The statistics say that about 84% of adults have at least one credit card. Now, don’t you think that not having the best credit card machine for small businesses in 2024 is making you lack somewhere among your competitors?
Picture this: It’s 8 am, and people are rushing to your cafe for the coffee, waiting in lines that is stretching out the door. And you, on the other hand, making coffee, taking orders, taking payments, counting the correct change, and writing the receipts. And suddenly, you get one order wrong, and the people standing in the line drifted away, frustrated.
So, how do you keep up with the demand? How will you manage the receipts, save time, and satisfy the customers at the same time? There’s got to be a better way, right?
Actually, there is, and it’s the credit card machine. By accepting contactless payments, you can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your business.
However, the question is: which credit card machine to choose? Which one is the best? For this, we’ve picked the best credit card machine for all the small businesses out there.
So, keep reading to get to the best time-saving credit card machine for your small business.
What Is A Credit Card Reader?
A credit card reader is a machine that many businesses use to process debit and credit card transactions.
The customers will apply the card on the credit card reader, and the machine then reads the information stored through the magnetic chip attached to the card. Then, the machine sends data to the payment processor to verify and authenticate it.
This credit card reader can be a physical instrument connected to a computer or mobile device. Most often, it is simply integrated into the payment processing system of the POS system.
This integrated POS system will help you track all the transactions and processes while giving a convenient experience to the customers.
How To Choose The Best Credit Card Machine?
A credit card reader is not just about accepting the payments. Therefore, when choosing the best credit card machine, you need to think of more than just payment. Make sure you get the most reliable and cost-efficient technology that will offer a seamless experience to your customers.
Here are a few criteria that you need to make sure that your credit card device has:
1. No Contract Or Hidden Fees
The first thing to ensure while buying the credit card machine is that there should be no contract or hidden fees. Oftentimes, credit card machines require you to get into a contract to begin the transactions with their hardware.
You may be required to sign a merchant account agreement and pay fees for using the application, chargebacks, retrieval, compliance, and hardware lease.
2. Easy To Use
The card reader shouldn’t make your life more difficult. It should be easy to use and require minimal training. It should sync everything into one system, which will allow you to keep track of all the transactions and keep your customers updated.
If it’s complicated to use for you and your team, then the customers will only leave your store frustrated.
While buying a credit card machine, you should always think about the needs of the customers. So, choose a card machine that accepts whatever ways the customers want to pay.
So, get a credit card reader that is compatible with the EMV chip, NFC payments, and swipe cards.
4. Trial Period And Warranty
You can also look for a card reader that will allow you for a trial, say 30 30-day trial, and also offers a warranty if anything goes wrong.
The machine should also include support, so if anything goes wrong, you can ask for help and get the help quickly.
Pricing is another key element that you need to look into. If a card reader has high transaction fees but no monthly fees, it will better fit the low-volume sellers.
However, a card reader that includes a separate merchant account will be a good option if you are a high-volume seller.
The last feature to look for when buying the best card reader is flexibility. You want a card reader that offers great connectivity and should function even when Bluetooth, wi-fi, or internet connectivity is down.
Your credit card machine should also be able to accept all kinds of payments, including Magstripe, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and all types of credit cards.
Best Credit Card Machine For Small Businesses
We’ve picked these credit card machines on the basis of the hardware-software features, pricing, and other important features. So, find the right one for you.
eHopper is a credit card machine that is a perfect fit for small businesses such as restaurants and retail stores. It has one of the largest selection of credit card machines on its list.
One of the best things about the machine is that it has an in-built payment processor and no processing fees, so you can save money on credit card payments. Its features include POS, CRM, Order and employee management, reporting, inventory, and much more.
It comes with a 15.6″ display and a 15.6” customer-facing screen. eHopper credit card machine accepts all kinds of major credit cards at 2.60% + $0.10 per tap, dip, or swipe and deposits the funds into your account in one or two business days.
The plan starts free without a contract and goes up to $39.99 per month. There is also a one-year contract in which you are required to pay $29.99 per month.
|Poynt Smart Terminal 3G
|Poynt Smart Terminal WiFi + eHopper POS bundle
|Poynt 5 WiFi Wireless Terminal
|Poynt 5 3G Wireless Terminal
Pros & Cons Of Using eHopper
|No credit card processing fees
|Must have a paid plan if more than 300 transactions are processed.
|Multiple terminal options
|Only eligible merchants qualify for free hardware
|Can take payments anywhere using a tap and chip card reader
|5% fees for credit card processing
Toast is one of the best credit card machines for full-service restaurants. It is a fully integrated tool that helps you manage the payments and take orders too.
To be specific, its software enables order screen access, the creation of menus, price setting, adding order buttons, and much more. This machine also has an offline mode, so even if the internet connection is down, you can still take orders. Moreover, most of the credit card machines have an 8-hour battery but Toast credit card machine comes with a 24-hour battery.
Toast doesn’t only offer a full POS but also offer a credit card machine. This credit card machine is called Toast Go2, and if paid upfront, it costs $627.
