Best Card Machines for Small Businesses in 2024

Blonde woman paying with cellphone resting in cafe while waitress holding payment terminal

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It’s never been more important for small businesses to lower the cost of taking card payments, with cards accounting for 85% of retail spending in 2023 in the UK, according to The British Retail Consortium.

We tested several card machines, and found that the takepaymentsplus, Zettle Card Reader 2, and Revolut Reader are the three best ones for small businesses. They have low or no monthly fees, so you can minimise overheads and focus on making your business thrive.

Keep reading to find out more about each card machine, and if none of the top three are right for your business, don’t worry, we’ve reviewed three other great card machines. Here are the devices worth considering:

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. takepaymentsplus – Best for help and support
  2. Zettle Card Reader 2 Best value for money
  3. Revolut Reader Best for cheap transaction fees
  4. Square Reader Best for quick payouts
  5. SumUp Air  Best for businesses on the go
  6. Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3  Best for online businesses

With the cost of doing business rising in the UK, finding an affordable card machine deal is more important than ever. We can help with that – simply tell us what your business needs and we’ll match you with suitable providers. They’ll be in contact with obligation-free quotes that are tailored to you.

Answer the question below to get started:

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The best card machines for small businesses

Take a look at the below table for a quick summary on the best card machines for small businesses, and read on for our detailed reviews:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

takepaymentsplus

Zettle Reader 2

Revolut Reader

SumUp Air Reader

Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile/Portable

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Best For

Best for quick transfer times

Best For

Best for help and support

Best For

Best value for money

Best For

Best for low transactions fees

Best For

Best for businesses on the go

Best For

Best for online businesses

Hardware Cost
Hardware Cost

£25 (excl. VAT)

Hardware Cost

From £29 + VAT

Hardware Cost

£49 + VAT

Hardware Cost

£49 + VAT

Hardware Cost

£49 + VAT

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

Bespoke

Transaction fee

1.75%

Transaction fee

0.8% + 2p for domestic cards

2.6% + 2p for international cards

Transaction fee
Transaction fee

1.4% + 10p for EEA cards

2.9% + 10p
for non-EEA cards

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am – 7pm Mon-Fri

8am – 6pm Sat

9am – 5pm Sun & Bank Holidays

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

24/7

Customer Support

8am and 7pm Mon-Fri

7am and 5pm Sat-Sun

Customer Support

24/7

1. takepaymentsplus

Best for help and support

takepayments logo featured image
takepaymentsplus
4.9
Pricing £25 per month (excl. VAT)
Strengths

Excellent customer support

Negotiable transaction fees

Extensive tracking and reporting features

Optional built-in SIM card

Weaknesses

Contract termination fee

Pricing only available with a quote

Not good for businesses with a low transaction value

Pricing
Card machineTransaction feeMonthly fee
£25/month Bespoke From £20

Quick takeaways

  • Portable or mobile card machine, depending on contract
  • 18-month contract
  • Transfers funds the next day
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Wifi/Bluetooth/4G connectivity

Payments accepted

The takepaymentsplus accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, AMEX, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

The takepaymentsplus comes with excellent customer support, negotiable fees, and great reporting tools. Plus, it’s got a built-in receipt printer and virtual terminal function, making it the most comprehensive piece of kit on this list.

When it comes to customer support, takepayments has a phone line that’s open even on weekends and bank holidays. Not all card machine providers have this, despite the fact that these are usually the busiest times for small businesses. So if something goes wrong, you can get it fixed quickly.

Transaction fees are negotiable with takepayments. This is a positive if you take regulars card payments and process over £2,000 a month, since you’ll be able to get cheap fees. If you only occasionally take card payments, however, you might prefer choosing a card machine with fixed fees.

The takepaymentsplus is also the only card reader on this list that comes with a fixed term contract and a monthly fee, and isn’t fully transparent with its pricing, since almost everything is negotiable. For this reason, we don’t recommend it for casual ventures, such as side hustles, seasonal vendors, or very new small businesses with a low number of transactions.

