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We Compared the Best SD Card Readers So You Don’t Have To

Have you ever asked yourself what you can do to speed up the file transfer process? No one wants to watch loading bars fill as images transfer at a snail’s pace. What you may not realize is that the best sd card readers can drastically reduce post-production time.

best sd card readers

Learn to Talk the Talk

Before we dive deep into our reviews, let’s go over some basic SD card reader jargon. We’ve pulled together a small glossary to help differentiate between some of the most common memory card formats.

SD card – The “SD” stands for “Secure Digital”. A memory card format specifically designed for use in portable devices. Most digital cameras, regardless of brand or quality, store photographs on SD cards.
CF card
– Stands for “Compact Flash”. Another memory card format commonly used in high-end cameras for photo storage. While not all cameras are CF-compatible, many prefer them because of their high memory capacity and overall durability.
XQD card
– A memory card format targeted toward high definition, high-resolution cameras and camcorders. The format boasts quick read/write speeds and massive storage capacities.
SDHC card – Stands for “Secure Digital High Capacity”. An SD card designed to hold between 4GB and 32 GB of data.
SDXC card – Stands for “Secure Digital Extended Capacity”. An SD card designed to hold more than 32 GB of data.
microSD card – A miniature version of the standard SD card. Often used in smaller devices such as mobile phones. 

SanDisk SD Card
Memory Cards come in all shapes and sizes. They can hold a photoshoot or two, but then they need storing elsewhere. That’s where card readers come in handy.


PhotoWorkout Budget Pick!

Transcend SD card reader
Transcend’s card reader is a simple option for those on a budget.

This card reader’s bright pink coloring isn’t the only thing that sets it apart from the crowd. The TRANSCEND RDF5 USB SD/microSD MEMORY CARD READER keeps things as simple as possible to optimize the way you transfer your data.

  • The Transcend RDF5 accepts SDHC/SDXC and microSD cards, sporting separate slots for each format.
  • Each purchase includes free data recovery software.
  • The RDF5 has a USB plug for instantaneous connection.
  • With the help of an adaptor, the Transcend is compatible with tablets and Android phones with OTG capabilities.
  • This card reader has a compact, lightweight build akin to standard thumb drives.
Transcend USB 3.0 SDHC/SDXC/microSDHC/SDXC Card Reader, TS-RDF5R (Pink)
  • Superspeed USB 3.0 interface; backwards compatible with USB 2.0
  • Supports SDHC (UHS-I), SDXC (UHS-I), Micro SD, microSDHC (UHS-I), and Microsoft (UHS-I)
  • Led card insertion and data transfer activity indicator
  • Ideal for transferring high-resolution images and video recordings
  • Supports SD and security functions - USB powered

2. Apple Lightning to SD Card Reader

Apple Lightning SD card reader
The Lightning to SD Card Reader is specifically designed for Apple devices.

Die-hard Apple users, look no further – this is the choice for you. The Apple Lightning To Sd Card Camera Reader is designed to cooperate with your existing Apple devices.

In other words, it makes the process of transferring images a no-brainer.

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  • The Apple Lightning accepts standard SDHC/SDXC as well as microSD cards.
  • Works seamlessly with iPhone and iPads. As soon as you plugin, the images from your SD card will begin to transfer into your Photos app without prompting.
  • Small size makes it easy to stow away and travel with.
  • Great choice for photographers working on location that need to deliver results quickly.

• For Lightning-Enabled iOS Devicesn• View Photos from SD Cardn• Supports JPEG, RAWn• Supports H.264 u0026 MPEG-4n• Up to USB 3.0 Speeds on iPad Pro

3. TekRepublic TUC-300

Tek Republic SD card Reader
A compact little gadget, this TEK REPUBLIC card reader promises fast transfer of data.

They say the greatest things come in small packages.

Certainly, the old adage is true for the TekRepublic TUC-300. With high data capacity, this little powerhouse is among the best SD card readers around.

