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Best Credit Card Readers for Small Businesses: A Thorough List (2024)

Aidan ToborAuthor

Credit card machines, also known as point of sale (POS) terminals, are essential tools for small businesses looking to accept credit card payments from their customers. These devices allow businesses to process transactions quickly and securely, making it easier for customers to make purchases and increasing the likelihood of sales. 

How to take card payments for a small business

Your small business can accept card payments by using a credit card machine or a mobile card reader provided by a payment processor or merchant services provider. These devices connect to your payment gateway, which handles the transaction and deposits the funds into your business bank account.

So, what is the best way to accept credit card payments? The answer depends on your specific business needs, but in general, using a credit card machine or mobile card reader is the most efficient and secure method. These devices allow you to accept a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Today, Visa and Mastercard own about ~80% of the market when it comes to credit card processing, with the majority of credit card machines accepting one or both. If you’re looking to accept American Express or Discovery cards, you may need to look for a more specialized option.

The cost of a card reader for small businesses varies depending on the provider and the specific device. It’s also very uncommon to buy a standalone credit card reader that doesn’t integrate with a point of sale system. Typically, the credit card reader is bundled into the overall hardware and software costs of your point of sale provider. For example, with Toast you can expect to pay $60 - $250 per month for software. Some providers offer free card readers when you sign up for their payment processing services. In addition to those monthly fees, hardware costs are often a one-time fixed cost starting at $700. 

To process a credit card transaction, the customer's card information is sent securely from the credit card machine to the payment processor. The payment processor then communicates with the customer's bank to authorize the transaction and transfers the funds to your business bank account, minus any transaction fees.

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Best Credit Card Machines for Small Business

When shopping for a credit card machine for your small business, it's important to consider the costs involved and the credit card companies your guests tend to use. In addition to the cost of the machine itself, you'll also need to pay transaction fees to your payment processor for each credit card transaction.

There are several types of credit card terminals available, including countertop models, mobile card readers, tap-to-pay, and all-in-one POS systems. Countertop models are the most traditional and are best suited for businesses with a dedicated checkout area. Mobile card readers are ideal for businesses that need to accept payments on the go, such as food trucks or vendors at a farmers market. All-in-one POS systems combine credit card processing with other business management tools, such as inventory tracking and employee management.

When choosing a credit card machine for your small business, look for features like EMV chip card acceptance, NFC contactless payments, and the ability to accept mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. You'll also want to consider factors like transaction fees, monthly fees, and the level of customer support offered by the provider.

Here are some of the most popular credit card machines and card readers for small businesses:

Toast

Toast is an all-in-one POS system that includes credit card processing, along with tools for managing orders, inventory, and employees. Their devices are designed specifically for restaurants and food service businesses.  Designed by restaurateurs for restaurants, Toast's guest-facing terminal Flex seamlessly integrates with the Toast POS platform to facilitate tableside ordering and payments. It has a sleek, handheld Android device built for mobility and flexibility in fast-paced restaurant environments.

Toast has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out this pricing page from Toast or speak to our team to learn more. 

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Handheld Starter Kit, which includes a mobile Toast Go handheld device, starts at $799. The terminal-based Countertop Stater-Kit starts at $1,024.20.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, Toast provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: Toast offers two credit card processing options for customers: A standard option, and a pay-as-you-go option. The standard plan charges a flat rate of 2.49% + $0.15 per in-person transaction, and 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction. With the pay-as-you-go plan, hardware costs are covered and there is a 2.99% processing fee plus $0.15 cents per transaction. 
  •    Monthly fees: Toast charges a monthly software fee starting at $69 per month, which includes access to features like online ordering and loyalty programs.

Square 

Square is a popular choice for small businesses thanks to its affordable, user-friendly card readers and POS systems. Their devices are easy to set up and use, and they offer a flat-rate pricing structure for transaction fees. The Square Terminal is a sleek all-in-one device that accepts tap, dip, or swipe payments. It also has a customer-facing display, printed or digital receipts, and virtual terminal for taking orders over the phone.

