The 9 Best Credit Card Machines for Small Businesses in 2022

Woman holding a card reader

To accept card payments at your business’s premises, you’ll need a card machine. But with so many available on the market, which device is best for your small business?

With the help of extensive research and over a decade’s experience in reviewing and recommending card machines, we’ve selected the very best options for small businesses, so you can compare these top machines and find out which is best-suited to help you take payments.

Ready to explore? Read on for the 9 best credit card machines for small UK businesses in 2022.

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SumUp Air card reader

Zettle card reader 2

Square card reader

Ingenico Desk 5000

Verifone V200c

Castles VEGA3000

Ingenico iWL series

Verifone VX 680

Ingenico Move 5000

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Mobile

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Countertop

Card Machine Type

Portable

Card Machine Type

Portable

Card Machine Type

Portable

Best For

All-round excellence

Best For

A wide range of EPOS integrations

Best For

Cheap processing rates

Best For

Fast, flexible payments

Best For

Personalising customer experience

Best For

New merchants

Best For

Outdoor spaces

Best For

Robust reliability

Best For

Back office functionality

Cost

£29

Cost

£29

Cost

£16 (excl VAT)

Cost

£7-20 per month

Cost

On enquiry

Cost

On enquiry

Cost

Varies

Cost

On enquiry

Cost

£15-25 per month

Transaction fee

1.69%

Transaction fee

1.75%

Transaction fee

1.75%

Transaction fee

From 1-1.5%

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

Varies

Transaction fee

1-1.5%

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

9am-5pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-8pm Mon-Sat

Customer Support

Online only

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri

Customer Support

8am-8pm Mon-Sat

Customer Support

8am-6pm Mon-Fri


What’s the best card machine for small businesses?

According to our research (which you can find out more about by jumping further down the page to our methodology), the SumUp Air card reader is the best overall credit card machine for small businesses. It’s light, limber, and as easy to use as it is to transport, while also managing to boast some of the cheapest rates in the industry.

Our other top mobile credit card machines for small businesses come from Zettle, Square, and PayPal, while Ingenico dominates the countertop and portable varieties. Models such as the VEGA3000 from Castles Technology, and the Verifone V200c and V400m, also figure prominently among our expert selections.

Why not grab quotes right here, right now? Simply answer a few questions about your small business’ requirements, and we’ll match you with one or more leading credit card machine providers. They’ll then be in touch to provide free, no-obligation quotes, all tailored entirely to your business.

If that sounds simple, it’s because it is. Hit one of the buttons below to get started.

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What are the different kinds of small business card machine?

On this page, we’ll review the best mobile credit card machines, the best countertop credit card machines, and the best portable credit card machines. Before we dive in, here’s a quick rundown of what each of these terms mean.

  • Mobile credit card machines can function without a wifi connection or power source, so they’re ideal for taking payments in a variety of different locations, including outdoors.
  • Countertop credit card machines are designed to sit in a fixed spot at your premises, as they need power and internet connections. You usually see these card machines on shop and cafe tills.
  • Portable credit card machines are battery-powered and can connect wirelessly to your wifi, so can be carried around your premises. Think restaurants and bars that take payments at customers’ tables.
Customer paying on a portable card machine
Take payments at your customer's table with a portable credit card machine

The best mobile credit card machines for small businesses

Mobile card machines are for anyone who needs to be able to accept card payments on the go, but without necessarily having access to an internet connection, or a stable power source.

We’re talking market stall operators, tradespeople, and those who take payments from remote locations.

Mobile credit card machines offer plenty of other benefits for small businesses, too. 

For one, they’re super simple. You’ll pay just a single fee to purchase your card reader, rather than renting it on a monthly basis (as is the case with most countertop and portable card machines).

These types of card machines also come with slick, intuitive apps that help you process and reconcile payments, send digital receipts, and take stock of your inventory. Interested? Let’s take a look at our top four mobile credit machines for small businesses:

  1. SumUp Air card reader
  2. Zettle card reader 2
  3. Square card reader

SumUp Air card reader

Best mobile credit card machine for small businesses

SumUp Air
4.5
Pricing £29 (excl. VAT)
Quick overview

According to our research, the sleek and minimalistic SumUp is the very best mobile card reader that the market has to offer. Not only does it flaunt some of the cheapest transaction rates going, we found that its card reader – which measures up at just 84 x 84 x 23mm in size – is also one of the most user-friendly around.

