The 10 Best USB Card Readers

Updated August 16, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best USB Card Readers
Best High-End
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Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Get fast and reliable access to all your media using one of these USB card readers. Ideal for photographers, videographers, design studios and printing houses, they can facilitate speedy transfers of images, videos, and other data, so you can keep the workflow moving smoothly. We've included models in our selection that work with all of the most popular card formats. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best usb card reader on Amazon.

10. ABC Products All-In-One

When you want an affordable option that works with most formats, count on the ABC Products All-In-One. It connects effortlessly via the included cable, and boasts an overall material quality and construction that feels built to last.
  • small footprint for easy storage
  • need to insert cards upside down
  • cf slot pins bend easily
Brand ABC Products
Model PRT-PC-9337096
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Rocketek 11-in-1

Designed for busy professionals, the Rocketek 11-in-1 has an integrated cover that stores your cards and snaps securely shut for peace of mind. Plus, it comes with free lifetime tech support just in case any unexpected problems arise.
  • connects quickly to most computers
  • led flashes during transfers
  • tends to last for only a year or so
Brand Rocketek
Model RT-CR3A
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Sabrent Premium HB-MACR

The Sabrent Premium HB-MACR offers three handy USB ports, meaning it does double duty as a hub for all of your charging and data transfer needs. It features a classy brushed aluminum housing that'd look right at home beside an iMac.
  • compatible with three memory formats
  • conveniently angled for insertion
  • can't read multiple cards at once
Brand Sabrent
Model HB-MACR
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Vanja CR-01

If size matters more than anything else to you, the Vanja CR-01 is a portable and stylish option that works best for transferring smaller files, as it maxes-out at around 60 megabytes per second. It features port covers to keep out dirt, dust, and moisture.
  • micro-usb connector
  • plugs directly into most smartphones
  • doesn't support cards over 64 gb
Brand Vanja
Model VJ-CR-01
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. EC Technology U10-CR3001S

The EC Technology U10-CR3001S is built with a solid aluminum body and rounded corners that nicely complement your modern accessories. It offers a practical design with a built-in cable to ensure a stable connection for consistent transfer speeds.
  • also available in rose gold
  • corrosion-resistant construction
  • not built for longevity
Brand EC TECHNOLOGY
Model U10-CR3001S
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. HooToo Shuttle 4

The 3-in-1 HooToo Shuttle 4 offers versatility in a stylish package. Its plug and play design can quickly transform your computer's type-C port into 3 fast USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader with EMI protection for zero interference.
  • can be used to charge a laptop
  • made from a sturdy aluminum alloy
  • led indicator is too bright for some
Brand HooToo
Model HT-UC004
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. IOGear 3-Slot

The IOGear 3-Slot offers a simple design with multifunctional capabilities at a price that's hard to pass up. It supports the latest standards for transfer speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second for all of your data reading and writing needs.
  • good quality for the price
  • backed by a 3-year warranty
  • works with type-c ports
Brand IOGEAR
Model GFR3C13
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Lexar LRW025URBNA

For those in need of an all-in-one file transfer solution, look no further than the Lexar LRW025URBNA. It features an innovative pop-up design that protects the slots when they're not in use, plus it supports 25 different memory formats.
  • can transfer files between cards
  • folds flat for portability
  • operates at impressively fast speeds
Brand Lexar
Model LRW025URBNA
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Kingston Digital FCR-HS4

The Kingston Digital FCR-HS4 is a stylish little device sporting a brushed nickel and white plastic housing. But it's what's inside that really counts, and that's quick USB 3.0 speeds for transferring your media from a variety of formats.
  • supports several sd standards
  • sleek form factor
  • lifetime technical support
Brand Kingston
Model FCR-HS4
Weight 4.2 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Transcend RDC8K

For a great balance of speed, versatility, and wallet-friendliness, go for the Transcend RDC8K. Despite its low price, it's actually quite rugged and useful, with a total of four ports for all of your data transfer needs, and a removable type-C cable is included.
  • available in black or white
  • supports card security features
  • weighs less than half an ounce
Brand Transcend
Model TS-RDC8K
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Reading The Future

While I'm not old enough to have been a holdout in the digital photography revolution, clinging to my film cameras and unprocessed negatives like a misting rain clings to your windshield no matter how good your wipers are, I am old enough to have made my biggest camera investment in a Nikon D700. I will argue to this day that its 12 megapixel sensor will outperform anything else on the market.

