Chip and pin machines
Chip and pin machines are an essential part of modern business - find the right one for your business today
A chip and pin machine is an important part of many business processes and is the conduit for safe and secure transactions. If you are wondering how to get a chip and pin machine, which is the best pin and chip machine, or how to use a chip and pin machine to the advantage of your business, then read on.
What is a chip and pin machine?
Before you buy chip and pin machines, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work. Later in this article we will discuss some different types of pin and chip machine, such as portable chip and pin machines and mobile chip and pin machines, but fundamentally the main chip and pin technology is the same.
Chips and pin machines for small and large businesses first appeared in the UK in 2004 – you may also hear them referred to as PDQ machines. They are used as a means of accepting credit and debit card payments. They are designed to process transactions quickly and securely. They can be used to process payments both ‘in-person’ and over the phone.
Their primary purpose was to improve fraud risk for cardholders and account holders. Before this, credit and debit cards used magnetic swipe technology. However, these were prone to fraud.
The ‘chip’ is a computer chip in the card and stores the PIN. The chip and pin machine reads this and the transaction can therefore be verified by the customer entering their PIN.
How to get a chip and pin machine?
Many chip and pin machines are supplied to the business owner as part of a package when they set up a merchant account. A merchant account is a specialised account which enables you to accept credit and debit card payments. For credit card processing a merchant account is invaluable.
You can also buy chips and pin machines, or rent them, as part of your Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system. The amount and type of chip and pin machines that you need will depend on the size and nature of your business.
How to use a chip and pin machine
Chip and pin machines vary a little from machine to machine, and also according to type, but the process of how to use a chip and pin machine remains largely the same.
The chip and pin machine will either be directly connected to your EPOS, and will therefore work largely with minimal intervention from your staff, or will be connected via wireless or mobile connection. With these devices there is more scope for the staff to enter and amend transaction details as needed.
The customer will enter their credit or debit card into the machine. This then sends a request for authorisation for payment to the card issuer. Once the authorisation is confirmed to the chip and pin device, the transaction proceeds. The credit card processor then goes about receiving the money from the card issuer in to your merchant, or ‘holding’ account. This may anything from a few hours to a few days. Once the funds are in the merchant account they can then be, usually automatically, transferred to your business account less the credit card processing fees.
Exactly how to use a chip and pin machine depends on the type of machine you have chosen. Additionally, some features may depend on the provider you choose – find out more about these options by visiting our top credit card processing companies page.
Types of chip and pin machines
Chip and pin machines come in three major types: countertop chip and pin machines; portable chip and pin machines (sometimes known as wireless chip and pin machines); and mobile chip and pin machines.
Deciding which of these options is best for your business will depend on a range of factors, with some chip and pin terminals being more suited to specific industries or business types.
The table below includes a breakdown of what you can expect from each type of terminal but, for more information, you should read the content below.
- Countertop chip and pin machine – Tethered to one location & useful in retail
- Portable Chip and Pin Machine – Usable around your small business site & useful in hospitality
- Mobile Chip and Pin Machine – Usable wherever there is mobile reception & useful in trades and markets
The information on this page has been designed to help you find the best for your operation.
Countertop chip and pin machines
Countertop chip and pin machines are what you are accustomed to seeing at the checkout as a customer. These devices are physically ‘plugged in’ to the overall EPOS system.
These countertop chip and pin machines are ideal where you have a fixed till point or points. You simply need to be able to process credit and debit card transactions at a fixed point. This makes this option most suitable for small businesses who work in many forms of retail.
Because of the nature of this sort of terminal, it is best suited to retail stores where there is one sales-point. Even when there are several tills being used at once, as is often the case in modern supermarkets, a countertop chip and pin machine is often the best choice.
As a rule, countertop chip and pin machines are sturdy and durable, with today’s providers offering high levels of security, as well as features to ensure satisfaction for both customers and staff.
Portable chip and pin machines
Sometimes known as wireless chip and pin machines, these devices work in much the same way as the countertop equivalent, but instead use Wi Fi or Bluetooth to complete the credit card processing.
Portable chip and pin machines are ideal for small businesses working in hospitality, most notably restaurants, cafes and bars. These machines don’t need to be used only at the fixed-point till. Instead they will have a range whereby they can be used within a certain distance of the connection, so can be used for taking payment at the customer’s table, for example.
The portability of these terminals provide the flexibility that is required in hospitality environments – rather than having all customers paying at one fixed till point, a portable machine allows staff to approach customers separately, providing a much more relaxed service while also alleviating the issues that would come with customers all waiting at fixed till points.
As with countertop terminals, portable chip and pin machines offer features, security and durability to ensure that your business can run effectively, without worries about damages to equipment or losses in transactions.
Mobile chip and pin machines
Again, the functionality of a mobile chip and pin machine is similar to the other types, but in this case it works using GPS or mobile signal to conduct the credit card processing.
