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10 Best Card Readers for Small Businesses (Updated 2024)

Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Setting up a new business comes with a lot of administrative headaches. Working out how you are going to take payments is one of them! Which reader has the best features? Which works best if I need to take it on-the-go? Which won’t cost me an arm and a leg in processing fees? So many questions!

Here at CardSwitcher, we have answers! This post rounds up the top 10 best card readers for small businesses. We know every business has unique needs and wants, so we’ve:

  • Given a broad overview of the features of each reader
  • Discussed the costs involved
  • Set out which reader is best for which use case.

Read on to see which card reader is best for your small business.

Best card readers at a glance

Here are our picks for the best card machines for small businesses and what area we think each shines best in!

  • 1.

    SumUp Air

    - Best for phone-free 3G connectivity

  • 2.

    Square Reader 2nd Gen

    - Best for software integrations

  • 3.

    Zettle Card Reader 2

    - Best for shops/stalls with small product lists

  • 4.

    TakePayments A920

    - Best for multiple sales reps

  • 5.

    Tyl (by Natwest) Clover Flex

    - Best for all-in-one POS system

  • 6.

    WorldPay DESK 5000/Axium DX8000

    - Best for selling high value goods

  • 7.

    ShopifyWisePad 3 Card Reader

    - Best if you sell online more

  • 8.

    Tide Reader

    - Best for selling sporadically

  • 9.

    Dojo Go

    - Best for non-seasonal, established brick-and-mortar stores

  • 10.

    SmartPay Anywhere (by Barclaycard)

    - Best for lots of small transactions

Overview of the best card machines for small business

This table is designed to give you an easy-to-compare overview of the basics with each of the 10 card readers on this list.

SumUp AirSquare 2nd GenZettle Card Reader 2A920 from TakePaymentsClover Flex from Tyl (by Natwest)DESK/5000 and Axium DX800 from WorldPayWisePad 3 Reader from ShopifyTide Card ReaderDojo GoSmartPay Anywhere Card Reader by Barclaycard
Star Rating*
Contract Required?NoNoNoYes - 18 monthsYes - 12 monthsYes - 18 monthsNoNoYes - 6 monthsNo
Cost of Reader£39 + VAT£19 + VAT£29 + VATBespoke£16 + VAT / month£49.99 + VAT / month£49 + VAT£49 + VAT£20 + VAT / month£29 + VAT
In Person Transaction Fees1.69%1.75%1.75%Bespoke1.5%1.5%1.7%1.5%1.4% + 5p1.6%
Charge for Chargebacks?NoNoYes£9Yes£20£10£10YesNo
Charge for Refunds?NoNoNo30pNoNoNoNo50p75p
Payout Time2-3 business daysNext working day at 4pm1-2 business daysNext dayNext day3-4 days6 working days1-3 daysNext daySame day
Warranty1 year2 years1 yearN/AN/AN/A1 year4 monthsN/A12 months
Offer Payment Gateway Add-On?YesNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYes
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes

*Note: To calculate our star rating, behind-the-scenes we have marked each provider on the quality of the reader itself, the features of the reader and other integrations, customer support, and fees, and then calculated the average of these scores out of 5 stars. The rating is a general rating for overall comparison and you should still take into account your own business’s needs when evaluating each reader.


July 2023 card reader regulations

In July 2023, the FCA introduced new consumer duty roles to make card reader services simpler and fairer for small businesses. The duty roles meant that:

  • Contracts cannot exceed 18 months.
  • Providers have to give clear notice when your contract is about to expire.

This is to stop small businesses becoming trapped in expensive contracts. The regulations are essential for ensuring market options are fair for small businesses.


1. SumUp Air

Our rating



Card reader: £39 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.69-2.5%.

SumUp offers 3 card readers, catering to businesses of different sizes with different needs: the SumUp Air, Solo, and 3G. We’ll focus on the SumUp Air here, the OG!

The SumUp Air is similarly sized to the Square card reader, measuring ever so slightly larger at 8.4x8.4cm.

