Credit card machines for small businesses

Credit card machines for small businesses


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There are lots of options when it comes to credit card machines for small businesses. We cover the different types, compare providers, and look at the cost of card machines for small businesses - to help you make a decision.

How to select a credit card machine for my business?

When it comes to choosing a card machine, you have a choice between portable, countertop, or mobile credit card machines for your small business. Figuring out which option is most appropriate will be determined by a number of factors such as the size of your business, your industry and your budget.

What are portable card machines?

All card machines allow businesses to receive payments by a card, but a portable card machine is completely wireless and therefore isn’t restricted to one area. As long as you have WiFi, you can move around and accept payments.

Portable card machines are ideal for small businesses that want to take payments all around their business premises. Not only does this make the customer experience even better, but by going to your customer to make a payment directly, you're more likely to avoid long queues building up at your till.

Recommended for:

  • cafes
  • restaurants
  • outdoor / portable businesses

Countertop credit card machines

Traditionally, countertop credit card machines have been the most popular option when it comes to small business card payments. This option works best for businesses that have a specific location for visitors to make payments, such as a grocery shop check-out.

Using countertop credit card machines is one of the most reliable payment options for businesses. The card machine is connected electronically to a merchant account provider, allowing payments to be collected on the go rather than offline.

Recommended for:

  • retail shops
  • sports centres
  • grocery shops

Mobile credit card machines for small business

Another small business card payments option is a mobile credit card machine. Also known as app-based machines, they work by connecting to an app on your smartphone. Here, you’ll be able to manage all transactions, refunds and sales.

Benefits of mobile credit card machines for small businesses

  • completely wireless so you're able to take payments from wherever you have internet, making them great for trade shows and events (portable card machines often require an ethernet connection)
  • most come with 10+ hours of battery life so you don’t need to worry about charging them throughout the day
  • lightweight and less bulky than others –you just need your phone to take payments
  • associated fees tend to be lower compared with traditional countertop card machines
  • secure way to take payments, which not only boosts brand reputation but also the overall customer experience.

Limitations of mobile credit card machines for small businesses

  • Some mobile credit card machines require specific operating systems like iOS or Android in order to run
  • you can’t always enter cash payments, making it hard to keep on top of these transactions
  • it’s important to check the associated fees with any card machine. While mobile card machines usually have a cheaper monthly fee, they do charge per transaction, which can mount up.

Recommended for:

  • food trucks
  • barbers & hair salons
  • pop up shops

Credit card machine providers

When selecting a credit card machine provider, it’s important to consider both the upfront cost and transaction fees. Here are some popular providers and their pricing:


  • £29 +VAT for the machine (Zettle Reader 2)
  • pay 1.75% per transaction with no fixed fees
  • choose between Zettle Reader 2 or Zettle Terminal (additional cost)


  • £16 +VAT for the machine (Square Reader)
  • pay 1.75 % per transaction with no fixed fees
  • terminal, stand, and register options available (additional costs)


  • £29 +VAT for the machine (SumUp Air)
  • pay 1.69% per transaction with no monthly fees
  • four devices to choose from (ranging in price)


  • priced at £20 per month
  • £0.0385 per authorisation and £0.50 per refund transaction
  • pays exit fees up to £3,000 if you’re with another provider

The cost of card machines for small businesses

The cost of your credit card machine will depend entirely on the pricing model that you opt for. From the options above, Square, Zettle, and SumUp all have a low upfront cost but take a larger percentage from each transaction. In contrast, Dojo charges a monthly fee of £20 but has much lower transaction fees for authorisations. So, thinking about the number and value of transactions that you’ll be taking will help to make an informed decision.

Is a credit card machine right for you?

The best type of card machine will depend entirely on your business needs and how frequently you need to collect payments in person. You should also think about your business size, location, growth plans, and machine charges.

Instead of small business card payments, you might prefer to use online payment methods, bank transactions or even stick to cash. For example, if you’re looking to get your invoices paid fast, you might want to consider iwocaPay.

Article updated on:
February 15, 2024

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Credit card machines for small businesses

With over 7 million people choosing to go cashless every day, digital payments have become the preferred payment option for many consumers. So, offering customers the choice between cash and digital payments ensures that you’re not leaving money on the table.

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