This really is a case of you get what you pay for, since the even though the takepaymentsplus might cost more than other cards on this list, it comes with excellent reporting tools, including real-time inventory tracking, employee sales tracking, accounting, and the ability to print detailed receipts.

How does the takepaymentsplus compare with competitors?

The takeaymentsplus is bulkier than all the other card readers on this list, so its not well-suited to on the go selling.

But, if you’re not planning on moving around too much with it, you’ll benefit from great features. For example, the takepayments plus is the only card machine on this list with a built-in receipt printer, and has an optional built-in SIM card, so you don’t have to rely on Bluetooth or Wifi connectivity.

That being said, its the only card reader on this list that doesn’t have transparent pricing, and comes with monthly fees and contract. If you want more flexibility, look to the other card machines on this list.

Who’s it for?

The takepaymentsplus is best suited to more established small businesses that have several employees and a steady flow of card-paying customers, such as cafes, independent stores, or salons.

We don’t recommend it for market vendors or seasonal sellers, since it’s a little bulky (you won’t easily slip this one into your pocket), and because takepayments locks you into a contract.

2. Zettle Card Reader 2

Best value for money

zettle logo
Zettle Card Reader 2
4.9
Pricing From £29 (excl. VAT)
Strengths

No monthly charges, affordable rates

Quick and easy to set up

PCI compliant at no extra cost

Wide range of EPOS integrations

Weaknesses

No built-in SIM card, uses bluetooth to connect to app on phone

No built-in receipt printer

No virtual terminal

Pricing
Card readerTransaction fee (in-person)Monthly fee
From £29 (excl. VAT) 1.75% None

Quick takeaways

  • Mobile card machine
  • No fixed-term contract
  • Transfers funds in 1-2 working days
  • 8-hour battery life (100 transactions)
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Payments accepted

The Zettle Card Reader 2 accepts, Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, AMEX, JCB, UnionPay, Diners Club, Discover, Visa Electron, V pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

If you’re looking for an affordable solution with a comprehensive set of tracking and reporting features, the Zettle Card Reader 2 is a great choice.

Starting at £29 + VAT, with no additional monthly fees, and fixed-rate transaction fees (1.75%), you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying every time you process a card payment with the Zettle Card Reader 2.

It’s also easy to set up via the Zettle POS app, Once it’s up and running, the card reader only takes two seconds to power up, and five seconds to process a contactless payment. The Zettle Card Reader 2 can also accept payments from 14 different card networks, the most of any card reader on this list.

It’s one caveat is that it doesn’t have the cheapest transaction fees on the market, but it’ll work well for businesses that process less than £2,000 in card payments a month, since the lower your transaction count is, the less this will cut into your profits.

It’s also a relatively bare-bones card machine, with just a simple pin pad and no receipt printer, unlike the takepaymentsplus. But, you do have the option of sending receipts via text or email, although this might put off some older customers.

How does the Zettle Card Reader 2 compare with competitors?

At £29 + VAT, the Zettle Card Reader 2 is cheaper than the Revolut Reader and the SumUp Air, which start from £49 and £39 respectively, and only slightly more expensive than the Square Reader (£22.80).

At 1.75%, Zettle’s transaction fees are more expensive than Revolut’s, Stripe’s, and SumUp’s, but its EPOS platform comes with a better set of reporting tools meaning you get more bang for your buck. It’s only beaten by the takepaymentsplus in this department, although this is a pricier option since it comes with monthly fees.

Other card readers don’t have as in-depth features as the Zettle Card Reader 2. The Revolut one only has spend management and team management on offer, and the SumUp Air mainly tracks transactions, payouts, and revenue, offering you fewer features than Zettle for a higher price.

Who’s it for?