What’s interesting about the SumUp Air is that you don’t need to connect it to your mobile phone or tablet device for it to work. It can be fitted with its own SIM card so it can use 3G data on its own.
SumUp has the lowest fees of all the providers on this list, so it’s fantastic for small start-ups or independent vendors. It’s easy to get set up online with a simple payment gateway integration from WooCommerce, making things more straightforward.

Best suited for:

  • Retail shops/market stalls/pop-up shops
  • Businesses looking for an online presence



SumUp offers lovely low transaction fees of just 1.69% - lower than Zettle and Square. The reader itself is a bit pricier than Zettle and Square, at £39 + VAT. If you buy the Air and the Charging station, it’s only £10 more expensive, at £49 + VAT. This is a much cheaper jump in price than Zettle’s dock and card reader combo.

Online payments and keyed-in transactions are a bit pricier, at 2.5%.

Card Reader CostSoftware CostIn Person Transaction Fee / InvoiceOnline UK Card TransactionsKeyed-In TransactionsPay By Link
£39 + VATFree1.69%2.5%2.5%2.5%
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes



  • Measures at 8.4x8.4 cm (just slightly larger than Square reader) so very easy to carry around on-the-go.
  • No need to connect to a mobile phone or tablet - works with its own SIM card.
  • Cheap transaction fees.
  • Long lasting battery - does 500 transactions / 12 hours on a single charge.
  • No contract required.
  • Can set up an online store using the SumUp app.
  • Can add-on the SumUp Kiosk for self-serve ordering.



  • They are the only provider with no live chat function.
  • Customer reporting is not as detailed as other providers on the list.
  • You can’t use the POS Lite plan with this card reader.


Should I get the SumUp Air card reader?

You are best getting this reader if:

  • You take lots of small transactions at a store, stall, on-the-go.
  • You would like to sell online too.
  • You are in hospitality and want to splurge on the SumUp self-service Kiosk.


2. Square Card Reader 2nd Gen

Our rating



Card reader: £19 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.75-2.5% + 25p.

The Square reader is compact but capable. It measures 8x8cm and uniquely has no screen, designed primarily for contactless payments. PIN payments can be entered on the mobile or tablet device you pair the reader with (this is called “PIN on glass” and is PCI compliant).

Square offers one of the best POS systems on the UK market for small businesses, with an extensive range of add-on hardware. You can pick from cash drawers, registers, bluetooth printers, and more. 

They have a selection of software designed with retail and hospitality in mind. They offer two software packages: Square Point of Sale and Square for Restaurants. Each has been carefully kitted out with the features that matter most.

The Square card reader is best suited for businesses processing £5k or less per month. As your turnover increases, you would be best getting a merchant account with lower fees.


Best suited for:

  • Dropshipping firms - Square’s inventory management system is detailed and easy-to-use.
  • Service providers with low card sales volume - you can take payments for products you sell in addition to your main service.



Square’s card reader is one of the cheapest options on the market currently, at £19 + VAT. The Square POS app / Square for Restaurants software is completely free. The transaction fees are amongst the more expensive on our list, but for lower volume businesses this is fine for a starting off point. 

You can expect to pay 1.75% per in person transaction (contactless, mobile, and chip and PIN). If you operate online, these payments are 1.4% + 25p for UK cards, going up to 2.5% + 25p for non-UK cards. If you need to manually key in card details (like when taking payments over the phone with a virtual terminal) then the processing rate is 2.5%.

Square’s pricing is transparent, so you won’t find any hidden extra fees (like fees for processing American Express payments or PCI compliance fees) and you’re not locked into any pricey contracts.

Card reader costSoftware costIn person transaction feeOnline UK card transactionsOnline non-UK card transactionsKeyed-in transactionsPay by link/invoice
£19 + VATFree1.75%1.4% + 25p2.5% + 25p2.5%1.9%
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes



  • No need for a merchant account - you can use a business or director bank account details, ideal for low volume microbusinesses.
  • Lightweight and small - it’s not bulky to carry around, measuring at just 8x8cm.
  • Fantastic array of free software and integrations for a highly customisable POS set-up.
  • Battery life is fantastic - it lasts all day long!
  • Can take payments offline.
  • No hidden charges for different card types.
  • Solid customer support centre.



