The Best Memory Card Readers in 2021

So you’ve found the perfect memory card for the camera and now you need a card reader to go with it. Well, we have a wide selection of the best card readers on the market so take a look at our list.

It features various models ranging from all-in-one readers compatible with virtually any memory card type out there to ultra-portable readers compatible only with one or two memory card types (usually SD and MicroSD). As for the interface, we’ve covered both regular USB-A models as well as USB-C readers. We also have one reader that supports Apple’s Lighting port.

lexar professional usb 3 dual-slot reader lrw400crbna
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: USB-A, USB-C (Optional)
  • Max Transfer Speed: 150MBps
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC/SDXC (MicroSD With Adapter) UHS-I/UHS-II, CF
CHECK PRICES

If you’re a professional photographer in need of a fast CD and CF card reader get the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader. This reader isn’t the most versatile of the bunch. It supports only SD and CF cards – you can use MicroSD cards if you have an adapter – but it does its job perfectly.

First of all, it comes with rated transfer speeds of up to 500MBps. Real-life tests show max transfer speeds of about 150MBps which isn’t as fast as advertised but still pretty good. The reader has solid build quality and its small footprint makes it a perfect travel companion. And since the reader comes with a detachable cable, you can use it with both USB-A and USB-C ports if you get the USB-C to USB Micro B 3.0 cable.

Pros:
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Detachable Cable
  • Excellent Performance
  • Portability
Cons:
  • Supports Only Two Memory Card Types
  • Doesn’t Support Max UHS-II Transfer Speed

Kingston Digital FCR-HS4

The Best USB 3.0 Card Reader

kingston digital fcr-hs4
  • Connection Port: USB-A, USB-C (Optional)
  • Max Transfer Speed: 255MBps (SD UHS-II), 160MBps (CF UDMA 7)
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I/UHS-II), MicroSDHC/MicroSDXC (UHS-I), CF, MSXC, MS Duo
CHECK PRICES

The Kingston USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader is a versatile reader that sports a highly competitive price and comes with blazing-fast transfer speeds. Depending on the memory card type, you can reach up to 255MBps (SD UHS-II), which is an excellent result. CF UDMA 7 cards top out at about 160MBps, which is the max transfer rate for these cards.

This reader comes with support for Micro SD (both SDHC and SDXC), SD (UHS-I and II), CF (UDMA 7), MS, and MS Duo memory cards, making it an almost perfect all-in-one card reader. The best thing about it is the detachable cable, allowing users to hook it up to almost any device. Just make sure to buy a cable with Micro B 3.0 port on one side.

Overall, the Kingston Digital FCR-HS4 is the best memory card reader on the market. It supports UHS-II and UDMA 7 transfer speeds, works with all kinds of memory cards, is highly portable, has a detachable cable, and sports a relatively affordable price.

Pros:
  • Excellent Performance
  • Detachable Cable
  • Support For Many Memory Card Types
  • Small Size
Cons:
  • None

uni SD Card Reader

The Best USB-C Memory Card Reader

uni sd card reader
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: USB-C
  • Max Transfer Speed: 90MBps
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC, SDXC, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC (UHS-I)
CHECK PRICES

The uni SD Card Reader is a pretty small SD and MicroSD card reader. It’s great for users who need maximum portability. Maximum transfer speed peaks at about 90MBps, which is in line with advertised transfer speed. If you have UHS-II memory cards you should get some other reader since this one supports only UHS-I specification.

This reader works with any device that comes with USB-C port, which includes Android phones and tablets as well as iPads with USB-C port. The reader can also read and write from two cards at the same time, which can be really helpful for users in need of this feature. The only major downside, aside from the limited transfer speed, is the non-detachable cable.

Pros:
  • Portable
  • Works With Any USB-C Device, Even Phones And Tablets
  • Native USB-C Support
Cons:
  • Supports Only UHS-I Transfer Speeds
  • Cable Is Non-Detachable
  • Limited Memory Card Support

Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader

Ultra-Portable SD And MicroSD Card Reader

anker 2-in-1 usb 3 0 sd card reader
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: USB-A
  • Max Transfer Speed: 90MBps
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC, SDXC, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC (UHS-I)
CHECK PRICES

The Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader features a flash drive-like design making this card reader one of the most portable readers on the market. The reader supports SD and MicroSD cards with transfer speeds reaching about 90MBps, which is the limit of UHS-I specification supported by this card reader.