You have to pay $69 per month for the software, and the processing fee is 2.49% + 15 cents per transaction. One of the key things to note is that the company doesn’t require you to pay any hardware cost or monthly fees, but you’ll required to pay 2.99% + 15 cents per transaction.
Pros & Cons Of Using Toast
|Need to sign a contract
|Switching from a different credit card machine to Toast is not smooth
|Switching from different credit card machine to Toast is not smooth
|Exclusively for the restaurant industry
|You have to pay no fees upfront
3. ShopKeep by Lightspeed
Lightspeed is a powerful POS that offers bar, restaurant, retail, and e-commerce features. Its clients include some well-known companies like Five Guys, Goodwill, and Kempersports.
ShopKeep by Lightspeed is the best credit card machine for quick-service restaurants (QSR). So, whether you need a touchscreen with tap and pin entry, swipe and dip capabilities, a machine with tap, or the ability to print the receipts right from the credit card machine, ShopKeep by Lightspeed is your ideal machine.
Moreover, it has three credit card machine options, namely- Verifone e280, Verifone P400, and Verifone 400m.
Lightspeed doesn’t have a free plan, but it does have a 14-day free trial. Along with these monthly prices, you’ll also be required to pay 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction.
Its other plans include:
|Per Month Cost
|Additional Register Per Month
|$29 per month for each additional register
|Each account receives one-on-one integrated payments
|$29 per month for each additional register
|Ideal for omnichannel business due to its accounting integration
|$29 per month for each additional register
|You can reward you customers for their loyalty using this plan
|To get the price quotation you need to call the company
|Unlimited personalized onboarding
Application programming interface support
Pros & Cons Of Using ShopKeep by Lightspeed
|Products for retail and restaurants business
|Expensive pricing plans
|24/7 customer support and an account manager for all retail plans
|Inventory management feature
|No e-commerce, accounting, or advanced reporting features on the lean plan.
|You have to pay no fees upfront
|Hardware pricing is not transparent
Unlike its competitors, Clover POS offers a wide range of hardware and software designed for various types of businesses. It supports various third-party applications and services such as accounting software, CRM, and online ordering platforms.
Clover POS has plans for full-service dining, retail shops, professional services, and home and field services. This Point of Sale system also comes with software that will help you with employee management, inventory management, and tools to engage with the customers.
|Paperless receipts and
mobile attachment for both Android and IOS
|Track sales transactions
Paper and paperless receipts
|$799 or $45/ month for retail and services
$100 per month for restaurants & food services
|Accept chip, swipe, and contactless payments
Available for full-service restaurants and retail businesses
|Clover Station Duo
|$1,799 or $135/ month for retail & services and
$140/ month for full-service dining
|Second Screen for customers
Accept chip, swipe, QR, dip, tap and contactless payments
|Clover Station Solo
|$1,699 or $125/ month for retail & services and
$160/ month for full-service dining
|POS sales tracking
Pros & Cons Of Using Clover
|It comes with built-in receipt printer
|Battery life is not great
|24/7 customer support
|Purchase high-tier plans to receive free hardware
|Free plan available
|No loyalty programs on Clover Go
Square is a payment processing and point of sales (POS)platform used by almost all sizes of businesses. It offers a user-friendly and affordable POS system for small businesses or startups.
Through his credit card POS, you can send invoices, track your sales, and inventory all in one place. Square offers multiple types of hardware, and all the software is free of cost. You can also download these from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
|It comes with an integrated contactless card reader and the ability to add a cash drawer
|Square POS Terminal
|Square Stand for iPads
|First one free, $10 for each additional
|Works with Android and iPhones
|Portable POS Terminal with built-in payments and receipt printer
|It comes with an integrated contactless card reader and the ability to add cash drawer
|Fully integrated POS system; no apps or tablets required
It also charges processing fees of $2.6% + 10 cents per transaction if the customer dips, swipes or taps the card in person. It charges differently on the basis of the payment done online, manually entered, and invoices.
Pros & Cons Of Using Square
|No monthly fee
|No chat support
|No long-term contract
|Payroll and email marketing features require a separate monthly plan
|Free POS software
|Custom pricing is only available if you generate $250,000 a year in card sales
6. Zettle By PayPal
PayPal’s Zettle is ideal for merchants who run a mobile business. It allows the merchant to accept a variety of in-person payments via their PayPal account.
The Zettle POS app offers an excellent set of features to its users that makes selling and collecting payments quick and easy.
Some of its features include staff tracking, inventory tracking, and customer tracking. It also tracks the date of the sale by date, payment type, and product group, and customer and employees.
With Zettle by PayPal, you don’t need to pay any monthly fees, but you have to pay for the hardware and processing fees. Zettle has two costs in this regard:
- Card Reader Payment: 2.29% of the sale amount + $0.09 transaction fee
- Mannually Keyed-in Payment: 3.49% of the sale amount + $0.09 transaction fee
Pros & Cons Of Using Zettle By PayPal
|Has manual card entry for phone orders
|Only one credit card machine option
|Can send receipts via SMS text
|Advertise $29 for your first reader but changes its regular price when you go to purchase it
|Contactless payments take 5 seconds
|Limited e-commerce and accounting software
Shopify is a popular e-commerce website, but it also offers a convenient card reader. One of the drawbacks of using Shopify POS Pro is that it has an additional charge of $89 per month per location.
