Card Machines for Small Businesses

Discover the card machine that empowers small businesses to deliver exceptional customer experiences everywhere and anywhere.

Get Started

What is the best card machine for small business?

Card machines, card readers, terminals… whatever you call them, they all accept card payments. But ask yourself, where do your customers expect to pay?

Countertop card machines are used by retailers, hotels and salons that have a fixed sales point, like a till. They’re extremely reliable, as they use wired internet or a phoneline to connect.

Restaurants, pubs, and any business that take payments across their premises will use a portable card machine. They connect with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth so they can be carried from table to table.

For businesses like food vans, market stalls and taxis, it makes sense to have a mobile card machine. These use GPRS to accept card anywhere with a mobile network.

Get a free quote

Restaurant waiter taking a card payment from woman using a portable card machine

Countertop Card Machines


A fixed device to keep by your checkout, these card machines connect via a phone or broadband. Suitable for all retailers and effective in fast-paced environments such as fast food outlets and salons, these countertop card machines can be a good way for small businesses to take their first step into the world of card payments solutions.


Portable Card Machines


A wireless card machine that gives you the freedom to accept payments anywhere on your business premises. Providing convenience to you, your team and your customers, this machine helps to deliver a better customer experience. These portable card machines are perfect for pubs and restaurants.



Mobile Card Machines


Operating with GPRS and UK-wide network coverage, you can take card payments anywhere because where your business goes, your mobile card machine goes too. Taking freedom to the next level, these machines deliver a personalised checkout experience at events, meetings, expos and anywhere else your business takes you.


Find out more


Let’s look at what these card machines can do for you

Countertop Card Machine
Portable Card Machine
Mobile Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
High Speed Printing
Built-in SIM card
Charging base
Countertop Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
High Speed Printing
Built-in SIM card
Charging base
Portable Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
High Speed Printing
Built-in SIM card
Charging base
Mobile Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
High Speed Printing
Built-in SIM card
Charging base

Our card machines accept all major payment methods


Are you ready to take hassle-free payments?

Let’s talk about your payment solution.

Card machines frequently asked questions

What is the best card machine for small business?

In many ways card machines are the same, they all take card payments, give refunds, print receipts, and most terminals nowadays will accept contactless payments too. However, there’s still not a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to finding the best card machine for your small business.

Assuming ‘the best’ means ‘the most suitable technology for your needs’, that decision should be driven by how and where you would use the card machine.

Typically, card machines are grouped by connection method. Think about your business and consider which of the following options apply most:

  • A countertop card machine is used at a single point of sale, like at a sales desk in a clothes shop or a checkout in a supermarket, and is connected by ethernet cable to broadband internet. In some older models you can also use a phoneline.

  • A portable card machine is used anywhere within a business premises, rather than being tethered to a fixed point. For example, a restaurant where it’s carried to different tables. Portable terminals can be connected using the business’ Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth paired with a charging base.

  • A mobile card machine can be used anywhere that has a mobile network present and uses a GPRS SIM card to connect, just like a mobile phone would. These are normally used by businesses that don’t have access to wired internet or Wi-Fi, and can operate their business from almost anywhere, like a mobile mechanic.

Choose a card machine suited to your business setup carefully. If you run a mobile food van operating at festivals, a countertop card machine would not be an option because you wouldn’t have access to wired internet. If you run a retail store where customers pay at the counter, technically you could use a mobile card machine, but it wouldn’t make much sense when you could have a reliable wired connection.

When choosing a card machine, remember to consider:

  • Countertop card machine – Used at a fixed sales point
  • Portable card machine – Used at multiple sales points within one premises
  • Mobile card machine – Used anywhere with a phone signal

If you would like to discuss the other factors that influence your card machine choice, contact our sales team.

How do I get a card machine for my business?
Step 1: Understand the different options

So you’ve decided you need to take card payments from your customers. Firstly, it’s good to understand that although all card machines do the same thing (take card payments), the way in which they are setup can differ depending on the physical constraints and connections within your business.

As a rule of thumb, the options below are what normally decides which card machine is most suitable for your business setup. When going through the options, take note of the different uses and connection options and compare them to your business:

  • Countertop card machines
    • Used at: A fixed point of sale like a sales desk or counter
    • Connection: Wired internet (ethernet) or phoneline
    • Used by: Retail stores, garages, hotel receptions

  • Portable card machines
    • Used at: Multiple points of sale within one premises
    • Connects with: Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth
    • Used by: Restaurants and pubs with multiple tables

  • Mobile card machines
    • Used at: Anywhere
    • Connects with: Mobile network signals
    • Used by: Mobile mechanics, food vans, market traders


Step 2: Choose a payment provider

When picking a merchant services provider, explore their levels of customer service, reputation and the range of products and technology the have to offer.

It’s always worth getting a full quote before signing any agreements, so you can understand the full costs involved. Agreement lengths and rates can vary quite drastically between providers and you could be miss out on a saving by choosing the wrong pricing model for your projected usage.

Once you have decided, you will need to make an application for a merchant account with the provider. They will help you complete this at the point of sale. The reason you can’t be given a card machine then and there, is because the application provides a means of proving you are who you say you are to the acquiring bank. A number of credibility checks will be run against you, which must be met before your account is approved.

Step 3: Start taking payments

Once your merchant account is approved, your card machine will be delivered. Most modern terminals can be set up within 5-10 minutes straight out of the box and don’t need a dedicated engineer. Any technical issues can normally be resolved over the phone.

