Wednesday, December 7

10 card payment machines ideal for a small business in 2022

In an increasingly cashless society, if you don’t have a card payment machine, you risk losing out on sales.

There are countless card machines aimed at small businesses on the market today, and most enable you to take chip & pin, contactless, and mobile payments.

But there are differences in features, fees and upfront costs that will make some more or less suitable for your business than others.

This article will break down the hardware and functionality of the best payment machines currently on the market to help you choose the one that’s right for you.

You can jump straight to a particular card machine, or read on to find more info on the 10 best card payment machines for small UK businesses in 2022.

>See also: 40% of the UK’s micro businesses do not accept card payments

Card payment machines

  1. SumUp Air
  2. Zettle Reader 2
  3. Square Reader
  4. MyPOS Go
  5. Dojo Go
  6. Barclaycard Anywhere
  7. TakePayments
  8. Tyl (by Natwest)
  9. Paymentsense
  10. Shopify WisePad Reader 3

How much does a typical card payment machine cost?

Card payment machine costs are made up of the cost of the device and the cost of payment processing fees. 

Device cost

Mobile card readers generally cost between £15 and £30, countertop card machines cost between £150 and £200.

You can either buy the device outright or rent the device for a monthly cost. This changes from provider to provider.

>See also: How to optimise cash flow with cashless payments

Fees

Transaction fees are taken by your card payment provider as a percentage of every payment made through your card machine. They’re typically between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the value of the transaction.

So, if the customer buys an item costing £25, and your transaction fee is 1.75%, you’ll be charged around 43p by your card payment provider.

Card payment providers will also advertise a card not present (CNP) transaction. A CNP transaction occurs when neither the cardholder or their card are present for the transaction – in other words, an online or phone payment, or a recurring payment.

CNP fees are usually around 2.5%. They’re higher for the simple reason that there’s a greater risk of fraud during these kinds of payments.

Countertop vs portable vs mobile card readers

There are three types of card payment machine: countertop, portable, and mobile.

Countertop card machines are designed to be used at designated till points in your store. Although they don’t offer any portability, they’re usually very reliable in terms of their connectivity. They’re best for businesses with a fixed payment point such as a grocery or small retailer.

Portable card machines are battery-powered devices that use Wifi to take card payments anywhere on your site. They’re best for cafes and restaurants.

Mobile card readers are even more compact, battery-powered devices that use a GPRS (3G or 4G) signal to take card payments wherever you are. They also usually have Wifi functionality as well. They’re great for pop up shops, markets, festivals, street food vans – anywhere really.

This article will predominantly focus on mobile card readers, as they’re the most affordable and offer the most flexibility to growing small businesses.

Most of the providers below also sell other hardware such as charging docks, receipt printers, countertop systems and tills.

You only need the card payment device to start taking payments, but these items allow you to enhance your POS system as your business grows.

>See also: 8 payment systems for festivals, pop-ups and street food markets

Card payment machines – the options

The 10 card payment machines below are great options for small businesses, offering competitive fees and great features.


SumUp Air Card Reader

Device cost £29 (£39 with charging dock) (excl. VAT)
Transaction fee 1.69%
CNP fee 2.5%
Key features ● 500 transactions per charge
● Contactless & Chip & PIN
● Payments settled in 2-3 business days
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless
● Email and SMS receipts

Thanks to its ease of use and practicality, this stylish and lightweight portable card reader is currently one of the popular card readers for small businesses.

It’s easy to set up and start using. All you need to do to start accepting contactless, Chip & Pin, and mobile payments from all major providers is to pair the device with your smartphone, which takes minutes.

You can then start using the SumUp Air anywhere with Wifi or data coverage, and it can process 500 transactions on a single charge – probably the best battery life on the market.

Available for a one off cost of just £29, and with a fixed 1.69% transaction fee, it’s also very affordable. The only real downside of the SumUp Air is that it can take 2-3 business days for payments to settle in your account, longer than the average of around 1-2 days.

You also get access to a handy app, with a dashboard that allows you to view your product catalogue, track sales, and send digital receipts.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Zettle Reader

Zettle Reader 2

Device cost £29 + VAT (charging dock £39)
Transaction fee 1.75%
CNP fee 2.5%
Key features ● 8 hour battery life (100 transactions)
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless
● Payments settled in 1-2 business days
● Email and SMS receipts

The Zettle Reader 2 is another lightweight (just 130g) device that you can pair with your Apple or Android smartphone and start using within minutes.

It accepts all major debit and credit card payment types and has a decent eight-hour battery life – though this only lasts for around 100 transactions, which is no match for SumUp’s 500.

Where the Zettle Reader 2 really seeks to differentiate itself is in its focus on security. Claiming to be one of the safest card readers on the market, Zettle’s tamper-proof device adheres to the highest industry standards, and is fully encrypted by HSMs cryptographic servers.

