SD cards may not be the most popular digital storage option out there, but they serve a very important role in the modern world. They’re compatible with a wide variety of devices, and newer models can hold a surprising amount of data. Whether you’re looking for something to save your photos, music, videos, or video game saves, an SD card is a great way to go.
Our guide provides reviews for 10 models that are each a contender for the best SD card reader of 2020. We also break down the advantages and disadvantages of SD cards so you can shop with a full understanding of what you should be looking for.
- 10 Best SD Card Readers
- 1. Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader
- 2. ProGrade Digital USB 3.1 Gen Card Reader
- 3. IOGEAR SD Card Reader/Writer
- 4. UGREEN SD Card Reader USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
- 5. SanDisk MobileMate USB 3.0 microSD Card Reader
- 6. Transcend TS-RDF5K USB 3.0 Card Reader
- 7. Kingston Digital USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader
- 8. Rocketek RT-CR3A 11 In 1 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
- 9. Acuvar High Speed All-in-1 Memory Card Reader
- 10. UNITEK USB 3.0 SD Card Reader Memory Card Reader
- SD Card Reader Buying Guide
10 Best SD Card Readers
1. Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader
The Anker 2-in-1 offers the only SD card reader you could ever need in one inexpensive package. With a price tag of just over $10, it's a reasonably impulse buy, and it comes with slots for both MicroSD and traditional full sized SD cards. Best of all, it allows you to simultaneously write and read on both cards at the same time, saving you both time and the frustration of having to constantly swap the cards in and out. And since it supports the latest USB 3.0 protocol, that means that you can achieve lightning fast transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps.
2. ProGrade Digital USB 3.1 Gen Card Reader
The ProGrade memory stick doesn't come cheap. It's currently retailing for at least $80, but that "pro grade" designation is more than just good branding. With its USB 3.1 compatibility, this is one of the best, fastest, and most reliably SD card readers available today. Not only does it offer exceedingly fast transfer speeds, but it also includes an adhesive magnetic plate that keeps it completely secured to your computer at all times. ProGrade has really pulled out all of the stops in terms of quality control, making sure that all of the components are serialized so they can be properly tracked and held to the highest standards possible.
3. IOGEAR SD Card Reader/Writer
This reader and writer from IOGEAR sports the compact size of a traditional flash drive, but it offers a whole lot of versatility for less than ten dollars. The number of SD formats supported is astronomical, and it offers smart bi-directional data transfer for the sake of your time and energy. While it may just run on the USB 2.0 format, it still offers respectable transfer speeds that should be more than good enough for most non-professional consumers. The IOGEAR model includes separate slots for micro and traditional SD cards, and IOGEAR has even included a protective sleeve for the USB connector to ensure a longer life span.
4. UGREEN SD Card Reader USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
UGREEN's SD card reader might not sport a profile quite as slim as the IOGEAR, but it's still an SD card reader worthy of your attention. The dual ports are compatible with both normal and micro sized SD cards, and they allow you to read and write from both simultaneously. Add in the USB 3.0 compatibility and the results are an incredibly fast SD card reader that can accommodate the needs of practically anyone. And it's a very small device that you can just plug and play, making it a great choice for busy professionals and those who travel internationally with regularity.
Supports: SD, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, UHS-I, TF, MMC, RS-MMC
USB Speed: 512 Mbps
Connection Type: USB 3.0
5. SanDisk MobileMate USB 3.0 microSD Card Reader
While a memory card reader that can handle a huge variety of different card types can be a huge asset, sometimes that's not what you need. While the MobileMate isn't going to be the best choice for everyone, it's definitely a stellar choice if you find yourself just working with microSD cards for your phone or camera. The reader itself is incredibly small, and it relies on USB 3.0 connections to provide some of the best speeds ever. The read and write speeds here are incredibly solid, but the price is similarly stripped down to the bone to offer one of the best values on an SD card reader.
6. Transcend TS-RDF5K USB 3.0 Card Reader
The Transcend TS-RDF5K is another card reader that takes inspiration from flash drives for its design sensibilities. With a slim frame and a dedicated pop off cover, it's both well protected and compact, and this SD reader comes with some nice quality of life functions that really make its modest price tag even more appealing. An LED indicator lets you know when it's properly inserted and transferring data.
And it comes equipped with a whole host of security features that are usually absent in the majority of memory card readers on the market. Whether you're looking to transfer a few videos or your whole image library, its USB 3.0 connection makes this a great hub.