RELATED POST: Best SD Card for Your Canon 6D and Nikon D3300

  • The TUC-300 works with SDHC/SDXC as well as microSD cards
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
  • Incredibly fast data transfer speeds of up to 5 GB/second.
  • Compact design prioritizes portability and can easily slip into a pocket.
Tek Republic TUC-300 Portable 12-in-1 USB 3.0 Card Reader
  • USB 3.0 for maximum speed performance. Backward compatible with USB 2.0
  • Support SDXC (up to 2TB), SDHC, SD, Micro SDXC, Micro SDHC, Micro SD, MMC, MS Cards
  • SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards are support in UHS-I mode up to 104 MB/Sec
  • Plug-n-Play & Hot-Swap; Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1
  • Supports Windows, Mac and Linux


Anker SD card reader
Anker’s 2-in-1 card reader is a small, yet effective card reader option.

What’s not to love about this perfect marriage of functionality and affordability? The ANKER 2-IN-1 USB PORTABLE CARD READER may not look like much, but it’s fully capable of handling all of your image transfer needs.

  • Works with SDXC/SDHC, microSD cards, and more!
  • Plugs directly into a USB port, no wires necessary to make a connection
  • Transfers data quickly at 5GB/second
  • Despite being smaller than the average USB flash drive, sports an ultra-durable plastic build.
  • The Anker 2-in-1 has the ability to read and write on multiple cards simultaneously.
Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 SD Card Reader for SDXC, SDHC, SD, MMC, RS-MMC, Micro SDXC,...
  • Simultaneously read and write on two cards to save yourself the effort of constant unplugging and re-plugging.
  • USB 3.0 enables data transfer rates of up to 5Gbps for faster Sync times, backward compatible with USB 2.0/ 1.1.
  • Fully powered via your USB port — no additional power supply required.
  • No drivers required for Windows 10/ 8/ 7/ Vista or Mac OS X 10.2 and above.
  • Package contents: Anker SD/TF Card Reader, hassle-free 18-month warranty.


Lexar SD card reader
The Lexar card reader is incredibly versatile.

The LEXAR MULTI-CARD 25-IN-1 MEMORY CARD READER is a great choice for photographers that aren’t sure exactly what they want from their card reader.

It’s versatile and supports just about anything you can throw at it.

  • Accepts CF cards as well as standard SDHC/SDXC and microSD cards. Also works with less prominent memory card formats.
  • The Lexar can transfer data from more than one card at a time. In addition, it can transfer data between cards.
  • Pop-up design helps keep card slots protected when not in use.
  • Works at speeds up to 500 MB/second.
Lexar Multi-Card 25-In-1 USB 3.0 Reader - LRW025URBNA
  • Extremely versatile reads 25 popular memory card formats
  • Leverages SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology for high speed file transfers, with a USB interface speed up to 500MB/s
  • Enables concurrent downloads and card to card file transfer
  • Pop up design protects card slots
  • Quickly and easily transfer photos, videos, music, and files

6. UGREEN SD Card Reader

A PhotoWorkout Favorite!

UGreen SD Card Reader
The UGREEN SD Card Reader has impressive capabilities given its price.

What makes the UGREEN SD Card Reader one of the best SD card readers out there?

In short, it’s the total package. As if its broad compatibility and impressive performance weren’t enough, its price tag makes it an even more tempting offer.

  • Slots support CF, SDXC/SDHC, and microSD cards
  • UGreen can work with Mac, Linux, Windows, and Chrome operating systems.
  • Can support cards with up to 512 GB of data.
  • Works at impressive transfer speeds of up to 5GB/second.
  • The card reader can read multiple cards simultaneously.
UGREEN SD Card Reader USB 3.0 Card Hub Adapter 5Gbps Read 4 Cards Simultaneously CF...
  • One Reader for Multi Cards: Ugreen USB Card Reader is designed with 4 card slots: SD, Micro SD, CF, MS slots and USB 3.0...
  • Super Speed&High Capacity: Ugreen USB Memory Card Reader support SD/Micro SD card up to 512G and allows super fast data...
  • Compact Design&Premium Quality: So useful but so compact. Easy to grab and go. Reinforced cable, Tin-plated pure copper core...
  • Broad Compatibility: Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS and etc. It could read and write...
  • One-sec Installation: Plug and Play. No driver needed. Hot swapping and auto detection.

