9 Best Card Machines for Small Businesses in 2024

Woman holding a card reader

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According to our independent research, Zettle Card Reader 2 is the best card machine for small businesses. It's inexpensive, easy to use, comes with robust reporting tools, and offers a convenient EPOS system integration.

Card payments are predicted to account for 94% of UK transactions by 2031, so it's crucial your business has a card machine that can process payments efficiently with budget-friendly transaction fees. Whether you're looking for your first card machine or want to switch, our reviews can help you choose the right machine for your business.

What are the Best Card Machines and Readers?

Based on our research, these are our recommended card machines. Clicking the links below will enable you to compare tailored prices via our cost comparison tool.

  1. Zettle Card Reader 2 Best overall
  2. Revolut Reader Best for cheap transaction fees
  3. Square Reader Best for faster payouts
  4. Ingenico Desk 5000 Best for integrations
  5. Verifone V200c Best for fast payment processing
  6. Castles VEGA3000 Best for new merchants
  7. Ingenico iWL series  Best for outdoor spaces
  8. Verifone VX 680  Best for sturdiness
  9. Ingenico Move 5000  Best for high-end retail

With rising costs in the UK, finding an affordable card machine deal is more important than ever. A quick and easy way to do this with our free quote comparison tool. Simply tell us the needs of your business and we'll match you with suitable providers. They'll be in contact with obligation-free quotes that are tailored to you.

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The best card machines for small businesses

We've rounded up some of the best mobile, countertop and portable card machines to help you make the right decision for your business.

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Zettle Reader 2

Revolut Reader

Square Reader

Ingenico Desk 5000

Verifone V200c

Castles VEGA3000

Ingenico iWL series

Verifone VX 680

Ingenico Move 5000

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Portable

Card Machine Type

Portable

Card Machine Type

Portable

Best For

Features

Best For

Cheap transaction fees

Best For

Faster payouts

Best For

Integrations

Best For

Fast payment processing

Best For

New merchants

Best For

Outdoor spaces

Best For

Sturdiness

Best For

High-end hospitality

Hardware Cost

From £29 + VAT

Hardware Cost

£49 + VAT

Hardware Cost

From £19 + VAT

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Hardware Cost

Available on request

Transaction fee

1.75%

Transaction fee

From 1% + 20p online
0.8% + 2p in person

Transaction fee
  • 1.75% for card transactions
  • 2.5% for payment links and invoices
Transaction fee

From 1-1.5%

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

1-1.5%

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

24/7

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-8pm Mon-Sat

Customer Support

Online only

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-8pm Mon-Sat

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri

Below you'll find more information about the features, functions, pros, and cons of each machine as well as tips for which kind of business they're best suited to.

1. Zettle Card Reader 2

Best overall card machine for small businesses

zettle logo
Zettle Card Reader 2
4.8
Pricing £59 (excl. VAT)
Quick overview

Zettle is a practical merchant account that has plenty to offer you. Its low cost, combined with its sales forecasting and inventory management tools, make it the best mobile merchant account for small businesses. Low cost is one of provider’s biggest selling points, although it does pack a considerably high 1.75% transaction fee.

Strengths

Supports all 25 major currencies

No monthly costs, and affordable rates across the board

Offers a wide range of EPOS systems to complement its card reader

Fully PCI and EMV compliant

Simple to set up and use

Weaknesses

No virtual terminal service

Ecommerce services are only available via an additional third-party integration with Selz

No weekend or evening customer support

Some reviews suggest that the company is still undergoing a few ‘teething’ problems as a result of the PayPal acquisition

Pricing
Card readerTransaction fee (in-person)Invoicing/payment linksPayPal-generated QR codes
£59 (excl. VAT) 1.75% 2.5% 1%

Zettle Card Reader 2's key features

  • No fixed-term contract
  • Takes contactless payments in 5 seconds and card payments in 10 seconds
  • Transfers funds in up to two working days
  • Keyboard-operated
  • Eight-hour battery life
  • Comes in black or white

Payments accepted

Logos representing the payment types accepted by Zettle

What's Zettle Card Reader 2's main draw?

