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Your complete guide to accepting card payments as a small business

21 February 2017 Product Information

If your small business is considering taking credit and debit card payments, we know the options can be overwhelming. So we’ve made everything easier for you. This guide covers everything you need to know to get started, from which card machine to choose to why your online business needs a secure payment gateway. We’ll help you get to grips with the basics, so you can find the best card machine for you.

Benefits of accepting card payments as a small business.

There are many reasons why taking credit and debit card payments could be great for a small business:

  • Make payments simple. With more and more consumers expecting to pay by credit or debit card, it’s important your business is ready to meet their expectations. Today, more than 3/4 of all high street spending is made using credit or debit cards, and that figure is only expected to grow over the next 10 years.
  • The use of cash on the high street has been in steady decline.With new contactless technologies designed to make smaller purchases easier, it’s predicted that customers will begin to use cards even more.
  • You’ll get paid faster. As the customer will pay in full at the time of the sale, you won’t have to wait for a cheque to clear. Plus, the money will usually be in your bank account in a few working days.
  • Your business will save more. You’ll be holding less physical cash so you’ll spend less time travelling to the bank to deposit your takings.
  • Your cash flow will improve and you’ll rely less on other financing, such as overdrafts or loans.
  • You’re more likely to make a sale. If a customer doesn’t have enough cash on them, they won’t have to head to a cash point (risking them not returning). If you accept card payments, you give customers more payment options and more reasons to come back.
  • You’ll save time. Accepting card payments is much faster than taking cash or a cheque. There’s no need to count out change or wait for a cheque to clear. With a card machine, your customer simply enters their PIN or taps the terminal with their Contactless card.
  • You’re guaranteed payment. When a customer uses chip and PIN in a shop, you’re guaranteed to receive payment without any disputes.
  • You can plan ahead. When businesses take card payments, they know exactly how much the transaction will cost to process, which can help with planning for the future.
  • It encourages sales. Customers are likely to spend more money when you have a card machine and likely to return more often.
  • Less bank fees. Using a card machine means less cash and cheques to deposit, so you’re likely to incur fewer bank fees.


How can I accept card payments in my small business?

We make it quick and easy for you to set up your card machine and start taking payments.It can take as little as 3 days for us to set you up with a terminal or 24 hours for an online payment gateway.

Depending on the system you choose, you’ll need a few things first:

  • First, we’ll set you up with a merchant account, which will enable you to take card payments. To set up a merchant account, you’ll need to provide a few details about your business accounts, turnover, and transactions.
  • If you’re planning to take card payments through your website, you’ll need a payment gateway, which will enable you to process payments securely and swiftly. It links your website to your merchant account, so you can process transactions online.
  • If you want to take card payments over the phone, you’ll need a virtual terminal, which is where you’ll enter the customer’s details to process the transaction.

We’ll send your card machine once you’ve set up your merchant account, which will arrive within three days of your account being approved. You can set it up yourself by following the on-screen instructions (and we offer 24/7 support if you get stuck).

If you choose an online or virtual terminal, your developer will need to integrate it with your site by following a set of simple instructions. Our specialists are available to help with any technical questions during the process.

Get a free quote online to get started in setting up your small business to take card payments.

What is a merchant account?

Merchant accounts are like bank accounts. They hold funds that move from a customer’s account before they enter a business bank account, making sure the payment is legitimate and that there’s enough money in the customer’s account. The merchant account then authorises payment so that the transaction completes successfully.

Once the transaction has been processed, the money is paid into your merchant account and can be transferred to your business bank account (minus any transaction fees). This usually takes two to three days.

What are the best credit card machines for small businesses?

There are different card payment solutions available to you depending on whether you want to take card payments in-store, online, over the phone, or on the move. All our card payment machines accept all major debit and credit cards and come with ContactlessApple Pay, and Android Pay, as well as chip and PIN capabilities.

Used by thousands of businesses to process card payments in-store, most retailers and high street stores use these for their fast processing and fixed position. They’re easy to use and sit comfortably beside the till.

