When choosing the best card machine for your business, consider more than just its price tag. Look for a device that seamlessly connects to your point of sale system and has the functionality to support non-payment business functions, such as inventory management capabilities, sales reporting and employee timeclocks.
Traditionally, countertop credit card machines are wired into a telephone or broadband connection and often come with pin pads for chip and magstripe payments. However, new payment solution providers are now offering portable card machines that require no contract.
A card payment machine is essential for any business that takes in-person payments. There are many different types of card readers available, but for small businesses, it’s best to choose a countertop device. These are payment terminals that plugin into a fixed location and are typically used by businesses like hairdressers, coffee shops and newsagents.
A countertop credit card machine is ideal for businesses with a physical shopfront, as it sits easily on the counter and doesn’t require a mobile network or WiFi to function. This makes it perfect for areas that don’t have reliable connection or if you don’t want to pay monthly fees for a portable POS machine. These devices can also come with additional functionality, such as a barcode scanner or receipt printer.
A portable card machine is ideal if you want the flexibility to move around your storefront. Usually, these card readers come with a base unit and secondary handheld device that connects to GPRS, 3G or WiFi. Some offer smartphone payments too and are PCI compliant.
The most popular portable card reader providers include iZettle, SumUp and Clover Flex. All these brands offer a variety of hardware models that connect to your business either via WiFi (if available) or traditional business landlines for reliability. They also offer flexible contracts and low transaction fees depending on your sales. Some even give you free POS software to use alongside the device. This can make a big difference to your upfront costs.
Whether you run a coffee shop with a set payment counter or a mobile food stall, a card machine can help your business grow. Having a portable card reader can enable you or your team to offer more personal customer service and reduce queueing times.
While it’s common for card readers to be rented as part of a merchant account agreement, you can also choose to buy one outright if you have the funds available. Buying your hardware and paying a flat monthly fee for processing can work out cheaper in the long term than renting your equipment on a per-transaction basis.
Wireless portable readers can be connected via WiFi, GPRS or traditional landline and have up to eight hours of battery life. They can also accept chip and PIN, contactless or Apple Pay payments.
The EMV chip in a card creates a unique one-time transaction code for each purchase. This makes them much more secure than swiped cards. The transaction data is decoded and authenticated by the POS terminal, making it nearly impossible for fraudsters to duplicate the code for unauthorized purchases.
The most secure card machines also offer protection from EMV liability shift, a new law that made businesses responsible for fraud if they use magstripe readers or don’t support the EMV standard set by EMVCo (the consortium of Discover, MasterCard, American Express, and JCB). Choose a provider with an EMV card reader that supports chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature transactions.
You can pay for a card reader as a monthly fee, or you may opt to buy it upfront. Consider a model that works offline for easy cash management and has a solid, user-friendly POS app.
NFC is a powerful and convenient feature that can be used for loyalty cards, library cards, business cards and more. It eliminates the need for physical cards and makes it much easier to transfer information. NFC also offers an opportunity for businesses to build and maintain a stronger link with their customers through a digital customer loyalty platform.
If a card reader doesn’t support NFC, it should be a red flag. It’s an essential feature for many consumers and businesses, especially as more and more information is being digitized