Zettle offers a lot of payment processing products in one service, which makes it a great choice for small businesses looking for the best value for money. It is also associated with PayPal, so this reader is coupled with a payment gateway, which is a helpful addition if you're also looking to take payments online via an ecommerce website.

The Zettle Card Reader 2 offers an intuitive user experience and has a no-frills, clean design that only features a keyboard and a small display. It's straightforward to get the hang of and use, which is reassuring if you're new to card machines.

How does the Zettle Card Reader 2 compare with its competitors?

Zettle offers good value for money, occupying a solid middle ground between Square and Revolut, the other mobile card readers on this list. At £29 + VAT, it's more expensive than the Square Reader (which costs £19 + VAT), but considerably cheaper than a Revolut Reader (which will set you back £49 + VAT).

The Zettle Card Reader 2 comes with an excellent range of reporting tools, including sales analytics and forecasting, inventory management, staff hours, and sell on the go reporting. In comparison, Square's reporting tools are similarly extensive – and also include reports on discounts, taxes, and feedback – but Revolut comes with a smaller range of analytics capabilities, with just spend management and team management on offer.

If you'd like to take payments in other currencies, Zettle Card Reader supports 25, while Revolut supports 30. Square falls down here, as it doesn't support any currencies other than GBP. Of course, this won't be an important factor for all small businesses, but it's worth considering if it's relevant to you.

Overall, if you're looking for a mobile card reader that can help you track sales and manage inventory, the Zettle Card Reader 2 is a great choice.

A Zettle card reader on a counter
We examined this Zettle Card Reader 2 as it took payments at Batch1 at Boxpark, London

What do users think of Zettle Card Reader 2?

Hannah Bailey of Batch1 told us she likes Zettle Card Reader's 2 portability. “If you have someone on the other side of the desk that's chatting to you, you can quickly take a sale of someone who just wants to be in and out.”

Meanwhile, Sugar & Style's Jessica Bedoya praised the reader's ease of use. “If you do the wrong thing, you just swipe and delete it. It's very user-friendly, very straightforward, especially for someone that's new [to it].”

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2. Revolut Reader

Best for cheap transaction fees

Revolut Logo
Revolut
4.8
Pricing £49 (exc. VAT)
Quick overview

Revolut takes second place in our research, scoring an overall 4.8/5. Revolut has been declared as the best for cheap transaction fees, at 0.8% +2p for in-person transactions and 1% +20p for online transactions. As this is typically the only recurring fee, this is great for small businesses that keep a close eye on their purse strings.

Strengths

Cheap transaction fees

30+ integrations

Weaknesses

Lack of email support

Pricing
Cost typePrice
Hardware £49
In-person transaction fee 0.8% +2p
Online transaction 1% +20p

Revolut Reader's key features

  • No fixed-term contract
  • Takes payments in 5 seconds
  • Transfers funds in up to three working days
  • Touchscreen-operated

Payments accepted

Logos representing the payment types accepted by Revolut

What's Revolut Reader's main draw?

The Revolut Reader is great for small businesses that deal with large sales volumes such as cafes or takeaway eateries – because they can benefit from the low transaction rates offered by this reader.

How does Revolut Reader compare to its competitors?

One of our highest-rated mobile card readers, the Revolut Reader offers low transaction fees, which is a boon if your business deals with high sales volumes. At 0.8% + 2p, its in-person transaction fee is far cheaper than Zettle's and Square's – both of which are 1.75% per sale.

Revolut supports payments from over 30 different currencies, which is more than Zettle's 25 supported currencies, and a huge step up from Square, which doesn’t support multi-currency payments at all. If your business sells internationally, this is certainly something worth considering.

However, Revolut comes up short when it comes to reporting, and the kinds of payments it can accept. With tools for spend management and team management, Revolut's analytics capabilities are less robust than those provided by Zettle (which also includes sales forecasting and inventory management) and Square, which also offers reporting on discounts and taxes. Revolut also accepts fewer payment types than Zettle, with methods including American Express and Discover missing from Revolut's roster.

