Card Machines

A range of card machines that allow you to accept card payments quickly and securely from customers face-to-face.


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Your business needs a card machine

Excellent customer service is the secret to great business. With access to a card machine to process your transactions, you’ll be empowered to deliver the standard of customer experience consumers expect from any business.

Did you know: Cash is in decline - and it’s easy to see why. Carrying cash is inconvenient, it’s heavy - why would you choose that over something that fits neatly into your wallet and is lightweight? Most importantly, cards are more secure than cash!

Credit and debit card capabilities and the banking industry in general, have evolved dramatically over the past few years. We’ve not only got instant access to cash via mobile banking apps - transferring money at the touch of a button - but we’re also able to pay for goods with the tap of our card instantly. Contactless technology has already overtaken chip and PIN for the smaller payments (below £30), and Barclays forecast the ‘touch and go’ technology will save us 141 million hours in the next year.

Let us show you all the benefits and features you can expect when you purchase a card machine (also known as card terminal or PDQ machines), and the different types of card machines you can choose from.

What is a card machine? How does a card machine work? What are the different types of card machines? Benefits of taking card payments for your business How much does a credit card machine cost? What businesses are most suited to using a card machine? Is there any difference between a PDQ machine, card machine or payment terminal? What card types are accepted? Do I need a merchant account with a card machine? Do card machines accept contactless payments?

What is a card machine?

A card machine is a handheld device that allows businesses to process credit and debit card payments electronically from their customers face to face.

There are four different types of card machine available, including a countertop, portable, mobile and card readers. Each of these are designed for your business needs. Choosing the right one will mainly depend on how your business operates and how you plan on taking payments.

How does a card machine work?

Let's say a small coffee shop business is serving a customer for a cappuccino at the till. The server (merchant) will type the amount to be paid into the card machine and then present it to the customer for them to check the amount and to pay. The customer can pay through inserting their credit/debit card into the card payment machine and entering their PIN, or they can simply tap their card on the contactless-enabled machine. Once the payment has been made, it only takes a few seconds to authorise and complete the process.

What are the different types of card machines?

We’re going to talk through four types of card machines - all four serve different business types. Click through to each page to learn more about how each card machine works.

Countertop Card Machines

Perfect if your business has fixed premises - think hairdressers and retail shops. A countertop card machine stays fixed at your till point. Find out more about countertop card machines.

Portable Card Machines

These card machines are portable - as the name suggests! Perfect for restaurants, bars or anywhere where you might serve multiple customers at once. The handset is detachable from the base - bring the till point to the customer. Find out more about portable card machines.

Mobile Card Machines

These card machines are fully-mobile. The device’s built-in sim card means you don’t need to rely on patchy wifi connections - the mobile card machine connects through a GPRS signal. Sell your goods at festivals, trade shows, pop-up store events - wherever you are in the UK, you can process a payment. Find out more about mobile card machines.

Mobile Card Readers

A mobile card reader fits into your pocket. It's that compact. A mobile card reader works in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet and uses 3G/4G/GPRS or Wifi. The device can access signal through a Wifi hotspot - yes, even your smartphone hotspot. Find out more about mobile card readers.

Benefits of taking card payments for your business

Why would you change something that has worked so well for you historically? You’ve got your regulars who pay cash - and they’re OK with it? Because, without a card machine, you’re missing out on a lot of business. There were 13.2 billion debit card payments in 2017, and you could have a slice of that.

Without being able to offer chip and PIN and contactless transactions, your business isn’t evolving. If anything, it’s standing still. Why wouldn’t you want to offer a payment option that takes less than 15 seconds? Customer experience is vital to any business; being able to provide them with a payment option that is exceptionally quick and secure has the power to transform your business.

  • Reduces queueing times - paying by card is fast
  • Less cash on site - reduces the risk and increases security
  • Encourages sales - It can help encourage customers to buy as customers may not have the cash on them

How much does a credit card machine cost?

We’ve summarised the pricing elements you should take into consideration when costing your card machine.

Buying or hiring the terminal

It may surprise you to learn you can both hire or buy a card machine for your business. Hiring a card machine means you pay a fee for renting the terminal - this cost doesn’t include other fees outlined below. So it’s essential to research the market to find the best option for you.

When hiring, mobile data is usually included in the monthly fee - but sometimes, it’s not, so it’s worth researching to find out.

Of course, you could buy the card machine upfront, this would be more expensive initially but could work out cheaper in the long run.

Setup and installation

Many card machine providers don’t charge an extra cost for setup and installation - but you may have to pay a delivery fee. Again, it’s important to check.

Transaction fees

Transaction fees vary depending on your business sales volumes, the length of the contract you’ve signed and your business type. If your business is classed as high-risk, you will pay higher fees. Before you sign any contracts, the provider will share quotes on the fees you can expect to pay. The types of cards accepted can also have a bearing on how much you pay - for example, debit cards are the most widely used in the UK - so the transaction fee for this payment is lower than say a credit card would be.

Some providers will expect a minimum sales volume each month - if this volume isn’t met you could stand to pay charges.

PCI compliance

You will need to pay PCI DSS compliance fees to ensure you’re PCI DSS compliant. PCI stands for Payment Card Industry - and it is developed and maintained by the PCI Council. The compliance exists to help ensure the security of credit card transactions. These are standards that businesses follow to secure and protect credit card data provided by customers.

What businesses are most suited to using a card machine?

Any business that takes payment from customers in-person. If you have a storefront or business premises - you need a card machine. If you travel to trade shows or craft fairs to sell your product - you would benefit from a card machine.

Taking payments is so much quicker than counting pennies and giving change, it’s that simple!

Is there any difference between a PDQ machine, card machine or payment terminal?

No, there is no difference at all. The terms ‘PDQ machine’, ‘card machine’ and ‘payment terminal’ mean the same thing and are all used to describe a card machine that simply processes credit and debit cards.

What card types are accepted?

All major credit and debit cards payment methods are accepted, including Visa, Mastercard and American Express (Amex).

Do I need a merchant account with a card machine?

Absolutely. To accept any kind of credit or debit card payment, your business will need a dedicated merchant account to process these transactions. Find out more about merchant accounts.

Do card machines accept contactless payments?

Yes. Whether you choose a countertop, portable or a mobile card machine, the majority of them will feature the latest contactless technology of some sort, such as contactless card payments or mobile payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

With the rise in popularity of contactless card payment methods over the years, consumers are embracing this technology. This fast, easy and secure payment method benefits both customers and businesses alike.