There’s a much wider choice of card machines today than just a few years ago. While before, you had to do with a chunky chip and PIN machine stationed at a counter, small businesses can now take advantage of mobile card readers that work just as well.

In this shortlist, we look at contactless payment machines suitable for businesses with card transactions of less than £40k per month.

Three of the options are more traditional card machines for a till, table-side payments or mobile use. They are rented on a monthly basis with contractual lock-in, but then you get fees tailored for your business.

The others are mobile card readers that work with or without an app. These are no-contract, affordable and without complicated fees – making it much easier for new or small businesses to start accepting cards. They have no monthly fees, just a fixed rate per transaction after purchasing the card machine.

Best card payment machines for small businesses:

Company Card
machine
Costs Key facts Sign-up

Zettle


Zettle info

Zettle Reader
£19* (purchase)
Zettle Terminal
£149* (purchase)
No monthly fee
No lock-in

Transaction fee
1.75%
Popular choice for small businesses, ergonomic terminals

Short online form, quick acceptance:

SumUp


SumUp info

SumUp Air
£29* (purchase)
SumUp Solo
£99* (purchase)
SumUp 3G & Printer
£149* (purchase)
No monthly fee
No lock-in

Transaction fee
1.69%
Cheapest standalone terminals and lowest fixed rate Short online form, quick acceptance:

Square


Square info

Square Reader
£16* (purchase)
Square Terminal
£149* (purchase)
No monthly fee
No lock-in

Transaction fee
1.75%
Best free POS and payment features, great for online selling Short online form, quick acceptance:

Takepayments


Takepayments info

Rental from £10*/mo 1-year contract
No setup fee

Transaction fees
0.3%-2.5% + flat fee
Tailored annual contracts and fees, friendly service Get quote, personalised onboarding:

Dojo


Dojo info

£20*/ mo rental 1- or 6-month contract
Monthly min. charge applies

Transaction fees
0.3-2% + 4p
Shortest contracts and good, freestanding terminal Get quote, start within a week:

Worldpay


Worldpay info

Rental from £17.95*/mo 18-month contract
Mix of costs

Tailored transaction fees
Biggest choice of price plans and 24/7 support Tailored quote, personalised onboarding:

Barclaycard


Barclaycard info

Rental from £15*/mo 18-month contract
£150 setup fee

Transaction fees
1.5%-2.5% + fixed fee
Better for existing Barclays customers with high turnover Get quote, online sign-up:

*Prices exclude VAT.

Zettle – all-round safe choice

Zettle
Our rating
  • Card reader or all-in-one terminal

  • Widest range of accepted cards

  • Sign up and order online

  • No contract, no monthly fees

Zettle sells two card machines from its website: the UK market leader Zettle Reader 2 (recently rebranded from ‘iZettle Reader 2’) and standalone Zettle Terminal.

There’s no setup or shipping charge, monthly fees or contractual commitment, so all you’re paying is the upfront card machine price and a fixed rate of 1.75% per transaction. Refunds are free to process, and there’s no monthly minimum charge.

Zettle Reader Zettle Terminal
Zettle Reader 2 Zettle Terminal card tap
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi, 4G)
Price (purchase) £19 + VAT £149 + VAT
Offer
Transaction fee 1.75%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts 1-2 working days in bank account
Zettle Reader Zettle Terminal
Zettle Reader 2 Zettle Terminal card tap
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi, 4G)
Price (purchase) £19 + VAT £149 + VAT
Offer
Transaction fee 1.75%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts 1-2 working days in bank account

The tamper-proof Zettle Reader comes in black or white, with a simple push-button keypad and display asking the customer to add a tip (if relevant) or enter their PIN. You have to keep the card payment machine connected, via Bluetooth, to a smartphone or tablet with the Zettle Go POS app to take payments.

The Zettle app is user-friendly with important POS features for most businesses.

Zettle Reader card machine

Zettle Reader with POS app.

Alternatively, you can opt for the latest card machine that feels like a smartphone: Zettle Terminal (£149 + VAT). It works without a phone or tablet, and features a touchscreen with Zettle’s free POS app installed. The built-in SIM card connects directly to 3G or 4G if not using WiFi, and you can get it with a receipt printer attachment.