3. Square Reader

Best for fast payouts

SQUARE LOGO
Square card reader
4.4
Pricing From £19 + VAT
Quick overview

With a range of versatile, mobile card machines for small businesses (and a sumptuous set of POS equipment to boot) Square is well-suited to forward-thinking merchants – particularly those with an eye for aesthetics. This reader connects wirelessly to Android and iOS devices, and can accept Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, as well as the usual card providers. And If you upgrade to Square’s instant deposits, you’ll see payments in your account within 20 minutes.

Strengths

Provides next-day deposits into your business bank account

Fully PCI compliant

Outstanding customer reviews

Real-time sales reporting and analytics

No credit check required

No contracts or long-term commitments

Weaknesses

Because it lacks a pin pad, it’s a tad less user-friendly than other credit card machines on this list

No 24/7 phone support

Doesn’t currently support JCB, Union Pay, or Discover in the UK

Pricing
Card readerTransaction fee (in-person)Online transaction feeVirtual terminal fee
£19 (excl. VAT) 1.75% 1.4% + 25p for UK cards, 2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards 2.5%

Square Reader's key features

  • No fixed-term contract
  • Transfer funds by next working day
  • Battery life of 2nd generation (2023 model) lasts over a day
  • The provider also offers a web builder

Payments accepted

Logos representing the payment types accepted by Square

What's Square Reader's main draw?

Due to its swift payout time, the Square Reader is the best choice if your business relies on quick cash flow. It'll transfer your customers' payments to your business bank account by the next working day, which is the fastest payout time highlighted by our extensive analysis of the UK market's top card machine providers.

How does Square Reader compare to its competitors?

While Square has a higher transaction fee (1.75%) than Revolut's (0.8% + 2p), the physical Square Reader is the cheapest mobile card reader on this list, at £19 + VAT. In comparison, the Zettle Card Reader 2 costs £29 + VAT, and the Revolut Reader costs £49 + VAT.

Buying the Square Reader will give you to access to the Square app, which integrates with numerous software platforms, including accounting software, appointment scheduling tools, ecommerce website builders, delivery apps, and more. This is helpful if you're looking to build out your operation, or you're already using a few of these apps and want to incorporate them into one system. In comparison, Zettle and Revolut come with far fewer options — something to consider if you use a lot of different software.

It's also worth noting that the Square Reader is a great pick if you plan to open an online shop because, unlike Zettle and Revolut, it gives you access to Square's website builder.

The Square Reader attached to an iPad
Employees at Grind, a café in London, use Square Readers attached to iPads in order to take payments

What do users think of Square Reader?

Katie Dutton, of The Great Frog jewellery shop in London, said she was impressed by how easy the Square Reader is to use. “The interface is really clear. There's nothing really confusing about it. I've got used to till systems, but this was way easier than the ones I've used before.”

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4. Ingenico Desk 5000

Best for integrations

Ingenico Logo
Ingenico Desk 5000
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

The Desk 5000 from Ingenico belongs to a new era of credit card machines, for a new generation of small businesses. Capable of handling just about any payment method you can conceive of – including Apple and Android Pay, as well as all major card types – it’s not only fast; it’s flexible, too. Ingenico’s operating system integrates with a host of smart business apps, so you won’t just be taking payments; you’ll be getting a range of insights into sales and employee performance, too.

Strengths

Affordable

Offers signature capture capabilities for electronic payments and receipt storage

Its operating system, Telium, is one of the most security-focussed on the market

Comes with the pedigree of over 30 years of experience

Jumbo 3.5-inch touchscreen offers superlative levels of user experience

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

No phone-based customer support

Ingenico Desk 5000's key features

  • Payout time depends on provider chosen
  • Available through merchant account providers, such as takepayments
  • Keyboard operated
  • Robust outer casing
  • Prints receipts

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Ingenico Desk 5000's main draw?

Ingenico Desk 5000's countertop design means it's best suited for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations rather than mobile businesses, such as food trucks or mobile salons. Ingenico's integration with other services, including electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems, is also a benefit.