With its small size, speed, and mobile nature, the Zettle Card Reader is a good option for pop-up shops, market venders, and food vans.

Plus, since it can accept the widest variety of payment methods of any card reader on this list, it’s a good option for small businesses with a diverse clientele.

However, because of the lack of built-in receipt printer, we wouldn’t recommend the Zettle Card Reader 2 to businesses that accept returns on products, unless you’re willing to pau extra for a printer.

A Zettle card reader on a shop counter
We examined this Zettle Card Reader 2 as it took payments at Batch1 at Boxpark, London. Source: Expert Market

What do users think of it?

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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3. Revolut Reader

Best for cheap transaction fees

Revolut Logo
Revolut
4.8
Pricing From £49 (excl. VAT)
Strengths

Transparent pricing

Cheap transaction rates

Compact design

Multi-currency support

Weaknesses

No fraud prevention

Requires a Revolut Business Account

No built-in SIM card, uses bluetooth to connect to app on phone

Pricing
Card machineTransaction feeMonthly fee
From £49 (excl. VAT) 0.8%-2.6% + 2p None

Quick takeaways

  • Mobile card machine
  • No fixed term-contract
  • Transfers funds in 1-2 business days
  • All-day battery life (200 transactions)
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Payments accepted

The Revolut Reader accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

Revolut offers the cheapest transaction fees we’ve come across, at 0.8% +2p for in-person transactions and 1% +20p for online transactions.

These fees are exceptionally low for a zero-contract card machine provider, making it a great option for businesses with a high transaction volume that don’t want to be tied to one provider.

The Revolut Reader is also extremely compact. It’s a small square that can easily fit in a shirt pocket, making it a handy option for on-the-go selling, and it’s got a quick fund-transfer time of one to two days, something that’s beaten only by Square.

Its main downside is that it requires you to sign up to a Revolut Business account in order to get access to it. Given that Revolut has failed to obtain a banking license in the UK for several years now (it’s a finance app), it’s understandable if you don’t want to trust it with your money. Although we should note that Revolut has been awarded bank status in the EU.

Not helping with its trustworthiness is the fact that the Revolut Reader doesn’t have fraud prevention (the only card machine on this list that doesn’t).

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.

Who’s it for?

The Revolut Reader is great for small businesses that deal with large sales volumes such as food trucks or takeaway eateries – as they can benefit from these low transaction rates.

Because it has zero monthly fees and doesn’t lock you into a contract, it could also be a good option for pop-up vendors who are expecting large sales volumes but sell infrequently.

4. Square Reader

Best for quick payouts

SQUARE LOGO
Square Reader
4.6
Pricing £22.80 (incl. VAT)
Strengths

Provides next-day deposits into your business bank account

No credit check required

Versatile and scalable EPOS system

Weaknesses

No built-in SIM card, uses bluetooth to connect to app on phone

Doesn’t accept UnionPay, JCB, Diners Club or Discover

Customer support isn’t great

Pricing
Card machineTransaction feeMonthly fee
£22.80 (incl. VAT) 1.75% None

Quick takeaways

  • Mobile card machine
  • No fixed-term contract
  • Transfers funds the next business day
  • 8-10 hour battery life
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Payments accepted

The Square Reader accepts Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, AMEX, Visa Electron, Vpay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

Due to its swift payout time, the Square Reader is a great 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, faster than most of the UK market’s top card machine providers.

You can see payments in your account even faster – within 20 minutes – if you upgrade to Square’s Instant Transfers setting, at the cost of an extra 1% transaction fee.

Square’s EPOS app is also very versatile and scalable. As your business grows, you can upgrade to a more comprehensive EPOS system (for a monthly fee). You can either create a customised system with add-ons, or opt for one of Square’s pre-set plans, which start from £29 a month.

It’s also worth noting that the Square Reader is a great pick if you plan to open an online shop because it integrates seamlessly with Square’s website builder.