Mobile chip and pin machines can be used off-site, and away from any fixed till. They are ideal for small businesses who need to take payment in multiple locations, for example at events, or in the customer’s home.
A mobile chip and pin machine might be essential to your business. Modern market traders, for example, will be able to process a far greater number of transactions with this form of payment.
Even those businesses with one of the other types of machine may benefit from a mobile chip and pin machine – a retail store, for example, that mainly uses a countertop terminal may at times visit trade fairs where a mobile machine will be needed; likewise, hospitality businesses may have mobile units which need this sort of terminal to be able to take payment at events.
Mobile devices come in various forms – some are similar to countertop and portable in most aspects, whereas others are designed to work with your smartphone. Deciding which you want will not only depend on personal preference, but also on the supplier you work with.
Best chip and pin machine UK
There are a huge range of chip and pin machines for small business in the UK. These include the three major types of countertop chip and pin machines, portable chip and pin machines, and mobile chip and pin machines. Before we come on to specifics, like which is the best mobile chip and pin machine in the UK, we need to consider what makes one inherently better than another.
Firstly you need to consider your business in terms of its size, industry, and functionality. Some pin and chip machines are provided by card processors who are focused on small businesses in preference to the giants.
Furthermore, you need to consider the nature of your transactions. For example, if you own a small retail shop then a countertop chip and pin machine will be adequate. However, if you frequently visit customer’s homes and want to be able to take payments on-site, then you will need to find the best mobile chip and pin machine.
From here you will need to consider how many devices you need. Many merchant accounts will provide a set number of chip and pin machines, often included within your account. You may need to therefore buy, or lease, additional devices as well.
The number of choices for chip and pin machines for small businesses is overwhelming. We have narrowed the selection down to three excellent chip and pin machines for businesses operating in the UK – one from each type.
Best countertop chip and pin machine
The best countertop chip and pin machine needs to combine a range of things – functionality, design and security are all essential, and without these things, the retail experience is likely to be lessened.
We have chosen our favourite countertop option, with more information below.
iCT 200 series
An excellent compact countertop chip and pin machine that won’t clutter up your till area. It’s highly user-friendly and intuitive, and also allows you to customise various elements, enabling brand promotion, such as screen colours. You can accept all major payment types.
Security is paramount to both the design and technology. The iCT 200 series has been designed predominantly with merchants in mind, with clear display and easy handling, but also has large keys making for fewer PIN entry mistakes. Connectivity is excellent. It is powered by Ingenico and Telium 2 technology, renowned in its field.
Best portable wireless chip and pin machine
A portable chip and pin machine will have similar requirements to countertop, though it will also need to offer better durability, to protect against the spills and drops that go hand in hand with hospitality work.
Our top portable chip and pin machine is included below.
Another easy to use and intuitive chip and pin machine is the portable VX680 from VeriFone. It’s perfect for those small businesses that need a portable device, for use inside or out, in places such as restaurants and cafes. This is a nice and small handheld portable option, which is also tough enough to withstand demanding hospitality environments.
The Verifone VX680 uses WiFi, GPRS, or Bluetooth, and is powered by an ARM 11 processor, making it suitable for speedy transactions. It can also be used for contactless payments. The backlit keypad is ideal for low light situations. This chip and pin machine is available with VeriFone’s Payment as a Service solution.
Best mobile chip and pin machine
Mobile chip and pin machines have different considerations to the two already mentioned – first and foremost though, is the requirement for strong reception. Because these terminals rely on signal – in the same way as smartphones – you need to find a machine that works well for you, wherever you plan to sell.
The iZettle mobile chip and pin device is available from £29, and is an excellent mobile chip and pin machine. The lightweight, compact and striking white design make it a leader in its field. It’s both quick to setup, and easy to use, enabling contactless payment as well as the regular chip and pin process.
iZettle is hands down the fastest mobile chip and pin machine on the UK market, being 25% faster than any other. Unlike many card processors, you receive the cleared funds quickly, on the next working day. Being a mobile device, battery life is important, and the iZettle lasts for around 8 hours, again making it a market-leader.
These three different chip and pin machines are excellent starting points as you decide on the right chip and pin machines for your business.
Compare chip and pin machines
Chip and pin machine prices vary according to how many you need, and what type. Sometimes you will get chip and pin machines included with your merchant account. If you need additional ones, these are often then leased at a minimal cost.
If you choose to buy your chip and pin machines, as many small businesses do, especially if you are using a card processor such as PayPal, then there are a range of options available. Depending on the functionality, you can expect to pay in the region of £30 to £70 per reader.
Visit this page to find out more about the costs of a chip and pin machine.
To find the right chip and pin machine for your business today, you should speak to suppliers – fill in the form at the top of the page to start this process now.