How to open your business up to card payments

Sumup card reader
Card readers are available from around £29

The UK’s smallest businesses are missing out on valuable business or wasting time chasing customers for payment because they don’t accept debit- or credit-card payments.

New research from payments company Square suggests 40% of micro businesses – firms with fewer than ten employees – don’t have the facilities they need to accept card payments.

Thankfully, fierce competition in the payments sector means there is plenty of affordable choice. In practice, the right option for your business will depend on several factors. You typically pay an upfront charge for the equipment you need, such as a card reader, plus a transaction charge, which could be a fixed cost or a percentage.

This means the cheapest deal will depend on how many transactions you process and how much they are for. In addition, think about whether you need a card payments service just for face-to-face transactions, or to take payments by phone or online as well. Not every provider caters for each of these needs.

For a face-to-face card reader, iZettle currently charges £29 for one of its terminals with capped transaction charges of 1.75%. Sumup’s device also costs £29 and charges an uncapped 1.69% transaction charge; it can be used for payments by phone. Square charges £29 for its device and offers e-commerce options as well as phone-based payments and face-to-face transactions, with a varying range of transaction charges.