What is a card reader?

Published: 24/03/2021

A card reader is just another name for a card machine.

It lets you process card payments in your business quickly and easily. You might have also heard it called a PDQ machine, a chip and PIN machine or a card terminal. They all do the same thing though!

What are the benefits of accepting cards?

98% of adults in the UK now own a debit card, and 64% have a credit card, showing just how popular card payments are. So, if you don’t already accept card payments, now’s a good time to think about it.

There are loads of benefits. It:

  • is easier than dealing with cash
  • gives more flexibility for both you and your customers when it comes to paying
  • is a safe and secure way to get paid
  • helps you serve your customers faster, keeping your queues down
  • is all electronic, so fewer trips to the bank to deposit cash
  • can encourage people to spend more in your business.


How do card readers work?

They use a few different types of technology to help you take secure payments. Let’s take a look:

Chip and PIN technology.

Introduced to the UK in 2006, chip and PIN is the most common way to pay.

It was designed for security and to help combat card payment fraud. It replaced the old magstripe technology, where you’d have to swipe a card and the customer would sign their signature to authorise the payment. As you can imagine, this left people vulnerable, as if a card was stolen, the thief could easily forge the signature.

With chip and PIN, a customer puts their debit or credit card into the reader and is asked to enter in a 4-digit PIN code, which is secret to them. The card’s chip interacts with your card reader to start the payment process and verify it.

It’ll send the securely encrypted transaction data to your merchant account. It’s here where the payment is approved and processed, before the funds are transferred to your business bank account.

Contactless and mobile wallet payments.

Contactless technology is an easy and quick way for you to accept card payments, and it’s becoming very popular. In fact, it was reported that during the first six months of 2016, the amount spent on contactless cards surpassed the total spent for the whole of 2015.

It came into the UK a year after chip and PIN, and lets customers pay for items up to £30 without entering their PIN number.

So what’s behind the technology? Well, it uses something called Near Field Communication (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). This means your customer can just hold their card a few centimetres away from the card reader to pay. They can tap and go.

Mobile wallet payments through Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay all work the same way as contactless cards. Instead of using their card though, your customers can use their smartphone and smart devices.

How can I get a card reader?

We make it easy. Whether you’re new to cards, or are looking to switch provider, we’ve got a team of local payment consultants who’ll pop into your business to really learn what it’s all about.

They’ll work with you to create a pricing package tailored to your business needs.

We have a range of card readers available to suit all the different businesses out there:

Our card readers come equipped with all the technology we covered in our blog, so you’ll be able to take payments the way you want.

Ready to get started? Just fill in our form to get a quote or give us a call.


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