15 best credit card machines for small business – compared and reviewed

Last updated on 26 June 2023

Navigating the world of small business can be a daunting task, with various decisions to make, from choosing your location to picking your suppliers. One such vital decision is selecting a credit card machine for your business.

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The right card machine can not only streamline your operations but also enhance your customers’ experience, leading to increased satisfaction and repeat business. However, with an array of options available in the market, it can be challenging to know where to start.

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Video: Card readers and payment machines explained

This article aims to simplify your decision-making process by providing a comprehensive comparison and review of the 15 best credit card machines for small businesses. We’ll explore their features, pros and cons, costs, and transaction fees, to help you select the one that best suits your specific business needs. Let’s dive in.

Best credit card machines for UK small businesses

Card MachinePurchase PriceTransaction Fee
Zettle Reader£191.75%
Square Reader£161.75%
SumUp Air£191.69%
PayPal Here£452.75%
WorldPay Reader£69.992.75% – 0.75%
Barclaycard Anywhere£29.951.7%
Paymentsense Mobile£19.951.6%
TakePayments Mobile£19.991.6%
EPOS Now£119.992.49% – 0.75%
myPOS Go£291.75%
Handepay£19.991.5%
Zettle Pro£391.25%
Shopify POS£792.2% + 20p
Clover Mini£2492.3% + 20p
Elavon MobileMerchant£251.5%
Best credit card machines for small business

Note: These fees represent a simplified version of the pricing for these credit card machines. Many providers have more complex pricing structures that include different rates for different types of cards or different monthly volumes of transactions. The actual cost may vary based on these factors, as well as whether you choose to add on additional services or features. Always review the full pricing details carefully before making a decision.

Zettle Reader

Zettle Reader and accompanying mobile app

This card machine is popular for its low transaction fee, ease of use, and fast payment processing.

Zettle also comes with free point-of-sale software and has no fixed monthly costs.

  • Pros: Affordable, user-friendly, offers fast payment processing.
  • Cons: It does not integrate with all point-of-sale systems.

Square Reader

The Square Reader accepts contactless payments by tapping a card, and also has a slot for inserting a card

Square is widely recognised for its accessibility and user-friendly design. With a simple flat rate fee structure, it is ideal for small businesses that don’t want to worry about varying fees.

  • Pros: Accessible, user-friendly, and offers a simple flat rate fee structure.
  • Cons: Limited advanced features compared to other options.

SumUp Air

This machine is perfect for businesses that process a low volume of card transactions. It has an affordable price and lower transaction fees for low volume users. Learn more about Sumup.

  • Pros: Affordable with lower transaction fees for low-volume users.
  • Cons: Not ideal for high-volume businesses due to its transaction fee structure.

PayPal Here

This machine offers integration with PayPal, allowing businesses to manage all transactions within one system. The transaction fee is a bit higher, but the integration benefits can outweigh the costs for many businesses.

  • Pros: Integrates seamlessly with PayPal, allowing businesses to manage all transactions within one system.
  • Cons: Transaction fee is slightly higher compared to others.

WorldPay Reader

WorldPay offers a variety of pricing plans, which can be customized to suit your business needs. It is an established brand with a reputation for reliability.

  • Pros: Variety of customisable pricing plans and an established, reliable brand.
  • Cons: The fee structure can be complicated and may not be ideal for smaller businesses.

Barclaycard Anywhere

Barclaycard‘s solution is easy to use and has the backing of one of the biggest banks in the UK. It offers competitive transaction fees and a robust customer support system.

  • Pros: Easy to use, competitive transaction fees, and robust customer support.
  • Cons: Has a relatively smaller feature-set than other devices.

Paymentsense Mobile

Paymentsense is a great option for businesses that need a more mobile solution. The portable terminal is perfect for on-the-go transactions, and it provides fast and secure payments.

  • Pros: Great for businesses needing a mobile solution with fast and secure payments.
  • Cons: It may not be suitable for businesses needing a countertop solution.

TakePayments Mobile

This device is suitable for businesses that value flexibility. It provides a 12-month contract as standard, a rarity in an industry that often ties you in for longer. See our TakePayments guide.

  • Pros: Provides flexibility with a 12-month contract as standard.
  • Cons: Lack of advanced features compared to other options.

EPOS Now

This comprehensive POS solution is perfect for retail or hospitality businesses that need more than just card processing. It’s higher in price, but it comes with a fully functional system that can manage your entire business. Learn more about Epos Now here.

  • Pros: Comprehensive POS solution, perfect for retail or hospitality businesses.
  • Cons: Higher in price, and may be too complex for businesses needing simpler solutions.

myPOS Go

myPOS Go offers a very low upfront cost, making it perfect for startups and small businesses. It has no monthly fees and offers a free e-money account for instant access to accepted payments.

  • Pros: Very low upfront cost and no monthly fees.
  • Cons: The higher per-transaction cost may add up for businesses with larger transaction volumes.

Handepay

A reliable choice for small businesses, Handepay offers low-cost card machines and promises to refund the difference if you don’t save compared to your current provider.

