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What Is the Best Credit Card Machine?

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Last editedDec 20214 min read

The best credit card reader for your small business will enable you to take quick and easy card payments at a low cost, while facilitating your overall growth and providing a user-friendly terminal and interface.

These days, you can find compact card readers that can simply be attached to a smartphone or tablet, as well as standalone terminals that can still work wirelessly with Wi-Fi or mobile data. Cash is very quickly losing traction, especially amidst the global pandemic, and it’s important to have an electronic payment solution that facilitates easy card transactions and benefits both you and your customers.

Types of credit card machine

Credit card machines can be grouped into three primary categories: portable card machines, mobile card machines and countertop card machines. Countertop card machines are the more traditional devices that sit at the till and work using your broadband or phone line. These are wired systems, so they can’t be moved around all too much.

Portable card readers use Bluetooth, so they can move around within your space. This is convenient, for example, for taking payments at a customer’s table if you run a restaurant or café. These card readers won’t work outside your premises, but Bluetooth means you can use them around your place of business without needing to plug them in.

Mobile card readers use Wi-Fi and mobile data, meaning they can be used just about anywhere with data available. This is a great option for small businesses who travel to serve customers – such as a courier company, a catering company or otherwise. Of course, mobile card readers can be used in-house as well. 

The best merchant credit card machines

Each card machine comes with its own costs and fees; you’ll typically need to pay a fee to your credit card machine provider for each transaction made. That’s why it’s so important for small businesses to be careful about which card reader they choose.

The best card machine for small businesses might not necessarily be the same as the best card reader for a larger, more established company. Some card readers will come with lengthy contracts or hefty transaction fees that would simply be counterintuitive for an emerging new business.

While it’s important to be optimistic, it’s just as crucial to be realistic – and you don’t want to commit to a years-long contract unless you’re confident your small business will still be going strong for years to come.

Luckily, these days there are plenty of options that would be perfect for small businesses, offering low pay-as-you-go fees and no long-term commitments.

Of course, when it comes to efficient, low-cost recurring payments, GoCardless is the standout. GoCardless provides an online payment solution, particularly suited for receiving invoices and other recurring payments, such as subscriptions. GoCardless lowers the overall cost of taking payments by 56% and reduces the time to get paid by 47%.

For one-off, in-person transactions, your small business would benefit from a credit card reader that offers little-to-no monthly costs, low transaction fees, and no super long-term commitments. Let’s look at some of the best credit card machines for small businesses in Australia:

Square

  • $59 upfront purchase cost

  • Free mobile/tablet app integration

  • 1.9% fixed transaction fee

Square is a true game changer when it comes to mobile POS systems; the first company to introduce a card reader for smartphones. Square offers two devices; a compact Square Reader that connects to a smartphone or tablet, or the Square Terminal – a standalone touchscreen display. For small businesses, the Square Reader is a top pick, at just $59 incl. GST with no monthly fees or contractual lock-ins. You can simply buy the reader upfront, or split payments over a few months. Square Readers accept EFTPOS, Visa, AMEX, Mastercard, Apple Pay, and more, and have a transaction fee of just 1.9%. Square payouts typically reach your bank account within 2 business days.

More Payments

  • No contractual commitment

  • $25/month + GST terminal rental

  • Variable transaction fees between 0.8% and 1.5%

Some small businesses may prefer to rent their card reader at a low monthly cost as they grow, rather than buying a reader upfront. More Payments’ mobile EFTPOS terminals can be rented for $25 a month plus GST, with no contractual commitment. There are no setup fees or minimum turnover required, and transaction fees range between 0.8% and 1.5% depending on monthly turnover, revenue, sector and card scheme. More Payments readers accept a wide range of cards – more than competitors, and the terminal can be integrated with a variety of POS systems, with more than 450 software providers providing More Payments integration.

Tyro

  • No contractual lock-in

  • $39/month + GST rental

  • 1.1% + GST transaction fee for monthly turnover below $20k

  • Accepts Alipay, AMEX, Diners Club and more at extra cost

Tyro’s mobile EFTPOS machine can be rented for $39 a month + GST with no contractual commitment. The reader can use either Wi-Fi or mobile data to integrate with just about any POS system. You can cancel and return to the terminal at any time with no cancellation fees. Transaction fees vary based on monthly turnover and card scheme. Businesses making less than $20,000 per month will pay 1.1% for Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS and UnionPay transactions, with an added 0.4% for international cards, and 0.4% on top of that when using DCC.

If you make more than $20,000 per month, you’ll be able to customise your EFTPOS fees with dynamic surcharging.

Zeller

  • $299 upfront purchase cost

  • Same day payouts with Business Mastercard account included

  • 1.4% fixed transaction fee

Offering same day payouts to free e-accounts or next day payouts for bank accounts, Zeller is another great choice for small businesses. Businesses using a Zeller terminal will be given an online Mastercard account, allowing for same-day payouts. This is great for small businesses who might need quick cash on the go, without having to wait days for a transaction to process. Zeller payments have a low pay-as-you-go transaction fee of just 1.4%, and the terminal itself costs $299 incl. GST upfront, including a 12-month warranty. Zeller’s touchscreen terminals have a user-friendly UI and also include a built-in receipt printer. They work using Wi-Fi, but a SIM card can be inserted for mobile connectivity too.

Mint Payments

  • 12-month contract

  • Mobile app

  • No monthly fees when making $2000+

  • $11 in fees when monthly sales are below $2000

  • 1.75% transaction fee for Visa & Mastercard

  • 33c transaction fee for EFTPOS

Mint mPOS is a mobile EFTPOS reader that works in conjunction with a free mobile or tablet app. You’ll have a 12-month contract, with a $110 fee for closing your account. The reader will be $11 a month if you make less than $2000 that month, but any month you make more than $2000, you’ll pay $0. Transaction fees are 1.75% for Visa & Mastercard payments, and just 33c for EFTPOS payments. You’ll need to pay a minimum of $22 in transaction fees each month, and if you don’t make enough sales to cover this, you’ll have to pay this separately. Next-day payouts are one of Mint Payments greatest strengths, and while the system may appear to be more costly on paper, Mint Payments can end up being the cheapest option if your business continues to grow rapidly.  

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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