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Small business credit card machines

Find out about small business credit card machine options now, and choose the best one for your business

A credit card machine for small business can make all the difference when it comes to generating revenue and turning a profit. A recent report by the UK Card Association found that, between December 2016 and February 2017 there were a total of 13 billion debit card purchases, worth an enormous £530 billion.

72% of all of the debit cards used offer contactless technology. Since February 2016, the number of debit card payments had increased by 12%, with the report quoting a figure of 36 million debit card payments, every day.

The figures above are a clear sign of the continued growth in cashless payments, a growth that affects small businesses just as much as any large nationwide organisation. On this page, we have collected together information about small business credit card machines and their value. Indeed, as these statistics show, the value of accepting credit card payments can be huge, with customers opting for cashless payment options more and more.

To ensure that your small business does not miss out on card payments, it is important to consider your options. The sections on this page should help in this process. Read on now to find out, or else complete the form at the top of the page to compare quotes from UK credit card processing companies today.

Business card machine topics

This page covers credit card machines for small business across various topics:

To find out about any of these topics, simply click and read.

Best credit card machines for small businesses

Card machines offer UK small business owners a huge range of choice, with a number of options available to suit different industries.

For those new to using a card machine to accept payments in their business, this can be bewildering, and there are a range of considerations to bear in mind; for example: is a free small business credit card machine up to the job, or would you be better off purchasing your own credit card terminals?

When you are considering a card machine for your small business, there are a number of points to consider, including cost, design and functionality. This article has been written to help you identity the best card machines available for small businesses, and to help you make the right choice.

Top card machines for small businesses

When selecting the best credit card machine for small business, you will need to take in to account all the factors above. However, we’ve narrowed the shortlist down for you to make things easier.

Card ReaderType of ReaderBest For
iZettleMobileOn-site work
VX 828 DuetCountertopRetail stores
iCMPMobileNew startups
Barclaycard Card MachinePortableHospitality


iZettle Small Business Credit Card Machine
The iZettle card reader is a mobile card reader which enables chip and pin, and contactless payments, wherever you are operating. Their basic charge per device is £29. They are proud of their reputation for being 25% faster than other mobile card readers. Money is deposited in your account the next day and the battery life is around 8 hours.

The iZettle card reader can be used with all major credit cards as well as Apple and Android Pay. In addition, you can use iZettle with receipt printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners, enabling it to be part of a complete POS system.

VX 820 Duet by Verifone

VX 820 Duet Small Business Credit Card Machine
This is a countertop credit card machine for small businesses and is chip and pin enabled. In addition, contactless payments can be processed. It’s easy to use, tough and durable. It has a large amount of memory, allowing it to support a large number of transactions and support other applications.

The VX 820 links to the PAYware Ocius service platform. Highly secure, with Point to Point Encryption (P2PE), it is a popular and safe choice.


iCMP Small Business Credit Card Machine
This credit card reader allows you to turn your mobile device (apple or Android) in to a POS solution. It works for EMV chip and PIN, magstripe and contactless payments. It operates using Bluetooth and is a pocket-sized payment option. This is designed to be a mobile option, but can also operate on a ‘portable’ basis.

Versatile and easy-to-use, the iCMP credit card reader is an excellent entry-level choice for small businesses.

Portable Barclaycard Card Machine

Barclaycard Small Business Credit Card Machine
This is a portable card machine which accepts all major credit and debit cards, including contactless. It has a 100m Bluetooth range making it ideal for the majority of small businesses who need to be able to process payments away from the main till.

Each base unit can connect with a maximum of 3 portable card machines at once, and it operates using either your business phone line or broadband. Additional card readers are available for just £15 plus VAT per month.

To find out more information about finding the best services for you, visit our top credit card processing companies page.

Card machines for small business

When considering the best business card machines for you, it is important to understand what makes a machine particularly good for a small business. Shortly we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of accepting card payments, but before this you need to understand some basic terms and concepts regarding card machines for business.

In order to select the right card payment machines for small business, you need to understand more about terminals and merchant accounts. The decision to accept card payments, and therefore choose from the range of credit card machine for business, is your first step.

