10 card payment machines ideal for small business

Featuring the SumUp Air, Zettle 2, and Small Business Pro, we break down the fees and functions of the best card payment machines for UK small businesses

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

There are countless card machines for small businesses on the market today, and most enable you to take chip and PIN, contactless, and mobile payments.

But there are differences in features, fees and upfront costs which 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 (plus one bonus!) best card payment machines for small UK businesses in 2024.

40% of the UK’s micro businesses do not accept card paymentsThis is despite digital payments being the preferred way to pay for 47pc of shoppers

Card payment machines

  1. Square Reader
  2. SumUp Air
  3. Zettle Reader 2
  4. MyPOS Go
  5. Dojo Go
  6. Barclaycard Smartpay Anywhere
  7. TakePayments
  8. Tyl (by Natwest)
  9. Shopify
  10. Tide Card Reader
  11. Small Business Pro

With Small Business Pro, track your invoices as well as getting in-person and online transactions at one of the lowest rates on the market. It will also help with the heavy lifting of managing customers, insurance, finance and HR, plus you’ll get a host of personal wellbeing benefits.

You can find out more about Small Business Pro here.

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.

How to optimise cash flow with cashless paymentsThe phrase ‘cash is king’ has never been truer, but how can small businesses like yours ensure a healthy inflow of money to cover costs and make profits?


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 per cent, 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 per cent. 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 credit card machines are battery-powered devices that use Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi 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.

8 payment systems for festivals, pop-ups and street food marketsTake a look at this rundown of payment systems that are ideal for festivals, street food markets, pop-ups and promotional events

Card payment machines the options

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

Square Reader

Square Reader

Device cost£19 + VAT
Transaction fee1.75%
CNP fee2.5%
Key features● All day battery
● Weighs just 56g
● Accepts chip and PIN cards, contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay
● 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 £19 + VAT, 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.

Nifty features include specially-designed POS dashboards for restaurants, restaurants and mobile businesses who need to make appointments, such as hairdressers or masseurs.

And 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.

And businesses that take more than £200,000 a year in card sales pay a lower transaction fee.

Get started with Square
Sum Up Air

SumUp Air Card Reader

Device cost£39 (£49 with charging dock)
Transaction fee1.69%
CNP fee2.5%
Key features● 500 transactions per charge
● Contactless & Chip & PIN
● Payments settled in 1-3 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 and 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 Wi-Fi or data coverage, and it can process 500 transactions on a single charge – at 12 hours, it’s probably the best battery life on the market.

Available for a one-off cost of just £39, and with a reduced 1.69 per cent transaction fee, it’s also very affordable. And they have also sped up the length of time for payments to appear in your account to just one day.

You also get access to a handy smartphone 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 costfrom £29 + VAT (with Zettle Dock 2 £68)
Transaction fee1.75%
CNP fee2.5%
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 using the Zettle app.

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 per cent, this is slightly higher than its rival.

But at £29 + VAT, the Zettle Reader 2 is cheaper than the SumUp Air, unless you buy the in-dock charger will cost £68 + VAT for the reader and charger.

Compare card payment machine quotes

myPOS Go 2

Device cost£39 + VAT
Transaction fee1.1% + 7p (Amex 2.45% + 7p)
CNP fee1.3% + 15p (Amex 2.5% + 15p)
Key features● Digital receipts via email or SMS; ability to pair with the myPOS Go 2 Printing Dock
● Instant access to funds at no added fees
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and local payment methods such as JCB, UnionPay and Bancontact, plus contactless and Chip & PIN
● Tracks individual staff performance and splits tips
● Tactile keyboard

Weighing 180g, its design isn’t as sleek and stylish as rivals, but under the hood, myPOS Go 2 is another highly functional and compact mobile card reader.

The device costs £39 + VAT and its transaction fee is just 1.10 per cent + 7p and can be much lower (depending on the amount you’re taking).

The Linux-driven myPOS Go 2 card reader has several other features that set it apart from competitors. You get a free e-money merchant account, with a dedicated IBAN in 14 currencies, making it easy to take international payments.

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Unlike the days you might have to wait with other providers, card payments are settled in your account in less than three seconds, and you get instant access to funds via your free 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£20pm + VAT monthly rental
Transaction fee1.4% + 5p on all transactions
CNP fee1.9% + 5p
Key features● 10-hour battery life
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless
● Payments settled the next working day
● Point-to-point encryption built into the Dojo Go

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 Wi-Fi) device.

Dojo Go’s big selling point is its speed: the company claims its device can take card payments in around two seconds – nearly 60 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. (You have to share your recent statements with another provider with Dojo before it decides on the transfer value.)

We also rate 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 the next working day, which it claims is faster than any other provider as standard.