If you need to charge clients remotely, you can send payment links or email invoices so the customer can pay on their phone. These key-in transactions cost 2.5%. QR codes can be shared with customers who can pay through their PayPal app.

Accepted cards

VisaVisa ElectronV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners ClubJCBUnion PayDiscoverPayPalContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

Zettle accepts contactless, chip and PIN (or signature), all costing the same fixed percentage even for foreign and premium cards. Visa, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, UnionPay, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are all accepted.

Payments are credited to your bank account within 1-2 working days, minus the transaction fee.

Signing up is straightforward: on Zettle’s website, you just fill in some details about your business and bank account. They will verify your identity and perform a credit check to ensure everything is in order. In most cases, you are accepted straight away and can order the contactless payment machine immediately.

SumUp – great value for money

SumUp
Our rating
  • Choice of 3 card payment machines

  • Sign up and order online

  • With business account and card

  • No contract, no monthly fees

SumUp sells three card machines: the SumUp Air card reader that connects to a phone app, small and independent SumUp Solo and standalone SumUp 3G and Printer that prints receipts too.

SumUp has the lowest fixed card rate and there is no setup fee or shipping charge. You just pay for your choice of card machine, then a fixed 1.69% fee for chip and contactless payments.

SumUp Air SumUp Solo SumUp 3G & Printer
SumUp Air card reader SumUp Solo SumUp 3G Printer Cradle
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi, 4G) Standalone terminal with receipt printer (WiFi, 3G)
Price (purchase) £29 + VAT £99 + VAT £149 + VAT
Transaction fee 1.69%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts Next day in SumUp Business Account, 2-3 working days in bank account
Website
SumUp
Air
SumUp
Solo
SumUp 3G
& Printer
SumUp Air card reader SumUp Solo SumUp 3G Printer Cradle
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi, 4G) Standalone terminal with receipt printer (WiFi, 3G)
Price (purchase) £29 + VAT £99 + VAT £149 + VAT
Transaction fee 1.69%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts Next day in SumUp Business Account, 2-3 working days in bank account
Website

SumUp 3G and Printer is the cheapest standalone card machine with receipt printer in the UK. It is user-friendly with simplified keys for PINs, and contactless cards can be tapped over the display.

Its printing cradle doubles as a charging stand that’s ideal for countertops. Otherwise, you can use SumUp 3G – with or without the receipt printer attached – anywhere with a WiFi, 3G or GPRS connection, since it has a SIM card built in free of charge.

There is also the new standalone SumUp Solo that, like SumUp 3G, comes with a SIM card and works with WiFi and mobile connections. Solo fits in your pocket and features a touchscreen with basic software built in to accept chip and contactless cards.

SumUp 3G card machine

But perhaps the most popular option is the cheap card reader called SumUp Air. It works with a user-friendly app that has a wide range of features including a product library and cash acceptance.

The app also gives access to payment links, email invoices and a basic online store creator at no monthly cost, just a 2.5% transaction fee. SumUp Virtual Terminal is available for eligible merchants for 2.95% + 25p per transaction.

SumUp accepts mobile wallets and most card brands.

Accepted cards

VisaVisa ElectronV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressDiners ClubUnion PayDiscoverContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay

It takes up to 3 days for payments to reach your bank account, minus the transaction fee. You can also receive payouts in the complimentary SumUp Business Account the following day, even on weekends, and spend it with the free Mastercard.

It’s quick to sign up on SumUp’s website, after which you can order a card machine. Shipping takes up to a week, which is a bit longer than the other options on this list.

Square – excellent free point of sale tools

Square
Our rating
  • Card reader or touchscreen terminal

  • Many payment tools included

  • Sign up and order online

  • No contract, no monthly fees

Square sells two card machines from its website: app-based Square Reader and freestanding Square Terminal with a touchscreen and receipt printer.

You only need to pay for the card machine upfront, then pay a fixed 1.75% per transaction. Refunds are free to process, should your customers request it.