That being said, Square only accepts nine different payment methods, the second lowest number after Revoluts’ six. Its customer service also isn’t great, with phone lines only open 9-5pm on weekdays. That means that if you encounter an issue, you might have trouble getting help.

How does the Square Reader compare with competitors?

The Square Reader is the cheapest mobile card reader on our list, at £22.80 with VAT. It also comes with a free Square EPOS app, which is one of the best on the market, and has far more features than the Zettle and Revolut equivalents.

For example, Square can integrate with numerous software platforms, including accounting software, appointment scheduling tools, ecommerce website builders, delivery apps, and more. This is great 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 fewer ready-made integrations, although they do have the basics such as Quickbooks — something to consider if you use a lot of different software.

The Square Reader is also the lightest and most compact reader on this list, with the Revolut Reader being a close second. So, if portability is important to you, this is the card reader to go for.

Who’s it for?

The Square Reader is a good option for market vendors or food trucks, or even restaurant workers, because of its tiny size.

It’s an especially good option for small businesses looking to scale up, since Square has paid plans that offer more in-depth features, and lower transaction fees. Square can also provide hardware for retail stores and restaurants, such as barcode scanners and large EPOS terminals.

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. Source: Expert Market

What do users think of it?

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.”

5. SumUp Air

Best for businesses on the go

SumUp Air
4.5
Pricing £39 (excl. VAT)
Strengths

Easy to use and set up

Optional free business bank account and card

Long battery life

Weaknesses

Slightly slow fund transfer time if not on the Business Account

EPOS features are a little limited

No built-in SIM card, uses bluetooth to connect to app on phone

Pricing
Card machineTransaction feeMonthly fee
£39 (excl. VAT) 1.69% None

Quick takeaways

  • Mobile card machine
  • No fixed-term contract
  • Transfers funds in 1-3 working days
  • 12-hour battery life (500 transactions)
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Payments accepted

The SumUp Air accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, AMEX, Discover, Diners Club, Union Pay, Vpay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

The SumUp Air, like many card machines on this list, is a great choice for small businesses that sell on-the-go, because of its affordability, mobile nature, and compact size.

It comes with a free SumUp business bank account and card, which we recommend you use if you want access to your money sooner. Transfers to the SumUp Business Account only take one day, including on weekends, compared to the up to three business days it takes if you’re on a separate merchant account. The free Business Account also reduces your transaction fee from 1.69% to 1.49%, another perk.

The SumUp Air has a 12-hour battery life, one of the longest for such a compact mobile card reader, so it’ll last you all day long.

However, its reporting and management features are a little limited, only giving you reports on sales and revenue, payouts, and transactions.

How does the SumUp Air compare with competitors?

At £39, the SumUp Air is more expensive than Square or Zettle’s card readers, which start from £29 + VAT and £22.80 respectively. It does, however, have lower transaction fees, at 1.69% (or 1.49% with a SumUp Business Account), compared to Square and Zettle’s 1.75%.

The SumUp Business Account also gives you access to a faster payout time – next day transfers – compared to takepayments and Stripe, which make you wait a few days.

Square, Zettle, and takepayments have better management and reporting features than SumUp, since they also have team and inventory management functions.

On the upside, SumUp’s support team is available at weekends, unlike Zettle and Square’s teams, which is a huge plus if your business operates during these hours. The SumUp Air also has a 12-hour battery life, the second-longest after the Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3’s 15-hours.

Who’s it for?

The SumUp Air is most suited to small businesses that have a team of one or two people, such as tradesmen, and taxi drivers.

The main reasons being that it’s compact, while still featuring a pin pad, making it easy to accept chip and pin payments for higher cost transactions.

We wouldn’t recommend it to businesses with large teams, such as restaurants or cafes, since its reporting and team management features are limited.

6. Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3

Best for online businesses

Stripe logo
Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3
4.5
Pricing £49 (incl. VAT)
Strengths

Consolidates online and in-store payments (if using Stripe Terminal)

Multi-currency support

Comprehensive reporting tools

Weaknesses

Slow fund transfer time

EPOS system not the easiest to use

Pricing
Card machineTransaction feeMonthly fee
£49 (incl. VAT) 1.4%-2.9% + 10p None

Quick takeaways

  • Mobile card machine
  • No fixed-term contract
  • Transfers funds in up to seven business days
  • 15-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Payments accepted

The Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Why do we recommend it for small businesses?

The Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 is a great card reader for small businesses who primarily sell online using Stripe’s payment platform, but  that want to take occasional in-person payments.

That’s because Stripe is also an online payment gateway provider, making it easier to consolidate payments across platforms.

Stripe offers relatively low transaction fees, at 1.4% + 10p for all European card transactions, and 2.9% + 10p for non-European cards, making it a great choice if your customer base is international.

The Stripe BBPOS WisePad connects to Stripe’s EPOS terminal via Bluetooth, which offers a streamlined EPOS solution for those using Stripe for online payments. It can also be connected to a third party EPOS system.

The Stripe Terminal, which is the POS app that comes with the BBPOS WisePad, has a comprehensive range of features, including real-time reporting on charge, fee, refund and transfers, as well as reports on payment methods and currencies.

That being said, Stripe has a very slow fund-transfer time. It can take up to seven days to receive your money, more than double what other providers on this list average. Stripe’s EPOS system can also be a little tricky to use for the uninitiated.

How does the Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 compare with competitors?

Stripe wins out over the competition when it comes to international transactions. The Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 supports over 125 currencies, while the Zettle Card Reader supports only 25, and the Revolut Reader supports 30. Stripe also doesn’t markup transaction fees for European cards, whereas every other provider on this list does.

On the other hand, the Stripe EPOS system is probably the least intuitive on this list. If you want to connect your card reader to Stripe’s EPOS terminal, you’ll need to know a little code, or hire a web developer, especially if you want to personalise the platform. This isn’t the case for any of the other card machines on this list.

Stripe also has a very long fund transfer time – up to seven business days – the longest of any provider on this list. takepayments and Square can get you your money the next day, and Revolut and Zettle can do it in two business days. Stripe does give you the option of getting instant payouts, but it costs an extra 1% for each transaction.

Who’s it for?

The Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 is best suited for businesses who primarily sell online with Stripe and take occasional in-person payments, for example, with pop-up shops.

It’s an especially good option if you have international clientele, since transaction fees are the same for UK cards and European cards.

We wouldn’t, however, recommend the Stripe BBPOS WisePad 3 if you’re just starting out card taking payments, since it requires some technical expertise.

▶ Looking for a more traditional card machine?: For our verdict on a card machine provider that’s been around for a while, check out our VeriFone review.

Buying guide: How to choose a small business card machine

Here are a few factors every small business owner should consider when choosing which card machine to go for:

Card machine price (one off vs. monthly payments)

Whether you choose to purchase your card machine outright or rent it for a monthly fee really depends on your business. Providers that offer monthly rental fees tend to have negotiable transaction rates, which works best for small businesses that process a lot of card payments (over £2,000 worth a month), and need several card machines.

Businesses that process fewer card payments and only need one or two machines are better off buying one outright.

Transaction fees

Some card machines come with flat rate transaction fees, which means you pay the same fee every time, while others have variable rates depending on the card type. Variable rates offer better value for money if you process a lot of card payments, while flat rates work better for small businesses with lower sales volumes.

Fund transfer time

Does your business need quick access to profits? If that’s the case, you’ll want to choose a card machine provider that transfers funds in one to two business days. Some can even offer instant access to funds, although this typically comes with an added fee.

The slowest transfer time we’ve seen is Stripe’s full week, but one to three business days is the industry standard.

Ease of use

Ease of use is important, especially if your business is just starting out. The most user friendly card machines come with one app on which you can track sales all in one place. The downside is that this type of software often has limited reporting tools.