The reader offers simultaneous read and write on two cards, a handy feature for some users. The flash drive design includes only USB-A port meaning that this reader cannot be used with USB-C devices. Also, the reader could make adjoining ports unusable when connected due to its thickness.

Pros:
  • Highly Portable
Cons:
  • Limited To UHS-I Transfer Speeds (90MBps)
  • Works Only With USB-A Devices
  • Limited Memory Card Support

UGREEN 4-IN-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader

Affordable 4-In 1 Card reader

ugreen 4-in-1 usb 3 0 sd card reader
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: USB-A
  • Max Transfer Speed: 90MBps
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC, SDXC, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC (UHS-I), CF, MS/MS Duo, TF
CHECK PRICES

The UGREEN 4-IN-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader is a versatile memory card reader that sports very affordable price. It comes with supports for SD, MicroSD (SDHC/SDXC/UHS-I), CF, MS/MS Duo, and TF cards. The max transfer speed is about 90MB/s, which is pretty good but not great since the max CF transfer rate is 160MBps.

On the flip side, this reader can simultaneously read and write from four cards, a feature not found often in readers that supports more than 2 card types. The USB-A cable is non-detachable limiting the usage to USB-A devices.

Pros:
  • Support For Many Memory Card Types
  • Supports Reading And Writing To Four Cards At The Same Time
  • Affordable
Cons:
  • Limited To USB-A Devices
  • Limited To UHS-I Transfer Speed (90MBps)

Transcend TS-RDF5K

Portable MicroSD and SD Card Reader

transcend ts-rdf5k
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: USB-A
  • Max Transfer Speed: 90MBps
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC, SDXC, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC (UHS-I)
CHECK PRICES

The TS-RDF5K from Transcend is another SD and Micro SD card reader featuring a flash drive-like design. This makes it highly portable but also limited to USB-A devices. Transfer speeds are in line with the reader’s UHS-I card support. They can reach about 90MBps in case you have a fast enough memory card.

This reader is not as wide as Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader so there’s less chance for it to render adjacent ports unusable when attached.

Pros:
  • Portable
Cons:
  • Limited To USB-A Devices
  • Limited To UHS-I Transfer Speed (90MBps)

Sony MRW-E90-BC2 XQD USB 3.0 Reader

The Best XQD Card Reader

sony mrw-e90 bc2 xqd usb 3 0 reader
  • Connection Port: USB-A, USB-C (Optional)
  • Max Transfer Speed: 350MBps Read And 206MBps Write (XQD Cards), 250MBps (SD UHS-II Cards)
  • Memory Cards Supported: SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I, UHS-II) (MicroSD With Adapter), XQD
CHECK PRICES

This is the best XQD card reader you can get, but it’s very expensive. The reader supports XQD and SD (UHS-II) memory cards and has amazing read and write speeds. Transfer speeds go up to 350MBps (read) and 206MBps (write) with XQD cards and about 250MBps (read and write) with SD UHS-II cards. The reader is on the chunkier side but still pretty portable.

Further, the cable can be detached allowing users to hook this reader both to USB-A and USB-C devices. Just make sure to get a USB-C to USB Micro B 3.0 cable. The blazing-fast transfer speed and detachable cable are paired with a very high price, making this reader by far the most expensive on this list.

Pros:
  • Blazing Fast Transfer Speeds
  • Optional USB-C Support
Cons:
  • Very Expensive
  • Limited Memory Card Support

Apple Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader

The Best SD Card Reader For iPhone And iPad

apple lightning to sd card camera reader
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Connection Port: Lighting
  • Max Transfer Speed: Undisclosed
  • Memory Card Support: SD (MicroSD With Adapter)
CHECK PRICES

If you have an iPhone or an iPad equipped with the Lighting cable this is the card reader to buy. The reader works with SD cards but it can also work with MicroSD cards in case you have an adapter.