And if you do spot a suspicious charge, Zettle’s transaction protection covers up to £250 in chargebacks per month.

As with the SumUp Air, there are no monthly fees – you just pay a flat rate per transaction, though at 1.75%, this is slightly higher than its rival.

You should also be aware that the advertised £29 price is only for your first reader as a new business customer. Subsequent devices will cost you £59. The charging dock is sold separately for £39 + VAT.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Square Reader

Square Reader

Device cost £16 + VAT
Transaction fee 1.75%
CNP fee 2.5%
Key features ● All day battery
● Weighs just 56g
● Funds deposited the next business day

The Square Reader is the most sleek, simple and affordable card reader on the market. This appropriately square-shaped device costs just £16, much lower than competitors.

And weighing in at just 56g, it’s not just the price that’s low. All you have to do is sync it to your phone via bluetooth and start selling. You can then monitor and manage all your sales from Square’s free app. All funds are deposited the next working day.

Square also has a whole arsenal of other payments kit you can buy to create a full POS setup including terminals, registers, and other hardware and accessories.

At 1.75%, the transaction fees aren’t the lowest, but you’ll still struggle to find a more lightweight and cost-effective way to start taking payments.

Compare card payment machine quotes


MyPOS Go

Device cost £29 + VAT
Transaction fee 1.10% + 7p
CNP fee 1.30% + 10p to 2.90% + 20p (depending on card used)
Key features ● Digital receipts via email or SMS
● Instant access to funds
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

Its design isn’t as sleek and stylish as rivals, but under the hood, MyPOS Go is another highly functional and compact mobile card reader.

Like the SumUp Air and Zettle 2, the device costs £29 + VAT, but its transaction fee of just 1.10% + 7p can be much lower (depending on the amount you’re taking).

The MyPOS Go card reader has several other features that set it apart from competitors. You get a free e-money merchant account, with dedicated international bank account numbers in 14 currencies, making it easy to take international payments.

>See also: 6 of the best payment systems for accepting US dollars

And unlike the days you might have to wait with other providers, card payments are settled in your account straight away, and you get instant access to funds via your VISA Business Card.

We also like the multi-operator mode, which allows you to monitor individual staff performance and split tips accordingly.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Dojo Go

Dojo Go

Device cost £20 per month
Transaction fee Custom, based on business turnover
CNP fee Contact provider
Key features ● 10-hour battery life
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless
● Payments settled by 10am the next working day

Dojo Go describes itself as the “ultimate all-rounder”, a small business card machine that’s just as handy as a mobile (operating on 3G/4G connectivity) and a portable (using Wifi) device.

Dojo Go’s big selling point is its speed: the company claims its device can take card payments in around 2 seconds – 80 per cent faster than the industry average. And you can keep track of all those payments in real time using the Dojo Go app.

Dojo is supremely confident in its product – so much so that, if you’re switching from an existing provider, it will pay your exit fees up to a value of £3,000.

We also admire Dojo’s help and support, which is available 24 hours a day. And if you can’t get things fixed over the phone, Dojo can take over your device remotely to investigate.

All payments are transferred in your account at 10am the next working day, which it claims is faster than any other provider as standard.

However, at £20 per month, and with the transaction fee based on your business turnover, Dojo Go is better for scaling small businesses with consistently high monthly takings.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Barclaycard Anywhere

Barclaycard Anywhere

Device cost £14.50 + VAT (normally £29 + VAT)
Transaction fee 1.60%
CNP fee 2.5%
Key features ● Contactless and Chip & PIN
● Accepts most major payment providers including Google and Apple Pay (does not accept Amex or Diners Club)
● Payments settled in 1-2 working days
● Email and SMS receipts

Barclaycard Anywhere is the most affordable major card payment machine on the market, and a big challenger to the likes of SumUp and Zettle.

On offer until 31 December, at £14.50, it’s half the price of the aforementioned rivals, and charges just 1.60 per cent for each transaction, the lowest fees of any major provider.

You can track your stock and sales with its dedicated app, which encrypts all payments and customer data. Though it’s worth pointing out that the Anywhere app only has 2/5 on the app store, with customers criticising its bugs and glitches and trouble connecting.

So, the pros are that it’s a compact and affordable card reader with low transaction fees and payments settled within 1-2 business days.

However, unlike rivals, when applying for Barclaycard Anywhere, you have to go through an online vetting process to be approved for a device, and it currently doesn’t accept American Express or Diners Card.