Unfortunately, the more in-depth a platform’s sales and management features become, the less user friendly it tends to be. But if your business requires advanced functions, you’re probably not new to taking card payments, and know your way around an EPOS system.

Ready-made software integrations

If you’re planning on growing your business, or already have software that you use – accounting software, for example – make sure the card machine you choose can integrate with it.

Some providers, such as Square, allow for near countless integrations, while others, such as Stripe, are more limited.

PCI compliance and fraud prevention measures

Choosing a card machine that’s PCI compliant and has fraud prevention measures will protect both your business and your customers’ sensitive data.

It’s not a legal requirement in the UK, but all card networks require it, and can fine your bank if you don’t comply. This fine usually gets passed on to you, so it’s best to stay compliant.

Type of business

The type of business you run will have a big impact on which card machine is best for you.

Mobile businesses, such as sole traders and food trucks, will benefit from a card machine with a good battery life. Outdoor businesses such as market stalls and food trucks will want to choose a card machine with a built-in SIM card for reliable 3G connectivity, and shops could benefit from a system with inventory tracking features.

For our list of the best mobile card readers for small businesses, head over to our page.

Help and support

A good card machine shouldn’t cause you trouble very often, but if something does go wrong, you’ll want to have a readily available support service.

Think about when your business operates. If you’re active on the weekends, it’s a good idea to go with a provider whose customer service team is open on those days.

Some card machine providers have community centres on their websites. It’s worth considering going with a provider that has one, as they’re usually good resources for quick troubleshooting, especially if you can’t get hold of the support team.

How much should I spend on a card machine?

If you’re buying a card machine outright, you should expect to spend £20-50 on a mobile card reader, and £80-£180 on a portable one.

That’s why we recommend mobile card readers for small businesses, they’re cheap, compact, and versatile, and often come with core (but not overly sophisticated) functionality.

Countertop card machines are much more expensive as a standalone product, up to £400, but they’re usually rented instead of purchased outright. Renting any type of card machine costs £10-£40 a month.

Transaction fees with providers that offer a monthly plan are usually cheaper than with providers that sell card machines upfront, 0.1%-0.2% + 20p-50p compared to 1.5%-1.8%.

There aren’t any free card machines available for small businesses unfortunately, but if you’re looking for cheap ways to take card payments, our guide has got you covered.

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 six 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.

  • Price: we looked at account charges and transaction fees.
  • Features: we researched the integration possibilities and the reporting tools on offer.
  • Customer support: we verified the support channels and the opening hours.
  • Customer feedback: we generated this 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 businesses 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.

Verdict

Ultimately, the best card machine for you 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.

The takepaymentsplus reader is a good option for retail stores and restaurants, and the Zettle Card Reader 2 offers good value for money for small vendors. The SumUp Air will also suit small teams, and its long battery life makes it perfect for businesses on the move, such as tradesmen.

The Revolut Reader is our pick for a no strings attached, low transaction fee card machine.

FAQs

Are there card machines with no transactions fees?
Unfortunately, there are no card machines that don’t charge transaction fees. Processing card transactions is a service, and so, like most services, comes with a fee.

If you’re looking for a card machine wit cheap fees, look to the Revolut Reader, which charges 0.8% + 2p. To find out more about card processing fees and why they exist, head over to our guide.

What's the best card reader for selling products at markets?
We’d recommend the Zettle Reader 2 or the Square Reader for selling at markets, since they’re compact and have a long battery life.
Written by:
Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana is Expert Market's resident payments and online growth expert, specialising in (E)POS and merchant accounts, as well as website builders.
Reviewed by:
Julia Watts author headshot photo
Specialising in business software, Julia writes jargon-busting guides about VoIP, fleet management, dash cams, fuel cards, and more. Having spent almost a decade writing for entrepreneurs and reviewing business solutions, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.