Square has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Square website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Square Reader for contactless and chip payments costs $49, while the Square Terminal countertop device starts at $299.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, Square provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: Square charges a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction, and 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  •    Monthly fees: Square does not charge any monthly fees for its basic payment processing services.

Clover 

Clover offers a range of credit card machines and POS systems designed specifically for small businesses. Their devices are known for their ease of use and advanced features, such as inventory management and customer loyalty programs. The Clover Mini is a compact and budget-friendly card reader from Fiserv that integrates seamlessly with Clover's restaurant POS systems and software. Beyond basic card acceptance, it can also handle mobile wallets, gift cards, reporting, inventory tracking, and employee management.

 Clover has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Clover website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Clover Go mobile card reader costs $69, while the Clover Mini countertop terminal starts at $749.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, Clover provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: Clover charges a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction, and 3.5% + $0.10 per keyed-in transaction.
  •    Monthly fees: Clover charges a monthly service fee of $14.95 for its Payments Plus plan, which includes access to additional features and integrations.

ShopKeep

ShopKeep offers a range of credit card machines and POS systems designed for small businesses, with features like inventory management and employee tracking. Their devices are known for their ease of use and reliability. ShopKeep has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Shopkeep website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The ShopKeep Card Reader costs $49, while the ShopKeep Register starts at $809.
  •    Built-in payment processor: No, ShopKeep integrates with several third-party payment processors, including CardConnect, WorldPay, and Chase Paymentech.
  •    Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with ShopKeep.
  •     Monthly fees: ShopKeep charges a monthly software fee starting at $49 per month for its Basic plan, which includes basic POS features and reporting.

Shopify 

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that includes credit card processing and a range of tools for managing your online store. They also offer a mobile card reader for accepting payments in person. For restaurants with an online ordering and payment platform through Shopify, the company's Chip & Swipe reader is a simple way to start accepting in-person payments at 2.7% using the connected Shopify POS. It works for adding tipping options as well.

  Shopify has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Shopify website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Shopify Chip & Swipe Reader costs $29, while the Shopify Tap & Chip Reader costs $49.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, Shopify provides its own payment processing services through Shopify Payments.
  •    Processing fees: Shopify charges a flat rate of 2.7% per in-person transaction, and 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction for its basic plan.
  •    Monthly fees: Shopify charges a monthly software fee starting at $29 per month for its Basic plan, which includes features like an online store, order management, and discount codes.

TouchBistro

TouchBistro is a popular choice for small businesses in the food and beverage industry, offering a comprehensive POS system with integrated payment processing. Their software is designed to streamline restaurant operations, from tableside ordering to inventory management. TouchBistro's POS system is compatible with a range of card readers, including the TouchBistro Tap & Chip Card Reader, which accepts tap, dip, or swipe payments. The company also offers the TouchBistro Solo, an all-in-one POS device with a built-in card reader and customer-facing display.

TouchBistro has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Capterra, a software review platform. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, visit the TouchBistro website or contact their sales team.

  • Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The TouchBistro Tap & Chip Card Reader costs $105, while the TouchBistro Solo, an all-in-one POS device with a built-in card reader, starts at $105 per month.
  • Built-in payment processor: Yes, TouchBistro offers integrated payment processing through TouchBistro Payments.
  • Processing fees: TouchBistro Payments charges a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for the TouchBistro Tap & Chip Card Reader, and 2.6% + $0.15 per transaction for the TouchBistro Solo.
  • Monthly fees: TouchBistro POS software plans start at $69 per month, with additional fees for hardware and payment processing. The software includes features like tableside ordering, menu management, and inventory tracking, tailored for the food and beverage industry.

NCR Aloha

NCR Aloha is an all-in-one POS system designed specifically for restaurants and food service businesses. Their devices include features like table-side ordering and kitchen management tools. For restaurants using the popular NCR Aloha POS platform, the wired EMV-enabled terminals integrate seamlessly to streamline payments. Features include a customer-facing display, tip prompting, electronic signature capture, and ability to split payments or check totals.

Aloha has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the NCR website or speak to a member of their team.

  •     Price for a credit card terminal or reader: Pricing for Aloha POS hardware is not publicly available and requires contacting a sales representative for a custom quote.
  •     Built-in payment processor: No, Aloha integrates with several third-party payment processors, including Shift4 Payments, Heartland, and WorldPay.
  •     Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with Aloha.
  •     Monthly fees: Aloha charges a monthly software fee, but pricing is not publicly available and requires contacting a sales representative for a custom quote .

Lightspeed

Lightspeed offers a range of POS systems and credit card machines designed for retail and restaurant businesses. Their devices include features like inventory management and customer relationship management tools. Lightspeed has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the NCR website or speak to a member of their team.

  •     Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Lightspeed Card Reader costs $119, while the Lightspeed Retail POS hardware bundle starts at $1,199.
  •     Built-in payment processor: No, Lightspeed integrates with several third-party payment processors, including Worldpay, Chase Paymentech, and Cayan.
  •     Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with Lightspeed.
  •     Monthly fees: Lightspeed charges a monthly software fee starting at $69 per month for its Basic plan, which includes basic POS features and reporting.

Revel Systems

 Revel Systems offers a range of POS systems and credit card machines for businesses in a variety of industries, including retail, restaurants, and service businesses. Their devices are known for their advanced reporting capabilities and integrations with third-party apps. Revel Systems has a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Revel website or speak to a member of their team.

  •     Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Revel POS hardware bundle, which includes an iPad, cash drawer, receipt printer, and card reader, starts at $1,328.
  •     Built-in payment processor: No, Revel Systems integrates with several third-party payment processors, including Worldpay, Chase Paymentech, and First Data.
  •     Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with Revel Systems.
  •     Monthly fees: Revel Systems charges a monthly software fee starting at $99 per month for its Essentials plan, which includes basic POS features and reporting.

Verifone

 Verifone is a well-established provider of credit card machines and POS systems, with a range of devices designed for businesses of all sizes. Their devices are known for their security features and durability. Verifone has a rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Verifone website or speak to a member of their team.

  •     Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Verifone V240m countertop payment terminal starts at $219, while the Verifone Engage M400 mobile terminal starts at $699.
  •     Built-in payment processor: No, Verifone devices can be integrated with a variety of third-party payment processors.
  •     Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with your Verifone device.
  •     Monthly fees: Verifone does not charge any monthly fees for its hardware, but you may be subject to monthly fees from your payment processor or merchant services provider.

Stripe

Stripe is a payment processor that offers a range of tools for accepting credit card payments online, including a virtual terminal and integrations with popular e-commerce platforms. They also offer a mobile card reader for accepting payments in person. Stripe has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on G2. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Stripe website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Stripe Reader for contactless and chip payments costs $59.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, Stripe provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: Stripe charges a flat rate of 2.7% + $0.05 per in-person transaction, and 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction.
  •    Monthly fees: Stripe does not charge any monthly fees for its basic payment processing services.

PayPal

PayPal offers a mobile card reader that connects to your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to accept credit card payments on the go. They also offer a virtual terminal for accepting payments online. For restaurants already using PayPal for payments, the Zettle Reader device pairs perfectly with PayPal's all-in-one POS app at 2.29% + $0.09 per transaction. It has a sleek dock design, accepts contactless payments, and connects via Bluetooth to smartphones and tablets.

PayPal has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Pay-pal website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The PayPal Chip and Swipe Reader costs $24.99, while the PayPal Chip and Tap Reader costs $59.99.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, PayPal provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: PayPal charges a flat rate of 2.7% per in-person transaction, and 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction.
  •    Monthly fees: PayPal does not charge any monthly fees for its basic payment processing services.

eHopper

 eHopper is an all-in-one POS system that includes credit card processing, inventory management, and employee management tools. Their devices are designed for a range of industries, including retail, restaurants, and service businesses. eHopper has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot.  For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the eHopper website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The eHopper All-In-One POS System starts at $599, which includes a tablet, cash drawer, receipt printer, and card reader.
  •    Built-in payment processor: No, eHopper integrates with several third-party payment processors, including WorldPay, Chase Paymentech, and First Data .
  •    Processing fees: Processing fees vary depending on the payment processor you choose to integrate with eHopper.
  •    Monthly fees: eHopper charges a monthly software fee starting at $39.99 per month for its Essential plan, which includes basic POS features and reporting.

PayAnywhere

PayAnywhere offers a range of credit card machines and mobile card readers, along with a virtual terminal for accepting payments online. Their devices are known for their reliability and advanced security features. PayAnywhere has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot.  For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the PayAnywhere website or speak to a member of their team.

  •    Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The PayAnywhere Mobile Card Reader costs $29.95, while the PayAnywhere Smart Terminal starts at $349.95.
  •    Built-in payment processor: Yes, PayAnywhere provides its own payment processing services.
  •    Processing fees: PayAnywhere charges a flat rate of 2.69% per in-person transaction, and 3.49% + $0.19 per keyed-in transaction.
  •    Monthly fees: PayAnywhere does not charge any monthly fees for its basic payment processing services.

Helcim

Helcim is a payment processor that offers a range of credit card machines and POS systems for small businesses. Their devices are known for their transparency in pricing and lack of hidden fees. Helcim has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on G2.  For the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information, check out the Helcim website or speak to a member of their team.

  •     Price for a credit card terminal or reader: The Helcim Card Reader costs $109, while the Helcim POS hardware bundle starts at $749.
  •     Built-in payment processor: Yes, Helcim provides its own payment processing services.
  •     Processing fees: Helcim charges interchange plus pricing, which means you pay the interchange rate set by the card issuer plus a small markup. The markup starts at 0.30% + $0.08 per transaction for businesses processing over $25,000 per month.
  •     Monthly fees: Helcim charges a monthly fee of $20 for its payment processing services, which includes access to features like a virtual terminal and online invoicing.

Even More Credit Card Readers for Small Businesses

  • SumUp Plus
    SumUp Plus is an all-in-one portable terminal that's easy to setup and designed for mobility, making it ideal for restaurants that want a card reader that can go anywhere - tableside, food trucks, markets, etc. It has a color display, thermal printer, long battery life, and low processing fee of 2.75%.
  • Vericheck Terminal
    For the ultimate in restaurant payment security, Vericheck offers an EMV-compliant countertop terminal with end-to-end encryption that protects card data from exposure. It has a color touchscreen and connects via Ethernet, WiFi, or mobile broadband network.
  • Poynt Smart Terminal 
    The Poynt Smart Terminal is a modern Android-based POS with dual screens for staff and customers that accepts payments via magnetic stripe, EMV chip, NFC/contactless, and QR codes. It includes POS software and integrates with third-party restaurant management apps.
  • Payeezy Smart Terminal
    The Payeezy Smart Terminal is a multi-purpose Android device that functions as both a payment terminal and restaurant POS powered by Semi-Integrated Processing. Key benefits include integration with major POS systems and support for all payment types including EMV, contactless, magstripe, QR codes, and mobile wallets.
  • Ziosk Pay-at-the-Table
    Ziosk specializes in pay-at-the-table tablets designed to improve the restaurant experience through tableside ordering, entertainment, payments, and surveys/feedback. Its purpose-built Android hardware is secure and optimized to boost revenue while providing data insights.
  • ROAM Ship 
    Ideal for food truck restaurants, ROAM Ship is a truly mobile handheld smart terminal that enables line busting, tableside ordering, and payments via WiFi or mobile data network. Its software covers inventory, online ordering, loyalty programs, reporting, and more.

When selecting a credit card reader for your small business, it's essential to weigh your options carefully and consider factors such as compatibility, fees, security, and customer support. It's crucial to assess your specific needs, such as transaction volume, revenue channels, and integration with existing systems, to ensure you choose a reader that aligns with your business goals. Additionally, prioritize security features like encryption and PCI compliance to protect your customers' sensitive data and maintain trust. By taking the time to evaluate your options and select a credit card reader that fits your unique requirements, you'll be well-equipped to provide a seamless and secure payment experience for your customers, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of your small business.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.