How does Ingenico Desk 5000 compare to its competitors?

The Ingenico Desk 5000 – along with the remainder of the card machines on this list – is a traditional countertop card machine, unlike Zettle's, Revolut's, and Square's readers, which are mobile card machines that can take payments away from the countertop.

Like the Verifone V200c and the Castles VEGA3000, the Ingenico 5000 comes with a receipt printer. If your business prints a lot of receipts during a regular day, you'll find this helpful. Of course, it's possible to obtain a receipt printer with Zettle, Revolut, or Square, but it'll either be an add-on that could be costly (upwards of £200 each), or will be offered as part of a more extensive POS (point of sale) system.

However, the Ingenico 5000's Cortex A5 processor means it processes payments slower than the Verifone V200c, which carries the Cortex A9. This means the latter is a better fit for high-speed hospitality environments.

The Ingenico Desk 5000 on a counter
We observed this Ingenico card machine at a business in Upper Street, London

What do users think of Ingenico Desk 5000?

The manager of Chilango, a Mexican restaurant in North London, said that while the restaurant has had card machines that were easier to use before, the Ingenico Desk 5000 offers a good customer experience. “We've had it for around four months. The one we had before was way easier, as it had less buttons. This one is annoying to get used to, because we have too many options, but for the customer it is pretty easy.”

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5. Verifone V200c

Best for fast payment processing

VERIFONE
Verifone V200c
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

With a trendy, robust design, a powerful processor, and best in class security features, the Verifone V200c is ideal for small businesses looking to get started accepting credit and debit card payments – without breaking the bank! The V200c’s huge memory means it can support a wide range of business apps, which will help you foster greater customer loyalty, and create a more engaging experience at the point of sale.

Strengths

Superb online and phone-based customer support

PCI and EMV compliant

Boasts a whopping 384MB of memory

Works with WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet… and even dialup!

Top-notch customer support

Multimedia capabilities included as standard

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

Not as suitable for seasonal businesses, or those with a smaller sales volume

It’s not a mobile solution, either!

Verifone V200c's key features

  • Payout time depends on the provider chosen
  • Fastest processor among the card machines on this list
  • Prints receipts

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Verifone V200c's main draw?

Verifone V200c's speedy payment processing makes it ideal for fast-paced, high-volume businesses, such as bars and coffee shops. Its Cortex A9 processor means it's poised to help you deal with bottlenecks in service and growing queues during your peak times.

How does Verifone V200c compare to its competitors?

The Verifone V200c comes with a 2.8″ colour LCD display, which is a lot smaller than the 3.5″ display of the Ingenico Desk 5000 and the touchscreen of Castles VEGA3000. This is something to think about if you'd like to be able to see transaction information as clearly as possible, or in large fonts.

On the flip side, the Verifone V200c is faster than its competitors when it comes to payment processing. As we've mentioned, its Cortex A9 processor means it can perform downloads, operations, and print receipts quicker than the other card machines on this list.

The Verifone v200c on a counter
We examined this Verifone card machine as it took payments in a Hotel Chocolat store in North London

What do users think of Verifone V200c?

Tommy at Plaquemine Lock, a pub in North London, described the Verifone V200c as practical and told us that it enhances his clients' experience. “It has lots of options for customers. They can insert their card or use contactless, and the buttons make it much easier for older customers to use.”

However, he also had a few criticisms of the card machine. “The Verifone signal is not great, and it can drop and return sporadically. The touchscreen is also not very responsive on the Verifone card machine.”

6. Castles VEGA3000

Best for new merchants

castles logo
Castles VEGA3000
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

Castles Technology’s VEGA3000 credit card machine for small business is one of the most widely-used countertop devices in the industry; which is reassuring when you’re looking for your very first reader. Boasting wifi, GPRS, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (the full house!), this reliable card machine is simple to use: an imperative for newbies. It also comes equipped with the latest high-tech software to safeguard transactions, assuaging the security concerns you might have when you’re just starting up. Its lightning-quick transaction speeds also make for a positive experience for your customers, which can only serve to help build a good reputation.