Another popular option, these machines use Bluetooth to process payments anywhere on the business premises. This is ideal for taking the payment to the customer, rather than the other way around. For these reasons, portable card machines are perfect for restaurants, cafes, and pubs where customers are situated around the premises.

Mobile card machines are used by businesses that look to accept card payments on the move, such as couriers, taxi drivers, and retailers who attend markets and events. Thanks to the cutting-edge GPRS technology of our terminals, they can process transactions from anywhere in the UK with network coverage.

How do I accept payments online?

If you have an online business like an eCommerce store or an internet service, you’ll be required to install a payment gateway to process payment and protect your customers’ private data. The payment gateway is the final part of the checkout procedure, where the user inputs their card details and completes their payment, making it crucial to the user experience in relation to your brand. We provide secure payment gateway software that’s compatible with most major shopping carts and can be installed in as little as 24 hours.

Finally, if you want to be able to get paid online but on demand, you can set up our Pay by link gateway and share this link to your customers via email. Once they receive the email with the link they can access it on their desktop, mobile or tablet and make an online payment.

How can I accept card payments over the phone?

If your business tends to take a lot of orders via telephone or mail, our virtual terminal is your best bet – it allows you to input customers’ card details and process transactions.

How do I process credit cards and get paid?

When a customer pays using a debit or credit card, the funds are transferred into your merchant account, after which they’re transferred into your business bank account.

The whole process takes two business days, so you’ll have the money in your business bank account shortly after the transaction takes place (typically within three to five business days). For online payments, the average clearance time is four to five working days.

What are the costs of accepting card payments?

The cost of your card machine will depend on several factors, like the nature of your business, turnover, and which terminal you choose – countertop, portable, or mobile. We can tell you the exact price once we know a few details about your business.

You’ll also need to consider the card processing fees. This is what you pay on each transaction and can be broken down into two categories – percentage and flat-rate. Most of your costs will be from the transaction fees. For each of your card transactions, your merchant service provider will take a percentage of the transaction. We are here to help you grow your business so we will not charge you any set up costs. 

The best card machines for small businesses: which one is right for me?

The best card payment system for you will depend on how you interact with your customers. Our small business card machines can accept all major credit and debit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, as well as Contactless, Apple Pay, and Android Pay. 

  • Countertop card machines: great for retailers and other businesses that have a designated point-of-sale location, such as beauty parlours, salons, supermarkets or retail shops. The sleek and simple design means it’ll fit easily on the counter, and it plugs into your broadband or phone line to keep you constantly connected.
  • Portable card machines: Bluetooth means you can use the machine up to 100m from the base so the customer doesn’t have to move to pay. This makes it an ideal option for venues like restaurants and cafes. Long-life battery allows it to run all day on a single charge.
  • Mobile card machines: connect wirelessly to the mobile network via a pre-installed SIM card to process transactions using GPRS technology, so you can use it to take payments anywhere. It also has long-life batteries, making it great for delivery services, taxi drivers, or retailers who operate on the go.
  • Online payment gateway: connects your website to your merchant account, so customers can make quick and secure online purchases. Great for eCommerce retailers of all shapes and sizes.
  • Virtual terminals: allows you to process customer details through a payment gateway, allowing you to take payment via the phone, fax, or post. It’s a good solution for customers who prefer traditional payment methods.
  • Pay by link: Similar to the payment gateway this online gateway allows you to send a link to your customers via email so that they can make a payment.

The pros and cons of taking card payments

card payment machine opens your business up to new opportunities, allowing you to connect with more people and expand your services. With the option for countertop, portable, and mobile terminals, you can find a solution that suits both you and your customers. And once you find the right system, the opportunities are endless!

With our range of secure, reliable, and affordable options, there aren’t many cons. Because of the way fees are calculated, the overall cost of having a card machine will depend on your individual business and the transaction fees that you accumulate. To find out more about the costs and the right payment solution for you, fill in our online quote form

Why wait? Take card payments in just 3 days.