Are you ready to start taking card payments? Get a free quote.

How much to rent a credit card machine?

Technically, most card machines used by small business are ‘rented’ from the merchant services provider for the duration of their merchant agreement. Once that agreement is over, the card machines are returned.

Here at Retail Merchant Services we will always own the card machine. This way, we can provide ongoing technical support and replace the machine next day if it develops a warranty fault or the technology becomes obsolete.

How much this costs will depend on:

  • The duration of your agreement
  • Your usage and transaction rates
  • Membership or merchant account fees
  • Cost of PCI compliance
  • Whether you choose to pay monthly or upfront

Some mobile card machines (also known as card readers) can be bought outright for a smaller cost. There’s no rental agreement and you’ll own the card machine forever, but these pricing plans tend to have much higher rates of transaction, so the overall cost in the long run is questionable.

Some merchant services providers will loan card machines to businesses on a short-term hire basis. Say for example, a fleet of 50 card machines being used for a 3 day festival, but these arrangements are normally bespoke.

If you want to learn more, get a free quote from Retail Merchant Services today.

Do card machines need Wi-Fi?

Not all card machines need Wi-Fi to work, but ultimately, this will depend on the model of card machine you have, and what connection options are open to you.

In order to take payments, a card machine needs a connection point. If you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection available within your business, you could connect your card machine using a wired (ethernet) internet connection and in some cases a phoneline.

Portable card machines can operate using a Bluetooth signal which is paired back to the card machine’s charging base, which in turn is connected to broadband or a phoneline. Alternatively, a mobile card machine can function solely by connecting to a mobile network.

Some card machines, like the Verifone V240m, have multiple connection options (known as dual or tri-comm) and some are limited to just one option.

If you want to learn more about which connection method would be most suitable for your business, please get in touch.

How to use a card machine?

To accept and process a card payment using a card machine, follow the steps below to complete a sale transaction:

  1. From the idle screen, enter the sale amount using the number keys and then press enter.

  2. Ask the customer to insert their card or tap it onto the display if contactless payment is available.

  3. Ask the customer to enter their PIN if they have inserted the card.

  4. The card machine connects and receives an approval response from the host.

  5. A copy of the merchant’s receipt is printed automatically.

  6. Press enter to print the customer’s copy of the receipt if this is required.

  7. The card machine prompts the customer to remove their card before returning to the idle screen.

Note: Some operating instructions may vary between card machine models. For more information on card machine functions and features specific to your model, go to our user guides.

What is card reader machine?

A card reader machine, card machine, PDQ machine, payment terminal, chip and PIN machine are all the same thing; a device that can accept card payments from your customers.

Sometimes a ‘card reader’ may refer to a small, mobile card machine that can be bought outright for a lower upfront cost, but much higher rates of transaction, meaning you can end up giving away more revenue per sale than you need to. However, whatever you call it, the basic functions are the same.

Are you looking for a card machine for your small business?
Get free a quote today.

Where to find merchant number on card machine?

The most reliable way to find your merchant number (also known as a ‘MID number’) is printed on any merchant copy receipt. It will also print out on the End of Day report; the process that settles funds taken from card payments into your account.

Some card machines will display your merchant number on-screen when the terminal is sitting idle, but that will depend on the model, manufacturer and software installed.

Note: Each card machine will be assigned its own merchant number, so if you have multiple terminals, you will need to identify the number for each one.

How to manually enter credit card number on machine?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that you may need special permissions enabled on your card machine to process a sale by manually entering the card number, but this will depend on your model and provider.

Usually, you would only enter the debit or credit card number manually if you’re running a Customer Not Present (CNP) transaction. This is a payment made where the cardholder does not, or physically cannot, present their card to you at the time of purchase. For example, a takeaway taking payment over the phone, or a mail order catalogue taking orders through the post.

Follow the steps below to complete a CNP transaction:

  1. The card machine is ready to start a sale transaction from the idle screen.

  2. Enter the sale amount using the numbers and then press the enter key.

  3. When prompted to 'present, key in or insert the card', type the long card number into the card machine using the number keys.

  4. You will then need to key in the following information (order may vary):

    • Expiry Date - Formatted as MM / YY.

    • The customer's address – The first line and a house or flat number.

    • The customer’s postcode – Usually only the numbers

    • CVV number – The 3 digits on the back of the card

  1. The card machine connects and receives an approval response from the host.

  2. A copy of the merchant’s receipt is printed.

For more information on card machine tips and functions, visit our User Guides.

Related Articles


How to clean and sanitise your card machine

Not every card payment will be contactless after lockdown is lifted, so it’s crucial to clean your card machine before re-opening and frequently throughout your working day as you welcome your customers back. Follow these simple steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and clean your terminal without damaging it.

How to clean your card machine

How long does a card payment take?

Most payments taken aren’t processed right away and sometimes can take a while to reach your business bank account. Even though it seems like the transaction completes instantly, there are several steps that occur behind the scenes with each card payment, each with different parties involved.

How long does a card payment take?

3 steps to prepare your card machine for reopening

COVID-19 has massively accelerated the move away from cash and will undoubtedly change future consumer behaviour. With lock down being lifted, before you start trading, we want to share some advice on how to ensure your card machine is ready.

Prepare your card machine