Strengths

PCI and EMV compliant

A powerful microprocessor enables speedy payments

Boasts an optional rechargeable backup battery for mobility

Simple to set up and use

Touchscreen model also available

Weaknesses

Customer support could be improved

Opaque pricing

You’ll have to pay extra for its PIN pad privacy shield – and the charging cradle isn’t included as standard, either

Castles VEGA3000's key features

  • Payout time depends on provider chosen
  • Comes in both touchscreen and keyboard-operated versions
  • Prints receipts
  • Detachable battery available as an accessory

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Castles VEGA3000's main draw?

The Castles VEGA3000 is super simple to use, ensuring it's quick for you and your staff to grasp the ins and outs of its functions. This level of simplicity makes it a good option for merchants who are new to using card machines.

How does Castles VEGA3000 compare to its competitors?

Like its countertop competitors, the Castles VEGA3000 accepts all major card types, but also it boasts one of the best user-friendly interfaces on this list. Plus, unlike the Ingenico Desk 5000 and Verifone V200c, this machine offers a detachable battery as an optional feature.

When it comes to processing speed, the Castles VEGA3000 is on par with the Ingenico Desk 5000, but it performs transactions and prints receipts slower than the Verifone V200c. However, it's worth noting that the touchscreen version of this machine comes with a 3.5″ display, like the Ingenico Desk 5000 – which is a bigger display than the Verifone V200c's 2.8″ screen.

7. Ingenico iWL series

Best for outdoor spaces

ingenico logo
Ingenico iWL series
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

Ingenico’s iWL card machine series constitutes a range of lightweight, feature-heavy handheld devices that are ideal for small businesses. You can connect using GPRS, 3G, wifi, or Bluetooth technology, and charge them easily via a set of portable, professional-looking charging ports. What’s more, the iWL card terminals are water and shock resistant, making them an ideal choice if your bar or restaurant operates in an outdoor space.

Strengths

One of the most popular and enduring credit card machine lines in the UK

PCI compliant, and meets the highest industry requirements when it comes to security

Powered by innovative operating system Telium, which offers additional payment services and a library of more than 2,000 applications

The range’s built-in receipt printers are capable of delivering 30 lines per second – the fastest on the market

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

The iWL series isn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing set of devices

No phone-based customer support

Ingenico iWL series' key features

  • Payout time depends on provider chosen
  • Offered by merchant account providers, such as Retail Merchant Services
  • Keyboard-operated
  • One-day battery life
  • Anti-shock system and water resistant

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Ingenico iWL's main draw?

The Ingenico iWL is water resistant and boasts an anti-shock system, which ensures you can take payments no matter the weather conditions. Another plus is that it can also charge in adverse conditions, making it a strong contender if you run a business that's based outdoors, such as a food truck or pop-up garden bar.

How does Ingenico iWL series compare to its competitors?

As expected for a card machine released 11 years ago, the Ingenico iWL's ARM 7 processor has been outpaced by faster card machine processors, such as the Cortex 5 (found in the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000) and the Cortex 9 (found in the Verifone V400m). This means the Ingenico iWL processes payments more slowly than more recent card machines.

Plus, this machine's design is clunkier than mobile card readers Zettle Card Reader 2 and Revolut Reader. Also, at 2.5″, its display is considerably smaller than the the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000 and Verifone V400m's 3.5″ screens.

ingenico iwl card machine being used by a customer
We observed this Ingenico card machine as it took payments for a business on City Road, London

What do users think of Ingenico iWL series?

The owners of the Vibram London Academy, a shoe repair shop in Central London, were quick to tell us that their Ingenico iWL series “does the job.”

However, they did point out some recurring issues: “[The connectivity] fades out sometimes, but that might be to do with our WiFi. Also, it powers off when it’s idle, so sometimes we have to send people to the cash machine.”