Square Reader Square Terminal
Square Reader Square Terminal front
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi)
Price (purchase) £16 + VAT £149 + VAT
Offer
Transaction fee 1.75%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts 1-2 working days in bank account, instantly for 1% fee
Square Reader Square Terminal
Square Reader Square Terminal front
Card machine Card reader connected to phone/tablet app Standalone touchscreen terminal (WiFi)
Price (purchase) £16 + VAT £149 + VAT
Offer
Transaction fee 1.75%
Contract No lock-in, no monthly fee
Payouts 1-2 working days in bank account, instantly for 1% fee

Square Reader is the smallest, most light-weight card machine on this list, but it does need a Bluetooth connection to the free Point of Sale app on your phone or tablet. It is literally a square-shaped, plastic card machine that’s white all over, but the technology makes it just as reliable as push-button PIN pad machines.

When a transaction is entered in the iOS/Android app, your mobile device communicates with the card reader to accept the tap or chip card. Lacking a keypad, PIN codes are entered on your mobile screen in the POS app.

The app makes it simple to add items from your product library to the shopping cart or enter a custom amount at checkout, before choosing a payment method.

Square Reader taking mobile wallet payment

Frankly, Square Point of Sale has the most POS features out of all the free card machine apps. Specialised till apps for retail, restaurants and professional services are also offered by Square, including add-on subscriptions for customer loyalty, email marketing and team management.

If you prefer a standalone credit card machine, Square Terminal connects directly with a WiFi network. It has a touchscreen with Square Point of Sale features built in – perfect as a portable checkout on your premises.

You can also send e-invoices, accept phone payments and enter card details in the app for 2.5% per transaction. Transactions through Square’s online store, payment links and QR codes cost 1.9% for UK-/Europe-issued cards and 2.9% for international cards.

Accepted cards

VisaVisa ElectronV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

Square accepts contactless cards and mobile wallets, chip and PIN, and chip and signature cards. This includes Visa, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro and American Express as well as Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Payments are usually deposited in your bank account the day after each transaction. Immediate payouts are also possible for an added 1% fee per transaction.

To get started, you complete an online sign-up form, then order the chosen card machine. It takes a few days to get your bank account verified, but you can start taking payments before that.

Takepayments – tailored annual contract and fees

Takepayments
Our rating
  • Mobile, portable & countertop models

  • Touchscreen terminal for 6 users

  • Fees best for high transaction values

  • 12-month contract

Takepayments is a popular merchant service provider in the UK, its main selling point being the short 12-month contracts. If you are going to have contractual commitment, but can’t be sure of how your business fares beyond the next year, then Takepayments is one of the few that offers card machine rental with less than 18 months’ lock-in.

Takepayments
Card machines Countertop (Ingenico iCT250), portable (Ingenico iWL250), mobile (Ingenico Move/3500 or PAX A920)
Cost (rental) Rental from £10 + VAT monthly
Transaction fees 0.3%-2.5% + flat fee
30p refund fee
£9 per chargeback
Contract 12 months
No setup fee
Monthly min. charge from £10
Early termination fee applies
Payouts Next day in bank account (free)
Offer
Takepayments
Card machines Countertop (Ingenico iCT250), portable (Ingenico iWL250), mobile (Ingenico Move/3500 or PAX A920)
Cost (rental) Rental from £10 + VAT monthly
Transaction fees 0.3%-2.5% + flat fee
30p refund fee
£9 per chargeback
Contract 12 months
No setup fee
Monthly min. charge from £10
Early termination fee applies
Payouts Next day in bank account (free)
Offer

The card machine rental starts from £10 + VAT per month depending on which of their Ingenico or Verifone terminals you choose. There are mobile, portable and countertop options and a smart POS terminal to share between six users. The latter is a PAX A920 model with a large touchscreen so it can be used as a mobile checkout.

Takepayments contactless card machine

Transaction fees depend on your average transaction value, turnover and cards accepted, ranging between 0.3%-2.5% + flat fee.

There’s no setup fee or monthly cost for the merchant account, but you commit to an early cancellation fee equivalent to buying out the contract if you do not give an exit notice of two months. Otherwise, the contract auto-renews.

