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Card Machine Comparison

Card Machine

Credit card machines, card readers and PDQs are quickly becoming the defacto way to pay at face-to-face point-of-sale in most outlets across the UK with the most handy credit card machines taking payments via contactless cards or mobile phones (NFC).

For very small businesses there is a current trend towards simple card readers from SumUp or iZettle but these contracts come with higher fees which can be unfeasible for companies with all but the most-modest turnover.

The most popular credit card processing machines by far are the PDQ type which are available on various contracts from short term card machine rentals to long term contracts with attractive savings on fees.

Choosing a Card Machine

Choosing a card machine and payment processing provider can be bewildering due to the volume of offers currently available. Would your business suit a countertop card machine with monthly rental? Or a footloose mobile card machine without monthly fees?

Card Machine Costs

Card machines are available on lease or to buy, either from third-party card reader suppliers or direct from the company you open your account with.

Card Machines

Card Machines

If you already have a merchant account, it’s important to select hardware that works with that provider – this holds for all POS equipment, not just card machines.

Card Machine Transaction Fees

Fees on card reader transactions are either individually calculated by your merchant account provider based on card type and transaction type. Or in the case of the newer casual contracts, “blended” so all transactions are charged at the same rate – although this doesn’t always apply to Apple Pay and Google Pay mobile payments.

Card Machine Monthly Fees

Again, monthly fees associated with card machines can be as arranged with your merchant account provider. Or in the case of casual card machines for small business contracts there is often no monthly fee applied for the small enterprise level of transactions. While for the higher volume and multi-site businesses there is often a monthly fee of around £10 on top of the usual transation fees.

Credit Card Machines in the Marketplace

Most high-street outlets will use either a countertop card machine or small mobile credit card machine. A countertop card reader is normally plugged into the mains power supply, whereas a mobile card machine runs on batteries for convenience – so you can use it anywhere there’s a power socket or USB port.

PDQ Card Payments

PDQ (Process Data Quick) or portable credit card machines are available in various forms for both short term and long term hire or sale.

PDQs can take payments through cards, contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay or Samsung Pay on Android.

The data captured can be transmitted by Bluetooth or Wifi to a computer for the transactions to beprocessed.

Mobile Card Reader

A mobile card reader is a type of card machine that operates over a phone data network so that it can be used wherever there is a phone signal.

Mobile card readers are typically used by tradesmen, couriers and taxi drivers. Or at “pop-up” stores and restaurants or at expo stalls.

Mobile card readers are a great way to take payments when you’re on the go. They’re small and easy to use, and they work with any phone that has a data connection. This makes them perfect for businesses that are always on the move, or for events where you need to take payments quickly and easily.

The best thing about mobile card readers is that they’re really versatile. They can be used anywhere, from small businesses to large events, and they work with all types of card payments and mobile phone payments. So if you’re looking for a fast and easy way to take payments, a mobile card reader is the perfect solution.

Taking a Card Payment with a Mobile Card Machine

  1. Make sure the card machine is powered on and ready to connect to the data network.
  2. Load or input the transaction details ready to process the sale.
  3. Allow the customer to place their card near the NFC sensor on the card machine if the payment is under £100. If the payment is over £100 the customer will be required to insert the card into the reader and follow on-screen instructions to input their PIN.
  4. The card machine will connect over the data network and attempt process the transaction.
  5. Either the transaction will complete or the customer may be required to input their PIN for added security (see step 3).

It’s that simple! The customer only needs to hold their contactless card close to the NFC sensor on the card machine and make the payment.

Chip and PIN Card Machines

Chip and PIN machines are made up of 2 parts – the card reader and then usually attached to a hand-held device called a point of sale terminal (POS terminal).

The devices that accept chip and PIN cards must meet strict British Standards which mean it needs an encryption system built in so as to prevent fraud. It also helps merchants obtain insurance cover against losses from fraud.

Chip and Pin Card Machines

Chip and Pin Card Machines

Contactless Card Payment Machine

Contactless payment credit card machines are compatible with contactless cards that have the symbol on the front of them

These cards use Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow one-touch payments, where you hold your card over the reader without having to open an app or verify with a pin.

Contactless Mobile Payment Machines

These are compatible with apps like Android Pay and Apple Pay, which allow you to hold your phone above the machine to pay in-store. These machines typically accept Visa, MasterCard and Amex cards, but they’re not all compatible with every payment provider.

Contactless Payments

Contactless payments are available on most modern card machines and are an increasingly popular way to pay for small purchases.

Contactless cards use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology where customers hold their card just millimetres from the reader until they hear a beep and then take their purchase.

This is done without having to enter their PIN which makes transactions quicker. Although contactless payments are typically not allowed for larger purchases because of money laundering regulations, transactions can be capped at £30, £45 or £100 per transaction.

Contactless Card Machine

Contactless Payment Machines

Some merchants may require you to insert your chip if you want to make a contactless purchase over either of these amounts although this varies between providers.

Card Machines

The card machine is the core of any credit card solution, it’s how you process the financial transaction. There are typically two types of card machines – traditional ones which plug into a phone line and online ones which connect via mobile data networks.

PIN Entry Devices

A PIN Entry Device is an integral part of any Chip & Pin payment solution. This helps maintain security because it requires customers input their unique 4 digit code before they can authorise a transaction.

It is also known as a PIN pad or numeric keypad and is found on all devices whether it be a physical keypad or touchscreen device.