  • Can’t print receipts from the reader - only email or SMS.
  • Can get lower transaction fees with a merchant account.
  • Not suitable for high risk industries.


Should I get the Square reader?

Get the Square reader if:

  • You don’t make a huge turnover.
  • You will use the reader on the go a lot or you have a small space to work in.
  • You need the extra software integrations for a smoother operation.


3. Zettle Reader 2

Our rating



Card reader: £29 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.75-2.5%

PayPal did away with their old card reader and acquired Swedish-born Zettle, bringing the best of both their businesses together. The combo of PayPal’s payment gateway and Zettle’s card processing capabilities make taking online payments straightforward.

That said, the fees for taking payments online with Zettle/PayPal are quite high. It’s not the card reader for you if you will primarily take online payments. You’d be better with Square in that case. 

Zettle shines brightest when used by street vendors or brick-and-mortar stores who take lots of small transactions. The 11x7cm reader is pocket-perfect for on-the-go! You can create a custom POS set-up with a whole host of top-notch hardware - they have suggested set-ups for different businesses, like a Food & Drink one and a Retail one.

Best suited for:

  • Sellers at physical stores/market stalls/pop up shops who take lots of small payments.
  • Counter service hospitality businesses, like food trucks.



Zettle’s card reader costs £29 + VAT for your first reader. If you purchase any additional readers, they’ll cost £59 + VAT each. You can purchase a bundle with the reader and dock together (charges it all day) which costs £68 + VAT for the first reader.

For in person transactions (contactless, mobile, and chip and PIN), they charge the same as Zettle - 1.75%. If you’d like a customer to pay by link/invoice, this is a steep 2.5%, higher than Square’s 1.9%. If you need to manually enter card details (like over-the-phone payments), it’ll cost 3.4% + 20p.

Zettle is not rated for ecommerce businesses because of the high transaction fees for link payments (2.5%). This is one of Zettle’s biggest downfalls, but doesn’t affect traditional brick and mortar business owners. If you’re in the ecommerce crew, check out Square or Shopify.

Card reader costIn person transaction feePayPal paymentsInvoice transactionsManual card entry transactions
£29 + VAT (for first reader)1.75%1.75%2.5%3.4% + 20p
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes



  • Choose PayPal as your payment gateway and keep online sales in the same place.
  • Excellent 3G and 4G connectivity - great for street vendors, moving from market to market.
  • 11x7cm in size so great for small spaces or carrying on the go.
  • Create a repeat payment option to speed up the checkout process, great if you have a small product list.
  • Zettle by PayPal app is totally free
  • Has one of the broadest ranges of payment type acceptance.



  • No offline mode - need a good WiFi or data signal.
  • High fees for payment links are not good for online or remote-based companies.
  • Customer service only operates during standard business hours.


Should I get the Zettle card reader?

You should get the Zettle card reader if:

  • You operate in a physical store/cafe and don’t rely on your online store or find yourself working in areas with no WiFi/data coverage. 
  • You have a small products list so you can use the repeat payment option feature.
  • You take lots of small payments.


4. TakePayments Card Reader

Our rating




The TakePayments A920 card reader performs at its peak in a hospitality setting. The reader has a touchscreen interface and is portable, so great for porting from table to table.

The reader can be shared between 6 users. Each of your servers can log in before taking a payment and the system allows you to allocate tips to who they were intended for.

There’s great real-time reporting and sales analysis as standard on the reader, allowing you to measure exactly how each employee is performing and examine customer trends.

You do need to sign up for a 18-month contract, so it’s not as flexible as other options on the list. 

Best suited for:

  • Service-based industries that take customer tips.
  • Retailers with multiple sales representatives.



Takepayments offer bespoke pricing for the hardware and transaction fee depending on your business and its turnover. You will need to get in touch with them directly to discuss the finer details!

They have a monthly minimum charge of £10, they charge for refunds and chargebacks, and you need to pay extra for PCI compliance every year.



  • Easy to share one terminal with multiple users (up to 6).
  • Next day settlement.
  • Simple to distribute tips to the staff members they are intended for.
  • Great employee performance and customer trend tracking features.
  • Portable - doesn’t need a wired connection like WorldPay.