If you make less than an agreed amount during a month, a monthly minimum service charge applies. Monthly or annual fees for PCI-DSS compliance apply, and there are charges for chargebacks and refunds.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

Takepayments actually signs you up for two contracts – one for themselves and one for Barclaycard Business who provides your merchant account for card processing. Next-day settlement with Barclaycard is free.

For an additional cost, remote payments can be added, such as pay by link, telephone payments, QR codes for table-service, and an online payment gateway for ecommerce. Card machines can be integrated with Epos Now as part of a monthly package – no other POS systems can currently be integrated.

Signing up requires talking to a Takepayments sales rep, most likely in connection with a physical visit to your premises. After onboarding, you have access to customer support over the phone every day within working hours.

Dojo – shortest contract, good touchscreen terminal

Dojo
Our rating
  • Mobile, touchscreen card terminal

  • Works with WiFi, 3G and 4G

  • Next-day payouts

  • Monthly or 6-month contract

Dojo is a new product powered by Paymentsense. At the moment, there is just one card machine subscription called Dojo Go. Merchants new to card payments get a 6-month contract, whereas businesses who were previously locked into another card machine contract can get a monthly, rolling subscription. In addition, Dojo can pay up to £3,000 of your exit fee applicable to your old payment provider.

Dojo Go
Card machine Mobile, standalone touchscreen terminal (PAX A920)
Cost (rental) £20 + VAT/month
Transaction fees From 0.3%-2% + 4p
50p refund fee
£28 + VAT per chargeback
Contract 6 months (1 month for some merchants)
No setup fee
£20-£40 monthly min. charge
Early termination fee applies
Payouts Next day in bank account (free)
Offer
Dojo Go
Card machine Mobile, standalone touchscreen terminal (PAX A920)
Cost (rental) £20 + VAT/month
Transaction fees From 0.3%-2% + 4p
50p refund fee
£28 + VAT per chargeback
Contract 6 months (1 month for some merchants)
No setup fee
£20-£40 monthly min. charge
Early termination fee applies
Payouts Next day in bank account (free)
Offer

There’s a monthly rental fee of £20 + VAT for Dojo Go, plus transaction charges and other costs. The plan is best suited for businesses with a consistent sales volume, because a monthly minimum service fee applies, which could be £20-£40 per month depending on your business.

This is the minimum amount that Dojo requires you to pay in transaction fees a month, so it will be charged even if you haven’t sold enough to reach that level.

The transaction rates are personalised and depend on the card brand, type and country of issue. The rates could range between 0.3%-2% plus a fixed authorisation fee of 4p that applies to all payments. Foreign cards have an additional cost of 0.05%-1.45%.

You get next-day payouts with Dojo for free, which is faster that most payment providers can guarantee.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardDiscoverAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

The card machine is a PAX A920 model with a large touchscreen and user-friendly interface. It comes with a built-in SIM card for mobile connectivity but works with WiFi. Add to that the long 10-hour battery life and you have a mobile card machine that’s ideal for use anywhere on the road, for table service and many other scenarios. It also integrates with most major POS systems, if you’re not using it on its own.

You can’t add a description to transactions, though. You can therefore not use it for inventory tracking or checking what was sold, but a Dojo app does allow you to check sales figures remotely.

Overall, however, Dojo is a great option for merchants who consistently make several thousands of pounds a month and need a quality card machine that works in most situations. If onboarding goes smoothly, you should be up and running with Dojo Go within a week.

Worldpay card machines – best for custom fees

Worldpay
Our rating
  • Mobile, portable & countertop models

  • 24/7 customer support

  • Fees depend on turnover and more

  • 18-month rental contracts

A major credit card processor in the UK, Worldpay continues to be a popular choice for traditional card machines. You can choose to rent a countertop, mobile or portable card machine with a contract of 18 months. Card processing fees depend on your turnover, business and type of card accepted, and there are different pricing plans available.