8. Verifone V400m

Best for sturdiness

VERIFONE
Verifone V400m
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

The V400m is Verifone’s most compact payment terminal yet, but that doesn’t mean it compromises on features. It boasts Bluetooth, 4G, USB, and wifi connectivity, as well as an almost IMAX-sized colour touchscreen display (despite being, according to Verifone, the world’s smallest full-function payment device). Oh, and when you add in its Herculean battery life and quick processing speeds? Well, then the V400m weighs in as one of the most versatile mobile PDQ machines on the market – not to mention being ideal for small businesses!

Strengths

Durable and reliable

Long-lasting battery and colour touchscreen display

EMV and MSR enabled

Install additional apps to fully customise your small business credit card machine’s user experience

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

Not as highly rated by customers as models from some of its competitors

Verifone V400m's key features

  • No fixed-term contract
  • Payout time depends on provider chosen
  • Available through Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system providers, such as Lightspeed
  • Works with both keyboard and touchscreen
  • Sturdy casing
  • 3.5” colour display
  • Prints receipts

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Verifone V400m's main draw?

The Verifone V400m's sturdy casing makes it a great choice for businesses that need a portable and durable option. For instance, it could work well for a restaurateur in need of a mobile card machine.

How does Verifone V400m compare to its competitors?

Lasting for a day, Verifone V400m's battery life is on par with its competitors. However, this device processes payments faster than the Ingenico iWL series, and it also packs more ready-made integrations than its predecessor. While it doesn't come with a barcode scanner, it can be connected to one. This means it's not as practical as Ingenico Tetra Move 5000.

verifone v400m on a counter
We examined this portable Verifone card machine at a pub in Old Street, London

What do users think of Verifone V400m?

We spoke to business owners and employees based in London who use Verifone card machines to accept payments.

Kayley at Sports Bar & Grill told us: “Because it's programmed into my tills, it's so much quicker [than a previous model we used] when it comes to making a sale. It's also quite easy for customers to use.”

Overall, she says, the card machine has been quite stress-free to use. “We sometimes can have problems with the signal dropping but, otherwise, it works fine. The signal can drop once every two or three months, so it's not very often.”

9. Ingenico Tetra Move 5000

Best for high-end retail

ingenico logo
Ingenico Tetra Move 5000
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

With a slick touchscreen, sleek design, and highly pushable buttons, the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000 is about as easy on the eyes as they come. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to it than meets the eye, because the Move 5000’s capabilities go well beyond the tabletop. You’ll also get access to Ingenico’s cloud-based reporting and analytical capabilities, and be able to manage your online receipts and transaction history with ease.

Strengths

Compatible with Ingenico’s suite of cloud services, including back office reporting and e-receipt management

Large, 3.5-inch touchscreen

Accepts in-person payments via contactless, swipe and sign, and chip and PIN, as well as mobile wallets

PCI and EMV compliant

Weaknesses

Slightly more expensive than some of Ingenico’s other card terminals

The higher monthly costs may not be worthwhile for seasonal businesses, or those with a smaller sales volume

Ingenico Tetra Move 5000's key features

  • Requires fixed-term contract (usually, 18 months)
  • Payout time depends on provider chosen
  • Available through merchant account providers, such as takepayments
  • Works with keyboard and touchscreen
  • Prints receipts
  • Includes a barcode scanner and a rear camera
  • Connects to the mains and is battery powered

Payments accepted

Logos showing payment types accepted

What's Ingenico Tetra Move 5000's main draw?

Ingenico Tetra Move 5000 is the combination of a barcode scanner and a rear camera in one portable device, making it best suited for high-end, sophisticated retail environments (such as a high street boutique).

How does Ingenico Tetra Move 5000 compare to its competitors?

Ingenico Tetra Move 5000's Cortex A5 processor is faster than the Ingenico iWL series' ARM 7. However, it still lags behind the Verifone V400m. Its battery life lasts for a full day, which puts it on par with the Ingenico iWL series, Verifone V400m, and the Square Reader, but it easily beats the Zettle Card Reader 2's battery life of eight hours.

ingenico move 5000 being used by a customer
We experimented with taking payments using this Ingenico card machine in a Pub on City Road, London

What do users think of Ingenico Tetra Move 5000?

The staff at The Angel Pub praised the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000's connectivity, but criticised the fact that the payment taking process isn't straightforward, requiring a lot of admin for each sale.

