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Taking card payments as a small business in the UK

4 June 2018 Product Information

As more small businesses adopt credit card readers to take card payments, the popularity of card and contactless payments continues to rise. Our recent research found that just 10% of Brits say they are likely to pay with cash, and contactless payments tripled back in 2016.

It seems with portable and mobile card readers becoming increasingly available on street food stalls, at festivals, and in cafes and bars, consumers are beginning to expect them everywhere. 80% of Brits admitted that card transactions were their preferred form of payment, with London, Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester named within the top cities for card payments.

Top 10 cities for taking card payments

City Sum of transactions in 2017
London 59,498,327
Birmingham 10,000,609
Bristol 8,297,118
Brighton 6,775,089
Manchester 5,449,368
Sheffield 4,765,407
Edinburgh 4,140,689
Portsmouth 3,712,439
Leeds 3,655,217
Oxford 3,450,293


50% of survey respondents also stated that they would like to see more car parks take card payments, which was followed by public transport (42%), and taxis (40%). With demand for more widespread card payments on the up, small businesses that opt for a cash-only payment system run the risk of losing precious custom and falling behind.

The benefits of taking card payments as a small business

  • Streamlines the payment process and reduces queuing time.
  • Safer and more secure than taking cash.
  • Gives your small business a more credible and professional image.
  • Enables you to monitor stock control and customer spending habits more easily by accessing customer payment data.

What’s the best card machine / card reader for taking card payments?

Setting up a small business card machine is faster and easier than you might expect and can be done in a matter of days. There are three different card readers available from Paymentsense, meaning there’s a convenient payment solution for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

  • Countertop card machine

Countertop card machines are wired up to your phone or broadband line, enabling you to process lighting fast payments at your till. As the UK’s most widespread type of card reader, they are popular across a wide section of businesses, including shops, department stores, and takeaways.

  • Portable card machine

With an impressive 100m range via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, portable card readers give you the flexibility to take payments all around your business premises. Portable card readers are most commonly found in the restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars, but are popular with some retailers too.

  • Mobile card machine

Mobile card machines use a built-in GPRS SIM which allows you to take payments no matter where you are in the UK. Boasting a long-life battery to keep payments going all night or day, mobile card readers are ideal for taxi drivers, festival vendors, and tradespeople.

How much does it cost a small business to take card payments?

Integrating a credit card reader into your small business is an affordable way to streamline your payment system and give your customers the service they deserve. The cost depends on your business type, size, and requirements. Get a free online quote in minutes and find out how much it will cost to get your business up and running.

Why wait? Take card payments in just 3 days.