Do I Need a Card Payment Reader | Small Business & Startups

Updated:
January 26, 2022
By:
Laura Smith

How do I get a debit machine for my business?


Well, if you have a small business you almost certainly need a card machine.  In the UK we are definitely a nation of card lovers! Know you need a card machine but are not sure where to start?


We’ll take you through everything you need to know about taking card payments, the types of card readers available, and what you’ll need to do to get your business up and running with taking payments.


What is a card reader?


So first off, what is a card reader or card machine?  Well, it's the bit of tech that most businesses have so that they can take your money via card payment. It reads your debit or credit card via a contactless tap from your card or by inserting the card and entering the chip and pin. 


If you want to be able to process your customer payments via card rather than cash then you will need a card payment machine.


How do card readers work?


Card reader technology works by extracting information from a customer's credit or debit card and transmitting it to the payment processor.  It then collects information from the customer's bank and when the card reader detects available funds, the transaction is approved.


Traditionally, the device consists of a screen and keypad as well as multiple features that enable some form of engagement with the payment card.


Review of best card readers for small businesses


Picking a card reader can be a hassle for any business. Searching through all the different options can be a daunting task as there are so many companies offering payment processing services.

There's a wide range of card payment providers, each with benefits and drawbacks that fall into two categories:

  • The new fintech generation (SumUp, Shopify, Square & Zettle) takes a percentage of every transaction and has rock bottom startup fees. Most of these providers have free software, and their card readers cost around £40.

  • Traditional merchant card machine providers like Worldpay and Barclaycard Business that mainly cater to high revenue businesses. These providers tend to charge flat monthly rental fees and prearranged charges per transaction; expensive for startups but essential for businesses regularly accepting large payments. 

Do I Really Need a Card Reader?

There are plenty of payment options flooding the market. While a card machine may seem like a simple option for your small business, there are a few reasons you might want to review a decision to get a card payment machine.


Ecommerce Websites

If you trade via your own website, opensource platforms and plugins such as WooCommerce can support businesses in establishing an e-commerce function within their own site so you won't need a card reader.

Trades or Service Focused Enterprise

Businesses focused on services or trade may use an invoicing model rather than card payment on the job. Invoicing clients may sometimes seem like a slow and outdated method of taking payments, we think it is still a great way to be paid for professional services. As a business owner you can always use invoice communication as a way to speed up customers who pay late.

Cash Only

The Covid-19 pandemic means less of us than ever are carrying cash, so it may be worth exploring options to ensure you don’t lose out on valuable business as a result of only accepting cash payments.

Read our full review of card readers for your small business here