“When it’s busy, it’s a pain because it takes too long when we’re taking payments. We have to sign in [on the machine] when we take the payment, so we have to press more buttons for that,” they stressed. The team ran a test sale to highlight their pain point. In total, the card machine required them to press nine buttons to carry out one transaction.

The different kinds of card machines for small businesses

We reviewed the best mobile credit card machines, the best countertop credit card machines, and the best portable credit card machines. Below is a recap on each of them:

  • Mobile credit card machines can function without a WiFi connection or power source, so they’re ideal for taking payments in a variety of different locations, including outdoors.
  • Countertop credit card machines are designed to sit in a fixed spot at your premises. They require a power source and an internet connection. You usually see these card machines next to the tills at shops and cafes.
  • Portable credit card machines are battery powered and can connect to your WiFi, so can be used at different locations  at your premises. These are usually used at restaurants and bars.
Customer paying on a portable card machine
Take payments at your customer's table with a portable credit card machine

How we rate card machines

To create an in-depth comparison between card readers, we researched 11 merchant account providers to find the top nine card machines featured on this list.

We looked into the card machines they offered, and analysed them across four categories: price, features, customer support, and customer score. 

  • For price, we looked at account charges and transaction fees.
  • For features, we researched the integration possibilities and the reporting tools on offer.
  • When it came to customer support, we verified the support channels and the opening hours.
  • We then generated a customer score by compiling data from various online review aggregators, such as Trustpilot. We also took the feedback the companies received into account.

With that data in hand, we ranked our findings, giving features that benefit small business a heavier weight. For instance, ease of use, low cost, and sturdiness are variables that ensured particular readers made the cut, such as the Square Reader and the Verifone V400m.

Verdict

With its pocket-friendly ease of use and convenient EPOS functionality, the mobile Zettle Card Reader 2 is our top card machine for small businesses. If you’re in need of a countertop machine, then the Ingenico Tetra Desk 5000 is our top pick for this category as it offers numerous integrations.

Ultimately, the best card machine will depend entirely on the unique set of needs of your small business. A few key factors you’ll need to consider include upfront costs, transaction fees and other charges, and user-friendliness.

To help you pick the right card reader for your small business, use our free quote-finding tool. We’ll match your business with the credit card machine suppliers that meet your requirements, and they’ll be in touch with obligation-free quotes and advice.

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FAQs

What's the cheapest way to take card payments?
According to our research, Retail Merchant Services is the cheapest way to take payments. The provider is a merchant account that works with an array of Ingenico and Verifone card machines. While it has a minimum monthly account fee of £10, it packs some of the cheapest transaction rates out there: 0.4% for debit cards and 0.8% for credit cards.
How do I get a card machine for my small business?
You can purchase a credit card machine for your small business directly through the supplier (as is the case with models from Zettle, Revolut, and Square), or rent one as part of an agreement with a merchant account provider.
Do you need a business account for a card machine?
You don't need a business account to operate a card machine, but you do need a merchant account service. This service will store the funds during the period between the transaction and the payout.
What’s the cost of a card machine for a small business?
Card machines can cost between £7 and £45, depending on which type you go for.

If you’re opting for a mobile card reader, you’ll pay just a once-off fee to purchase the device, typically anywhere between £16 and £45 (excl. VAT). However, you will be charged a transaction fee of around 1.69% to 2.5% per sale.

This contrasts with the monthly rental fees you’ll have to pay to secure the services of a portable or countertop card machine for your small business. Costs range between £7 and £30 per month, with transaction fees ringing between 1% to 1.5% per sale.

Are there free wireless card machines for small businesses?
There aren't free wireless card machines. Even if a provider decides to waive the cost of you buying or renting the machine itself, it'll still take a cut of every sale you process via transaction fees.
Can I get a small business card machine without a contract?
Yes! Contract-free plans are usually more common among mobile card readers, such as Square and Zettle. This gives you the flexibility to opt out when you want to.
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Written by:
Rob Binns
Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.
Reviewed by:
Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.