The 6 best card machines and mobile card readers for small businesses More people than ever pay by card. Discover the best card machine for your small business on this page Aimee Bradshaw June 11, 2021 9 min read About us Startups was founded over 20 years ago by a serial entrepreneur. Today, our expert team of writers, researchers, and editors work to provide our 4 million readers with useful tips and information, as well as running award-winning campaigns. Our site is governed by the Startups editorial manifesto. This article was co-authored by: Aimee Bradshaw Senior Writer Robyn Summers-Emler Deputy Editor So you’ve set your business up and you’re almost ready to start selling – all that’s left is to find the right card reader. To help you do this, we’ve picked out six of the best card readers for small businesses.While you’re comparing the card readers, it’s worth considering the following key factors:Associated fees and costs – how much is the device, how much does the card machine provider charge per transaction, and are there any associated payment software costsAccompanying services – can you set up an online store using the payment software, and does the software offer payment gateway services for existing online stores?Type of card machine – does it work with a 3G or 4G connection or does it require an internet or wifi connection to process transactions?Alternatively, an even easier way to compare small business credit card machines is through our card reader comparison tool. It asks you a few simple questions, then works out which providers match your needs based on your answers.You can compare costs from a range of suitable providers, which inevitably saves you time and money. Thousands of small businesses found their card reader through Startups.co.uk last year, so why not give it a go?Top 6 credit card readers for small businessesThe best credit card machines that small businesses should be considering are the SumUp 3G card reader, Zettle by PayPal card reader, Verifone V240M card reader, Square card reader, Worldpay card reader, and the Barclays Anywhere card reader.Compare them in the table below:Card readerSumUp 3GZettle by PayPalVerifone V240MSquare Worldpay Card ReaderBarclays AnywhereDevice cost£99£29From £10/month£19£69£29Fees1.69%1.75%Debit - 0.4%Credit -0.9%1.75%Dependent on sales1.6%Includes payment software?YesYesYesYesYesYesOnline store?YesNoNoYesNoNoStore fees2.5%N/AN/A2.5%NoN/AMobile/Wifi?3G* and Wifi3G and WifiGPRS, 3G, and Wifi3G and Wifi3G and Wifi3G and WifiPayment gateway?NoYesYesNoYesYes* 3G minimal mobile signal required The majority of featured card machines are supplied by payment facilitators, as they usually offer small businesses the best payment processing rates.One of the reasons they offer better rates is because sales are pooled into a shared (aggregated) merchant account, rather than an individual (dedicated) merchant account. This does not mean security is compromised. However, it does mean payments can take twice as long to reach your business bank account.Credit card machines and dedicated merchant accounts supplied by banks and larger payment bodies often incur contracts, monthly charges, and unpreferable rates for businesses with lower sales figures.You can find out more about merchant accounts in our merchant account guide. Best credit card machine for small businesses: a deep dive SumUp 3G card reader Zettle by PayPal Verifone V240M card reader and POS Square card reader WorldPay card reader Barclays Anywhere card reader 1. SumUp 3G card readerBest for: low transaction feesMain features:✓ Works with a SIM card (no need to connect to mobile phone)✓ Set up an online store using SumUp app✓ Includes decent analytics platform to help grow your business✓ Contract-free (leave when you wish and only pay when you make a sale)SumUp 3G benefits and drawbacksSumUp 3G benefitsSumUp 3G drawbacksStandalone device with its own 3G connectionFree-unlimited mobile data with SIM cardCan come with a receipt printerCheapest transaction feesUser-friendly app Simple set up No hospitality-specific featuresReporting is simple compared to other providersSumUp 3G pricingDeviceDeviceCard present fee1.75%Card not present fee2.5%Is the SumUp 3G card reader for me?With one of the lowest transaction fees on the UK market (just 1.69%) and crystal-clear, flat-rate pricing, the SumUp 3G card reader comes up trumps for affordability – perfect for beginners and savvy business owners wanting to keep things simple and costs low.Whether you’re running a mobile coffee stall, or simply want something a little more compact in-store, SumUP Air travels well and has a long lasting charge to boot. This makes it a popular option amongst businesses fresh on the startup scene.SumUp keeps its users happy with stellar customer support and a no-nonsense app that’s perfect for first-timers in the world of using card machines.Just don’t expect all the bells and whistles at this price point – this is an uncomplicated card reader with a simple app, but it has everything you need to start growing your business.Suitable for: ✓ Small retail shops and market stalls✓ Counter service cafes and pop up food stalls 2. Zettle by PayPalBest for payment featuresMain features:✓ Supports a huge range of payment methods, including Amex and Diners Card✓ Software supports payment links and invoicing✓ Contract-free (only pay when you’re selling and leave when you wish)✓ Choose Zettle as your payment gateway to keep online sales in same placeZettle by PayPal benefits and drawbacksZettle by PayPal benefitsZettle by PayPal drawbacks