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Best Card Machines for Small UK Businesses Comparison in 2023

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Best Card Machines for Small UK Businesses Comparison in 2023

UK Finance data shows that cards and contactless methods account for more than half of UK payments. A debit card transaction in the UK costs around £50 billion each month, with around 2 billion transactions a month.

How do you get started taking card payments, and which card machine is best for business? Here is a comparison of three of the best card machines for small businesses in the UK.

We compare card machines for small businesses based on price (including fees), but also features like fast deposits into your business bank account and easy setup. Moreover, they should be portable and compatible with contactless payments.

Is a new card machine necessary?

The days of cash payments are fast disappearing, as well as clunky countertop hardware. There is no doubt that card payment machines have become an essential tool in stores.

As technology has advanced, so have the choices. There are solid chip and PIN machines available, but many small businesses prefer mobile card readers, which work from almost anywhere and let customers pay easily.

What is a POS (Point of Sale) system?

A point-of-sale (POS) system is something to consider when choosing a card reader. With a POS system, you can complete sales with your customers. Apps for tablets and smartphones list your products, their prices, and track your sales. After connecting to the hardware (e.g. a card reader), it calculates the price and processes the payment.

A POS system used to be the cash register where payments were taken. Modern point-of-sale systems are digital and offer more flexibility in how you complete a sale, such as taking card payments over the phone.

Not all card readers work with all POS systems. Make sure your card reader is compatible with your POS system and can take cards.

What features should I consider?

As most newer card machines are app-based and contactless, we will evaluate them based on their:

  • An affordable fee structure (without complex contracts)
  • App-based functionality
  • Mobility/portable
  • Best card machine for small businesses in the UK

This is our list of the top three card machines we’ve found on the market. Value for money, simplicity, and point of sale (POS) features were considered. Several businesses need a portable machine that can be stationed on a countertop as well, such as market traders or workshops.

Here are the best card machines for small businesses in the UK, in no particular order:

iZettle Reader 2

IZettle’s latest card reader is popular with many small businesses in the UK as one of the country’s most popular mobile credit card machines.

It accepts major credit cards, deposits money into your account within 1-2 business days, and owners love its sleek design. Additionally, its battery life is 30 percent longer than other readers.

There’s a special package for hospitality businesses, with iZettle Pro, and custom pricing for businesses taking over £10,000 in card payments every month.

Features include:

  • Easy to set up and use
  • There is no monthly fee
  • All major credit cards and contactless payments are accepted
  • Contactless payments in 5 seconds
  • Money is deposited within 1-2 business days
  • Battery life is 30% longer than other readers

Negative aspects

Reviewers of the iZettle have complained about their limited customer support hours. Customers have claimed, however, that the device and its software are so simple that they rarely need to contact them.

Pricing

Your first contactless card reader costs £29 (plus VAT) and each additional reader costs £59 (plus VAT). A 1.75 percent fee for each transaction will be added to the cost of the dock and add-ons.

Square

The Square reader is popular because of its simplicity and size; they also offer an all-in-one terminal and an iPad stand. As standard, the machine accepts chip and PIN, contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay, and costs £16.

Features include:

  • Reader machine for just £16 + VAT
  • Easy to set up and use
  • POS app for free
  • Paying with contactless in 5 seconds
  • The money is deposited the next working day
  • There is no monthly fee

Negative aspects

In most cases, Square’s bad reviews are due to account suspensions. If you want to avoid this, make sure your business type fits within their guidelines. Their customer service has an excellent reputation, so you can get help from them if you need it.

Pricing

A Square Reader costs £16 + VAT when purchased directly from their website, plus 1.75% transaction fee.

SumUp Air

Again, there are a few different machine options with SumUp, but we’ve picked the Air for its discounted price at £39 + VAT (usually £59). Along with the discount, it also comes with a lower transaction fee, at 1.69%.

Features include:

  • Contracts are not fixed
  • A lower transaction fee of 1.69%
  • Money is deposited within 1-3 business days
  • Take 5 minutes to sign up
  • All major credit cards and contactless payments are accepted
  • Guaranteed money back for 30 days
  • There is no monthly fee

Negative aspects

SumUp takes a little longer to deposit your money than iZettle or Square, and the Air doesn’t support contactless payments as quickly. The lower transaction fee might compensate for this, if you’re not in a hurry.

Pricing

Currently, the SumUp Air costs £39 + VAT when purchased directly, plus 1.69% transaction fees.

Alternative card readers – There’s a lot out there on the market and much of the hardware has historically been from a few key providers, so other than the providers mentioned above the other options can all seem quite similar from a product perspective. The leader of the pack and new entrant to the UK market not mentioned above is probably Clover and Dojo.

Others:

  • Global Payments
  • WorldPay