Goodbye Cash: COVID-19 accelerating trend toward cashless salons

posted in: COVID-19 Updates, HABIC

One thing is inevitable when the world finally goes back to normality – there will be far fewer physical interactions with others in our day-to-day lives. For salons, this will pose a particular challenge. Many salons had already begun a move toward cashless payments – but the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly increase the pace of this trend!

So today, we’re going to become your very own GoCompare for cashless payment merchants in Ireland to give you a steer in the right direction. We’ll give you the pros and cons for the three main types of contactless terminals (Countertop / Portable / Mobile), and finally compare four different popular providers of cashless solutions in Ireland (SagePay / Sumup / PayZone / Elavon).


There’s a reason you won’t easily find any prices if you Google any of these providers! Much like insurance aggregators, haggling is absolutely possible when negotiating with these companies. Depending on the size of your business and the amount of transactions you process each year, you can get a really good deal. We know Irish business owners and salon managers are some of the best hagglers in the world – so don’t be afraid to push for a better deal if you can get it!

Types of Contactless / Cashless Terminals

  • Countertop
  • Portable
  • Mobile / Online


Classic counter-top / desk terminals are ideal if you want your customers to pay at a single pay point
/ counter. This is pretty standard for many salons who have a reception desk or counter at the
entrance. Countertop terminals are usually very reliable in that they are connected up to your
broadband / phone line by a wire, so this is probably the safest option. All of the companies below
offer state of the art countertop terminals.


This is something that will definitely see an uptake post COVID-19. Portable terminals are ideal if you
need to keep a distance from customers, as you can leave them on a separate desk for tapping /
swiping. Just note – make sure your broadband is nice and strong in all areas of the salon. You don’t
want your portable terminal to be giving you grief if it’s in a corner of the room that has intermittent
internet or Bluetooth service (many portable terminals will connect to the main countertop via

Mobile / Online

Mobile terminals let you accept payments anywhere you can get a mobile phone signal – ideal for
salon pros who are travelling to see clients, or if you are taking bookings on your smartphone via an
app. Just note that some providers have ties with certain mobile network providers – so it can be
tricky if you are with a provider that doesn’t have total coverage, especially for rural users.


All of the providers below should offer you a bundle that includes all three types of terminal and online support. Judge for yourself which combination will suit you best

Four Options for Cashless Solutions

  • SagePay
  • SumUp
  • Elavon
  • PayZone


A renowned and respected name, Sage have been around for years and have a solid reputation. Sage
Pay provide payment solutions for businesses of all sizes – and pride themselves on not “forgetting”
small businesses. SagePay’s aim is to make it as simple as possible for customers to pay, and for the
salon owner to receive your money.
In fairness to SagePay, they are one of the few companies who will disclose their fees on their
website. They have three levels – Flex, Plus, and Corporate:

SagePay Flex

  • SagePay PlusFrom €24.90/month approx.
  • 350 transactions per month
  • Free advanced fraud screening tools
  • eInvoice and phone payments included
  • 24/7 telephone, email and Twitter support

SagePay Plus

  • From €50/month approx.
  • All Flex features +
  • Fast-Pass support
  • 500 “Single Click” purchases per month
  • European payments set up
  • AMEX SafeKey set up

SagePay Corporate

  • Price on application (so it will be a heftier pricetag!)
  • 3,000+ transactions per month
  • Custom fraud screening tools
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Priority support
    Card machines start at €18 a month approximately. There are no setup fees with and transactions
    are charged at 1.99% for credit cards and approx. 45c for debit – but speak to them directly to get
    your own quote – go to to get your quote.

SagePay Top Pro & Con

  • Pro : Good customer service & international payments
  • Con : Long contract lengths


SumUp are an increasingly-popular provider of online / portable cashless solutions. They are proving a big hit with small businesses, self-employed workers, and salon professionals who want to accept card payments on the go. The big selling point for SumUp is that they look for no monthly fees, no setup fees, and no contract! They also offer a very competitive 1.69% transaction fees, the lowest we could find among mobile payment providers right now.

SumUp Fees & Features

  • Card reader: Once-off Payment of approx. €59
  • Flat 2.75% per chip-and-pin payment
  • No monthly fees
  • No setup fees
  • No contract

With all this in mind, SumUp is best suited to smaller businesses that process a relatively small amount of card transactions per month. Maybe perfect for a sole trader / hairdresser.

SumUp Top Pro & Con

  • Pro : No monthly fees
  • Con : Only for small businesses or sole traders


Like SagePay, Elavon is one of the bigger fish in the payment solution pond. They offer a comprehensive package from online to in-person and e-shop options. Elavon don’t advertise a lot of their prices, so there are deals to be had. However, their customer support does not have the most glowing reputation out there.

Elavon Fees & Features

  • Approx €40 once off payment for the card reader
  • Then charged per transaction, with 1.75% charge for VISA and MasterCard
  • Elavon eShop will cost approx. €100 for setup, followed by a monthly fee of anywhere from
    €30 – €50
  • First 350 transactions free with eShop, then 20c approx per transaction
    There is a cancellation fee with Elavon, but you still have to sign a contract before using the service.

ELAVON Top Pro & Con

  • Pro : Respected name
  • Con : Customer service issues in the past


PayZone are a little different from the three companies above in that they take care of most of your accounting for you by setting you up with one of its partner acquiring banks. Their client list is extensive: Vodafone, Three, Eir, Electric Ireland, and Virgin Media all use PayZone, so they have good brand recognition value.

PayZone Fees & Features
Also unlike the other companies above, it’s difficult to say what you’ll end up paying if you choose Payzone – they have extremely variable fees (Remember to Haggle!). The amount you’ll pay per transaction varies depending on the type of payment you want to process.

PayZone Top Pro & Con

  • Pro : Wide range of options.
  • Con : You must give minimum 2 months’ notice before leaving your contract.

Final Tip

For a great comparison of multiple service providers, go to While they list UK / Sterling prices, they give very honest reviews without bias toward any provider – you can make your own mind up!

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