Strengths

Pocket-sized and powerful

Highly affordable

No fixed-term contracts

No monthly or hidden fees

30-day money back guarantee

Fully PCI and EMV compliant

Weaknesses

No customer support on evenings or Sundays

Payout time is longer than some rivals

Not suitable for businesses with a larger sales volume

Pricing
Card readerTransaction feeVirtual terminal fee
£29 (excl. VAT) 1.69% 2.95% + 25p
Customer review

“SumUp is one of the easiest methods of collecting payments. Everything seems to be accessible; whether that’s requesting payments from customers, to setting up web sales and accepting direct card payments. I have absolutely no problem recommending SumUp’s services!”

Alan O’Connor, SumUp customer
Trustpilot - 29 May 2021

Zettle card reader 2

Best for EPOS (electronic point of sale) integrations

zettle logo
Zettle Card Reader 2
4.0
Pricing £29 (excl. VAT)
Quick overview

Zettle (formerly iZettle) emerged out of Sweden just under a decade ago, and its pint-sized, payment-taking (and new and improved) card reader has gone from strength to strength since, including an acquisition by PayPal in 2018. Costing the same amount as SumUp’s card reader – but with a slightly larger transaction fee of 1.75% – Zettle doesn’t quite make the top spot here.

Strengths

Supports all 25 major currencies

No monthly costs, and affordable rates across the board

Offers a wide range of EPOS systems to complement its card reader

Fully PCI and EMV compliant

Simple to set up and use

Weaknesses

No virtual terminal service

Ecommerce services are only available via an additional third-party integration with Selz

No weekend or evening customer support

Some reviews suggest that the company is still undergoing a few ‘teething’ problems as a result of the PayPal acquisition

Has an average customer rating of 3.1 on Trustpilot

Pricing
Card readerTransaction fee (in-person)Invoicing/payment linksPayPal-generated QR codes
£29 (excl. VAT) 1.75% 2.5% 1%
Customer review

“A superb service from start to finish. [Zettle’s] technical support team was really good, particularly when I had an issue adding a bank account – they diagnosed and fixed the issue while I was on the phone. The card reader and app work perfectly for our business, and the online tools mean that we have the complete sales and stocking system we wanted.

“It’s a must for any small business, and I couldn't recommend it enough!”

Lee, Zettle customer
Trustpilot - 4 September 2021

So, SumUp or Zettle? We’ve summarised all the key arguments in SumUp vs Zettle – our guide to picking between two of the most clever, capable, and cost-effective card machines that money can buy. Check it out!


Square card reader

Cheapest credit card machine for small businesses

SQUARE LOGO
Square card reader
4.0
Pricing £16 (excl. VAT)
Quick overview

With a range of versatile, mobile card machines for small businesses (and a sumptuous set of POS equipment to boot) Square is well-suited to forward-thinking merchants – particularly those with an eye for aesthetics. This reader connects wirelessly to Android and iOS devices, and can accept Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, as well as the usual card providers. And If you upgrade to Square’s instant deposits, you’ll see payments in your account within 20 minutes.

Strengths

Provides next-day deposits into your business bank account

Fully PCI compliant

Outstanding customer reviews

Real-time sales reporting and analytics

No credit check required

No contracts or long-term commitments

Weaknesses

Because it lacks a pin pad, it’s a tad less user-friendly than other credit card machines on this list

No 24/7 phone support

Doesn’t currently support JCB, Union Pay, or Discover in the UK

Pricing
Card readerTransaction fee (in-person)Online transaction feeVirtual terminal fee
£16 (excl. VAT) 1.75% 1.9% for European cards, 2.9% for non-European cards 2.5%
Customer review

“I have been using Square for a few years now, and find it easy to use and up to date. On the rare occasion that I’ve had to contact its customer service team, I have found them to be friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. I would certainly recommend Square.”

Lynn, Square customer
Trustpilot - 21 May 2021

The best countertop credit card machines for small businesses

If you do business exclusively from a bricks and mortar establishment, you won’t necessarily need a mobile payments solution. In fact, you can save money in the long-term by opting for a countertop card machine.

Countertop card machines allow you to take payments from a fixed place (usually your countertop). They plug directly into your mains for power, and straight into your internet via an Ethernet cable. Handily, that means that these devices aren’t reliant on battery power – or a patchy wifi connection – to function.

Countertop credit card machines are ideal for small retail businesses. Unlike the mobile card readers discussed above, you won’t buy your countertop device up front. Instead, you’ll rent the terminal on a monthly basis, but pay less in transaction fees.

