If you shoot a lot of footage or photos with a camera or record audio with a portable dictaphone or microphone, a memory card reader is a must-have to quickly and easily transfer files between devices and save them to your computer. And whether you're editing images or simply creating a backup, a USB memory card adapter is a great piece of kit to have handy.
Many portable consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch, use SD cards as storage too, so you can back up those precious save files as well! We've picked the best external memory card readers available on Amazon and Argos, including portable micro SD card readers and those to back up Compact Flash files. We've included premium picks for professionals as well as budget options for those who just want to move around some old files with ease.
For those after a quick look, here is our Top 5:
For a more in-depth look at the comprehensive top 10 selection, make sure to read on to learn more about the different types of memory card readers available and understand how our ranking was determined.
This article's chosen EC site price listings are reflective of its publishing date.
Dual Slot Memory Card Reader
Digital Card Reader
2-in-1 USB Card Reader
7-in-1 Multi Card Reader
High Speed Media Reader
Transfer Photos and Videos Quickly With This Compact microSD Card Reader
An Ultra-Fast and Reliable CF Reader at a Bargain Price
A Top-of-The-Line Card Reader for Professionals Who Use Apple Products
A Useful, Compact Option That Easily Fits Inside a Pocket or Bag
This Quick and Versatile Option Is Great for Desktop Use
A Sleek, Apple-Inspired Design That’s an Affordable Macbook Companion
A Cheap and Cheerful SD Card Reader You Can Attach to Your Keyring
An Ingenious Modular Option That Easily Reads Multiple Cards at Once
A Jack of All Trades With Some Lesser-Known Ports and a Detachable Wire
A Great Option for Those Looking for a Sony MemoryStick-Compatible Reader
|Card Types||microSD (UHS-I)||SD (UHS-II), CF||SD (UHS-II), CF||SD (UHS-I), microSD||SD (UHS-II), microSD, CF||SD (UHS-I), microSD, CF||SD, microSD||SD, microSD||SD, microSD, CF. RS-MMC, TF, M2, XD||SD (UHS-II), microSD, CF, MS|
|Connection Type||USB-A||USB-A||USB-A, USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)||USB-A||USB-A||USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)||USB-A||USB-A, USB-C||USB-A||USB-A|
|Dimensions||3 x 2 x 0.8 cm||6.3 x 5.7 x 1.5 cm||14.9 x 12 x 3.2 cm||5.3 x 2.7 x 1.1 cm||12.3 x 5.7 x 1.8 cm||6.1 x 5.8 x 1.5 cm||6 x 1.7 x 1 cm||16 x 7 x 5.5 cm||7.1 x 4.8 x 1 cm||9.32 x 5.26 x 1.6 cm|
When picking a memory card reader, the most important thing is to make sure that it supports your memory card of choice. Some readers specialise in achieving the highest transfer speeds possible for a single type of card, while others have ports for a wide variety of memory card formats.
The most commonly found ports are for SD and microSD cards, which are found in most cameras and smartphones/tablets respectively. If you're using some slightly older, or less widespread hardware, you may require Compact Flash (CF), MixedMediaCard (MMC), or Memory Stick (MS) ports.
Looking for some extra portable storage? Consider a USB flash drive!
Whether you're working with large or small files, you'll want your transfer speeds to be as fast as possible. This comes down to a variety of factors. Often, a memory card reader will advertise speeds of "up to" a certain amount of MB/s (megabytes per second) but these are not a reliable metric.
Transfer speeds rely on the rate at which your memory card reader can transfer files from the card, which is dependent on the type of card, the speed your adapter can transfer this to your device, and even things like the type of hard drive your computer has. For SD cards, both regular and microSD, the most reliable thing to look out for is whether it is UHS-I or the faster UHS-II.
If you're looking to transfer large files from large cards, you'll want to make sure your reader is capable of high transfer speeds, but this is hard to quantify in reality. The general rule of thumb is the more expensive the card reader and the fewer types of ports it carries, the faster the transfer speeds will be.
It's no surprise to see that nearly all memory card readers use the now ubiquitous USB connection to hook up to your computer, but in technical circles, this is actually known as USB-A. This is your classic USB format universally found on computers, laptops, charging stations and modern power sockets. On our list, all USB-A ports are generation 3.0 or above.
With the rise in popularity of USB-C, however, many devices and adapters also include an option to connect using that too. This is especially useful if you have a modern smartphone or tablet with a USB-C port as you'll be able to use your memory card reader in conjunction with those devices as well.
Running out of connections? Pick up a USB hub for some extra ports.
This ranking has been compiled by the writing team at mybest UK via careful evaluation of the points made in the buying guide and thorough research of each product and comparing multiple verified customer reviews across the EC sites used.
|Card Types||microSD (UHS-I)|
|Dimensions||3 x 2 x 0.8 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-II), CF|
|Dimensions||6.3 x 5.7 x 1.5 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-II), CF|
|Connection Type||USB-A, USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)|
|Dimensions||14.9 x 12 x 3.2 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-I), microSD|
|Dimensions||5.3 x 2.7 x 1.1 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-II), microSD, CF|
|Dimensions||12.3 x 5.7 x 1.8 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-I), microSD, CF|
|Connection Type||USB-C (Thunderbolt 3)|
|Dimensions||6.1 x 5.8 x 1.5 cm|
|Card Types||SD, microSD|
|Dimensions||6 x 1.7 x 1 cm|
|Card Types||SD, microSD|
|Connection Type||USB-A, USB-C|
|Dimensions||16 x 7 x 5.5 cm|
|Card Types||SD, microSD, CF. RS-MMC, TF, M2, XD|
|Dimensions||7.1 x 4.8 x 1 cm|
|Card Types||SD (UHS-II), microSD, CF, MS|
|Dimensions||9.32 x 5.26 x 1.6 cm|
Written and researched by David Sexton
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