Skip to content
Go to GoCardless homepage
Pricing
LoginSign up

How to take credit card payments without a machine

Last editedMar 20222 min read

We live in an increasingly cashless society. In the post-pandemic era, consumers are increasingly likely to eschew the use of cash. Instead, many prefer to use electronic wallets like Google or Apple Pay, or pay for purchases using their credit or debit cards. In 2010, more than 50% of all transactions were made using cash. By 2020, that number had fallen to just 17%. Debit cards, on the other hand, accounted for 44% of all payments in the UK in 2021.

Is it possible to take in-person card payments without a machine?

Small businesses could miss out on a high proportion of sales if they don’t have the infrastructure to accept credit and debit card payments. Traditionally, small businesses need to set up a merchant account to accept such payments. But is there a way to take credit card payments without a machine?

Let’s take a look, starting first with merchant accounts, moving on to receiving card payments and the question of needing a card machine.

What is a merchant account?

A merchant account is a special type of bank account that is used by businesses to accept payments from customers. They hold your money while the credit card network processes the transaction and deposits funds in your account after the process is complete.

Most merchant accounts offer a machine that facilitates the receiving of credit and debit card payments. However, there are often long contracts and monthly fees associated with a merchant account. And these can be detrimental to nascent small businesses.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to accept card payments without a merchant account.

How to accept credit cards without a merchant account

There are many businesses, especially micro-businesses and side businesses, for which it may not be practical or even feasible to open a merchant account. Fortunately, there are still ways in which such businesses can accept card payments online or in person.

Payment Service Providers (PSPs) work in a similar way to merchant accounts. They accept and hold the funds from credit card payments until the transaction is processed. However, they are often much cheaper and more accessible. PSPs do not usually charge a prohibitive monthly fee. Instead, they take a small percentage from each transaction. The percentage charged varies between PSPs.

How to take a credit card payment without a machine in person

Many PSPs like Square and SumUp offer card reader machines to their users. However, you can still accept in-person payments without a card machine if you wish.

Some PSPs offer a payment processing app that you can install on your smartphone to take card payments. Users can input a customer’s card details manually or scan a QR code to facilitate fast, secure payments in person.

What’s the easiest way to accept credit card payments online?

PSPs make it easy to accept card payments online through your website. What’s more, most website building platforms offer easy integrations for major PSPs. If you’re having trouble integrating a PSP, another easy way to accept card payments online is to link out to a payment page. These are highly customisable and can be designed to look and feel like an extension of your website.

Be aware, however, that not all PSPs are equal in terms of speeds and costs. For fast, easy payments, GoCardless offers Instant Bank Pay, powered by open banking. Instant Bank Pay is typically 25% cheaper than online card transactions. Offering faster, cheaper and more secure transactions.

We can help

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to take a credit card payment without a machine, then get in touch with our financial experts. Discover 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.

Get StartedLearn More

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Contact sales