But other than this, it has 6000 plus app integration, a user-friendly site setup, and 24/7 customer support. The omnichannel businesses will appreciate Shopify’s on-the-go credit card machines.
|$39 per month
|$105 per month
|$399 per month
|Online Credit Card Rates for Shopify Payments
|2.9% + 30 cents
|2.6% + 30 cents
|2.4% + 30 cents
|Online International/Amex Credit Card Rates
|3.9% + 30 cents
|3.6% + 30 cents
|3.4% + 30 cents
|In-Person Credit Card Rates for Shopify Payments
|2.7% + 0 cents
|2.5% + 0cents
|2.4% + 0 cents
Pros & Cons Of Using Toast
|Intuitive and easy to use
|No completely free option
|A customer online store with free plan
|5% fee for credit card processing
|Tap and chip option available for payment from anywhere
|Free hardware is provided to only eligible merchants
Stripe is the best option for businesses running an omnichannel business. Through an integrated Stripe terminal, you can track all the online payments and offline transactions, too, and all in one place.
You can also use this POS to send invoices and set up recurring payments. You can also protect your business from fraud by ordering EMV-certified hardware directly from Stripe. It is one of the few credit card machines that doesn’t charge any monthly fees.
|Stripe Reader M2
|Stripe Reader S700
Pros & Cons Of Using Stripe
|No monthly fees
|Expensive processing fees
|Works with 135 currencies
|Larger learning curve
How Much Does A Credit Card Terminal Cost?
|Mobile Card Reader
|Unreliable and may have hardware compatibility issues
|Depends on the device
|Supports magstripe, EMV & NFC
|Only Universal models
|Large and easy to read the displays
Difference Between A Card Reader And A POS
A POS and a card reader are not interchangeable terms. A card reader accepts information from debit and credit cards, like card numbers and the cardholder’s name, and sends the information with the amount to the business’s payment processor.
This is where the work of a card reader ends.
On the other hand, the POS takes the information from the transaction and uses it to perform multiple functions, such as documenting customers’ information, creating receipts, logging the sales for the accounting process, updating the inventory, and keeping the record of which employee performed the transaction.
What Do I Need: A POS or A Card Reader?
The answer to this question is not a simple one, as it depends on the type of your business. Here are common scenarios that will help you make an informed decision on whether your business needs a POS or a card reader:
1. Online Or Mobile Business
If you operate a fully online or mobile business, say a hairstylist or a carpenter or, say, a small pest control business, then you don’t need a full-size POS terminal to manage the transactions.
The best option for you will be to get a card reader and make it convenient for both you as well as your customers.
2. In-Person Payments
The second scenario is when your business requires you to accept the repayments in person, say, a cafe, a fashion retail store, or any other physical store.
In this case, getting a POS terminal with a card reader will help you to manage multiple functions.
3. E-commerce Retailer Operating Online
If you are an e-commerce retailer who operates the business online, then you don’t need a card reader. However, you will need a payment gateway on your digital storefront where the customers can use their credit or debit cards.
Therefore, you’ll need software something similar to the POS terminal that will help you track sales and update the inventory.
What Are The Types Of Credit Card Transaction Fees?
As a small business owner, you should know that there are three types of fees associated with every credit card transaction. These fees are divided among the financial institutions that are involved.
1. Payment Process Fees
The payment processor fees is the fees that the business pays every time the customers use the debit or credit card to buy the goods or services. This amount of payment depends on the level of risk involved, the type of card used, and the pricing model of the payment processor.
The average credit card processing fee ranges between 1.5% to 3.5%. However, most states in the U.S. allow merchants to charge processing fees to customers.
2. Assessment Or Service Fees
An assessment or service fee is the fee that is charged on your monthly sales on each credit card or debit card brand. This fee is paid to the credit card association
This fee is often confused with the interchange fees.
3. Interchange Fees
This fee is also known as the swipe fee. A small percentage of each transaction is deducted from the merchant’s bank account and is collected from the financial company of the credit card.
The size of the fees differs from financial company to company and the type of transaction.
Choosing the best credit card reader is not as easy as it looks. It needs you to look into every aspect of your business, your budget, and the customer’s needs.
However, to make your operations effective and convenient for customers and your business, you need to opt for the best method. One of the best methods to ease up your operations is to select the best credit card machine for small businesses in 2024.
Can I use my phone as a card machine?
Yes, you can, but you have to install an online billing app. There are many online billing apps available in the market, such as ApplePay for iPhone, Google Pay for Android users, and many more.
Does a crad machine require WiFi?
Yes, card machines need a stable internet connection. While machines rely on mobile data networks but for the machine to function effectively, it requires a WiFi connection.
What are the two types of card reader?
The two types of card readers are magnetic strip key card readers and proximity card readers.