Barclays uses cookies on this website. Some cookies are essential to provide our services to you. Other cookies help us to analyse how you use the site, so we can improve your experience on our site. Cookies are stored locally on your computer or mobile device. Please select 'Accept all' to consent to cookies, or select ‘Reject all’ to reject all but essential cookies’, or select 'Manage cookies' to change your preferences. For more information visit our cookie policy.

Choosing the best card machines for small businesses

5-minute read

Taking card payments is now an essential part of giving consumers the shopping experience they want. However, the amount of information available as well the choice of products, can be overwhelming.

Choosing the best card machines for small businesses

Help in choosing the right card machine is at hand. Read on for:

1. The benefits of card machines for small businesses
2. How can my small business accept card payments?
3. How much it could cost to buy or hire a card machine
4. Tips on how to pick the best card machine for your small business
5. Information on why different card machines have different transaction fees

1. The benefits of card machines for small businesses

Card machines allow businesses to take card payments from customers, meaning shoppers can pay the way they want to. In turn, this can mean increased sales and customer loyalty when you combine a range of payment options with other elements of a great shopping experience, like customer service. Using card machines, also known as card readers, could potentially lead to:

Increased sales

If a customer comes in with a card but no cash, you want to be able to sell to them by accepting a card or digital wallet payment. Without a card machine, you may miss out on that sale and more importantly, that customer might not come back again.

Improved customer loyalty

Giving customers what they want, when they want it is one of the easiest ways to encourage loyalty and repeat purchasing. After all, if a customer gets great service, finds the product they want at a price they’re happy with, and can then pay for it quickly, they’re more likely to shop with you again than someone who hasn’t had a good experience.

More customers

By accepting a range of payment methods, you’re allowing customers with different payment preferences to shop with you. The more ways there are to pay for your goods and services, the more customers you’ll have access to.

Time saved for you and your customers

Barclaycard research shows that contactless transactions are 15 seconds faster than cash.1That’s great for the customer paying, who will want the transaction itself to be quick and easy. It’s great for other customers who won’t have to queue for so long. And it’s great for your business, because you can offer a seamless payment experience for your customers.

Find out more on how a card reader can benefit your business.

2. How can my small business accept card payments?

To accept card payments from customers in person, you’ll need the best card machine for your small business, along with a few other things:

A merchant account – this is essentially a bank account where money from card payments is held by your payment processor while they authorise the transaction. If you have a contract with a payment processor (like Barclaycard), they’ll open a merchant account for you as standard.

A payment gateway solution – at a very basic level, a payment gateway takes customer card details when they pay and transfers these securely to your acquiring bank. It then passes the same details on to the issuing bank so that the transaction can be completed. Read more about the potential power of payment gateway solutions for your business.

Find out more on the different types of card reader we offer.

3. The cost of a card machine worked out

For small businesses starting out, that don’t want to commit to monthly card reader rental fees and merchant service fees, the cost of buying a WiFi-enabled card reader outright varies from £20 to £60. With this option, you buy the card reader, download an app and you pay a fee for every card transaction you take.

For more established small businesses, entering into a contract with the payment processor and renting card machines as part of that contract might be a better option. One of the main differences between buying a card reader outright vs renting is the transaction fees paid, which generally speaking are higher when buying outright – while you might be able to negotiate lower transaction fees if renting under contract.

The cost of a card machine worked out

4. Choosing the card machine that’s right for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to picking a card machine for your small business. And that’s an important tip to bear in mind because it can be easy to go for the first or cheapest option when you want to start accepting card payments.

Have an idea of how much you think you’ll take in card payments each month

This is so you can start to work out what your merchant services fees might be. If you call Barclaycard Payments for a quote on 0800 158 5149, the team will take you through a series of questions, which will give you an insight into how much it could cost you to take card payments.

Work out how you want to take card payments from your customers

For example, if you run a bar or restaurant, it might be important for you to be able to take the card machine to your customer at their table. If this is the case, it makes sense to choose a portable card reader. If, however, you have a fixed till point, a desktop card reader might be what you need. And if you run market stalls or pop ups, it might be that you want to test taking card payments. If so, a WiFi-enabled, pay-as-you-go card reader like Smartpay Anywhere, that links to an app on your smart device might be a good way to start out.

Think about your business growth, not just what things look like right now

It can be tempting to go for a card reader that fulfils your needs right now. However, some options are better when it comes to scaling with your business. Again, when you’re researching card readers for your business, it’s worth asking this question of the payment provider you’re talking to.

5. Why different card machines have different transaction costs

Transaction costs, also known as authorisation fees, refer to the charge your payment processor applies to check that there’s enough money in your customer’s account to fulfil the purchase. When you have a contract in place between your business and a payment processor like Barclaycard, you’ll be paying to:

• Rent your card reader or readers on a monthly basis
• Have a merchant account
• Have your payment processor authorise payments

If you opt for a pay-as-you-go card reader, you buy the card reader outright and your transactions costs are set and probably non-negotiable

1Based upon Barclays data, January 2018.

Now you’re up to speeD

Now you’re up to speed on card machines…

You’ve got a good idea of what card readers are, the benefits for your small business and access to information on topics like merchant service fees, so it’s time for the next step.

Explore the our range of card readers to see which could help you improve the shopping experience for your customers.