7. COASD SD Card Reader

PhotoWorkout Budget Pick!

COASD SD card reader
A neat little card reader that gives you the option to connect to your phone and PC.

Don’t let your eyes deceive you – the COASD SD Card Reader is much more than a run-of-the-mill thumb drive. Transferring your images is as simple as plugging in with this little card reader.

RELATED POST: Best Compact Flash Cards

  • Slots for SDHC/SDXC cards as well as micro SD products.
  • The Coasd has a USB and a microUSB plug built-in. That means that it’s compatible with tablets as well as Android smartphones with OTG functionality.
  • Small enough to fit in a pocket, this card reader weighs in at less than an ounce.
COASD SD Card Reader,Micro SD Card Reader,SD Card Adapter,Memory Card Reader,USB SD...
  • 1. SD Card Reader and Micro SD Card Reader with standard USB-A and Micro-USB ports to make it as SD Card Adapter and Micro SD...
  • 2. Memory card reader to support on all OTG device to playback videos and music directly from external memory without...
  • 3. As a SD Card Reader for Android, it can manage all your data across multiple platforms for Create Copy Edit Move Delete...
  • 4. Universal Compatibility and Easy Use Powers via Micro USB USB port No additional power supply needed Easy to take. use and...
  • 5. Note NOT include SD Micro SD cards Does NOT support memory cards over 64GB because of limited current provided by mobile...

8. SONY XQD/SD Card Reader

Sony XQD SD card Reader
Very few card readers offer XQD card reading capabilities, this Sony card reader has that functionality.

The SONY XQD/SD Card Reader has the alluring and unique feature of being XQD card compatible. However, if you’re not ready to switch over to the emerging format, it’s plenty capable of working with SD card formats as well.

  • Outside of standard SDHC/SDXC cards, Sony’s card reader also works with XQD cards.
  • While the price is a bit higher than the average card reader, Sony offers a one year warranty with purchase.
  • Manufacturers claim that the device can back up an impressive 64 GB of data in less than three minutes.
  • Excellent choice for Sony and Lexar users that would like to take advantage of latest memory innovations
Sony MRW-E90/BC2 XQD USB 3.0 Reader
  • Compatible with all XQD Series and UHS-II SD Memory cards
  • Super speed USB (USB 3. 1 Gen 1)
  • Xqd high speed driver and XQD drive letter recognition are available for free download from the Sony web site


SanDisk SD card reader
SanDisk are a leading flash memory company, their card reader still testifies to that.

Sleek, simple, and straightforward, the SANDISK IMAGEMATE PRO is a solid candidate as one of the best SD card readers around. SanDisk has always been at the forefront of flash memory technology, and they don’t disappoint with the Imagemate

  • Slots for microSD, CF, and SDHC/SDXC cards.
  • Can transfer up to 500MB of data per second.
  • A little bulkier and sturdier than the pocket-sized card readers.
  • Works with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
SanDisk ImageMate PRO Multiformat Reader/Writer, Multi Color (SDDR-489-A47)
  • WORKS WITH MULTIPLE CARDS: Whether your card is a UHS-II, UHS-I or non-UHS SD or microSD card, the SanDisk ImageMate PRO...
  • FAST TRANSFER SPEEDS FOR IMPROVED WORKFLOW: With transfer speeds of up to 312MB/s for SD and microSD and up to 160MB/s for...
  • WORKS WITH USB 3. 0 AND 2. 0 PORTS: The SanDisk ImageMate PRO Multi-Card Reader features a USB 3. 0 interface that can move...
  • WORKS WITH WINDOWS AND MAC COMPUTERS: The SanDisk ImageMate PRO Multi-Card Reader works with your PC or your Mac computer
  • SANDISK AUTHORIZED DEALER: Includes USA Manufacturer


XCELLON SD card reader
The XCELLON Card Reader is significantly pricier than the other options, however, it is much more reliable.

The XCELLON 4-SLOT PRO USB CARD READER may be the priciest option on our list, but the reliability it provides makes it worth every penny. Designed for professionals looking for the best results money can be, the XCellon smoothly transfers data.