Compare card payment machine quotes


TakePayments

Device cost Monthly rental fee (prices available upon request)
Transaction fee Custom, based on business turnover
CNP fee Dependent on payment service provider
Key features ● Short 12-month contract lengths
● No setup or exit fees
● Payments settled next working day
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

TakePayments is a respected provider of card terminals and online payment solutions. Its mobile card reader is light and durable with a battery that lasts a full day.

Unlike some of our other card payment machines, TakePayments builds your business a custom package with pricing that’s tailored around your business type and expected or current turnover. This means you can be confident you’re on a fair fee structure for your sales and don’t end up paying over the odds.

The other great thing about TakePayments is that its contracts are just 12 months, compared to the 24 and even 36-month contracts you’re tied into with other providers. And there are no setup or exit fees.

This service is available to takepayments Limited customers who are accepted for Barclaycard acquiring services and is subject to Barclaycard’s approval. Next day settlement refers to the next banking day. Your card machine’s banking window function must be performed before 8:30pm in order to receive settlement the next banking day. Transactions processed via Ecommerce pay pages, pay by link and virtual terminals may be subject to different settlement timescales.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Tyl (by NatWest) Clover Flex

Device cost £15.99 + VAT per month
Transaction fee 0.2%-3.5% + 20p-40p dependent on sales volume
CNP fee N/A
Key features ● 12-month contract
● Payments settled within one business day
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

Weighing in at 453 grams, Tyl’s Clover Flex card reader is at the chunkier end of the mobile card reader market.

Although it still utilises Wi-Fi and 3G, allowing you to use it anywhere, it’s still significantly heavier than the other devices, which does affect its portability.

However, more does in this case mean more. The Clover Flex acts as an all-in-one POS system that allows you to both take payments and manage your business from one device, including inventory and customer management, itemised receipts and more.

It has a decent eight-hour battery life and a high-res 5’’ touchscreen, which enables you to use a variety of apps from the device itself. However, while it’s handy to have this functionality in one place, we’d wager most people don’t mind switching to their phone for these functions if it means having a smaller device.

Also, it’s not the most affordable option for small businesses. You’ll pay £15.99 per month before transaction fees are even factored into the equation. And the terminal is sold in conjunction with a merchant account that can require a four-year commitment with additional fees.

This makes the Clover Flex better for larger small businesses with a large, consistent sales volume.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Paymentsense

Device cost Prices available upon request
Transaction fee Prices available upon request
CNP fee Prices available upon request
Key features ● Day-long charge
● Paid next working day
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

Paymentsense is a well-established brand with more than 70,000 UK customers. It makes durable and functional mobile card readers.

Unlike most of its competitors, Paymentsense’s mobile devices only have GPRS SIM and not Wi-Fi connectivity, which is fine for most users when out and about. It accepts all major card and payment types, and you should see funds deposited in your account the next working day.

Paymentsense’s pricing is all tailored to your business – how many devices you need, how much you’ll be taking in card payments etc – so the only way you can find out pricing is to enquire for a free personalised quote.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Shopify

Shopify WisePad 3 Reader

Device cost £49 + VAT
Transaction fee No transaction fee for Shopify Payments users
CNP fee 2.5%
Key features ● Fully integrated with Shopify POS
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

Although only available for Shopify customers, we think it’s worth highlighting Shopify’s WisePad 3 Reader.

It’s lightweight (130 grams) and accepts all major payment cards and types. You have to enable Shopify Payments to be able to use it, but it’s all fully integrated with Shopify POS and your online shop, which makes it easy to create a slick and functional payments system.

The main advantage of using Shopify Payments is that it doesn’t charge any transaction fees. However, if you use any other payment gateway, you’ll be charged 2 per cent, 1 per cent, or 0.5 per cent depending on which Shopify plan you’re on.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Which is the best card payment device?

By now you’ve either discovered the card reader that’s right for your business, or you’ve been knocked sideways by a dizzying range of different card payment machines, fee structures and additional features.

If it’s the latter, don’t worry. For most small businesses, we’d recommend SumUp. It’s an affordable device with one of the lowest transaction fees on the market, and as it’s a flat rate, it’s predictable and transparent. We were also impressed by its long battery life, which can process more than 500 payments on a single charge.

MyPOS Go also really stands out to us as another great option for small businesses. As well as very competitive transaction fees, it has great added features like multi-operator mode, which make it a great choice for cafes and restaurants. It’s also great that you can access funds instantly.

That said, we’ve selected the above card payment machines for their flexibility, simplicity and practicality, and all would be a great option for your small business. Happy selling.

Need a card payment device quote?

Want to compare prices from all the best card payment devices we’ve listed above? Why not use our free comparison tool to be matched with the most suitable provider for your needs.

Simply fill in our free quote-finding form, and answer a few questions about your business (it takes less than a minute). We’ll match you with the most appropriate card payment provider.

Further reading

Best payment processors for UK small businesses – 11 of the best



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