  • Tied into a 18 month contract.
  • Charges for chargebacks and refunds.


Should I get the Takepayments card reader?

You should get this reader if:

  • You have an established hospitality business which has higher turnover.
  • You don’t work seasonally.
  • You have multiple employees using the card reader on shift.


5. Tyl (by Natwest)

Our rating



Card reader: £16.99 + VAT / month. Transaction fees: 1.5%

Tyl by Natwest has a few card readers on offer, but we’re going to focus on the “POS system” - the Clover Flex.

Tyl aims to offer more than just a card reader. The Clover Flex is designed to be an “all-in-one” POS system that takes payments and helps you manage aspects of your business like staff and inventory. It’s an incredibly convenient piece of tech.

It’s a chunky thing, at 453g. It’s not designed for mobile vendors but it works well on a countertop in one place.

Tyl offers 1 day settlement which is ideal if you have lots of freelancer staff to pay.

All of this comes at a cost, so it’s not for businesses who just want to take payments. You get what you pay for, so if you need all the extra merchant account features, then it’s a valuable tool.

Best suited for:

  • Businesses who need steady cash flow to pay suppliers/freelancers.
  • Businesses which sell high value items.



You have to sign up for a 12 month contract, and it costs £16.99 + VAT per month to hire the reader. Currently, Tyl are offering the first 3 months hire for free.

Depending on how much 4G data usage you use, you can be charged up to £9.99 extra.

Need a payment gateway? This is usually £14.95 + VAT per year.

There are no other hidden costs - no authorisation fees, refunds fees, contract cancellation fees.

For businesses that make up to £50k per year, you’ll pay a 1.5% transaction fee which is quite decent compared to other readers on the list.



  • One day settlement.
  • Decent 8 hour battery life.
  • Can use Tyl Portal for free to track sales and check settlements/invoices.
  • No hidden extra fees.



  • Pricey monthly contract.
  • 12 month contract.
  • Heavy card reader so not the easiest to move around.


Should I get the Tyl by Natwest Clover Flex card reader?

This reader is best for you if:

  • You are making decent turnover and can afford the payments every month, which are a bit higher than some of the other options on this list.
  • You need a merchant account solution with lots of features for business analysis.
  • Need to pay suppliers quickly so would benefit from the 1 day settlement.


6. WorldPay Reader

Our rating



Card reader: £49.99 / month. Transaction fees: 1.5%

For WorldPay we are going to reference two readers as you get the choice. There is the countertop Ingenico DESK/5000 and the mobile Ingenico Axium DX8000. 

The DESK/5000 is designed to be used in one position on the service countertop, it has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and the network connection is kept stable by connecting via Ethernet. The DX8000 is akin to an Android tablet, running the Android 10 operating system and it uses 4G/WiFi connection.

These traditional types of terminals, alongside the WorldPay name, are great for businesses who sell high value goods and need to build a great deal of instant trust with their customers. Some consumers are still wary of disrupter card readers like Square and SumUp.

WorldPay charges a monthly fee for access to the card readers, rather than letting you buy them outright. Then there are various charges for extra features, plus your card processing fee. The fees can stack up, again making it a better option for businesses with higher turnover and higher average transactions.

Best suited for:

  • Businesses with higher turnover with large average transactions.
  • Sellers of luxury items.



WorldPay’s pricing is very complicated!

Firstly, you need to sign up for a contract (for a minimum of 18 months). We recommend the Fixed plan at £49.99/month. This is instead of buying a card reader outright.

It’s £29.99 per year for the PCI Compliance charge.

Then there are optional extra payments for additional features, like £9.99/month to take phone payments and £9.95/month for an online virtual terminal. If you wish to add a payment gateway, there’s a few options, outlined in the table below:

Standard Gateway PackageAdvanced Gateway PackageGateway Enterprise Package
350 transactions/month850 transactions/monthBespoke
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes

There is a minimum monthly service charge of £15 and a £20 fee for chargebacks.

And on to transaction fees! Currently WorldPay advertises a 1.5% transaction fee on Mastercard and Visa cards for businesses with a turnover of less than £300,000.