  • Two slots support SDHC/SDXC, while the other two slots handle CF cards.
  • Aluminum build keeps the device from overheating/breaking down when working with large files.
  • Data transfer speeds are as high as 800MB/second
  • The device can read multiple cards at once.
  • In addition, it’s possible to transfer data from one card to another for convenient backups.

RELATED POST: Comparing Sandisk Extreme vs Extreme Pro

Deciding on the Best SD Card Reader for You

We’ve covered a wide range of readers and included something for every budget. In fact, deciding on what your budget will be is a pretty good place to start when you’re shopping for the best SD card reader.

As you’ve noticed, the prices can vary from a few bucks to close to a hundred!

Once you know what kinda money you’re willing to drop, consider the speed you want, what kind of cards you need it to read and make the best choice!

Bonus Pick: the Moshi USB-C Adapter

The Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter gets your USB inputs and SD card reader back to your MacBook Pro. Plus, you get an HDMI output to connect a monitor, tv, or projector.

Here is what you get with the new Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter:

Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter Review
Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter
  • Two USB A (USB 3.0) Ports
  • One SD Card Slot
  • Plus, one 4K HDMI (@30 Hz) Connection

The design is quite sleek and the adapter is relatively small. What would be nice though is a slightly longer cable so it won’t hang in the air if you put your Mac on a laptop stand (a common set-up when you work with an additional monitor for editing your photos).

Perfect for those on the Move

The Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter is a perfect companion when on the move because it is lightweight and it enables you to download your photos or videos from your SD card on your laptop or even an external hard disk which you could also connect using the Moshi USB A port.

As Fast as it Can Get

By the way, the USB A (USB 3.0) ports have a transfer speed of 5 Gbps. That’s almost as high as the latest USB 3 standard can get. Even if you get your hands on adapters with a faster transfer rate (USB 3.1), it may not help you much as most external drives can anyways not handle a speed over 5 Gbps.

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Charge Your USB Devices

In addition to transferring data, the adapter will also charge your devices fast (even if your laptop is not connected to a power source). So no worries when your mobile or Apple Watch runs out of battery, just plug them into your Moshi USB adapter for a quick recharge.

SDHC/XC Memory Card Support

The USB-C Multimedia Adapter supports all types: SD, SDHC, and SDXC (HC = High Capacity, XC = Xtended Capacity). If your camera or smartphone uses micro SD cards you can just get a microSD to SD adapter. The transfer speed is up to 104 MB/s which is higher than most of the SD cards currently on the market (e.g. the popular Sandisk Extreme Pro can handle up to 95 MB/s).

USB-C Multimedia Adapter
Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter: 1 SD Card Reader, 2 USB 3.0, and one HDMI connection.

HDMI Output

At 1080p the HDMI connection works at a refresh rate of 60 Hz and at 4K the refresh rate is 30 Hz. The adapter is also HDCP-compatible.

With this HDMI output, you can mirror your comoputer on an external monitor or watch movies or your photos on a tv screen.

Sleek design: the Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter
Sleek design: the Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter matches the color of your MacBook Pro and weighs only 1.6 ounces (45 grams)
Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter, HDMI, USB, SD Card Reader
  • Connect any USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 laptop to an external monitor or TV.
  • HDMI output at 1080p (60 Hz) and 4K (30 Hz) resolutions. HDCP-compatible.
  • Data transfer: supports USB 3.1 (Gen 1) at rates up to 5 Gbps.
  • Power: supports fast laptop charging up to 60 W (20 V/3 A).
  • 10-Year Global Warranty: All Moshi products are eligible for our 10-year Global Warranty program. Learn more about our...


  • Meghan is an artist and writer based out of Boston, MA. With an interest in everything from instant film to experimental videography, her work has been featured internationally in a variety of photographic exhibitions and publications. As a regular contributor, she uses her broad background in fine art and varied professional experiences to inform her articles.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Certain content that appears on PhotoWorkout.com comes from Amazon. This content is provided ‘as is’ and is subject to change or removal at any time.

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