How to take card payments in a taxi

London Taxi Cab

How to take card payments in a taxi

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Let's be honest: turning down a fare is every taxi driver's worst nightmare. So when 1 in 3 people today admit to never carrying cash, why are so many cabs sticking rigidly to a cash-only policy?

As more merchants embrace card technology and taxi-app services grow ever-popular, the industry is starting to look a bit different for cash-only cabs. So, how do you stay competitive in today’s digital-focused world if you run a taxi business?

You get a mobile card machine, that’s how.

Can you accept card payments in a taxi?

Yes, today, most taxis are set up to accept card payments – whether via taxi apps or a mobile card machine. Both options mean that passengers can enjoy quick and convenient payment for a fare without having to handle cash.

However, not all taxis are set up to accept card payments. It’s often down to the taxi operator whether they’ve implemented the technology needed to accept cashless fares. To do so, operators will need to get set up with a card payment services provider and use a mobile card machine to accept card transactions.

Is it compulsory for taxis to accept card payments?

This all depends on where you are. In the UK, it’s mandatory for taxis operating in London to take card payments. According to Transport for London (TfL), licensed taxis must have a TfL-approved card payment device installed which can print out a receipt of the fare if a passenger asks for one.

Some smaller towns are making big steps forward, though. For example, it’s also been made mandatory for all taxis running in St Albans to be equipped with card machine payment technology, and from 1st September 2022, the Irish National Transport Authority (NTA) also made it compulsory for all taxis to offer credit and debit card payments.

For the rest of the UK, though, it’s not yet compulsory for taxis to accept card payments.

How to take card payments in a taxi

So, you want to turn your taxi business into a card-friendly operation. But how? Accepting card payments in a taxi has never been easier; all you need is a mobile card machine that can be used for chip and PIN or contactless transactions, like Apple Pay and Android Pay.

A mobile card machine is a type of handheld card reader you can take here, there, and everywhere to process card payments. To work, all they need is a connection to a mobile phone network. Other than that, they work exactly the same as standard card machines.

How do mobile card machines work in a taxi?

Don’t worry, they’re incredibly easy to set up and use. All you have to do is switch it on, follow the on-screen instructions and it’s ready to take on your next fare with you.

Most mobile card machines come with two ways to pay: contactless or chip and PIN, and there are just a couple of differences between the two.

Chip and PIN

  1. Your ride will have to physically insert their credit or debit card and enter their four-digit PIN code.
  2. Then, the card’s provider will run a quick verification check to make sure the details are right before authorising the transaction.
  3. Assuming all’s gone well and the payment is legitimate, the funds will be transferred from the customer’s bank account into yours. Remember, this can take up to three to five days to show.
  4. Providing you’ve got a mobile card machine that’s capable of printing receipts, you’ll then be given the option to offer the customer one.

Contactless

  1. All your ride has to do is tap your machine with their card.
  2. If it’s successful, a green light will pop up while the payment processes, and if it’s declined, a message will show to let you know.
  3. After that, everything works the same as chip and PIN payments.

At the end of your shift, all you need to do is charge your terminal up so it’s full of life for your next outing. Use the supervisor card you were sent to run reconciliations, and then you’re free to go off on the rest of your day (or catch up on some sleep!).

How to pick the right card machine for a taxi

You don’t just want any old mobile card machine, you need one that fulfils all your needs. To make sure you get the most out of your investment, here’s a checklist of what to look out for:

  • Accepts all major credit and debit cards – Does it accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express payments?
  • Ease of use and set up – No one wants to endure lengthy teething periods before they settle in with a new gadget, and with most mobile card machines, that won’t be the case. In fact, with ours, you can start taking payments the day it arrives.
  • A long battery life – After all, the last thing you want is for it to run out mid-shift. Our mobile readers also come with a micro USB that you can plug into your car to give your reader a quick energy boost.
  • Strong internet connection – Our mobile card machines come with a built-in GPRS SIM card that connects to the strongest network, so you don’t have to worry about going offline.
  • Receipt printing – Some taxis offer them, others don’t. If you fall into the former, though, you’ll need a machine that prints receipts on the spot.

Spoiler: all the above comes as standard when you choose a card reader with us. You can find out more about takepayments mobile card machines here.

What are the benefits of mobile card machines for taxi drivers?

If the move to cashless hasn’t convinced you to get set up with a mobile card machine, here are some other benefits to consider:

  1. Take more fares – If you only take cash payments as it stands, odds are, you’ve had to turn people away who only have a card, right? With a mobile card machine, that’ll never have to happen again; you’ll be ready to accept whatever payment type they prefer.
  2. Faster payments – Card transactions are three times faster than cash, so by accepting contactless and chip and PIN payments, you could be serving more passengers – especially during peak hours.
  3. Boost your reputation – If you’re competing against local taxi firms that don’t yet offer payment by card, you could give yourself a competitive advantage and lure new business in.
  4. Improve your safety measures – Carrying wads of cash around is never all that safe, and with people able to pay on their plastic, you’ll inevitably be left with less lying around your taxi.
  5. Access to records – Mobile card machines keep digital records of each and every transaction, which is much more accurate and efficient than doing it by hand. These records can help to simplify accounting and make it easier to manage expenses and earnings.

Can you still receive tips by accepting card payments in a taxi?

In our Tipping Index, we found that UK consumers placed taxi drivers as the fourth-most favoured industry to tip, behind hospitality staff, hairdressers, and takeaway delivery drivers.

But fear not, going down the card transaction route won’t affect your chances of receiving a gratuity.

Taxi drivers can still receive tips, whether they accept cash or card; all you need to do is enable the tipping function when you’re setting up your card machine. Don’t worry if you forget, you can go back and change your settings at a later date.

Will my taxi fares be capped?

Nope. You can still pick up big-ticket fares: your customer just won’t be able to pay with contactless if their fare is over £100.

All contactless cards have chip and PIN-enabled too, though, so they can still pay with their four-digit code no matter the price of the fare.

How much will a mobile card machine cost me?

With us, there’s no such thing as one flat answer for this. Unlike most providers, we base our fees on your circumstances, so the number of transactions your taxi turns over each month will determine how much you pay.

As with all card terminals, though, the general rule is: the more your turnover, the lower your rate is likely to be.


Confused? Ready to buy? Just want an informal chat? Then grab your phone and call our experts on 0808 274 2017.

 

Jodie

Jodie Wilkinson

Head of Strategic Partnerships

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