Which card payment machine should I get for my small business?

Find out the benefits of taking card payments along with some of the best card machines for your small business' needs

You might be mulling over a new card reader – one that’s faster, has more features or has in-built fraud detection, for instance.

Here, we’ll be talking about the benefits of taking card payments along with some of the best card payment machines on the market.

You can jump straight to the section that you’re interested in using the links below:

  1. Benefits of taking card payments
  2. What card payment machines are out there?
  3. Which card payment machine should I go for?

Benefits of taking card payments

Taking card payment could very well enhance your business in ways you don’t expect. Let’s consider a few.

It makes things easier

Card payments make things much simpler for both you and your customers. On a very basic level, you’re no longer having to check the authenticity of the cash and then spend time counting out the change. With a card transaction, you just type the cost into your terminal and you’re good to go. It’s even quicker if you have contactless capabilities. This allows for a much smoother transaction time between you and your customers. These types of payment also lower the need for bank visits, to either deposit or change cash, saving you valuable time away from your business.

Boosts your business credibility

Taking card payments increases your credibility as a business because of the shorter queues and the easier payment option for customers.

Encourages higher spending

How many times have you been out with a budget in mind but then thrown it out of the window when you see something that you like and justify it by saying “just putting it on the card”? Well, you’re not alone. A 2022 from UK Finance report showed that 83 per cent of consumer payments were spontaneous, with the other 17 per cent for regular bills and payments. By 2024, 50 per cent of all payments are forecasted to come from debit cards whereas 65 per cent of UK adults already currently own a credit card. This just goes to show how taking card payments in person, online or over the phone can help boost inflowing cash to your business.

Increase your customer size

As mentioned, cash is becoming a thing of the past, and as a result, more and more electronic methods of payments are emerging. Although traditional companies such as Visa and Mastercard are still extremely common, companies such as Google, Apple and Android have their own dedicated payment services that are growing in popularity. It is now even possible to pay directly with your phone on contactless systems, and with 8.5m people registered with mobile payments, this can increase your customer base massively.

Improve cashflow

Card payments provide a much more streamlined process than taking cash. Those taken from card payments are much more likely to be settled quickly and the proceeds are deposited into your business bank account within a matter of days. This cuts out all the hassle surrounding cash, bouncing cheques and invoice collection from customers. This can result in a higher rate of efficiency for day-to-day running of your business.


There’s always that anxiety of leaving a large sum of money on the premises. No matter how good the venue’s security is or how heavy the safe that’s housing all the cash is, it still sits there, wondering, “what if”? This also eliminates any possibility of accidental loss or damage to cash reserves, giving you one less thing to worry about at night.

What card payment machines are out there?

You’ll find a wide variety of card payment machines on the market, but here they are in a bit more depth.

ProviderPrice of card machineMonthly feeTransaction fee Card not present (CNP) feeKey features
Small Business ProWisePad 3 Terminal (£49 one off cost) or WisePOS E (£179.00 one off cost)£39.99 or £49.99 (for full sole trader and limited company membership respectively) From 1.25%N/A· 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
SumUp£39£01.69%2.5%● Contactless & Chip & PIN
• 500 transactions per charge
● Payments settled in 1 business day
● Accepts all major payment types including Google and Apple Pay, Amex and Diners Club, and contactless
● Email and SMS receipts
ZettleFrom £29£01.75%2.5%● 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
Square£19N/A1.75%2.5%● All day battery
● Weighs just 56g
● Accepts chip and PIN cards, contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay
MyPOS£39£01.1% + 7p (Amex 2.45% + 7p)1.3% + 15p (Amex 2.5% + 7p)● 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
BarclaycardFrom £7.50£01.6% on pay as you go, but personalised pricing plans available to meet bigger business needsN/A● 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
takepaymentsFrom £7.50£0Based on business turnover but between 0.3%-2.5% + flat feeDependent on payment service provider● 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
Tyl (from NatWest)N/AUp to £21.99 a month, depending on the card reader1.5% (excluding Amex)N/A● 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
Shopify£49£26-£3441.5%-2% online + 25p/1.5%-1.7% in person0.5%-2%● 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

Which card payment machine should I go for?

It’s worth taking time to deliberate over this decision – after all, a card machine is such an integral part in the day-to-day running of your business.

First of all, consider security. Your card machine should have encryption or tokenisation to safeguard you and your customers’ security. Encryption means that payment information is encoded and must be decoded back into the real payment information using the encryption key to finalise the payment. With tokenisation, meanwhile, the payment information is replaced by a token that can’t be reverted back to the original data.

Budget is an ever-present issue for small business owners, so having a PCI (payment card industry) compliant card machine means you won’t incur any extra costs for checks and reporting. It goes without saying that you should check the terminal price and any monthly costs involved to see how they fit in to your budget.

Features also play a role so take stock of your business’ needs first. For example, if you run a restaurant, it’s good to have a bill splitting function. The tricky balance here is not to get a machine that has loads of features that you don’t need. Basically, ensure that it’s easy for you and your staff to use.

If you’re in need of some outside help, look for good reviews on sites like Trustpilot to gauge their reliability in terms of performance, customer service and connectivity. Oh, and make sure that it will scale with your business if you plan to grow or that it works with your ebbs and flows if you’re a seasonal business. Take advantage of free trials as this could be the difference between you going for one machine over the other.

Read more

Five tips to get started taking card payments – Andy Macauley, chief operating officer of Handepay, gives some concise pointers to taking card payments

How to set up a POS system for your small business – Find out how to set up and get the most out of a POS system for your retail or hospitality business

15 EPoS systems for restaurants and cafés – Having the right ePoS system in place can boost your business in far more ways than just payments. Here are 15 ePoS systems to check out

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.