There are two tiers of transaction fees: 1.4 per cent + 5p per transaction plus £20 per month terminal rental, if your annual card turnover is below £150,000; if you’re above £150,000 then your credit and debit card rate and the monthly terminal rental fee are negotiable. If your card turnover is below £150,000, there’ll be a monthly £10 platform fee to pay per location.

Minimum monthly payment charge: You’ll be charged £24.95 if your total transaction fees for the month are under £24.95. It applies even if you have zero takings. This is on top of the monthly £20 terminal rental. After six months, the contract flips to monthly rolling.

Because you’re tied into a six-month contract if your card turnover is below £150,000, Dojo Go is better for scaling small businesses with consistently high monthly takings.

And, if your business needs cash quickly, Dojo offers a merchant cash advance powered by YouLend, which is repaid through a percentage of your card takings. Dojo charges a fixed one-off fee for this cash facility.

Compare card payment machine quotes

Barclaycard Anywhere

Barclaycard Smartpay Anywhere

Device cost£29 + VAT
Transaction fee1.6% on pay as you go, but personalised pricing plans available to meet bigger business needs
CNP feen/a
Key features● Contactless and Chip & PIN
● Accepts major payment providers including Visa, Mastercard, Google, Apple Pay, Diners Club (Discover), Union Pay, JCB and Amex
● Payments settled the next business day for transactions taken before 7pm
● Email receipts
● Free FreshBooks account
● Powered by a feature packed app for iOS and Android optimised for both mobile and tablet
● Includes access to a web portal giving real time access to sales reports and dashboards

Barclaycard Smartpay Anywhere is aimed at hospitality and retail businesses, with the “app” turning it into a POS solution. It does not connect with cash drawers, or barcode scanners – but does connect to wireless printers and an app and web portal.

It has next-working-day settlement and, in addition to the standard Mastercard and Visa, accepts Amex and Diners Club (Discover).

The transaction fee is 1.6 per cent, among the lowest of any major provider.

It’s also powered by a feature filled app as well as access to a web portal providing real time data and insight into your business performance. If you need support there is a 24/7 customer support team, and it is PCI compliant without fees or the need for attestation.

However, unlike some rivals, when applying for Smartpay Anywhere, you have to go through an online vetting process checking financial and borrowing history to be approved for a device, which Barclays says ensures the device is suitable for your business before you pay for it.

The pros are that it’s a compact and affordable card reader at £29 + VAT with low transaction fees and payments settled the next business day.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Device costfrom £7.50 + VAT
Transaction feeBased on business turnover but between 0.3%-2.5% + flat fee
CNP feeDependent on payment service provider
Key features● Shorter contract lengths
● No setup or exit fees
● Payments settled next working day
● Customisable dashboard
● Realtime inventory tracking
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless

Stockport-based TakePayments has provided card terminals and online payment solutions for over 30 years. It is one of the fastest-growing card payment companies in the UK with over 70,000 customers.

takepaymentsplus card reader

A fast and reliable Android terminal that lets you take both card and cash payments.

Some key features include:

  • Speedy 4G and WiFi connection
  • Stock and pricing management from the device
  • Ability to split payments
  • Detailed transaction reporting to see how your business is performing
  • Access to a Management Portal to handle your business remotely

takepaymentsplus pricing: £25 + VAT monthly (18-month contract)

Or, if you’re just looking to take payments quickly, their A920Pro card machine and DX8000 terminal take only four simple steps to set up. Stay connected with 4G and WiFi, and accept Apple and Google Pay as standard.

Terminal rental from £15 + VAT.

The transaction fee based on business turnover and the CNP (card not present) fee is dependent on payment acquirer.

Own POS system

TakePayments uses its own EPOS system called tPOS, which cannot be downloaded onto an iPad or other tablet and has its own tablet register.

tPOS is available in two forms, Counter and Complete. Plus, their dedicated team will provide full training and customer support seven days a week.

tPOS starts from £45 a month.

Some key features include:

  • Product management and stock inventory
  • Ability to split payments and serve multiple customers at once
  • Fixed discounts and offers
  • Ability to add notes and configure orders
  • Enhanced reporting

Get a quote with takepayments now

Tyl (by NatWest) Clover Flex

Device cost£16.99 + VAT monthly
Transaction fee0.2%-3.5% + 20p-40p dependent on sales volume
CNP feeN/A
Key features● 12-month contract
● 8-hour battery life
● 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 4G, 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 the 150 apps on the Clover App Market. 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 £16.99 per month for the 4G mobile version before transaction fees are even factored into the equation. The transaction fee is a flat 1.5 per cent on all cards, excluding American Express.

However, NatWest is offering to waive hire fees for new customers for three months, once they commit to a 12-month contract.

Tyl is also waiving its monthly fees on its e-commerce gateway for 12 months, up until the end of June 2024. Normally, it charges £14.95 + VAT per month.