Monthly CostPayment GatewayIn Person Transaction FeeOnline Virtual TerminalMinimum Monthly Service ChargePhone Payment Capability
£49.99£19.95-45 / month1.5%£9.95 / month£15£9.99 / month
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes



  • Fixed fees - no surprises in your bill.
  • Trusted, recognisable brand.
  • Top level security and data compliance.
  • Choice of card reader to suit your business needs.
  • Low transaction fees.



  • Slow response time for Worldpay helpdesk.
  • 18-month commitment with subscription.
  • Lots of add-on extra payments.


Should I get a WorldPay card reader?

WorldPay isn’t for small start-ups. It’s for more established yet still small businesses who make a higher turnover and a higher average transaction. The WorldPay name is trusted and familiar, so it’s great for industries which sell valuable, high-ticket items as consumers may feel more comfortable using your card reader.


7. Shopify WisePad 3 Card Reader

Our rating



Cost of Reader: £49 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.7-2% + 25p

With the WisePad 3 card reader, Shopify offers an end-to-end solution for businesses who want to sell both online and offline. If you already have a Shopify online storefront, it’s well worth looking into the Shopify card reader to complete the circle!

One of the main differences with the Shopify card reader is that you need to take out an ecommerce subscription for it to work. If you don’t have or plan to use Shopify for your ecommerce business, then you should skip past this one. You can also skip past if you use Android devices as it’s only compatible with iPhone/iPad.

All ecommerce subscriptions come with the Shopify POS Lite system which has a selection of basic POS features that will suit most small businesses. If you need more variety, then you can invest in the Shopify POS Pro option which offers better inventory management and till options.

Best suited for:

  • Small businesses with one location and are happy with basic POS features.
  • Online sellers who use Shopify already, or plan to.



The WisePad 3 card reader is pricier than others on the list, at £49 + VAT. 

Whilst there is no contract binding you to use Shopify, you need to take out an ecommerce subscription to process payments. There are various price points for this depending on the size of your business and whether you pay monthly or yearly. You can see the pricing in the table below:

Best suited toIndividuals/small businessesSmall businessesMedium to large businesses
Pay monthly£19/mo£49/mo£259/mo
Pay yearly£25/mo£65/mo£344/mo
In person transaction fee1.7% + 0p1.6% + 0p1.5% + 0p
Online transaction fee2% + 25p1.7% + 25p1.5% + 25p
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes

On top of the monthly/annually paid ecommerce subscription, you still have to pay for your card processing. On the Basic package, this is 1.7% which is marginally less expensive than close competitors Square and Zettle (1.75% respectively).



  • 24/7 customer support.
  • No need to lock into a contract.
  • Get an overview of all your sales online and offline in one place by using Shopify for both.



  • Not as appealing to non-Shopify users.
  • Need an ecommerce subscription.
  • Not compatible with Android - only uses iOS Shopify POS app.
  • Payment settled up to 6 working days.


Should I get the Shopify WisePad 3 card reader?

If you use or are going to use Shopify for your online store, we say go ahead! The ecommerce subscription is fine if you intend to get good use out of all of its features. There are some niggling drawbacks to Shopify, like the long settlement time and the fact that you have to be an Apple loyal to use the app.


8. Tide Reader

Our rating



Card reader: £49 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.5%

Tide is the no-frills option on this list for businesses who don’t need to go the whole hog with a full POS system and who don’t need to sell online. Tide only offers card readers, but you have the choice of two models.

To use a Tide card reader, you need to open a Tide business bank account, download the Tide app, and order your card reader from there. It’s a super smooth start-up, perfect if you need to get up and running as soon as possible. 

Both card readers are standalone devices that don’t need to be connected to your mobile or tablet. They do need a 4G or WiFi connection, so if you feel you’ll need offline payment capability, Tide isn’t for you. If you go for the cheaper card reader, the Tide Reader, you can email receipts but not print them. If you choose the Reader Plus, you can print receipts from the reader. You’ll also get lifetime free data on the Plus device.

Best suited for:

  • Freelancers and tradespeople who have low turnover.
  • Businesses who don’t sell online.



Tide has extremely low transaction fees - they charge just 1.5%, one of the lowest on the list!

