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Best card machines for small businesses
What are the different types of Card Machines?
There are three types of card terminals/ card machine: portable, countertop and mobile.
Mobile Card Machines / Wireless Card Machine
The mobile chip and pin card machine is ideal for tradesman, delivery businesses, pop up store owners and anyone business that needs to take payments on the road. Mobile card machines are fast, secure and provide businesses with a flexible ways to accept card payments. They allow businesses to accept payments anywhere with 3G coverage or WiFi.
Benefits of a mobile card machine
- Accept payments on the go
- Accepts all payment options
- Take Secure payments
- 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth and WIFI Connectivity
- Designed for mobility
- Accepts NFC Payments
Portable Card Machine
The portable card machine is the perfect solution for pubs, cafes and restaurants. Portable card terminals can work within up to 100 metres from its base. The device connects via Bluetooth and allows business owners to take the card terminal to a customers to take payments.
Benefits of a portable card machine for small businesses
- Accept payment from a fixed point
- Easily connected by phoneline or internet
- Accept contactless, Chip & Pin, Apple Pay & Android Pay
- Cashback and gratuities options available
- Full PCI Compliance highly secure card machines
Countertop Card Machine
Countertop card machines operates from a fixed location so are therefore less flexible than the mobile and portable card machine. It is widely used by retailers, restaurants, supermarkets and shopping outlets to take credit card payments. The card machine must be connected to an internet connection or a telephone line to work. It is a cost-effective solution for businesses that take payments from a fixed premise such as a shop counter.
Benefits of Countertop/ Desktop Card Machine
- High Security
- All Payment Options – Chip & Pin, Contactless, NFC
- Small & Compact for easy handling and use
- All connectivity & communication – modem, Ethernet, GPRS or 3G
- Brand promotion options on the terminal.
The countertop card machine usually sits next to the till or cashpoint and has a fixed point. It’s connected by broadband and widely used by most traditional retailers.
For businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. a portable card machine is the best option. This machine relies on wireless or Bluetooth technology and will only work within the range of a central wi-fi spot. A portable card machine is ideal for the hospitality industry. It enables payments to be made with a little bit more flexibility when compared to the countertop machine which are fixed to a counter.
A mobile card machine is best suited to sellers who are mobile and are travelling on the road between customers.
Modern card machines have a contactless card payment facility. This allows buyers to make a payment of up to £30 by simply tapping their contactless credit card on the machine.
How does a Card Machine work?
Before the launch of chip and pin technology older card machines would read information on a magnetic strip. This occurred when it was swiped. Swiping credit cards though a card machine was very common. The card terminal would then check the customer had enough balance in their account and if the signatures matched with what was on record.
Present day chip and pin technology allow customers to buy securely in a matter of few seconds. A merchant would usually have to me go through the following below steps to take a card payment.
1. Merchant keys in payment amount into the Card Machine
2. Merchant presents card machine to the customer
3. Customer confirms the amount and has the option of inserting their card into the card machine or paying by contactless (please be aware the transaction cap for £30).
4. If the customer inserted their card they will now be prompted to provide their 4 digit pin and press the Enter key to confirm on the PDQ machine.
5. The card machine will then contact the merchant bank for authorisation for the sale. If it is approved the transaction will go through otherwise an error will be displayed.
6. After a successful transaction the card machine will print two receipt copies. One for the merchant and one to hand to the customer.
Additional Value Added Features of a Card Machine
Mail and Telephone / Customer Not Present Orders is a function that allows business to complete orders when a customer is not present. It can be completed through a payment terminal by manually entering a customers card number when asked to present the card during the purchase process. So instead of inputting the card and entering the pin details a business can enter the card number and security code when prompted into the terminal to complete the purchase.
Gratuity is a feature that allows your customers to leave a tip whilst making a payment on the card machine. As part of the payment process the customer has the option to decide if they want to leave a tip or not.
Pre Authorisation allows businesses to gain access and secure funds from customers without completing the transaction. This is often used by hotels during the booking process or when you are checking in. It is used to ensure funds are available is any charges are incurred during the stay such as room service costs. The transaction is then fully completed at the end of the stay at checkout.
If you have done a little bit of research, you will find that majority of the high street banks in the UK provide merchant account. Yet they charge a higher fee as compared to other payment providers or ISO’s.
Top 5 Credit Card Machine Manufacturers
There are literally dozens and dozens of different card machines available on the market today. In the post we look at the leading card machine manufacturers who provide the hardware and technology to make taking payments possible.
1. Ingenico Card Machine
2. Verifone Chip and Pin Machine
3. Spire Card Machine
An independent provider of point of sale hardware and software solutions. Spire has 30 years of experience in the payments industry and uses this to bring innovative solutions to the market. They serve many sectors ranging from finance, to retail and hospitality. Their product range include countertop, portable and mobile terminals as well as pin pads.
What features do Spire credit card machines have?
Spire credit card machines, which are just one type of equipment that Spire manufactures, include countertop machines, handheld, mobile machines, multi-lane machines which are great with quick and foolproof card swiping and transaction processing, pin pads for merchants to be able to accept debit cards, and networking and related software. All Spire credit card machines include the same basic functionality of being able to process a credit card transaction and produce a simplistic receipt. More expensive models of Spire credit card machines are able to process debit cards, checks and even gift cards, and many can do so wirelessly, and with the use of a few batteries. Spire credit card machines can also do read-outs and print-outs of last transaction, specific transactions, and overall history for X amount of days or even months.
4. Hypercom Card Machine
Hypercom provided card payment machines solution. In 2011 they were acquired by Spire Payments.
PAX is a worldwide provider of electronical payment terminal solution. They provide both android and lunix powered payment terminals to merchants. They serve over 100 countries and have 25 million terminals in use worldwide.