4G usage is charged up to £9.99 + VAT per month depending on how much you use.

Clover Flex is better for larger small businesses with a large, consistent sales volume.

Compare card payment machine quotes


Shopify WisePad 3 Reader

Device cost£49 + VAT
Transaction fee1.5%-2% online + 25p/1.5%-1.7% in person
CNP fee2.5%
Key features● Fully integrated with Shopify POS
● Payment within 6 working days
● 4-hour full charge for 500 transactions
● 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 subscribe to Shopify though to be able to use it and it only works with an iPad or through your iPhone.

Shopify subscriptions

Shopify has three subscription levels for its Wisepad 3 card reader: Basic, Shopify and Advanced. Basic costs £25 a month, Shopify £65 per month, and Advanced £344 a month. All are billed annually.

Basic (£19pm)

Credit card rates

  • 2% + 25p online
  • 1.7% + 0p in person

What’s included in Basic

  • Localised global selling (three markets)
  • 10 inventory locations
  • 24/7 chat support

Shopify (£49pm)

Credit card rates

  • 1.7% +25p online
  • 1.6% + 0p in person
  • 1% third-party payment providers

What’s included in Shopify

  • Localised global selling (three markets)
  • 10 inventory locations
  • 5 additional staff accounts

Advanced (£259pm)

Credit card rates

  • 1.5% + 25p online
  • 1.5% + 0p in person
  • 0.6% third-party providers

What’s included in Advanced

  • Custom reports and analysis
  • 10x checkout capacity
  • 15 additional staff accounts

However, there is no contractual obligation you have to sign with Shopify, so you are not tied in for months or years. Plus there is a 14-day free trial period for you to try out the Wisepad 3 card reader.

There are also slick add-ons to the Shopify Wisepad 3, including a tablet stand (£120), a barcode scanner (£279) and a Bluetooth receipt printer (£259).

However, with a £49 purchase price, plus monthly subscription fees, Shopify Wisepad 3 works out as one of the most expensive readers on the market.

That said, if already use Shopify as your POS system, this would be a no-brainer.

Compare card payment machine quotes

Tide Card Reader

Device cost£89 + VAT
Transaction fee1.50%
Key featuresLifetime free 4G connectivity (worth £5 pm)

Accept Contactless, Chip + Pin, Digital wallets

Sleek and compact device to enable both in-store and mobile payments

The Tide Card Reader is designed for mobility, so you can use it for in-store or on-the-go transactions. It is your ticket to seamless payments, anytime, anywhere.

With Tide Card reader, you can accept card and mobile payments on the go with no monthly contracts and minimal transaction fees. You also have unlimited 4G data, eliminating the need for Bluetooth connectivity. With a lifetime of free 4G connectivity and compatibility with Visa, Mastercard, ApplePay, and GooglePay, it’s time to unlock a new level of payment convenience.

The device has a one-off cost of £89 + VAT with a transaction fee of 1.50 per cent. Until June 30, you can get £100 cashback when you buy a Tide card reader by using code CARDREADER100 when you sign up here. T&Cs apply.

Small Business Pro

Device costWisePad 3 Terminal (£49 one off cost) OR WisePOS E (£179.00 one off cost) + monthly membership fee (£39.99 sole traders and £49.99 for businesses)
Transaction feeFrom 1.25% transaction fees for standard cards, premium cards (such as corporate cards) are 2.25%
CNP feen/a
Key features● No monthly payment fees
● No minimum spend amounts 
● Built-in fraud detection
● PCI compliant
● Integrated with customer management tool to monitor transactions
● Bank deposits in 3 business days

And finally… we can’t forget our very own payment processor, which forms part of our Small Business Pro membership. 

How much does it cost? 

WisePad 3 terminal (£49 one off cost) OR WisePOS E (£179.00 one off cost) + monthly membership fee (£39.99 sole traders and £49.99 for businesses) 

  • All-in-one reader and POS service 
  • Monthly subscription cost (£39.99 for sole traders and £49.99 for businesses) 
  • From 1.25 per cent transaction fees for standard cards, premium cards (such as corporate cards) are 2.25 per cent

It has: 

  • No monthly payment fees 
  • No minimum spend amounts 
  • Built-in fraud detection 
  • PCI compliant 
  • Integrated with customer management tool to monitor transactions 
  • Bank deposits in 3 business days 

Pros: Our transaction fee is the lowest on the market for any payment facilitator starting from 1.25 per cent. 

Cons: It’s not available as a standalone payments service, so you’ll need to purchase a monthly membership from us. 

Best for: Food and drink, retail, health and beauty and service-based businesses that are looking to streamline multiple tools and platforms.

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 left bamboozled 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 all the above card payment machines for their flexibility, simplicity and practicality, and each one 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 bestWhat’s the best payment system for your small business? 11 of the best payment processors for UK SMEs reviewed

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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