Card machines for small businesses

Get the card machine that best fits your business. At the till, inside or out or on the road we have the card machine for you, all packed with the latest technology.

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What is the best card machine for small business?


Card machines, card readers, PDQ machines, 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, Bluetooth, and in some models 3G, so they can be carried from table to table and used inside and outside.

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.

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

Compare our card machines, built with your business in mind

Ingenico iCT250 countertop card machine
Countertop Card Machine
Verifone V240m portable card machine with WiFi-Bluetooth and 3G connections
Portable Card Machine
Ingenico iWL251 mobile card machine
Mobile Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
Same Day Settlement¹
Ideal for inside use
Ideal for outside use
Broadband connection
Phoneline connection
Wi-Fi connection
Bluetooth connection
GPRS / 3G
Integrated SIM card
Charging base
Wireless handset
Highspeed printer
Countertop Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
Same Day Settlement¹
Ideal for inside use
Ideal for outside use
Broadband connection
Phoneline connection
Wi-Fi connection
Bluetooth connection
GPRS / 3G
Integrated SIM card
Charging base
Wireless handset
Highspeed printer
Portable Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
Same Day Settlement¹
Ideal for inside use
Ideal for outside use
Broadband connection
Phoneline connection
Wi-Fi connection
Bluetooth connection
GPRS / 3G
Integrated SIM card
Charging base
Wireless handset
Highspeed printer
Mobile Card Machine
Contactless payments
Accept all major cards
Accept digital wallets
Same Day Settlement¹
Ideal for inside use
Ideal for outside use
Broadband connection
Phoneline connection
Wi-Fi connection
Bluetooth connection
GPRS / 3G
Integrated SIM card
Charging base
Wireless handset
Highspeed printer

Countertop card machines

 

If you’re a small business with a fixed sales point like a till, checkout or desk, a countertop card machine is a great way to take your first step into the world of card payments.

Thriving in retailers, fast food outlets and salons, these devices are known for their high uptime and reliability, as they connect by cable to broadband or through a phoneline. They also have super-fast processing speed to keep you powering through the queues all day.

  • Use at a fixed point, like a till
  • Wired to broadband or phoneline
  • Ideal for retailers and salons
florist taking card payment using countertop card machine

Portable card machines

 

Having a wireless card machine gives you the freedom to accept card anywhere on your business premises, giving convenience to your customers and your staff.

Portable card machines perform brilliantly in pubs and restaurants that need to take payments from table-to-table. Whether you're inside at the bar or outside in the beer garden, they can utilise Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 3G, so you'll always stay connected.

  • Use inside or outside (wireless)
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 3G/GPRS
  • Ideal for pubs and restaurants

 

restaurant waiter taking card payment from female guests using a portable card machine

Mobile card machines

 

Wherever your business goes, your mobile card machine can go too. Using an integrated SIM card with 3G or GPRS, you'll be able to take payments anywhere with UK-wide network coverage.

Taking freedom to the next level, these terminals come into their own at festivals, trade shows, open air markets, or anywhere your customers need to pay.

  • Use anywhere with a mobile signal
  • 3G/GRPS connection with SIM card
  • Ideal for food vans, taxis and mobile mechanics

SEE MORE: mobile card machines

man making a contactless payment using mobile card machine and smartphone at mobile food van

Why do small businesses choose our card machines?

Reliability icon

| Reliability

We have the best in payments technology backed-up by a team of UK-based card machine experts that are always on hand to support you with setup, technical assistance and account management.

Speed icon

| Speed

Our fastest card machines can perform an end-to-end payment from transaction initiation to printing a receipt in 12 seconds. Giving the best tools to your staff and a great experience for your customers.

simple pricing icon

| Simple pricing

All our card machines comes with a £0 set up fee, with all terms and costs agreed upfront. On average, we save our customers up to 30% on transaction fees from their current provider.

Funds from card machine to bank account in hours

Same Day Settlement, also known as 'Faster Payments', is a bolt-on feature that delivers the funds taken from card sales to your account within the same day, instead of waiting 3-5 days¹.

Having your money faster could be the difference between paying a supplier on time, restocking for your next sale or simply keeping a healthy working capital.

  • Get your money in hours
  • No more waiting 3-5 days to settle
  • Give your cash flow a boost

Get your money faster with Same Day Settlement →

Mechanic working in a garage holding a tyre

If you're looking to switch provider or take your first ever card payment, you can talk to us


We're experts at switching payment services and typically save small businesses up to 30% on processing fees, with the same flexible agreement lengths and transaction rates available for businesses just starting out.

"I had been paying over the odds for my previous card machine"

 

"Just over two years ago I was introduced to Retail Merchant Services. At first I thought it was too good to be true. I had been paying over the odds for my previous card machine and paying very high rates.

Retail Merchant Services have saved me an unbelievable amount of money a month. Everyone from their sales team to customer services are so friendly, helpful and professional. Give them a call today, you won’t regret it!"

Alex Smith, The Treatment Rooms

Female business owner standing outside of beauty salon

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.

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