Barclaycard Payments Smartpay Touch
£29 a month + VAT
- Card reader & online portal
- Low transaction fees
- Free Accounting plan
Designed to help simplify business admin
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As card payments are the most popular way for consumers to make transactions, it has become crucial for businesses to choose a card payment machine that fits its needs the best.
With a vast range of different sizes, shapes and features available, there are specific machines designed for various types of businesses. In this guide, we’ll help you select the best card machine for your business.
Card payment machines, sometimes referred to as card readers, are devices that allow you to accept payments via chip and PIN or contactless methods. They might also be able to accept payments using a smartphone or mobile device.
With society moving toward a cashless environment, card payment machines have become an indispensable tool for businesses. And as their popularity rises, there are an increasing number of card machines for businesses to choose from. Different card readers come with various features, fees, and upfront costs, so it’s essential to compare options carefully to find the right one for your business.
There are 3 main types of card payment machines – countertop, portable and mobile. Depending on the size of your business, whether you’re a small pop-up business or a larger restaurant chain, there are different types of card machines designed for your needs.
Countertop card payment machines are for use at till points in stores and are best suited for businesses with fixed payment points, such as small retailers. They are not portable, but they usually have good connectivity. They can accept both chip-and-PIN and contactless card payments as well as payments through Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
Portable card payment machines are designed for businesses with multiple points of sale and enable you to take the card reader directly to the customer. This can make them ideal for restaurants and cafes. Portable card readers use Wi-Fi technology to process payments, and both chip-and-PIN and contactless transactions can be carried out.
Mobile card readers are small, battery-powered devices and use GPRS technology to process payments so that you can take card payments wherever you happen to be. They come with a built-in SIM card and can process both chip-and-PIN and contactless transactions. Because of their ease of use and portability, they are ideal for pop-up stores, tradespeople and markets.
Card readers work by extracting information from a customer’s debit or credit card, either when the card is inserted into the machine or tapped against the terminal (for contactless payments). This information is transmitted to the payment processor and information is collected from the customer’s bank. If there are sufficient funds in the account, the transaction will be approved.
The customer’s bank then puts a hold on those funds and the transaction is marked as pending. Over the next few days, the funds are moved across to the merchant’s bank account, processed and deposited into the account.
According to UK Finance, cash was used for just 15% of all payments in the UK in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of contactless payments rose by 36% to 13.1 billion payments and accounted for almost a third of all UK payments. This was partly driven by the increase in the contactless payment limit to £45 in April 2020 and then £100 in October 2021. The use of mobile phones and smartwatches to make payments is also growing.
All of this means that it’s becoming increasingly important that your business is able to accept card payments if you don’t want to risk losing out on sales.
Below is a list of some of the best UK card readers available:
Revolut has recently expanded its product line and launched its first card machine – the Revolut Reader. Like with most card readers, the Revolut point-of-sale (POS) terminal accepts instant and secure transactions whether they are made using debit cards, credit cards or contactless payment methods.
According to Revolut, the Revolut Reader can take payments in under “5 seconds” and with it’s competively low transaction fees, what’s there not to like? Well if your customers’ favour American Express, you might want to consider a different machine, as the Revolut Reader does not currently support payments from an Amex.
The Barclaycard Anywhere card reader enables you to take credit, debit and digital payments in-store or on the move. It comes with a pay-as-you-go contract and there’s a one-off rental fee of £29 plus VAT. It has a transaction fee of 1.6%.
You’ll be able to manage payments in real-time with the Barclaycard Anywhere app on your mobile device, and you can then connect your card reader via Bluetooth. The app allows users to export data to make accounting easier, check sales, issue e-receipts and give refunds from your online dashboard as well as add multiple users on a single account.
The Barclaycard Flex card reader has a monthly rental fee of £15 plus VAT and comes with an 18 month contract. Start-ups and small businesses that take lower volume or low-value transactions will be charged a 1.6% fee for each transaction. Bigger businesses that take high volume or high-value transactions will have a variable monthly cost per transaction and a personalised pricing plan.
£29 a month + VAT
Designed to help simplify business admin
SumUp has 3 different types of card reader. They come at different costs but all have a transaction fee of 1.69%.
SumUp Air and SumUp Air and Cradle are the most compact, and the cheapest options at £39 and £44, respectively. Both work together with the free SumUp app and both connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet. SumUp Air can be a good option for businesses in-store and on the go for deliveries.
SumUp Solo is a standalone device with a touchscreen interface and comes at a cost of £79. It works with Wi-Fi and also has free unlimited mobile data with a built-in SIM card. In addition, it comes with a charging station to keep your card reader constantly charged.
Finally, SumUp 3G and Printer costs £129 and works without a smartphone. It comes with a built-in SIM card and free unlimited mobile data and Wi-Fi connectivity. It can also print receipts and the printer functions as a charging base.
Square Reader costs just £19 and has a transaction fee of 1.75%. The card reader accepts chip-and-PIN cards, contactless cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay, and it connects wirelessly. Its compact nature makes it easy for transactions on the go, and the app enables you to enter sales quickly and have access to real-time inventory and reporting.
Square Terminal is a larger device that enables you to take payments and print receipts. It is also portable and includes a powerful battery, allowing you to take payments anywhere in your store or restaurant. It comes at a cost of £149 plus VAT and has a 1.75% transaction fee.
The Zettle Card Reader 2 is a straightforward device that costs just £29, plus VAT. There is also a 1.75% transaction fee. When paired with one of Zettle’s point-of-sale apps, the reader accepts all credit cards and contactless payments and can be set up quickly. You’ll also be able to send digital receipts, send online invoices and issue full or partial refunds. It also enables you to track staff productivity.
The Zettle Terminal is a larger device than the Zettle Card Reader 2 and allows you to add a receipt printer and docking station if needed, making it a good choice for stores and restaurants with a professional workstation. It comes at a cost of £149 plus VAT and has a 1.75% transaction fee.
There are a number of different card readers to choose from with takepayments. All of them come with 12-month contracts and no set-up fees, but prices are personalised depending on your requirements.
There’s also takepaymentsplus, which costs £25 a month and allows you to access real-time reporting and accountancy-ready sales reports. It also gives you up-to-date reporting on the stock you sell.
Dojo offers two types of card reader – the Dojo Go which is a standalone, on-the-go device and the Dojo One which is an integrated, countertop terminal. Both card machines cost between £15 and £20 per month, depending on your business’s annual card turnover and a variable transaction cost of 1.3% +3p to 2.3% +3p depending on card type and payment method.
The best mobile card reader for your small business will ultimately depend on how much you can afford to spend on a card reader and whether you’re happy to be tied into a contract. We’ve outlined some of our top choices for small businesses below:
To find the best card reader, follow the steps below:
Card machines feature a range of fees and charges. The size of your business and the volume of transactions typically made will alter what card reader will work best for you. For example, some payment machine platforms charge a higher transaction fee for a lower volume of sales. So if you are a small business looking for your best card machine, make sure you read the T&Cs before you commit.
Some of the most common include the following:
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