AMEX payments are not accepted as standard, which helps keep costs down.

There are no set up or monthly fees. The Tide business bank account and the Tide app are also free. The only costs to cover are the card reader (£49 + VAT for the Tide Reader and £79 + VAT for the Tide Reader Plus) and your transaction fees.

The card reader does require a minimum payment of £5, so you are best using this reader if you don’t sell products or services that would cost less than this.



  • Very low processing fees.
  • No set up or monthly fees (free bank account and app).
  • Choice of reader depending on your needs - don’t pay extra for what you don’t need!
  • Full day battery life.
  • Free 4G connectivity for life with the Reader Plus (worth £5/month).



  • Can’t process offline payments.
  • 4 month warranty - much shorter than competitors.
  • Customer support only over email - 48 hour response time.
  • AMEX is not accepted as standard.
  • Only compatible with the Tide business bank account.
  • Minimum transaction of £5 per transaction.
  • Only one card reader per company registered to Tide.


Should I get a Tide card reader?

You should get a Tide card reader if:

  • You take payments more sporadically and don’t have a permanent shop/cafe.
  • You want to keep your card processing and banking lumped together.
  • You sell products that cost at least £5.


9. Dojo Go

Our rating



Card reader: £20 + VAT /month. Transaction fees: 1.4% + 5p - 2.3% + 5p

The Dojo Go card reader is one you’ll have come across often in restaurant or brick-and-mortar shop settings. It’s a chunkier card reader than the ones mentioned on the list so far, so it’s not as suitable for mobile merchants and market stall vendors and the likes. It’s fantastic in a more permanent shop or restaurant setting.

Unlike the card readers on the list until now, you don’t buy the Dojo Go reader outright. You pay a monthly rental fee of £20 + VAT. On top of that you have your card processing fees, a standard security fee for every transaction, and if you don’t make a certain amount in a month, you’re liable to pay a monthly minimum service fee. All of this means that it’s best suited to businesses with a more reliable stream of income who are open round the calendar.

Dojo are keen to secure new businesses by helping as much as they can, including covering up to £3,000 of your exit fees if you’re in a rubbish contract with a different provider.

Best suited for:

  • Established brick-and-mortar shops or cafes/restaurants.
  • Businesses who need next day payouts.
  • Businesses who rarely, if ever close up shop.



The Dojo Go is not leading on price, costing £20 + VAT to rent every month. If you turnover less than £150,000, you are tied into a 6 month contract, but thereafter it’s rolling. This is half the length of the standard contract in this industry, which makes them a more flexible option than the other readers on contracts.

Credit card processing fees for businesses in this turnover bracket are 1.4% + 5p per transaction. If you want to take American Express cards, you need to get a custom processing fee quote from Dojo. The card not present fee is 1.9% + 5p.

There is a separate fee structure for business cards - 1.8% + 5p for in person transactions and 2.3% + 5p for card not present transactions.

You need to make a minimum of £24.95 per month otherwise you will be charged this figure regardless of whether you took any payments that month.

Cost of ReaderCard Processing FeeCard Not Present FeeBusiness Card Processing FeeBusiness Card Card Not Present FeeMinimum Monthly Payment
£20 + VAT / month1.4% + 5p1.9% + 5p1.8% + 5p2.3% + 5p£24.95
We can secure fees as low as 0.29%* Compare quotes



  • Next day payout, usually by 10am - 7 days a week.
  • Built in 4G so you can use it even when the WiFi is down.
  • Great battery life - 10 hours on average.
  • Cover £3,000 of your exit fees from previous contract if you switch to them (subject to your annual turnover)
  • Flexible monthly rolling contract (after 6 months, which is half the industry norm).
  • 7 day customer support.



  • Minimum monthly service charge of £24.95 - not good for seasonal businesses.
  • 5p secure transaction fee for every transaction.
  • £20 + VAT monthly rental fee rather than option to buy the reader.


Should I get the Dojo Go card reader?

The Dojo Go card reader is best if:

  • You are a more established business that doesn’t work seasonally.
  • If you take larger payments per transaction, rather than lots of itty bitty payments.
  • If you have a more permanent set-up like a retail store or restaurant.