This decision must be taken in the context of what accepting credit card payments can mean, both now and in the future. Whatever card machine you decide to go for, it needs to be suitable to cope with the demands of your business, both in the present and as it grows in the future.

Card machines for businesses are a form of PDQ (Process Data Quickly) equipment. Their aim is to get the transaction done quickly, safely, and efficiently. They allow for increased revenue and help your business to match customer expectations.

Small business credit card machine terminals

Credit card machine requirements

There are two main requirements when choosing which credit card machine for small business: the terminal (hardware), and the merchant account.

Most credit card terminals for small businesses work using either the internet, a phone line, or a mobile connection, to send data from the card reader to a processor. From here, funds can be transferred from the customer’s account to your merchant account.

Merchant accounts for small business

A merchant account is an account which allows your small business to accept credit card payments. Usually, merchant accounts are available from a credit card processor – the Payment Service Provider (PSP), or directly from a bank or other financial institution (Acquiring Banks).

Setting up a merchant account requires jumping through a few hoops, but doing so puts you on an excellent footing as a business, and crucially allows you to use credit card machines for your small business. Generally, these steps are not complicated – just like when a person takes a loan, this sort of process is simply a check to ensure your business’s eligibility.

A merchant account is a specific type of bank account which acts as a holding pen for your customer’s money before it goes to your business bank account, where you are actually able to access the money. This provides security to your customers, but also for your business.

Merchant accounts allow checks to ensure customers have sufficient funds available, and make for a safer transaction. The payments then automatically move into your business account once processed, minus the merchant account fees.


Credit card machine terminals

The credit card machine is terminal you use at a till when you pay. It is the device which reads your card and allows you to enter your PIN to authorise a payment.

It is easy to confuse a credit card machine terminal with a POS (Point of Sale) system, but the credit card terminal is just one part of that system, which will also include things such as a cash register or printer.

POS systems often also include the software needed to make sense of sales, transactions, inventory control and more. The card terminal feeds can feed in to this, but is a separate element.

Types of Business Card Machines

When selecting a credit card machine for your small business it is important to realise that not all terminals are the same, and that they do not all have the same functionality or capabilities.

Credit card machines for small business come in three forms: counter-top card machines, portable card machines, and mobile card machines. The type that suits your business best will depend on a number of factors: from the size and type of business, the nature of your customers and your location.

Let’s examine the different types of card machines for small businesses:

Countertop card machines

Countertop Credit Card Machine

Countertop card machines are ideal for taking card payment at a counter or desk, for example in a shop. These are the small business card machines that you are probably most familiar with as they are the most frequently used.

Countertop card machines are operated on a fixed-point basis, like with a fixed till at a shop counter. They connect directly to your merchant account, usually via your business phone line. They are fast, efficient, and robust ways of taking credit card payments either in person or over the phone.

Many small businesses may only need one of these card machines. However, if you have more than one check out point, or more than one premises or outlet, then you might need more.

You can add multiple countertop card machines to the same merchant account. When you hear of a free credit card machine for small business, this is normally the type being referred to, offered as part of a package with the merchant account.

Portable card machines

Portable Credit Card Machine

Portable card machines are ideal for small businesses who need to take payment in different places within their premises, for example in a café or restaurant. Similar to countertop terminals in terms of functionality and design, the difference between these forms of card machine is primarily related to the flexibility offered.

Whereas a countertop machine will only work whilst connected at the countertop, a portable machine can be used within a defined area. These card machines are therefore popular in hospitality businesses, allowing staff to take payment at the table. This improves speed and efficiency of payment and the overall service.

Portable credit card machines link to your main terminal using either Wi Fi or Bluetooth. As you are likely familiar with, the member of staff and customer can directly complete the transaction, including adding any tips, or vouchers.

Mobile card machines

Mobile Credit Card Machine

Mobile card machines are ideal for small businesses who need to be able to process customer card payments away from their physical premises, or at multiple sites, such as event based commerce. It’s easy to confuse these types of card payment machines with portable devices, however they don’t operate in quite the same way.

Whereas a portable device works by connecting to your main terminal via Wi Fi or Bluetooth, a mobile card machine uses GPS technology so that it can work away from a main terminal. Their functionality is much the same as a countertop device, but how they achieve it is different.