Compatible with iOS and AndroidDevice 25% faster at processing transactions8-hour battery lifeCan include a payment gateway for online selling Accompanying software more sophisticated than SumUp’s and specific hospitality software availableCustomer service standards may slip due to acquisition Must be connected to a phone or tabletDoesn’t offer an online store through the appZettle by PayPal pricingZettle by PayPal benefitsZettle by PayPal drawbacks Compatible with iOS and AndroidDevice 25% faster at processing transactions8-hour battery lifeCan include a payment gateway for online selling Accompanying software more sophisticated than SumUp’s and specific hospitality software availableCustomer service standards may slip due to acquisition Must be connected to a phone or tabletDoesn’t offer an online store through the appIs the Zettle by PayPal card reader for me?Small businesses can use the Zettle by PayPal card reader with third party hardware, including receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners, as part of a complete POS system.Alternatively, you can sync it up to your smartphone or tablet to take card payments on the go. Customers who require a receipt can have one sent to their email address.The Zettle by PayPal card reader is well-suited to startups looking to take payments quickly in a no-fuss fashion.Even its customer service is minimal, with the provider preferring to lead customers down the self-help route. For those who prefer to speak to an agent, its phone lines are only available between 9am and 5pm on weekdays.With ultra-low costs and one of the highest rated apps around, Zettle by PayPal is a great alternative to traditional ways of processing card payments, and great for innovative and budget-conscious businesses.Suitable for: ✓ Small retail shops and market stalls✓ Counter service hospitality businesses, full service cafes and restaurants (with Zettle by PayPal hospitality software), pop up food stalls Could your business be deemed high risk? If so, you may need a card machine from a high risk merchant account provider. Find out more about high risk merchant accounts. 3. Verifone V240M card reader and POSBest for higher sales volumesMain features:✓ In-built, simple POS system✓ Supports application downloads for a POS system built on your needs✓ Still works with really low signal (GPRS)✓ Also supports a fixed line into phone and broadband for countertop set upsVerifone V240M benefits and drawbacksVerifone benefits Verifone drawbacksWorks with SIM or fixed lineCan use with or without built-in POS Add apps in line with your business’ needsBuilt-in printer for instant receiptsContract with on-going monthly costsFees dependent on volume of salesVerifone V240M pricingMonthly costs dependent on sales volume.Is the Verifone V240M card reader for me?A little more heavy duty than the Zettle by PayPal and SumUp card readers, the Verifone V240M card reader offers ready-to-go built-in POS software and a receipt printer.The Verifone V240M card reader can take payments on very little mobile signal, making it a great option for events-based businesses where strong signal isn’t always guaranteed.Instead of charging standard rates, Verifone decides on its transaction fees in line with how many sales you make.Usually, the more sales you make, the lower the fees, which makes it a good choice for businesses that expect to receive high volumes of sales.Along with your card reader, you have access to Verifone’s Central Device Management system, which makes it easy for you to make adjustments to your POS software across all of your devices.You can also use Verifone as your merchant services provider, and take advantage of analytics and payment gateway services for an on-going monthly fee, meaning you can manage all of your payments in one place!Suitable for: ✓ Small to medium retail businesses✓ Events businesses (food trucks etc) expecting high sales volumes 4. Square card readerBest for fast-growth startupsMain features:✓ Very simple design✓ On-glass chip and pin functionality✓ Works alongside multi-functional and very expandable POS hardware✓ Manage face-to-face and online sales in one placeSquare benefits and drawbacksSquare benefits Square drawbacks Low transaction ratesTransparent pricingCard reader payment software offers lots of integrationsModern technology that doesn’t compensate securityNo fees or contractsPin-on-glass (typing pin into secure software on a mobile device) is very unusualThird-party app integrations incur their own chargesSquare pricingDevice£19Card present fee1.75%Card no present fee2.5% Is the Square card reader for me?Square's card reader is designed for small business owners wanting to keep costs low without missing out on the good stuff – like the option to integrate its accompanying POS software with food delivery apps or customer relationship management systems.The card reader itself is a high-spec device that allows customers to enter their pins on the glass of your phone or tablet, rather than tapping buttons on a keypad. While unconventional, you can be reassured that Square adopts the highest security standards when it comes to developing its products.Clean and simple, Square’s card reader adds a breath of fresh air into the payment process, and shows that it’s putting itself at the forefront when it comes to pioneering the future of the payments market.If you’re looking for an all-in-one payment solution, you may want to check out the Square terminal, which also allows you to manage items and print receipts from one device.Suitable for: ✓ Small to medium businesses✓ Countertop and mobile cafes (Square software)✓ Table service cafes and restaurants (Square for Hospitality software) 5. WorldPay card readerBest for securityMain features:✓ Range of card readers and plans to choose from✓ Decent rates✓ Great security✓ Insightful accompanying softwareWorldPay benefits and drawbacksWorldPay benefitsWorldPay drawbacks Popular with small businessesVery high levels of securityPlans that grow with your businessIncludes payment gateway services Draws you into contracted plans as they offer better value for moneyCustomer service could be betterWorldPay pricingMobile card reader planDeviceFees£691 - 2.75% depending on sales volume WorldPay Simplicity planDevice Fees£4.99/monthDependent on sales volume Is the WorldPay mobile card reader for me?With Worldpay, it’s all about the options. Not only does it offer a range of contracts and transaction fee rates, which you qualify for based on your monthly sales income, it also offers a range of card readers, too.To secure the best transaction fee rate, we suggest that you opt for Worldpay’s Simplicity plan; an 18 month contract which sees the percentage you pay per transaction drop from 2.5% to 1.5% – one of the lowest rates around.Worldpay is for those who prioritise security over everything, so you can look forward to robust fraud protection and complete PCI compliance (security standards for processing card payments). Plus, with 24/7 support, you’ll never be left in the dark.Whether you’re looking for a mobile card reader to take on the road, or a fixed terminal for your shop point of sale area, Worldpay’s payment taking solutions are robust options for small businesses.Suitable for:✓ All types of small businesses 6. Barclays Anywhere card readerBest for Barclays account holdersMain features:✓ Very simple functionality✓ Low fees✓ Fairly basic accompanying payment software✓ Fast deposits into your business accountBarclays Anywhere benefits and drawbacksBarclays Anywhere benefitsBarclays Anywhere drawbacks Low transaction ratesTransparent pricingVery simple to useFuss-free softwareVery quick set up processAccompanying software is very basic and somewhat outdatedApp does tend to glitchCard machine only accepts Visa and Mastercard Barclays Anywhere pricingDevice £29Card present fee1.6%Card not present feeN/AIs the Barclays Anywhere card reader for me?Barclays’ little device accepts credit and debit card payments through the mobile connection of your smartphone or tablet. Aside from that, the card reader package from Barclays is comparatively basic.In fact, the sole function of the accompanying software is to facilitate payments. For example, you won’t be able to upload an inventory or access an analytics platform.You will, however, benefit from decent Barclays phone support and receive swift deposits into your Barclays account.At 1.6%, the Barclaycard Anywhere offers one of the lowest transaction rates going, but your compromises are that the card reader only accepts Visa, Mastercard, and refunds cost 75p to process.The Barclaycard Anywhere card reader is for those who would prefer to stick with a bank they can trust – and the Barclaycard Anywhere card machine will save you hassle if you already have a Barclays account.Suitable for: ✓ Sole traders✓ Small businesses that take occasional paymentsThe best small business card readers: the verdictIf you own a small business that’s just getting off the ground, SumUp and Zettle by PayPal are the ideal first card readers. The fees are reasonable and inline with the functional capabilities of their accompanying software.Fast-growing businesses may want to consider Zettle by PayPal, but it’s the Square card reader and WorldPay card reader that really come up trumps (if you want to compare Square and Zettle by PayPal side by side, we’ve done so in our Square vs Zettle review).Thanks to a vast array of third party integrations, the Square card reader offers businesses the freedom to build a payments package that works for their exact needs.WorldPay is renowned for its security, and it offers preferential rates and packages when its pay-as-you-go fees stop becoming cost-effective.Because the Verifone V240M card reader only needs GPRS to process transactions, it’s worth investigating if you’re looking for a card reader that works in remote locations.While its built-in POS is fairly simple, its offering of third party integrations and option to add on things like analytics and payment gateways make it a suitable option for a wide variety of businesses.There’s no doubt that the Barclays Anywhere card reader is the most basic out of our selection but it still has a place – particularly for sole traders who want a cheap, fuss-free way to take card payments. If you’re still not certain about which card reader is best for your small business, the startups comparison tool is a good way to find out. Our merchant accounts team have put together a simple questionnaire that pairs businesses with the right providers based on their answers.Speak to the right people from the offset and compare fees from card reader providers that best match your needs. The service is free and has been used by over a thousand businesses in 2020 alone. Why not give it a go? Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Aimee Bradshaw Senior Writer Aimee is Startups' resident expert in business tech, products, and services. She loves a great story and enjoys chatting to the startups and small business community. Starting her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she has a healthy respect for self-starters and local services.