10. SmartPay Anywhere (by Barclaycard)

Our rating



Card reader: £29 + VAT. Transaction fees: 1.6%

If you already bank with Barclays, SmartPay Anywhere might be right up your street. It is powered by Barclaycard. 

The SmartPay Anywhere card reader is a really affordable option, so it’s ideal for businesses that take lots of small transactions. Corner shop owners will love this reader!

They also offer same day settlement, which is fantastic if you have a lot of suppliers to pay as quickly as possible.

Since it’s a reader by a bank-driven, not software-specialist company, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. It’s quite basic. It does have an app which helps with things like sales reporting and supplier management.

If you are going to rely on online sales, it’s not the best option as there’s not a great integration offering.

Best suited for:

  • Small businesses that need steady cash flow (to pay staff weekly, pay off suppliers, etc).
  • Barclays business account holders.
  • Businesses that take lots of small transactions.
  • Businesses that don’t need an online presence.



The SmartPay Anywhere card reader is inexpensive, at £29 + VAT. This is comparable to Zettle at the same price.

The transaction fees are also really low at 1.6%. Only Visa and Mastercard cards are accepted.

They charge 75p for refunds.



  • Low transaction costs - good for lots of low cost sales.
  • Sleep mode for saving battery.
  • Same day settlement.
  • The only traditional provider to offer a pay as you go contract.



  • No option to accept American Express cards.
  • The software is nothing special - a bit dated.
  • The mobile app can be glitchy.
  • No pay by links option so not great for online sellers.


Should I get the SmartPay Anywhere by Barclaycard reader?

You should get this reader if:

  • You already have a business bank account with Barclays and want to keep things simple.
  • You take lots of small transactions.
  • Don’t care about online selling.
  • Need quick settlement to pay suppliers, etc.



There is no single best card reader for small businesses - it all comes down to your business type and needs. Some are great on the go, some aren’t. Some are best for small transactions, some are best for selling high value goods. Some are seen as supplementary to your online business, some are best for those without an online presence. 

We’ve categorised each reader below so you can see which reader best caters to your needs!

Selling online is important to you

Square, SumUp Air, Shopify WisePad 3.

You sell at market stalls/pop up shops/other on-the-go locations

Square, Zettle, SumUp Air, Tide

You sell on-the-go sporadically (like additional products on top of your main service)

Square, Zettle, Tide

You have an established brick-and-mortar shop or cafe/restaurant that rarely closes

Dojo Go, TakePayments

You have multiple sales reps/servers who all need to use the card reader


You sell high value goods

WorldPay, Tyl

You take lots of small transactions

SmartPay Anywhere

You need steady cash flow to pay suppliers/employees/freelancers regularly

SmartPay Anywhere, Tyl, Dojo Go


Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does a card machine work?

When you take a card payment, you enter the payment amount on the reader and the customer taps their card or inserts it and enters their PIN. The chip on the card “speaks” to the machine, sending encrypted transaction data to your merchant account. The acquiring bank (your bank) will request authorisation from the customer’s bank and if all the details are verified and there are sufficient funds, the payment is complete. This all takes a few seconds! Read more about how card readers work here.

  • How do I get a card reader for my business?

To get a card reader for your business, you need to order it directly from the card reader provider. The process varies depending on the provider. Some providers sell the card readers for you to keep, others ask you to enter a contract and hire the reader monthly.

  • Are there are any card readers that don’t charge a fee?

You always need to pay a card processing fee to take payments and you’ll need to pay for the card reader, whether it be outright or on monthly rental. Not all providers charge you a monthly fee. Check out our overview table to see a summary of costs between these top 10 card readers.

  • Can I use my phone as a card reader?

You can depending on the provider. SumUp offers the SumUp tap and Tyl by Natwest offers Tap to Pay which allows you to take payments on your smartphone without extra hardware.


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Written by:
Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Stephen brings a wealth of experience honed through years in the financial sector, particularly in the card processing payments industry. His illustrious career spans key roles at PwC, Natwest, and the role of CFO at WorldPay, before going on to found card processing comparison site, CardSwitcher. He is passionate about helping growing businesses to understand the card processing landscape so they can make savvy financial decisions.