The big problem with the D700, though, is that it–and any big body Nikon or Canon made before it–only writes to compact flash cards. As far as I know, photography is the only industry that still uses compact flash, and as more and more of our writing transfers to SD and micro SD, card readers that can fit a compact flash card will go the way of the dinosaurs.

For now, there are still card readers available with slots for compact flash, and you can even see some of them here on our list. Those card readers, as well as Apple's decision to continue including SD card slots on their computer bodies, are pieces of tech we can't expect to last, especially as port connections slowly but surely consolidate around USB standards.

Whether or not you have an SD card slot on your computer, these card readers are life savers for anyone with media to transfer. In some cases you'll use them to grab photos, videos, or other files off of your SD and micro SD cards, as they'll work as intermediaries between the card and your computer without any additional software needed.

In other cases, you can use some of these card readers as USB extenders, multiplying the number of available USB ports open to your computer. This will particularly come in handy as computers reduce the number and variety of their ports in favor of less expensive, more streamlined circuitry.

What'll I do when the industry stops making compact flash card readers and my D700 is still shooting like a newborn? I'll weep for a moment, then I'll do what everybody who invested in Betamax had to do: I'll adapt.

Thunder Reigns

In order to know which USB card reader will serve you best, you're going to need to know a little bit about the hardware on your computer, as well as the purpose of your card reader–as in the kinds of cards you need to read. These little bits of information ought to narrow your choice down to one or two options, and you can let the prices and read/write speeds of the devices guide you from there.

To start with, look along the area of your computer that has all the ports. You'll probably recognize the USB symbol and its related port, since so many of our devices rely on that specific connection. If you have a newer computer, you might also see a port with a kind of lightning bolt symbol next to it. This is a Thunderbolt port, a USB-integrated port often referred to as Type-C. Type-C ports are situated to completely dominate the market within the next few years, and USB as we know it will slowly die out as a means of transferring data.

I have an older Apple laptop, so I can't even use these hot new Thunderbolt devices, which rules out a few of the readers on our list. In this transitional period, if you do have a thunderbolt port, you might have a reduced number of USB ports for your pre-Thunderbolt devices. Rather than investing in a half-dozen new cables for all of them, you can use some of the readers on our list to expand your Thunderbolt port to become a few available USB ports.

Some of these expansion readers only read one or two types of cards, however. If you've got a camera that shoots to compact flash, a micro SD card with a missing adapter, or any of the bygone XD cards Sony used to use, a more diverse card reader will be your best option, even if it doesn't have the Thunderbolt connectivity or USB expansion capabilities.

SD And USB: Brothers In Arms

I recently asked a young person (oh, boy, that makes me sound old) if he ever had to physically screw a cable into any of his computers. He looked at me like I was a three headed goat monster. What I was referring to in my question were the basic serial ports of my first computers, the ones that fit into place, and then were secured with tiny screws.

Before the time this little brat had learned to spell, USB connectors had already hit the market. Of course, this was well before the majority of device manufacturers began to focus their developments around USB integration. That wave wouldn't hit until the mid-2000s, when USB 2.0 came along with superior speed, convenience, and reliability. USB 2.0 also gave us the now-ubiquitous (for now, at least) USB flash drives–often called thumb drives or jump drives–that more or less killed every other form of physical file sharing.

Just before this revolution in USB technology, Panasonic, Toshiba, and SanDisk all launched Secure Digital, or SD cards, in 1999. In relatively short order, the photography industry, which had already developed readers for its compact flash cards that came out in 1994, jumped on the USB band wagon, and these readers were born.



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Last updated on August 16, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.


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