  • Pros: Low-cost machines and promises to refund the difference if you don’t save compared to your current provider.
  • Cons: May not offer as many features as some of the other providers.

Zettle Pro

Zettle Pro offers more features than the standard version, including a customer loyalty program. It’s more suited to businesses with higher transaction volumes.

  • Pros: More features than the standard version, including a customer loyalty program.
  • Cons: Higher price point than the regular iZettle Reader.

Shopify POS

Ideal for businesses that have both online and physical stores, Shopify POS integrates seamlessly with the Shopify ecommerce platform, providing a unified solution for your business.

  • Pros: Ideal for businesses with both online and physical stores, as it integrates seamlessly with Shopify.
  • Cons: Requires a Shopify subscription, which may not be suitable for all businesses.

Clover Mini

This machine comes with a larger screen for an improved user interface. It also offers more advanced features, such as inventory tracking, making it great for businesses looking for a more comprehensive solution. See our Clover guide.

  • Pros: Offers advanced features like inventory tracking, larger screen for improved user interface.
  • Cons: Higher price point and transaction fees.

Elavon MobileMerchant

Known for its secure and fast transaction processing, this machine is more suitable for businesses with a high volume of transactions. It is also well-regarded for its strong customer service. See our Elavon guide.

  • Pros: Known for secure and fast transaction processing and strong customer service.
  • Cons: May not be suitable for small businesses due to higher transaction fees for lower volume of transactions.

Remember, what works best for your business will depend on your specific needs, including your transaction volume, budget, and whether you need a portable or countertop device.

Features to look for in a credit card machine

When choosing the best credit card machine for your small business, several important features can impact how effectively the machine will meet your needs:

  1. Ease of Use: The credit card machine should be intuitive and user-friendly. The easier it is for your staff to use, the faster the transaction process will be. This can significantly improve the customer experience.
  2. Transaction Speed: Fast transaction speeds are crucial in maintaining efficient business operations, particularly during peak hours. Look for machines that can process payments swiftly to reduce customer waiting times.
  3. Transaction Fees: Different providers have different fee structures. Some charge a flat rate per transaction, while others may have variable rates. Understanding the transaction fees can help you make a cost-effective choice.
  4. Portability: If your business model requires you to move around a lot (like at trade fairs or food trucks), a portable and wireless credit card machine would be an ideal choice.
  5. Integration: The machine should ideally be able to integrate with your existing systems. This includes accounting software, inventory systems, and CRM software. This can help in streamlining business operations and making transaction data easier to manage.
  6. Reliability: A credit card machine that frequently malfunctions can lead to lost sales and frustrated customers. Check out reviews and recommendations to ensure that the machine you choose is reliable and has good customer support.
  7. Security: Credit card fraud is a real concern, so it’s crucial to choose a machine that provides robust security features to protect your customers’ card information.
  8. Connectivity Options: The device should offer a range of connectivity options, including Bluetooth, WiFi, and mobile network connections, ensuring you can process payments in various scenarios.
  9. Receipt Options: While many customers prefer digital receipts sent via email or text, some still prefer a printed receipt. It’s beneficial to have a credit card machine that offers both options for greater flexibility.
  10. Contactless Payment Support: With the increasing popularity of contactless payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay, it’s essential for your credit card machine to support these options.

When choosing a credit card machine, consider these features carefully. They can make a significant difference to the efficiency of your payment process, the satisfaction of your customers, and ultimately, your business’s bottom line.

FAQ

What is a credit card machine?

A credit card machine, also known as a card reader or PDQ machine, is a device that enables businesses to accept credit or debit card payments. It reads the information on the card’s chip or magnetic strip and securely transmits the data to complete the transaction.

How does a credit card machine work?

A credit card machine reads the card details provided by the customer, either by swiping, inserting, or tapping their card, or by inputting the card details manually. The machine then sends this information to the merchant’s bank, which communicates with the customer’s bank to check if the funds are available. If approved, the funds are transferred to the merchant’s account.

Do I need a merchant account to use a credit card machine?

Yes, a merchant account is typically required to use a credit card machine. A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments in multiple ways, usually debit or credit cards.

How much does a credit card machine cost?

The cost of a credit card machine can vary greatly depending on the provider, features, and whether it’s a countertop or mobile device. Upfront costs for the card machines themselves can range from under £20 to several hundred pounds.

What are transaction fees and why do they matter?

Transaction fees are charges that are applied every time a business processes a card payment. These fees are usually a small percentage of the transaction value and sometimes a small fixed fee. They are important to consider because they can impact your business’s overall costs and profit margins.

Do credit card machines only accept credit cards?

No, most credit card machines can also accept debit cards. Many modern machines also accept contactless payments, including mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Can I use a credit card machine for my online business?

For online businesses, you won’t need a physical credit card machine. Instead, you’ll use a payment gateway to process credit and debit card transactions.

Remember, it’s essential to choose a credit card machine that aligns with your business needs and fits within your budget while providing a secure, efficient, and convenient way for customers to transact with your business.

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Reviewed by , Managing Director

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