People rarely carry cash these days, so you might try to get a card reader for personal use to receive payments from others.

Perhaps you need it for community donations, flea market sales, a side hustle or anything else outside a business.

But unfortunately, private individuals cannot get a card machine in the UK. This includes any electronic card reader accepting contactless, chip and PIN or swipe card payments.

Signing up for an account to use a card reader requires business information. If you’re not registered as a sole trader, company, partnership, charity or organisation, you are technically a private individual who does not qualify for card acceptance.

You might have seen information in the past that SumUp or Zettle could accept personal users, but this is not the case today.

What to do instead

If you don’t qualify for a card reader, consider the following alternative solutions for taking payments.

Ask for a bank transfer – If you trust the payer, this is a free and simple option. It requires providing your bank account number and sort code, and the payer can then transfer the amount through their banking app.

Send a payment request – A few banking apps, like Starling’s, let non-business users send a payment link to anyone so they can pay money into your account online. This is normally a business feature and not common for personal accounts.

Create a crowdfunding page – Create a Kickstarter, GoFundMe or other crowdfunder page online that you can link to. People can pay through this, but beware of the conditions and fees associated with the particular crowdfunding website.

Accept payments online – Got a PayPal account? Give people your email address linked to this, and they can send you a payment through their own PayPal. There are other online platforms with similar options, so look around and see what works for you.

Sign up through the organisation you’re working for – If you’re fundraising or taking donations for a charitable cause, can you get hold of someone managing its bank account? They could provide a payment terminal, or you could manage their business account and get one connected to it.

Sign up as a sole trader or suitable business – If none of the above options suit, consider signing up as a sole trader (self-employed), company or other business entity. You’ll need to submit tax information periodically, and the card reader payments have to be related to the business registered.