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Card Machine Costs: Everything You Need to Know (2024 Guide)

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Card machines will cost anywhere between £19 and £230 + VAT to buy and £10 and £25 + VAT per month to lease.

What are card machines?

Card machines allow businesses to accept payments from debit and credit cards with just a quick swipe, tap, or insert. These machines, a staple at checkout counters everywhere, make transactions smoother and faster for customers and businesses. They are also known as card terminals or PDQ machines.

Why does your business need a card machine?

Card machines make it easier for your business to process payments and make it convenient for your customers to buy goods and services from you. Latest figures from UK Finance show that more than 57% of all payments in the UK were made using debit or credit cards in 2021. Cash payments, on the other hand, only accounted for 15% of all payments.

Card machines also help your business increase sales by reaching a broader customer base, and streamlining business operations.

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Costs of card machines

One of the biggest factors you’ll need to consider while buying card machines is their price. Here, we break down the different elements of the price of card machines to help you choose the right card machine for your business.

How much does a card machine cost?

How much a card machine costs depends on the provider and the type of card reader you need. It also depends on whether you pay for the device upfront or whether you pay a monthly fee to rent it.

Purchase Option Cost Range Terminal Costs
Buy Outright
£19 - £230 + VAT
One-off upfront fee
£10 - £25/month
Regular monthly cost

Note: Additional card processing fees apply to both purchasing options, which are detailed further below.

Breakdown of card machine price

To simplify, we split expenses into merchant account fees and card machine prices, helping you make informed choices for your business. Merchant accounts process your card payments, so when we talk about card machine expenses, you’ll know how it all fits together for your business.

Note that these costs apply whether you buy or rent a card machine.

Merchant account-related costs

Merchant account costs: Fees for the bank account needed to take card payments.

Merchant service charge: Fees banks charge for accepting credit card transactions, typically 0.2% to 0.3%.

PCI compliance fee: Monthly or annual fee for meeting Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requirements. Providers may charge around £5 a month, though some providers might cover this compliance, negating the fee.

Refund fees: Charges for processing refunds.
Chargeback fees: Fees applied when a customer disputes a transaction, potentially including the loss of the transaction amount if resolved in the buyer’s favor.

Foreign transaction fees: Additional fees for transactions involving foreign cards and currency conversion.

Card machine-related costs

Terminal costs: Upfront fees or monthly costs for buying or renting the terminal.

Transaction costs: Percentage fees for each transaction, generally between 1% and 3%, with higher fees for Amex transactions.

Monthly minimum service charge: Required minimum amount in transaction fees, with payments of usually between £10 and £20 a month if the minimum is not met.

Shipping costs: Fees for delivering the device.
Set-up fees: Charges for setting up the system, around £50 to £100.

Early exit fee: Fees for terminating a contract early.

Card machine price: Mobile vs. portable vs. countertop

Depending on your business’s unique needs, you might want to consider different types of card machines: mobile, portable, and countertop. Each comes with its own set of features, benefits, and, importantly, cost implications.

CardMachine Type Cost Features Benefits
From £15/month
Fixed location connectivity, High-security
Ideal for retail with a single payment point
From £20 - £25/month
WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity, Portable
Flexible for tableside or outdoor payments
Buy from £20 – £60
Uses mobile connection, Compact design
Perfect for on-the-go transactions

Buying vs renting card machines

It is commonplace for businesses to rent a card machine in the UK instead of buying one. But you may choose to buy card machines outright depending upon your business needs. Here are the pros and cons of buying or renting your card machine.

Options Pros Cons
One-off payment, avoiding monthly expenses.
Maintenance and repair costs post-warranty are high. Risk of technology becoming outdated.
Low upfront cost. Includes repair/replacement, technical support, and upgrade options.
Long-term contracts can be restrictive and more expensive over time compared to buying outright.

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The decision to rent or buy a credit card machine depends on your business’s specific needs and circumstances. Renting may be the best option if you’re looking for lower upfront costs and flexibility to upgrade to the latest technology without additional investment. Whereas, buying a credit card machine might suit you if you prefer owning the equipment outright, avoiding ongoing monthly rental fees, and planning to use the machine for a long time.

No, you’ll need a business bank account to take payments via a card machine.

Card machines can still be used even when the cardholder is not physically present. Simply enter their card details manually to take card payments over the phone.

Written by:

Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson is a seasoned business content writer, leveraging several years of experience to craft impactful narratives that seamlessly blend business insights with engaging storytelling across diverse industries. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences.