Launched in 2007 and following on from the introduction of chip & PIN machines a couple of years before that, contactless payment has revolutionised the way we shop. With a quick tap onto the reader of our card, phone, watch, or even enabled keyfob, we can make purchases worth up to £30.
There are now well over 110 million contactless cards in the UK – it’s part of a generational shift from using cash to paying electronically. And it’s something we’ve really embraced as a country. We spend £4.3bn a month using contactless payment with an average order value of £9.23.
Officially, the UK is the third most cashless society in the world. We all know that sinking feeling when we enter a retail premises after we’ve seen something that we want but they don’t accept card. In the past, high monthly charges and transaction fees put a lot of retailers off but both have plummeted in recent years with the influx of competition to the market.
In this article, we’ll consider the seven card solutions that can get you started for no more than £50. We’ll look at the contactless card reader you get from each supplier as well as the contactless merchant fees – what you have to pay every time a customer pays you by credit or debit card.
Do you want help finding the right merchant services provider for your business? Why not fill out the form at the top of the page and let us do the work for you. Our service is free and there’s no obligation on you to take up any offer we find.
Contactless payment machine list
|Provider name||Machine name||Machine price ex VAT||Monthly fee?||Transaction fees?|
|iZettle||Reader||£29||None or £29 a month for e-commerce||1.75% (2.5% e-commerce)|
|Square||Reader||£19||None||1.75% (2.5% e-commerce)|
|PayPal||Here||£45||None||1% to 2.75%|
|Worldpay||Reader||£17.45||Have to apply online||Have to apply online|
|Barclaycard||Anywhere||£29||Pay as you go||1.6% (75p per refund)|
iZettle contactless payment machine
The iZettle Reader contactless payment device
Now owned by PayPal (but they’re keeping their separate branding for the foreseeable future), the basic iZettle Reader card payment machine looks stylish, it’s very easy to use, and, at just 11cm x 7cm x 2cm in size, it’s very portable. It can hold its charge for up to 8 hours and comes with a 12 month warranty.
The unit is £29 + VAT – a stand-alone charging dock is available for an additional £39 + VAT.
There is no monthly charge for opening an account for doing face-to-face transactions and for receiving payment by card on the invoices you issue. Transactions are charged at 1.75% of order value.
If you want to accept payments online, you need to subscribe for £29 to the “Go Plus” service. With the service, you can use iZettle’s free online website design platform to build your own store on the Internet. Payments made online attract a charge of 2.5% (or 2% if paid via PayPal).
Further discounts are available to merchants turning over £10,000 a month or more.
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, Union Pay, Contactless, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Discover
Link to iZettle Reader card payment machine.
SumUp contactless payment machine
SumUp are a major global provider of merchant service accounts operating in 31 countries and promising to provide the hardware and software needed to “wake up the entrepreneur within anyone”.
Their Air card payment machine is very small and extremely portable and its in-built Li-ion battery provides you with up to a day’s charge even on constant use. As with all of the terminals listed on this page, you can take chip & PIN and magswipe payments as well as contactless payments.
The terminal links up via Bluetooth to SumUp’s app which offers impressive functionality including the ability to handle cash payments, send digital receipts to customers, and to add the products you have on sale to your own catalogue or portfolio.
To buy the SumUp Air costs £29 + VAT.
There are no monthly subscription fees with SumUp – you pay just 1.69% per transaction taken on the terminal. You can accept telephone orders too with the fee for doing so set at 2.95% of the value of the transaction plus 25p.
SumUp invites merchants doing more than £250,000 to contact them to arrange better rates.
Visa, Vpay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Google Pay, Apple Pay
Link to SumUp Air card payment machine.
Square card contactless payment machine
About the Square Reader machine
In the global payments business now for 10 years, Square’s beautifully designed and minimalist Reader card payment machine is a sleek white box with curved edges and slots to take chip & PIN and magswipe payments from customers.
The Reader’s manufacturers have also considered the potential use in the field of the terminal by merchants so its powerful battery should provide you with a day (or even more) worth of charge when away from a power point meeting customers and making sales.
The Square Reader costs £19 + VAT. A separate charging dock is available for £19 + VAT,
Square make no charge for monthly maintenance of the account nor for its use of the accompanying app.
Merchants are charged 1.75% of the value of a transaction and 2.5% for card-not-present sales (mail order, online sales, payments made to a link sent on an invoice, and to keyed-in transactions). Merchants selling more than £250,000 a year are encouraged to get in touch with Square’s sales team to negotiate a better deal.
Settlement is very quick (2-3 days) however, for an extra 1% of the transaction value, you can request that the money from a sale is paid straight into your account.
Visa, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay
Link to Square Reader card payment machine.
PayPal contactless payment machine
About the PayPal Here machine
Arguably the company which kickstarted the whole online payments revolution when it partnered with eBay at the start of the millennium, thus gaining a greater share of the face-to-face transaction market is an important business goal for eBay. Not only has it purchased iZettle but it has its owned branded options for small businesses and for the self-employed but they have launched their own product.
The PayPal Here terminal is an elegant and lightweight piece of machinery – it looks stylish and has a pleasing matt black finish to it. The PayPal Here card payment machines costs £45 + VAT.
Unlike many of the other providers on this page, PayPal has a series of sliding charges depending on the monthly revenue achieved by a merchant.
|Monthly volume||Transaction fee|
|Up to £1,500||2.75%|
|£15,000 and above||1%|
If you intend to do less than £1,500 a month, PayPal is very expensive. However, if you’re confident that you can take £6,000 or more a month on debit or credit card, its rates are very attractive compared to the rates offered on competitors sites.
Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, American Express, Apple Pay, Android Pay
Link to PayPal Here card payment machine.
Worldpay contactless payment machine
Worldpay, formerly part of RBS, has provided payment solutions to businesses since the early 1990s. For most of its existence, it has been focused on more traditional merchants and on e-commerce companies so its entrance into this increasingly crowded market took some commentators by surprise.
For £17.45, you can purchase its Reader card payment machine. The Reader is a small and attractive portable transaction terminal – in many ways, just like the other ones offered by their competitors. Its design and layout is certainly very different to the equipment Worldpay has been known for since its foundation.
There is a distinct lack of information available online about what Worldpay charges. We do know that they have monthly subscription levels starting at £4.99 a month but we’re not certain about whether this is the case for merchants using the Worldpay Reader terminal.
Visa, Mastercard, China Union Pay, Diners Club International and Discover. American Express can be added on request. Contactless payments and payments using the Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Apply Pay systems.
Link to Worldpay Reader card payment machine.
Barclays contactless payment machine
It’s rare for many established “legacy” providers to beat their newer rivals at their own game but Barclays’ package centred on the Anywhere card terminal. In terms of its appearance, it looks very much like the modish offerings presented by PayPal and iZettle. It has an in-built screen, PIN pad, and slots for both magswipe and chip & PIN payments.
The machine itself costs £29 + VAT – there’s no monthly subscription that you have to pay.
Every time you transact a card, the fee is 1.6% of order value. If you refund a client, there’s a 75p charge.
Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club International, Discover and American Express (a separate merchant is required for AmEx which Barclaycard can assist you with).
myPOS contactless payment machine
myPOS was formed by its directors in response to the frustration they felt about the lack of choice of merchant accounts on offer to small business, sole traders, and entrepreneurs in general. Their belief is that, if payment can be made faster, it should be because that means better cash flow. Better cash flow means healthier businesses and happier owners and managers.
The myPOS Go card payment machine is one of the few terminals on the market to feature a full colour screen. It also has included on its front a generous size PIN pad and the slots you need to take both magswipe and chip & PIN payments.
The cost for the myPOS Go card payment machine is £29 + VAT – postage and packing is an additional £10 + VAT.
As with the other options on this page, there is no monthly charge for using their service. Their transaction fee structure is below and, as you can see, it’s a little more complicated –
|Contactless and chip and PIN||Transaction fee|
|Consumer cards issued with the European Economic Area||1.75%|
|Commercial cards issued within the EEA||2%|
|Non-EEA cards, American Express, Union Pay, and JCB||2.85%|
|Online and over the phone||Transaction fee|
|Consumer cards issued with the European Economic Area||2.25%|
|Commercial cards issued within the EEA||3.25%|
|Non-EEA cards, American Express, Union Pay, and JCB||3.5%|
Refunds are charged at 49p and disputes and chargebacks at £24.99.
Visa, Vpay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Google Pay, Apple Pay
Link to myPOS Go card payment machine.
Choosing the best contactless payment account for your business
As you’ve seen, there is a lot of choice and competition continues to drive prices down and the number of merchants up.
When choosing the best contactless payment account for your business, think about your last year’s turnover. How much was it for? How much higher might it have been if your existing customers had paid on credit or debit card? Having a contactless payment option in your business will not only increase footfall but your customer’s average spend will increase.
Work out the option that’s best for you or get help – it will be worth the time and effort. But, if you haven’t got the time, why not let us do the searching for you? Just fill out the form at the top of the page and we’ll get to work for you. Our service is free and there’s no obligation.