Our rating(4/5)
As a decent alternative to Verifone and Ingenico, Spire card machines cater to any size business.
Spire Payments is one of the big suppliers of card machines in the UK. They design and manufacture traditional terminals, mobile card readers and smart terminals with touchscreen display, and also support the development of software for the terminals.
  • Highs: Good variety of terminals. Products available through many merchant service providers.
  • Lows: Technical support reportedly poor. Website not helpful to individual merchants.
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In a nutshell

Spire Payments is a company designing and producing their own-branded card terminals. They partner with merchant service providers who can offer the card machines through custom solutions. Moreover, Spire works with payment companies to develop software for their terminals, for example by providing an application programming interface.

Spire has a support infrastructure in place to facilitate the launch of their terminals to any market internationally, including a variety of sectors in countries like India, Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, US and UK. They are able to manage stock, fulfilment of orders, repairs, support and deployment of applications that merchants can use.

Currently, there’s a dozen card terminals listed on their website, some of which may seem familiar from resellers. For instance, the PosMate Smart Bluetooth PIN Pad was used by Elavon MobileMerchant, whose main focus is not to design unique card readers, but to provide a managed solution with card processing included.

Spire card machines

The Spire terminal range can be grouped into mPOS (mobile point of sale), traditional POS and smart POS terminals.

The mPOS terminals all work with an application on a Bluetooth-connected mobile device, i.e. they are not built to be standalone terminals. The older Spire mPOS model PosMate is no longer recommended, since it does not accept contactless payments (from year 2020, all terminals should be able to accept contactless cards, according to Visa and Mastercard requirements). The following models are recommended at the moment:

SPm3SPm2SPm20
Spire SPm3 card readerSpire SPm2 card readerSpire SPm20 card reader
App compatibilityAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS, Windows
Accepted card typesEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
DifferentiatorSmallest card readerCompatible with the PosMate (older-model card reader) APICan be secured on a counter dock, longest battery life
SPm3SPm2SPm20
Spire SPm3 card readerSpire SPm2 card readerSpire SPm20 card reader
App compatibility
Android, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS, WindowsAndroid, iOS, Windows
Accepted card types
EMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
Differentiator
Smallest card readerCompatible with the PosMate (older-model card reader) APICan be secured on a counter dock, longest battery life

The traditional terminal range (or “POS end points”, as Spire calls it) consists of four conventional-looking card machines and a solution for unattended payments such as ticketing, vending machines, kiosks and parking machines. Here are three of the card machines:

SPc5SPg7SPp40
Spire SPc5 countertop terminalSpire SPg7 wireless terminalSpire SPp40 retail terminal
TypeCountertop, stationaryWireless, portableCountertop, stationary
Accepted card typesEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
DifferentiatorMust have power cable attached400-500 transactions per battery chargeDesigned for PIN entry privacy
SPc5SPg7SPp40
Spire SPc5 countertop terminalSpire SPg7 wireless terminalSpire SPp40 retail terminal
Type
Countertop, stationaryWireless, portableCountertop, stationary
Accepted card types
EMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
Differentiator
Must have power cable attached400-500 transactions per battery chargeDesigned for PIN entry privacy

Most recently, Spire created a ‘Genesis’ range of SmartPOS terminals, designed to follow the market trend towards all-in-one devices with features accessible through a touchscreen display. The smart devices can be connected with Bluetooth cash drawers and receipt printers for a custom point of sale solution. The Genesis range includes:

SPx1SPx2SPx3
Spire SPx1 SmartPOS terminalSpire SPx2 SmartPOS terminalSpire SPx3 SmartPOS
TypeEntry-level smart deviceReplaces traditional card machinesEPOS display and terminal in one device
Accepted card typesEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
DifferentiatorPalm-sized, camera for barcode and QR code scanningWith in-built receipt printingWith 11.6″ touchscreen display, with rotating stand
SPx1SPx2SPx3
Spire SPx1 SmartPOS terminalSpire SPx2 SmartPOS terminalSpire SPx3 SmartPOS
Type
Entry-level smart deviceReplaces traditional card machinesEPOS display and terminal in one device
Accepted card types
EMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipeEMV, NFC, swipe
Differentiator
Palm-sized, camera for barcode and QR code scanningWith in-built receipt printingWith 11.6″ touchscreen display, with rotating stand

Where to buy or rent Spire terminals

Spire card machines can be rented and bought from many companies across the world. There is no exhaustive list of all providers, but we have found that these payment providers offer Spire as part of their terminal portfolio:

  • Blackstar Merchant Services (SMEs)
  • Card Cutters (any size business)
  • CutPay (any size business)
  • Elavon MobileMerchant (small businesses)
  • Forest Communications (any size business)
  • Glorydale Merchant Services (any size business)
  • Handepay (SMEs)
  • LibertyPay (any size business)
  • NetPay (any size business)
  • PayaCardServices (SMEs)
  • Paymentsense (SMEs)
  • Yorkshire Payments (any size business)

Pricing

Spire does not offer the card machines for fixed prices. Since they typically only work directly with bigger merchants, the prices will be based on volume and specifications.

As for renting, you can look at the above payment providers’ websites for a better view of price ranges. It is common to have different price levels between the mobile, portable and stationary terminals, given the functional differences.

Customer service

It is limited what information you can get about the quality of Spire’s customer service, but several users have reported unresponsive phone support when their terminal had issues. A phone number is provided for technical support, which is what merchant service providers may refer you to for technical support.

Spire’s website does have useful product manuals and information for partners and developers – but it is not intuitive to navigate! A lot of the information is not written very well (dense and poorly formulated), so you are better off phoning Spire’s helpline with anything you’re not clear about.

If you run a charity, for example, you can tell them where you need unattended PIN pads to be placed, and they can co-create a solution that covers the hardware setup, software and payment features. Since they deal with a wide range of stakeholders, e.g. independent sales organisations (ISOs), organisations, retailers and charities, they should adapt to your needs with a personalised approach.

Who is Spire Payments best for?

For a small business, it does not matter much whether you choose Spire, Ingenico, Verifone or a similar manufacturer, because they produce similar products.

It is more important to go for the kind of service you need, with a contract suitable for your budget and needs.

Going for a service from Spire Payments directly is more for companies and organisations with the money to create a customised solution.

Individual merchants who just want to accept cards will get their needs met though whichever merchant service provider they prefer.

Whether you choose a Spire card terminal through that provider should be a secondary choice, unless you have very specific needs around the ergonomics, design or hardcoded functions of the terminal.

Spire SPp30 PIN pad terminal

Spire SPs30 terminal.

Verdict

Spire Payments is a trusted company for a variety of organisations, large-scale retailers, merchant service providers and others considering their own POS and terminal solution.

The company has a strong footing not unlike Verifone and Ingenico, but the UK-based support makes them a good choice for British companies preferring a supplier with a decent understanding of the local market.