Best card reader for small businesses
Home » Tips & Guides » Best card reader for small businesses

Best card reader for small businesses


Ready to choose a new card reader for your small business? Here’s how to find the right one for you – and avoid the hidden pitfalls.

Whether you’re setting up for the first time or upgrading your current system to something more modern – looking for a new card reader can be a challenge. It takes a long time to research the pros and cons of different providers, read card reader reviews, work out what you need, and make a decision – time that most small business owners don’t have to spare. So we’re going to ditch the jargon, identify the main things to look out for, and help make sure you don’t get stung by surprise fees or poor security.  

The benefits of going contactless 

Today, more and more people are choosing to use cards, smartwatches or smartphones rather than carry cash. Contactless and card payments offer you and your customers a range of benefits. 

  • They’re easy to use 
    Modern card machines and POS apps are so simple and intuitive, you don’t need any staff training days or bulky instruction manuals. 
  • They’re much faster 
    Today, contactless payments can be processed in a matter of seconds – even if you’re waiting tables in a large outdoor area or at a temporary pop-up shop. 
  • They’re more hygienic 
    With no-touch contactless payment options, you protect your customer and your staff by reducing the spread of germs.  
  • They follow high security standards 
    The Payments Card Industry has a Data Security Standard (the “PCI DSS”) – a set of requirements that help protect sensitive transaction data. 

How to choose the right card reader 

What should you be looking out for when deciding on your new card reader?  

Flexibility to work around your business 

Right now, a fixed checkout might work perfectly for your business – but what about in the future? One day, you might be ready to expand, want to reshuffle your layout, run a pop-up or go mobile. If you’re already using a mini card reader that’s lightweight and portable, you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to make sure the reader will last eight hours on a single battery charge, too. 

Every day reliability and top security 

Trust is a vital ingredient for great customer experience. Having a card reader that will power up quickly and take payments without a hitch is important – and so is the knowledge that your and your customers’ data is protected to the highest standards. For an extra layer of security, look out for card readers without the magstripe, as swipe card readers can leave you liable for fraud. 

Simplicity and intuitive design 

Card readers used to be bulky and complicated – some even required a day of training with an expert for every new member of staff! Businesses can immediately save time, space and money by choosing a more intuitive modern card reader that you can pick up and start using. Check to see if your provider also features how-to videos on their website or app, or if they offer help centre calls for free – some providers charge extra for assistance. 

Multiple payment options 

It’s great to accept most kinds of major credit and debit cards, but today it’s even better to be able to say yes to device payments like smartwatches or phones. For this your card reader needs to have contactless compatibility with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Offering more ways to pay makes customers happier, and could result in more sales, too! 

card reader for small businesses

A simple pricing structure 

Many card readers appear to be cheap or free, but business owners are stung later on by hidden charges. These costs could be for calling the help centre, using a merchant account or just payment processing fees. Look on your card reader provider’s website to make sure they have a simple, fixed fee for all transactions – and check for any hidden costs. Some companies may even have special rates if you take a high number of transactions every month – so make sure you don’t miss out on a deal. 

New card reader checklist 
Doing a card reader comparison? Keep these must-haves in mind. 
✓ Light and portable with all-day battery  
✓ Meets highest security standards 
✓ Easy to set up and use with no training 
✓ Accepts all major cards and mobile payments 
✓ No hidden fees or lock-in contracts 

Ready to solve your search?  

The Zettle Reader 2 is our fast, secure card machine. Take payments in seconds, all day, for one flat fee.  

Pair the Zettle Reader 2 with our free point-of-sale app, Zettle Go, for a complete cash register that’s reliable, secure, and portable. With easy-to-understand reports and simple inventory management, Zettle Go helps you run your business better. It’s free to download and start using – no hidden fees. 

Sign up to Zettle today and get your first card reader for just £29. 

Find out about the Zettle Reader 2