This enables mobile card machines for small businesses to be used remotely, ‘off site’, away from any main business premises. This makes them suitable in a wide range of situations – from events to trade fairs, and exhibitions to markets.

They enable fast, efficient, and safe transactions wherever your business is taking place.

Advantages and disadvantages of accepting card payments

The ‘best card machine’ will vary from business to business. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of accepting card payments will enable you to compare card machines, and work out which is best for your business.


  • Meeting customer expectations: customers expect to be able to pay by card, and if they aren’t able to you may miss out on sales. Having a credit card machine for payment therefore increases your business credibility.
  • Profitability: accepting credit card payments can improve profitability by accepting more ways of paying, as well as making the transaction process easier and more efficient. You also increase your competitive advantage over similar businesses who do not offer card payments.
  • Security: credit card machines facilitate increased security in various ways. You will be able to store less cash on the premises, or wherever your transactions are taking place, and all transactions will be more secure.
  • Reduced administration time: as well as needing to do smaller ‘bank runs’ with cash, you are also able to link credit card machines to POS software, reducing overall administration of payments. You will also have access to data analytics on your customer base making it easier to grow your business.
  • Ecommerce and telephone payments: credit card machines allow small businesses to take advantage of ecommerce channels and telephone payment.
  • Quickly receive funds: whilst cash is inevitably faster, you should still receive funds in as little as 2 days, but with all of the advantages above.


  • Charges: most small businesses worry about charges from their merchant bank. However, the ability to accept credit card payments brings worthwhile returns on investment to make the charges worthwhile. Charges can be kept low by carefully selecting the best small business card machine and merchant account for you.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: most credit card machines offer cost effectiveness, however there are some instances where this may not be the case. For example, if customers are most likely to expect to pay by cash, or cheque, then it may be in your interests to avoid charges this way. Find out more about prices on our chip and pin machine costs page.

Card machine processing for small businesses

Without a merchant account you will be unable to process credit card transactions. These accounts work by charging a small fee for each transaction they handle on your behalf.

Typically, the more transactions you complete, the lower the fees. This can, therefore, put smaller businesses at a disadvantage. However, the advantages offered by new payment options generally outweigh this.

In the UK there are two key types of merchant account: dedicated merchant accounts and aggregated merchant accounts. A dedicated merchant account is set up specifically for your business alone, and you negotiate the rates.

Alternatively, you can select an aggregated merchant account which acts as a ‘pool’ along with other businesses. This is simpler and easier but you won’t be able to negotiate fees so easily, or control the process for accessing your funds.

Card machine fees

Many merchant accounts offer free credit card machines as part of a package for having an account with them. However, you may choose to rent or purchase this directly.

Fees involved with credit card machines fall into the following categories:

  • Merchant account service charges: the fee levied on each transaction, usually worked out as a percentage of the sale.
  • Terminal hire: some may be provided with the account free of charge, others you may be charged a rental fee for.
  • Authorisation fee: a set fee for each transaction.
  • Minimum monthly service charge: the minimum amount you will be charged regardless of whether you process enough transactions.
  • Set up and exit fees: different accounts will have different set up and exit arrangements.

Credit card machine cost

Credit card machine costs vary considerably depending on various specifications. Choosing a specific form of terminal or plan, for example, will alter the final price you pay. Additionally, you will pay fees – mentioned above – that may factor into the upfront or agreed upon monthly costs.

For more information on credit card machine costs, visit our ‘how much is a chip and pin machine?’ page.

Card machine buyer checklist

Use our card machine buyer checklist to ensure you make the right choice for your small business:

  • Do you need a credit card machine based on the advantages and disadvantages for your business?
  • Do you need a countertop, portable, or mobile card payment machine?
  • How many devices do you need?
  • What types of card do you need to accept?
  • Which merchant account is best, and what are their fees?
  • Is the credit card machine included with the merchant account?

Compare credit card machine for small business quotes

The information on this page should help you to understand what kind of value a small credit card machine for small business might offer. To find out more and to receive tailored information based on your exact requirements, simply complete the form at the top of this page.

Completing this form will help us to put you in touch with top UK credit card processing companies who can provide quotes based on your needs.

This quote comparison process is free, quick and easy, and it could save your small business both time and money. Find out today with Startups!

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