The best countertop card machines for small businesses are:

  1. Ingenico Desk 5000
  2. Verifone V200c
  3. Castles VEGA3000

Ingenico Desk 5000

Best for fast, flexible payment processing

Ingenico Logo
Ingenico Desk 5000
Pricing £7 to £20 per month to rent
Quick overview

The Desk 5000 from Ingenico belongs to a new era of credit card machines, for a new generation of small businesses. Capable of handling just about any payment method you can conceive of – including Apple and Android Pay, as well as all major card types – it’s not only fast; it’s flexible, too. Ingenico’s operating system integrates with a host of smart business apps, so you won’t just be taking payments; you’ll be getting a range of insights into sales and employee performance, too.

Strengths

Affordable

Offers signature capture capabilities for electronic payments and receipt storage

Its operating system, Telium, is one of the most security-focussed on the market

Comes with the pedigree of over 30 years of experience

Jumbo 3.5-inch touchscreen offers superlative levels of user experience

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

No phone-based customer support

Pricing
Rental fee (per month)Transaction fees
£7 to £20 With Santander merchant services 1% or 1.5% minimum Depending on the plan and merchant account provider you choose

You’re about halfway through our list of the nine best credit card machines for small businesses in the UK – time to start comparing quotes?

Simply hit one of the buttons below to start our quick, quote-finding questionnaire.

It takes just 30 seconds to complete, and by telling us more about your small business’s specific requirements, we can help ensure that you receive the best, most personalised rates on credit card machines.

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Verifone V200c

Best for providing a tailored, individualised experience

VERIFONE
Verifone V200c
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

With a trendy, robust design, a powerful processor, and best in class security features, the Verifone V200c is ideal for small businesses looking to get started accepting credit and debit card payments – without breaking the bank! The V200c’s huge memory means it can support a wide range of business apps, which will help you foster greater customer loyalty, and create a more engaging experience at the point of sale.

Strengths

Superb online and phone-based customer support

PCI and EMV compliant

Flaunts a user-friendly 2.8-inch colour LCD screen

Boasts a whopping 384MB of memory

Works with WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet… and even dialup!

Top-notch customer support

Multimedia capabilities included as standard

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

Not as suitable for seasonal businesses, or those with a smaller sales volume

It’s not a mobile solution, either!


Castles VEGA3000

Best for merchants new to accepting card payments

castles logo
Castles VEGA3000
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

Castles Technology’s VEGA3000 credit card machine for small business is one of the most widely-used countertop devices in the industry; which is reassuring when you’re looking for your very first reader. Boasting wifi, GPRS, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (the full house!), this reliable card machine is simple to use: an imperative for newbies. It also comes equipped with the latest high-tech software to safeguard transactions, assuaging the security concerns you might have when you’re just starting up. Its lightning-quick transaction speeds also make for a positive experience for your customers, which can only serve to help build a good reputation.

Strengths

PCI and EMV compliant

A powerful microprocessor enables speedy payments

Boasts an optional rechargeable backup battery for mobility

Simple to set up and use

Touchscreen model also available

Weaknesses

Customer support could be improved

Opaque pricing

You’ll have to pay extra for its PIN pad privacy shield – and the charging cradle isn’t included as standard, either


The best portable credit card machines for small businesses

Portable card machines afford you the flexibility to move around, taking payments and printing receipts on the go at your bricks and mortar premises – without relying on mobile network coverage. They’re the perfect choice for a restaurant or bar setting, where you’ll need to take the credit card machine directly to wherever your customer is sitting.

Typically, portable credit card machines for small businesses usually connect via your premises’ wifi connection. Most function at a range of up to 60 metres.

Like their countertop counterparts, most portable credit card machines for small businesses aren’t bought outright, but rented on a monthly basis by the merchant account provider you end up choosing.

For this reason, prices aren’t always freely available, and you’ll have to either get in touch with the supplier for more pricing info, or utilise our free quote-finding form to request tailored, no-obligation quotes instead.

But which model is right for your small business? Let’s do a deep dive into the three best portable credit card machines for small businesses.

  1. Ingenico iWL series
  2. Verifone V400m
  3. Ingenico Tetra Move 5000

Ingenico iWL series

Best for outdoor spaces

ingenico logo
Ingenico iWL series
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

Ingenico’s iWL card machine series constitutes a range of lightweight, feature-heavy handheld devices that are ideal for small businesses. You can connect using GPRS, 3G, wifi, or Bluetooth technology, and charge them easily via a set of portable, professional-looking charging ports. What’s more, the iWL card terminals are water and shock resistant, making them an ideal choice if your bar or restaurant operates in an outdoor space (which, given the COVID-19 restrictions of 2020, we’re guessing it might’ve had to!).