7. Kingston Digital USB 3.0 Super Speed Multi-Card Reader
Kingston is by many accounts the king of portable storage devices, and while this SD card reader from the respected manufacturer may not be the most portable model around, it still sports a slim frame, multiple slots, and some of the fastest read and write speeds you'll find anywhere. It's well equipped to transfer high-resolution images and videos in no time at all, resulting in one of the best options as a card reader for a camera. It also supports practically every SD card standard, and the stylish brushed nickel case comes with an LED indicator so you'll always know if this SD card reader hub is working like it should.
8. Rocketek RT-CR3A 11 In 1 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
There are certainly not many SD card readers with the complexity of design you'll find in the Rocketek RT-CR3A. But the wide variety of moving parts in this SD card reader bely a pretty simple general design. Folded together, it looks similar to a traditional USB memory flash hub, and it protects both the USB output and holds your SD card securely while on the go. That's complemented by the presence of a loop for your keychain. Practically every SD card format is supported, and the USB 3.0 card format allows it to achieve some of the most impressive transfer speeds around.
9. Acuvar High Speed All-in-1 Memory Card Reader
The Acuvar isn't the cheapest or the smallest SD card reader around, but it deserves a review here due to its best in class representation for different SD card types. Whether you have a Flash card for your camera or a more traditional SD card from your phone, this microSD and SD card reader offers slots that can work for you. That makes it potentially the best memory card reader if you work with a wide variety of different devices, but the size and fact that it's a 2.0 rather than USB 3.0 card reader means you might be better off with a different SD card reader if you only work in one or two formats.
10. UNITEK USB 3.0 SD Card Reader Memory Card Reader
Rounding out our list of the best SD card readers of 2020 is a review of a Unitek model that really excels by hitting all the major qualities solidly without being the best at any. The frame is compact but not class leading, and while it doesn't support USB 3.1 type connections or compatibility with USB-C ports, it does rep the respectable 3.0 format. And while it's compatible with every operating system, it's clearly built off of Apple's aesthetic. You don't need a Macbook Pro to use this card reader, but it will look especially good when connected to a Macbook Pro.
SD Card Reader Buying Guide
So you’re looking for an SD card reader. While each review offers you the strengths and weaknesses of a specific card reader model, that doesn’t help you much if you don’t understand the surprisingly complex world of this technology. But whether you’re trying to transfer an image from your phone or a whole roll of film from your camera, we can help you understand what you need to know.
What is a MicroSD Reader Used For?
SD cards as a memory storage format aren’t as ubiquitous as the USB memory stick, that’s because they actually serve a different purpose. If you’re looking to just transfer an image collection or some music or videos from one computer to another, flash storage will do. But the SD card helps you transfer data if you have a camera, phone, or other small device that doesn’t have a traditional USB-C port, USB 3.1 type, or other full sized SD slot. Instead, these small devices typically make use of much smaller cards. These memory cards often come in a range of different sizes and formats.
But memory card readers serve the same purpose regardless of the SD card format. They serve as a necessary bridge that alkows you to read an image or any other data from your camera or other device on your computer (or any other device with a USB 3.0 dual input or another variety of USB). While needing a separate reader for the card may seem less convenient than a single plug and play device like a flash drive, a card reader generally supports a huge variety of different cards, so you can get sweeping coverage not just for your camera but for all of the gadgets in your collection that use an SD card.
What Are the Different Card Reader Formats?
The specs for each card reader on our list typically uses a huge number of different SD card formats. Fortunately, understanding what formats your card reader uses doesn’t have to require a PHD. Here are the key things you need to know about the supported specs for each card reader.
- A card reader may support micro or full-sized formats. As devices become smaller, microSD cards have been devised to offer decent card capacity while still suiting smaller devices. MicroSD is backwards compatibility with an SD slot, but the opposite isn’t true. Almost every card reader you’ll find should have both a microSD and SD reader slot.
- SD, SDHC (high capacity), and SDXC (extended capacity) represent the three generations of both microSD and SD cards. Each generation improves the speeds and storage capacities of the format, and a new generation card reader will be compatible with older generations, but not vice versa.
- UHS (Ultra High Speed Face) I and II are formats that refer to the bus design on a card. A higher UHS means a higher transfer speed for your card reader. While a card reader that supports a higher UHS is backwards compatible, that reader won’t offer UHS II speeds if you’re using a reader that doesn’t support UHS or only supports UHS I.
For many gadgets, an SD card reader is the only reliable way to physically transfer data. Fortunately, a single reader smartly analyzed will work for all or most of your devices. Regardless of what you’re looking for, we think you’ll find an SD card reader that suits your needs on our list.