Regardless of the size of your business, it’s essential for you to have the facility to accept card payments from your customers for face-to-face transactions. Providing your customers with this convenience will make it more likely for them to keep coming back. Even if you’re just running a small business, a credit card machine should be on the top of your list of must-have equipment. This investment will definitely pay for itself as you earn your customers’ loyalty.

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The Mechanics of Using a Credit Card Machine for Your Business

Before you can use a credit card machine for your business, you’ll need to get a merchant account first. A merchant account is a special type of bank account that allows you to accept card payments for your business transactions. It is not the same as a business bank account, and you do not need to get one from a bank either.

Most high street banks offer merchant accounts but as a small business owner, you will be more likely to benefit from going to an independent sales organisation (ISO) to apply for a merchant account. ISOs have a shorter waiting time for processing merchant account applications and tend to charge lower fees than high street banks.

Cost is an important factor to consider when choosing a merchant account provider. Some providers charge setup fees while others don’t. There are also providers who charge early termination fees for long-term contracts, while others don’t oblige their customers to sign up for contracts. Standard fees include transaction fees and chargeback fees. Make sure that you know the pricing structure of the merchant account you’re going for, and that there are no hidden fees.

To kickstart your search for the right merchant account provider, use our comparison form above.

Once you have sorted out your merchant account, you can start looking for the right credit card machine to use for your business.

Types of Credit Card Machines

Credit card machines fall into three general categories:

  1. Static or countertop machines: These credit card machines work as part of a regular cash till. If you own a shop, this is the type of credit card machine you should go for.
  2. Portable credit card machines: These machines are ideal for your business if you run a restaurant, bar or cafe to give your customers the convenience of paying their bills at their tables. Portable credit card machines normally have Bluetooth connectivity with a range of up to 300 metres and are equipped with a gratuity calculator and server identification.
  3. Mobile credit card machines: As you can guess from their name, mobile credit card machines work the same way that mobile phones do, relying on GPRS technology. If your business requires you to be on-the-go most of the time, a mobile credit card machine will be perfect for you.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Credit Card Machine

  • The nature of your business: As mentioned above, the type of credit card machine that’s right for your business will depend on the kind of business that you have. If you have a shop, a static machine will be best; a restaurant or cafe will find a portable machine useful; a business on-the-go, such as a street market stall, taxi service and mobile hairdresser will benefit from a mobile credit card machine.
  • Your budget: As a small business owner, you might be worried about the cost of getting a credit card machine. Fortunately, there are many options available when it comes to these machines. First, you can choose whether to rent or purchase your machines outright. Renting is a viable option if you don’t have enough cash to make an outright purchase. Rental rates average around £20 to £30 a month, depending on the type and number of credit card machines you’re renting. (Most suppliers offer discounts on multiple machine rentals.) If you do decide to purchase a credit card machine outright, keep in mind that prices start at £600.

The Best Credit Card Machines for Small Businesses

Credit card machine technology is constantly developing, which makes it hard to pin down a single machine as the best one for a small business. As mentioned in the previous section, the best machine for you will be the one that’s just right for your business and budget.

These two ranges of credit card machines are among the best on the market right now:

The Verifone VX series: The verifone range of countertop, portable and mobile credit card machines is wide enough to fit the budget of businesses of any size. The mobile credit card machines are known for being lightweight, spill- and drop-resistant and have a long battery life.

The Ingenico iWL series: The Ingenico mobile credit card machines are lightweight and have features that are great for restaurants and similar businesses, as well as mobile businesses. They have a long battery life and a high-capacity printer.

We can help you find the right machine for your business if you fill in our form on the right.

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