Strengths

One of the most popular and enduring credit card machine lines in the UK

PCI compliant, and meets the highest industry requirements when it comes to security

Powered by innovative operating system Telium, which offers additional payment services and a library of more than 2,000 applications

The range’s built-in receipt printers are capable of delivering 30 lines per second – the fastest on the market

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

The iWL series isn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing set of devices

No phone-based customer support


Verifone V400m

Best for robustness and reliability

VERIFONE
Verifone V400m
Pricing Available on request
Quick overview

The V400m is Verifone’s most compact payment terminal yet, but that doesn’t mean it compromises on features. It boasts Bluetooth, 4G, USB, and wifi connectivity, as well as an almost IMAX-sized colour touchscreen display (despite being, according to Verifone, the world’s smallest full-function payment device). Oh, and when you add in its Herculean battery life and quick processing speeds? Well, then the V400m weighs in as one of the most versatile mobile PDQ machines on the market – not to mention being ideal for small businesses!

Strengths

Durable and reliable

Long-lasting battery and colour touchscreen display

EMV and MSR enabled

Install additional apps to fully customise your small business credit card machine’s user experience

Weaknesses

Pricing information isn’t readily available

Not as highly rated by customers as models from some of its competitors


Ingenico Tetra Move 5000

Best for back office and reporting features

ingenico logo
Ingenico Tetra Move 5000
Pricing £15 to £25 per month
Quick overview

With a slick touchscreen, sleek design, and highly pushable buttons, the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000 is about as easy on the eyes as they come. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to it than meets the eye, because the Move 5000’s capabilities go well beyond the tabletop. You’ll also get access to Ingenico’s cloud-based reporting and analytical capabilities, and be able to manage your online receipts and transaction history with ease.

Strengths

Compatible with Ingenico’s suite of cloud services, including back office reporting and e-receipt management

Large, 3.5-inch touchscreen

Accepts in-person payments via contactless, swipe and sign, and chip and PIN, as well as mobile wallets

PCI and EMV compliant

Weaknesses

Slightly more expensive than some of Ingenico’s other card terminals

The higher monthly costs may not be worthwhile for seasonal businesses, or those with a smaller sales volume

Pricing
Rental fee (per month)Transaction fees
£15 – £25 per month With Santander merchant services Minimum 1% or 1.5% Depending on your plan and merchant account provider

Verdict

With a competitive transaction fee rate of 1.69% and pocket-friendly ease of use, the mobile SumUp Air is our top credit card machine for small businesses. But there are plenty more we’d also recommend. The mobile Zettle card reader 2 stands out for its excellent EPOS integrations, while Square’s mobile card reader is a good option for merchants looking to spend as little as possible.

If you’re in the market for a countertop machine, the Ingenico Tetra Desk 5000 offers fast, flexible payment processing, while Verifone’s V200c can help you provide your customers with a personalised buying experience. But the easy-to-use Castles VEGA3000 is our top pick for merchants who are new to credit card processing.

Finally, if you’re after a portable credit card machine, the shock-proof, waterproof Ingenico iWL series is an excellent choice for outdoor businesses. The compact Verifone V400m is a great all-rounder with very reliable battery life, while the Ingenico Tetra Move 5000’s reporting features are great for businesses that plan to make the most of analytics.

Ultimately, it’s best to remember that the best card machine for you depends on the unique needs and qualities of your small business. You’ll need to consider key factors including upfront costs, transaction fees and other charges, and user-friendliness.

And, if you’re still stuck on which card reader is right for you, our free quote-finding tool can help. We’ll match your small business with the credit card machine suppliers that meet your requirements, and they’ll be in touch to offer free, personalised quotes and advice, with zero obligation.

Try it below by answering the first question. It takes less than a minute!

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Our methodology

How we analyse and rate the industry’s best credit card machines for small UK businesses

At Expert Market, it’s our aim to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date, and transparent product and service reviews possible. So, to help you better understand the best merchant account options out there, we’ve conducted in-depth, extensive research into the payments industry and its top companies.

Here’s how we did it:

Lightbulb icon

We worked with two independent researchers over 60+ hours to rate 13 different merchant services providers – eight traditional (dedicated) merchant account suppliers, and five payment facilitators.

Rosette icon

We rated each provider across four key metrics.