Worldpay
Card machines Countertop (Ingenico iCT 250), portable (Ingenico iWL 250, iWL 252), mobile (Ingenico Move 5000)
Cost (rental) £17.95-£23 + VAT/month
Transaction fees Custom or fixed rates
Contract 18 or 0 months
No setup fee with lock-in
Monthly min. charge depends on plan
Early termination fee applies
Payouts 1-3 working days to bank account (free)
Offer
Worldpay
Card machines Countertop (Ingenico iCT 250), portable (Ingenico iWL 250, iWL 252), mobile (Ingenico Move 5000)
Cost (rental) £17.95-£23 + VAT/month
Transaction fees Custom or fixed rates
Contract 18 or 0 months
No setup fee with lock-in
Monthly min. charge depends on plan
Early termination fee applies
Payouts 1-3 working days to bank account (free)
Offer

To receive a quote on fees, you just need to sign up online and await a callback from a Worldpay consultant. Card machine packages are unique to your business, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all arrangement.

Worldpay card machines

Card machine rental starts at £17.95 + VAT for a standard model, and then you have transaction charges and merchant account fees on top. While Zettle by PayPal, SumUp and Square use their own merchant account for card processing, Worldpay gives you a unique merchant account that is better for payments stability.

Most businesses choose a Custom price plan with tailored costs, but there is also Simplicity with simplified costs and Pay As You Go without lock-in (but a £150 + VAT setup fee instead of monthly rental).

Beware that Worldpay may not be transparent about all fees, so make sure you get them to explain all the costs and responsibilities involved. For instance, PCI-DSS compliance is required, and failing to complete certain paperwork costs £9.99 + VAT for non-compliance every month.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardMaestroJCBDiners ClubDiscoverUnion PayAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

The contactless card machines are high-quality, traditional models by Ingenico. There’s a stationary chip and PIN machine for the countertop (iCT250), portable terminal for table-side payments (iWL250 and iWL252) and mobile card machine for on-the-go payments (Move/5000).

Worldpay accepts Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Diners Club, Discover, UnionPay, JCB, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, and optionally American Express with a separate agreement. Settlement takes up to three working days.

Email invoicing, an online payment gateway (for ecommerce), virtual terminal for phone payments and payment links are available from Worldpay at an additional cost.

A great thing about Worldpay is the free phone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Barclaycard Business – fees better for existing customers

Barclaycard
Our rating
  • Mobile, portable & countertop models

  • Accepts the major cards

  • Fees depend on turnover and more

  • 18-month contract with setup fee

Barclaycard Business is one of the UK’s biggest credit card processors (competing with Worldpay). Many of its card machine contracts are sold through independent sales organisations, but you can also set up a merchant account and rent card payment machines directly from Barclaycard.

Barclaycard Business
Card machines Countertop, portable and mobile models
Cost (rental) £15-£25 + VAT/month
Transaction fees 1.5%-2.5% + fixed fee
Fees apply to refunds and chargebacks
Contract 18 months
£150 setup fee
Monthly min. charge applies
£115 + VAT early termination fee
Payouts 1-7 working days in bank account (free)
Offer
Barclaycard Business
Card machines Countertop, portable and mobile models
Cost (rental) £15-£25 + VAT/month
Transaction fees 1.5%-2.5% + fixed fee
Fees apply to refunds and chargebacks
Contract 18 months
£150 setup fee
Monthly min. charge applies
£115 + VAT early termination fee
Payouts 1-7 working days in bank account (free)
Offer

Barclaycard offers a full range of Ingenico card machines for portable, stationary and mobile use. They can be integrated with many POS systems or used on their own. Contracts are 18 months long, where the monthly rental depends on the terminal models: £15 + VAT/month for a desktop terminal, £20 + VAT/month for a portable model and £25 + VAT/month for a mobile card machine. On top of this, you get a merchant account with separate ongoing costs.

Barclaycard card machines

Rates depend on the type of card, transaction value and sales volume, but typically range between 1.5%-2.5% + fixed fee for a small business. A monthly minimum service charge applies when your turnover does not reach an agreed threshold.

The only way to know the exact costs is to ask the bank. Only existing, high-volume Barclays merchants can get lower, custom rates. The application process is a bit stricter than others, since your borrowing history and financial circumstances are assessed. This means new or financially risky businesses may be rejected.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardDiners ClubDiscoverAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle Pay