Credit Card Machines

The standard way to accept face-to-face credit card payments in the UK is with a Chip and PIN card machine (also known as a PDQ machine or card payment machine).

These are the hand-held devices used in restaurants and shops with a slot for your credit card and a keypad for entering your PIN number.

How Can I Get a Credit Card Machine?

To take payments via a credit card machine, you need a merchant account that allows you to process payments and the card machine itself (which you'll typically rent). You'll generally get both from the same supplier.

How Much Does Card Machine Rental Cost?

Card machine rental generally costs around £12 to £25 plus VAT per month, however prices vary depending on a number of factors:

  • the type of machine you need (see below)
  • which company you ask
  • how long a contract you're willing to sign

Merchant services companies have a fair amount of flexibility in the prices they're able to offer, so it can be well worthwhile to shop around and negotiate.

Watch out, though - unfortunately some merchant services providers have a bad reputation for promising all sorts of things in person, then putting something different in their contracts.

In case you'd rather save time, we've negotiated good rates from a number of reputable merchant services providers. You can click the button below for an immediate quote.

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What Types of Card Machine are Available?

When it comes to choosing a card machine for your debit and credit card processing, you have a few options:

1. Countertop Card Machine

A countertop credit card machine (sometimes known as a static card machine) is designed to sit on a counter, often next to a till where customers come to pay.

This type of card machine is perfect if you want a cheap card machine that can stay in one place. You'll need a power point and a broadband or phone connection.

2. Portable Card Machine

A portable card machine is best if you need to accept card payments in different places within your premises. Each machine comes with a charging base and communicates using Bluetooth with a central hub that is connected to your phone or broadband line.

Portable card machines are a popular choice for restaurants who need to accept card payments at their customers' tables.

3. Mobile Card Machine

If you need to take credit card payments on the move, consider a mobile card machine. A mobile card machine has a link to the mobile phone network which lets you take payments anywhere in the UK without needing a landline. Some providers refer to this as a GSM/GPRS card machine.

4. Smartphone / Tablet Card Reader

Another option that can make a lot of sense as a way to accept card payments is to use a small Chip and PIN card reader that connects via Bluetooth to your mobile phone or tablet. iZettle, Square, PayPal Here and Worldpay Zinc are a few popular ones.

Generally, smartphone/tablet card readers are cheaper up-front than a more traditional card machine but you pay more for each payment that you process. This means they can be a good option if you don't take many payments.

Here's a run-down of the main mobile card readers.

Next Steps

To get quotes from a number of reputable providers for countertop, portable or mobile card machines, click here.

To compare different mobile card readers click here.