  • Help and support: we assessed the level of customer support (such as email, phone, or live chat), as well as its availability (24/7, or weekdays only?), to provide a weighted score for each merchant account supplier.
  • Affordability: our affordability algorithm took into account the specific transaction and monthly fees for various transaction types, as well as any one-off costs. Our analysis also included contract length, package type, the flexibility of each providers’ pricing structure, plus the price of any hardware required.
  • Features: we assessed each supplier on up to eight specific features. We then weighted these scores, and translated them into a point value system. This allowed us to form accurate ratings for each merchant account provider, and make specific recommendations to you.
  • Customer approval: we assigned each provider a ‘customer score’, which involved seeking opinions from within the community, as well as feeding data aggregated from online sources into a unique algorithm. This allowed us to calculate overall customer approval scores for each merchant account supplier, in real time.

Speech bubble icon

We take the integrity of our research seriously. If you’ve got any questions at all about our research process, feel free to get in touch with Rob, our financial services specialist, at rob.binns@expertmarket.co.uk.

FAQs

Why are credit card machines important?
Today, the majority of customers expect to be able to pay by card – it’s the nation’s favourite way to pay, after all.

The latest data tells us that in 2020, debit cards were the UK’s most-used payment method, with card payments accounting for more than 50% of all payments. What’s more, one in four payments were contactless.

By contrast, the popularity of paying with cash is continuing to decline, with the number of cash payments decreasing by 35% in 2020.

What’s the cost of a credit card machine for a small business?
The costs of credit card machines for small businesses tend to vary wildly.

If you’re opting for a mobile card reader, you’ll pay just a single, one-off fee to purchase the device outright – typically anywhere between £16 and £45 (excl. VAT) – plus a transaction fee of around 1.69% to 2.5% per sale.

This contrasts with the monthly rental fees you’ll usually have to pay to secure the services of a portable or countertop card machine for your small business. Costs here normally come in at between £7 and £30 per month, with transaction fees ringing up at around 1% to 1.5% per sale.

How much you pay for your credit card machine will also depend on the merchant account provider you pick to supply your payment processing, as well as the plan you select. Some companies offer pay-as-you-go pricing structures, while others work on a subscription basis. It’s up to you to pick the right company and plan for you – so be sure to utilise our free quote-finding form to get the best results!

Where can I find the best rates on credit card machines for small businesses?
The right provider for your small business will always depend on factors such as your turnover, business model, and how long you’ve been trading for.

To explore the full range of fees associated with accepting card payments, and learn more how much your small business can expect to pay, we recommend getting acquainted with our guide to comparing merchant account fees.

Are there free wireless credit card machines for small businesses?
Unlike the other best things in life, credit card machines for small businesses aren’t free.

Sure, some providers – such as Square, and occasionally SumUp and Zettle – have been known to run promotions in which they offer their card readers for free. But by free, we mean “free”, because you’ll still, of course, be eligible for transaction fees. So, while you may be scoring a £20 to £30 saving on the card reader, you’ll still be paying a cut of every sale you go on to make with said device.

So rather than choosing a credit card machine based on how much you could save initially, you’ll benefit more from choosing the machine that best reflects the size, style, and unique needs of your small business.

Learn more with our guide to free payment gateways, and whether they even exist.

Where can I get a credit card machine for my small business?
You can purchase a credit card machine for your small business either directly through the supplier (as is the case with models from SumUp, Zettle, Square, and PayPal), or rent one as part of an agreement with a merchant services provider.

The reason you can’t just walk into a shop and pluck a card machine off the shelf is that – before you can start taking any kind of credit or debit card payments – you’ll first need a merchant account. This is where funds go after they’ve left the customer’s pocket, but before they’ve reached your bank account.

You can acquire a merchant account through a third-party company (such as Fiserv, Handepay, or Retail Merchant Services), or with some high street banks, such as Barclays and HSBC.

How do I set up my small business credit card machine?
Most credit card machines (particularly those of the small business-oriented variety) are fairly simple to set up.

You’ll usually only have to connect a few cables, and get your terminal ready to go by following a few on-screen prompts. You’ll also want to make sure your card machine (and its charging port) is located in the most optimal location for serving the customer; whether that’s on your countertop, or – in the case of a bar or restaurant – somewhere your servers can easily access it.

Can I get a small business card machine without a contract?
Yes! Contract-free plans are usually more common among mobile card readers than any other kinds. Square won’t ask you to sign a contract to use its card reader, and the SumUp Air doesn’t come with fixed-term contracts, so you’ll have the flexibility to opt out when you want to.
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Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.