everything you need for your accountant.
- Reports – like Sales but a higher level overview of business performance.
- Funding – lets you to apply for a business loan from Zettle.
- E-commerce – lets you set up a basic online store (see fees mentioned above).
More advanced stuff via the app
After everything I’ve said about cash being obsolete, taking cash payments via a credit card reader might seem like a slightly perverse thing to do. However if you do still get paid by cash, for example at a craft fair or market, Zettle allows you to track these cash payments and issue receipts. It can be handy as it keeps all of your income logged in the same place. To make use of this just switch on the ‘Cash’ option from the settings menu in the app:
You’ll then be asked whether it’s Cash or Card for every transaction. If you don’t accept cash I would suggest just leaving this switched off.
Accepting tips via your Zettle card reader
If you work in an industry where tips are a thing you can switch the tipping option on from the app. Just go to Settings -> Card:
You can then switch tipping on as required:
Payment links are handy if your customer suddenly discovers they’ve lost their credit card, or the dog’s ate it. From the app you can activate the Payment Links option:
You can then issue a one-time link to your customer via text message, e-mail etc. The customer can then use that link to make payment once they’ve found their card.
You can use Zettle as a basic invoicing system. Simply switch on the Invoices option from the Settings menu:
This works in a similar way to Payment Links but with the formality of an invoice with payment terms etc. Useful if you want to give your customer even more credit days than they already have through their credit card.
Changing Zettle from Limited Company to Sole Trader
You can’t change an Zettle account to be in the name of a different legal entity. So for example if you want to switch from being a Sole Trader to being a Limited Company then this isn’t possible. You would need to set up a separate account and close the account that is no longer required. Make sure you back up all of your accounting data before closing your account – once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Are you accepting credit cards yet? If you want to use a Zettle card reader it would be awesome if you could use this link to get your card reader. It helps me to write more guides like this and you get the card reader at a discount.
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Last Updated on 3 May 2022 by Andy Mac