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8 ways to accept card payments


Image courtesy of iZettle

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about new legislation from the EU cutting out fees that card companies can charge, meaning more small businesses might be able to accept card payments than before.

However, having done a little research, it’s clear there are a lot of different solutions available at the moment to small businesses that make accepting card payments more affordable. Here are eight ways that you can accept card transactions at a fraction of the cost required otherwise.

Note: This list is in no particular order and the FSB Insurance Service has not personally trialled all of these methods. This list is simply information to help you and should not be considered an endorsement!


Based in Berlin, SumUp uses a small device that plugs into the headphone jack of an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. When a card is inserted, the companion app launches and allows you to put in payment details and get the client to authorise the transaction.

The SumUp device is free when you sign up to the site or when you buy the app. The main drawback of this solution however is that it appears to not support refunds directly and any refunded payments are dealt with through SumUp’s customer service team.


Update: The original copy of this section has been changed as it was using out of date information.

The Swedish iZettle device is similar to the above but now runs exclusively on chip and pin.

The app also has a few extra features such as the option for customers to email a description of their purchase or to add it to their Facebook profile, giving you a few incidental social media options to exercise.

The companion app is also able to track payments making it easy for merchants to track payments and sales and refunds can also be made on the same day through the app.

Unlike some of the other devices, iZettle does not have any noticeable difference when processing Visa payments as they all go through the same chip-and-pin service now its earlier model has been retired.

There is a monthly cost to use this service and a percentage of the transaction goes to iZettle, but this scales down the more you sell on a monthly basis.


Unlike the two devices above, mPowa’s card reader uses Bluetooth technology meaning it doesn’t need to be connected to the device it’s tethered to. Based in the UK, the mPowa app handles refunds, can also track payments and costs 2.95% of each transaction.

While most devices require a digital signature or a pin number to be input on the device’s screen to authorise payments, mPowa is working on a chip and pin reader to bring an extra layer of security to the process and is currently running a pre-registration promotion on this device.


With offices in Berlin and London, payleven has two card reader devices on the market. The first, a swipe and sign device, is free for anyone signing up to the service or downloading the app and the second is a chip and pin device available for around £89.

While the swipe and sign device is free, Visa cards are unfortunately only compatible with the chip and pin device.

Another downside is that the app does not track payments directly, but it is able to send out receipts via email and the app is able to issue refunds without too much fuss.

Intuit GoPayment

Intuit is breaking into the UK with this device having started up in the US and can ship out a card reader device for around £49. It only supports a limited number of Android handsets alongside iOS support and is like some of the devices above, a Bluetooth tethered device.

Intuit allows for two different payment structures, one with a lower fee-per-swipe and a monthly subscription payment and one on a pay-as-you-go rate which has a higher swipe rate but no monthly fee. The GoPayment device can also issue refunds instantly.


Ones to watch:

This is a bit of a cheat, but some of the devices we’ve found aren’t actually on the market yet. This is a rapidly growing area and pretty soon there are going to be even more options available for you, so there’s a strong chance this list will be obsolete even before it is published!

These devices however are other companies to watch, mostly because of their heritage or previous experience.


Founded in the US by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square essentially made the mobile card payments industry go mainstream after Starbucks invested $25m (£16m) to its project.

Square has some decent investment behind it and is backed by Visa. Although no plans have been announced for the company to launch in the UK yet, industry analysts are convinced that its arrival is imminent.

PayPal Here

A small triangular device that clips into a smartphone or tablet, PayPal Here has the added bonus of being able to accept PayPal as well as credit and debit cards.

Having a tremendous amount of electronic payment experience behind it in the form of PayPal, there are also a selection of reporting and analytics features built in to the app and the card reader is free.

Again, no plans have been announced for its introduction to the UK, but its site invites you to register your interest so you are the first to know when plans are announced.

WorldPay Zinc

UK-based WorldPay has been building up a solid reputation and now has a card reader device that is going through beta testing. Some sole traders and small business owners might be able to get in to the beta if they apply, but it appears there is still a way to go for this device.

When it is launched, it is expected to sell for £59.99 and its feature set will grow and iterate after release, with one of the first functions they plan to add being a simplified refunds system.

Many options

There are lots of options out there for you and some will be more of a natural fit than others. It's worth noting that this is a rapidly developing market and this information was probably out of date the second it was typed.

Have you had any luck in using one of these systems? Drop us a comment and share your story.

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