Maximum read and write speeds are undisclosed but reviews mention noticeable transfer speed improvement when using the new reader, which supports USB 3.0 interface, over the previous model that supports USB 2.0 interface.

This reader is expensive but is the easiest way to transfer videos and photos from your iPhone or iPad to your SD memory card and vice versa.

Pros:
  • Easiest Way To Transfer Photos And Videos From iPhone And iPad To SD Card
Cons:
  • Undisclosed Transfer Speed
  • Expensive

How To Choose A Memory Card Reader

Years ago, lots of laptop models had card readers as a regular feature but in recent times the quest for thinner and thinner convertibles led to many notebooks, especially the high-end ones, cutting off this handy piece of hardware.

Luckily the market is filled with various standalone memory card readers that come in all shapes and sizes. What’s better, you don’t have to spend days weighing different features in order to find the best memory card, reader. All you have to do is focus on a couple of important points such as the connection interface and memory card compatibility. Let’s cover every important point when picking a memory card reader.

Compatibility With Different Memory Card Types

This is the feature you should focus on first. Different readers support different memory cards. Some can only host one or two memory card types, which can be all you need. But if you’re someone dealing with lots of different memory cards on a regular basis or plan to get a camera that uses a different memory card type than what you use at the moment, think about getting a card reader that supports all memory card types you might use.

On the other hand, if you use just the SD or MicroSD cards and don’t plan on using other memory card types, there’s no point in spending more money to get a versatile card that costs more. Just make sure you know which memory cards your next reader should support.

Interface And Transfer Speed

This is very important since getting an old USB 2.0 reader can make you cry in agony. These days photos and especially videos can take a lot of data. Videos recorded in 4K resolution can take dozens of gigabytes, sometimes more. If you get a USB 2.0 type reader moving those hefty high-def videos to your computer can take an eternity.

If you’re getting a memory card reader make sure that it supports USB 3.0 interface. Even flash drives support USB 3.0 for a decade now so there’s no point in getting a card reader with dated interface. USB 3.0 transfer speeds are miles ahead of USB 2.0. While USB 2.0 maxes out at about 53MBps USB 3.0 supports transfer speeds up to 640MBps, at least on paper.

Next, we have the connection interface. If you own a modern laptop chances are you have both USB-A and USB-C ports so it doesn’t matter which card reader you get, as long as it supports USB 3.0 interface. But if you have a Windows-based ultrabook or a recent MacBook Pro or Air model you’re limited to USB-C ports so it’s better to get a USB-C card reader unless you have a USB dongle or a USB hub. In that case, it doesn’t matter.

Other Points To Consider

Do You Have A Built-In Card Reader On Your Laptop – While ultrabooks and MacBook computers cut build-in card readers many laptops still have them. Those readers are usually limited to MicroSD cards and SD cards. In case you’re only using those two memory card types you don’t need to buy a separate card reader.

Getting A Memory Card Reader With USB Hub – If you have a laptop with only one or a couple USB-C ports and you need not only a card reader but also a USB hub for extra ports, think about getting a memory card reader with additional USB ports available on it. This way you can solve two problems with one device.

Size And Portability – Some card reader models feature flash drive design. They can be directly connected to a USB port instead of needing a cable. Those readers are smaller and weigh in less than card readers with connection cables so if you need a reader with maximum portability get one of those.

Some Memory Cards Work Best With Specific Memory Card Reader Models – Take a look at the listing for the SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC memory card. It states that max transfer speed is achievable only if using specific memory card reader models, those that offer transfer speed in line with the card’s UHS I-rated transfer speeds. When looking for a card reader make sure it can keep the pace with your memory card when it comes to max transfer speed.

Also, the maximum transfer speed can also be affected by your storage drive. If you own a hard drive you won’t be able to reach highest transfer speeds, which can go up to about 250MBps when using the best card readers. If you want the best possible transfer speed make sure to have a fast memory card (UHS-II in case of an SD card and UDMA 7 for CF cards), a card reader that supports UHS-II and UDMA 7 standards, and an SSD.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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