This article will explain how to choose the best chip and pin solutions for your business, and outlines the choices you have in buying UK card readers.
Chip and pin card machines (also known as PDQ machines) have become the accepted method of making easy payments throughout the UK and Europe, and are today found in the majority of businesses, both on and off site, across the continent.
To accept card payments from your customers, you will need a merchant account.
There are many different types of chip & pin solutions and terminals available to UK businesses. These range from the traditional and basic model often found in supermarkets and high street stores to more advanced versions that make use of mobile phone signals to connect to a payment server.
What Type of Machine Do I Need?
The type of machine you need really depends upon your business and the intended purpose of the card reader.
- Is it to be used whilst out and about?
- Does it need to support contactless payments?
- Is it to be a permanent feature of the business or simply a trial run?
These are all important considerations when it comes to buying one of these Chip & PIN machines and the choice can sometimes be overwhelming. However, the following tips should help make the buying process much simpler.
Consider Machine Type
Without a doubt, the type of terminal has to be your first consideration when it comes to choosing the best chip and pin solutions. There are currently three types available in the UK:
- Countertop Chip and Pin Machines
- Portable Chip and Pin Machines
- Mobile Chip and Pin Machines
Not every chip and pin company offers them all, so opt for a company that can supply the specific type you require.
Countertop Chip and Pin Machines
A counter-top device, or static terminal, offers a quick, easy and secure method for retailers to process debit and credit card transactions from any fixed site; all that it required is access to a telephone or broadband link making it an ideal solution for offices, retailers or home-run businesses. They are those that are seen in shops, where the machine is mounted on a counter-top. They are fast and easy to use, but tend to have either a very short battery life, or no back-up battery at all, which could cause problems in cases of intermittent power. They are particularly suited to the retail industry.
All manufacturers and suppliers provide chip and pin devices which have been designed with functionality and user-friendly operation in mind in addition to the highest levels of card security.
Easy installation and on-going customer support are also an integral part of any package which traders can choose to purchase outright and pay a monthly merchant-service fee or hire for terms from 24, 36, or 48 months length.
Portable Chip and Pin Machines
Portable terminals offer a little more flexibility than their static counterparts. CardSave portable devices tend to receive high praise as the terminals have a long battery life of up to 200 transactions before needing a recharge, and are capable of performing optimally, even when 200 metres away from base. Portable machines are particularly suited to the catering industry for use in restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Portable chip and pin readers have a specific application for 'pay-at-table 'operations in the service industry such as clubs, restaurants, bars and cafes. The services are delivered through Bluetooth connectivity.
They are supplied ready to use, with the trader only being required to connect the device to the power source to begin processing transactions. These portable models are also available to lease or to purchase.
Mobile Chip and Pin Machines
The new mobile devices have been designed to offer businesses of all sizes the benefits of using the chip and pin technology from any location and without the need for a landline.
Traders will receive the same support services as with the other chip and pin applications with the ability to rent or purchase whichever is most suitable for their particular business model. The devices are supplied with an in-car charger for optimum flexibility and re-chargeable batteries which can process up to 300 transactions.
Mobile chip and pin readers are the most advanced. By using either WiFi or a mobile phone signal, these machines are able to connect to the payment server and successfully complete transactions anywhere there is a network.
However, be sure to consider the mobile network the device connects to, as this could affect reliability. Ethnet UK's terminals use the Vodaphone network, a leader in its field. Mobile terminals are ideal for mobile hairdressers, taxi drivers and home deliveries.
Chip and Pin Machines for Small Business
Small businesses rarely need feature rich devices, but this does depend on the sector you are working in. Small retail outlets may only require a simple desktop chip and pin device, but even the smallest restaurants are likely to gain some advantages by employing portable, wireless models.
Chip and Pin Machine Costs
Chip and pin device costs are low, sometimes just £40, but entry level models should be considered carefully as they may not be robust enough to use frequently. You may then wish to consider purchasing better designed chip and pin devices, which cost up to £150, for peace of mind.
This type of false economy is prevalent where not only will you require a sturdy design, but reliable technology. If wireless devices are used over a long period of time, battery life is another thing you will need to consider. Spending up to £300 on a chip and pin machine may therefore make sense. Many suppliers do offer cost efficient packages if you require more than one device.
Top 3 Suppliers
Small businesses have specific needs, so it is important to find a supplier who can work with you through any technical or financial issues you face. Some of the most welcoming suppliers for small businesses include:
- Sage Pay
- First Data
Worldpay are also one of the leading merchant account suppliers in the UK - meaning you are able to get a card terminal, merchant account and EPOS system all from the same provider, with minimal fuss.
If you want to offer your customers the ultimate in convenience, a good tip is to look for a chip and pin solution that offers a few bonus extras.
Available options include a cash back service, where customers can draw physical cash from their current account using a debit card, much as they would at a bank ATM, and mobile phone top up for customers using PAYG sims. All machines available from Chip & PIN UK offer both of these services, so these models are well worth considering.
Beware of Contracts
Are you looking for a full time card reader for your business, or do you require a short term chip and pin solution for events or trade shows?
Depending on how you intend to use the machine, you'll want to take into account the length of contract offered by various UK companies. For example, if you'd like a short term solution, or simply wish to road-test a specific model, try to find a company that owns their own terminals as opposed to renting them from a third party.
Are They Worth the Investment?
In short, yes. A chip and pin machine can be highly beneficial to any business. They provide a much safer option than older methods of card payment, and this not only increases customer confidence but also helps reduce a company's outgoings due to fraud.
Transaction time is as little as 3 seconds, and many businesses also find their costs reduced as they no longer have to maintain an accurate paper trail of payments.
Choosing the right solution for a chip and pin terminal for your business needn't be complicated, just be sure to consider the type, the contract and the features of the machine to find a good fit.
If you are interested in hearing more about prices to buy or lease a chip and pin for your business, then fill out the form at the top of this page and a select group of excellent suppliers will get in touch with you.