Card Machine Keypad

Portable Bluetooth or Wi-fi Terminals

A portable terminal is a credit card machine that uses either Bluetooth or WiFi to transfer your transaction securely.

Bluetooth terminals use the same technology that allows wireless headsets to communicate with your phone. They can be used in store or anywhere within range of an internet connection (typically around 100m)

Wi-fi payment terminals connect wirelessly over the internet so they don’t need to be plugged into anything

Mobile PDQ Machines

A Mobile PDQ machine works over a phone data network so you can use it wherever you have a signal. This makes them great for use in the taxi, at tradesman jobs or for pop-up shops.

Contactless Card Readers

A contactless card reader uses a proximity chip so you can use it to pay for small items without entering a PIN.

The payment information goes through an online merchant account that allows you to accept card payments from customers.

Traditional PDQs

A traditional PDQ is one that plugs into your phone line and requires no mobile data connection.

These are great for, well, pretty much any business where you do not need to move around.

They are typically the more expensive option of the two because it needs a computer with a dedicated card reader to process transactions.

Card Machines for Small Businesses

When it comes to card machines for small businesses, there are a few different options to choose from. The most popular options are portable Bluetooth or Wi-fi terminals, mobile PDQ machines and contactless card readers.

Desktop Card Machines

Chip and pin machines, also known as card readers or “card terminals,” have traditionally been the most popular form of payment terminal.

These terminals are always linked to a power source and either a phone line or a high-speed broadband router.

Portable Card Machines

These types of terminals are great for small businesses because they’re portable and can be used anywhere with an internet connection.

This makes them perfect for use in the taxi, at trademan jobs or for pop-up shops. They also connect wirelessly over the internet so you don’t need to plug them into anything.

Mobile Card Machines

Mobile PDQ machines work over a phone data network so you can use them wherever you have a signal.

This makes them ideal if you run a business outdoors, or provide mobile services and want to take payments off-site.

Pay-as-You-Go Card Machines

Various companies offer ad-hoc or “pay as you go” payment processing, often with “blended” transaction fees and no monthly fees; or an expanded version for enterprise with a very small monthly fee.

These casual contracts have grown in popularity due to their ease-of-use without the hassle associated with traditional merchant accounts.

A card machine is usually offered on lease or as a one-off fee that enables the merchant to accept payments in most modern formats from credit and debit cards to Google Pay, Apple Pay and now Samsung Pay amongst others.

Contractless Card Machines

SumUp Air Card Reader – The SumUp Air card reader offers fast, secure and reliable payments in a cost-effective way for all types of businesses

The card reader also has an integrated computer so you can process transactions without needing to link it to your phone or tablet.

Square Card Reader – The Square card reader is a mobile card machine that plugs into your Android or Apple device

It’s the quickest and easiest way to start taking payments with a convenient way to interact with customers face-to-face.

Zettle Card Reader – The Zettle card reading device is a super-fast and secure way to take the majority of payments in any retail environment

Zettle can also be used on mobile devices for even more flexibility.

Paypal Here Card Reader – The Paypal Here card reader lets you accept credit cards, debit cards and PayPal payments on your Android or iOS phone.

What is the best card machine for small business?

The best card machine for small business depends on the products and services you provide and the location of your business – mobile, static or both.

Ad-hoc or casual contracting has grown in popularity due to its ease-of-use without the hassle of traditional merchant account providers

It is important to compare the different types of card machines and what they offer before deciding on a payment provider.

When it comes to choosing a card machine for your small business, there are a few different options to choose from. The most popular options are portable Bluetooth or Wi-fi terminals, mobile PDQ machines and contactless card readers.

Chip and pin machines, also known as card readers or “card terminals,” have traditionally been the most popular form of payment terminal. These terminals are always linked to a power source and either a phone line or a high-speed broadband router.

Portable card machines are great for small businesses because they’re portable and can be used anywhere with an internet connection. This makes them perfect for use in the taxi, at trademan jobs or for pop-up shops. They also connect wirelessly.

Bluetooth and Wi-fi card machine options

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi card machines are portable terminals or “card readers.” They have traditionally been the most popular form of payment terminal. Compared to other types of card machines, Bluetooth is not typically as secure due to its wireless connection. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is more expensive but is usually more secure during transactions.

Contactless card readers with chip and pin machines

Contactless card readers or chip and pin machines are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. They are a more secure way of taking card payments as they can require a pin to be entered, as well as the contactless payment to be made. This reduces of fraudulent transactions and possibly lower card processing fees.

Choosing the Best Card Machine for Small Business

You could also consider comparing popular providers like PayPal Here or Square against newer start-ups like Zettle or SumUp to find out which one offers the best card machine for small business.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Card Machine Provider

 

  • Compare card machines
  • Compare providers
  • Compare reader types
  • Compare readers
  • Compare terminals

 

Do you need a business account for a card machine?

Most card machines are available on contract or on a pay-as-you go basis.

These casual contracts have grown in popularity due to their ease of use without the hassle associated with traditional merchant account providers.

There are also various companies that offer ad hoc or “pay as you go” payment processing, often with “blended” transaction fees and no monthly fees; or an expanded version for enterprise with a very small monthly fee.

This type of contract has become incredibly popular due to the ease of use it offers without the hassle of traditional merchant accounts.

It is recommended that merchants compare different types of card machines and their options before settling on a provider.

What does a card reader cost?

A card reader can cost anything from £20 to several hundred pounds depending on the features it offers.

It is frequently offered on lease or as a one-time fee, allowing the merchant to take payments in most modern formats such as credit and debit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.