What is a card reader and how do they work?

Published: 02/11/2018

If you’re a business owner and you want to start taking card payments, you need to be set-up with a card reader.

It’s likely that you’ve paid on a credit or debit card before when out and about, as card readers are everywhere. In fact, it’s become the normal way to pay in the UK. 13.2 billion debit card payments were made in 2017 and 98% of the UK population now own a debit card.

That’s why it’s the perfect time for independent businesses like yours to start taking card payments, giving your customers the flexibility and convenience they need when it comes to paying.

You could be missing out on sales if you don’t!

What is a card reader?

A card reader, also known as a credit card reader or a card machine, is an electronic device that allows you to process debit and credit card payments.

It’s not just an easier way for your customers to pay, it can also increase spend in your business and the likelihood of impulse buys, as people aren’t restricted to the cash they have in their pocket

It’s also safer than processing cash and could help to reduce cash handling in your business, as well as the cost of managing cash.

By offering multiple ways to take payments, rather than just cash, you could also attract new customers too!

How do card readers work?

They work using a range of payment technology, including Chip and PIN, Contactless, Apple Pay and Android Pay, so you can accept payments multiple ways.

Chip and PIN

The most common way to pay, Chip and PIN technology was originally introduced into the UK in 2006.

It replaced the original magstripe technology (where the card was swiped and then your customer signed the receipt) to help combat card payment fraud.

When one of your customers is ready to make a payment, they insert their debit card or credit card into the reader and enter their PIN code to verify the transaction.

The cards chip interacts with the card reader, and sends the encrypted transaction data to your business merchant account, where it’ll be approved and processed.

Once done, the funds are then securely transferred into your business bank account.

Contactless, Apple Pay and Android Pay

Contactless technology is a faster way for you to take card payments from your customers.

Using NFC (Near Field Communication) or RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) to process payments, your customers just tap their contactless card against the card reader, without needing to insert it or enter a PIN code.

Contactless payments are capped at £30, meaning you can process quick payments for small value items, helping to reduce queuing times in your business.

Apple Pay and Android Pay work the same way as contactless technology. Instead of using a contactless card, your customers can make payments using their Apple device (such as an iPhone or Apple Watch) or their Android Smartphone.

What types of card readers are there?

We have a range of card readers available at Payzone, designed to suit a variety of business types, whether you need to take payments next to your till, around the shop floor or whilst out on the road.

One of our local card payment specialists will meet with you, bringing with them a wealth of local business knowledge, to help you choose the best card reader for your business.

The different types of card readers we offer include:

Countertop card readers

These static machines sit on top of your counter or desk next to your till, allowing you to easily take face to face payments from your customers.

It is powered using a wired connection, so it’ll need to be plugged into an electrical socket and connects using either a phone line or a broadband connection.

They're perfect for corner shops, high street stores and any business that has a reception point.

Mobile card readers

Mobile machines can be used for taking debit and credit card payments anywhere in the UK.

It doesn’t use a wire to connect. With a built-in SIM card, it works on 3G and allows the machine to connect to the strongest mobile network available in your area (EE, O2, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile).

They're ideal for businesses that don’t have a fixed premise such as handymen, taxi drivers as well as market stalls and pop-up stands.

Portable card readers

These card readers can be removed from a base unit, so you’ll be able to take payments from around your business premises.

You’ll be able to take payments up to 50m away as the handset connects to the base through Bluetooth.

They're the perfect solution for hospitality businesses such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants.

How to get started

If you’re interested in taking card payments, Payzone can help you every step of the way.

Whether you need to take payments from your counter, around your shop floor or whilst out on the road, we have a range of card readers to suit you.

Plus, all of our card readers are equipped with Chip and PIN technology, contactless, Apple Pay and Android Pay as standard.

One of our local card payment specialists will meet with you and discuss the best solution to suit your needs. They’ll create a bespoke pricing package based on the type of business you own and your current or expected card transaction volume.

There are no separate card reader rental costs as this is part of your pricing package. It’ll also cover any transaction fees and authorisation fees.

With no set-up fees and a flexible 12-month contract available, get a free quote today.

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