If you run a business that accepts card or digital payments in-store, you essentially have two options.

  • Use a countertop card machine and have customers come to a fixed pay point.
  • Use a portable card machine, allowing you to take payments directly to customers.

There’s no right or wrong answer for which type of card machine is best for your business.

But it’s something to consider carefully.

Your payment process is a key part of the customer’s experience.

Make it easy for the customer and they’ll likely come back in the future. Make the payment process difficult, and they might not only refuse to shop with you again, they might abandon the purchase they were trying to make.

So, if you’re wondering whether portable card machines or countertop card machines are right for your business, there are a few things you should consider.

Card machine benefits

Whether you’re planning on a portable or countertop card machine, you’ll benefit either way.

That’s because customers are likely to spend more using card payments than cash.

Contactless payments have turned spending into a quick and pain-free job, making it easier to spend.

So if you want to create more profit, a contactless card machine could make it happen.

Countertop card machine benefits

Countertop card machines create an obvious payment point

In a store, countertop card machines provide you a single point of payment.

Provided this point is clearly marked, customers know exactly where to go to pay for their products.

Payments can be set up at any point within a store.

Countertop card machines are easy to connect to a network

Most modern card machines use WiFi or 4G to connect to a network. And while this is reliable for the most part, it does make mobile card machines vulnerable to weak signals when you move out of range of a router, or move into a mobile “blackspot”. Countertop card machines remove this problem because they’re connected directly to a router or a phone line using an ethernet cable. This makes the connection much more reliable.

You can create areas for impulse purchases

One of the great things about having a fixed payment point is that you can line the route to the till with smaller purchases to try and encourage additional purchases. We’ve all seen these little counters, filled with small goods for just a few pounds.

As a business, a few of these extra purchases can make a big difference to the bottom line.

Countertop card machine disadvantages

Countertop card machines aren’t flexible

Because they can’t be moved around, countertop card machines need to sit in one location.

During busy periods, with many customers waiting to pay, countertop card machines could result in a bottleneck or a large crowd forming around the pay point. This isn’t a great look and could result in an unpleasant overall experience for the customer.

In a bigger store, especially with multiple levels, having fixed card machines can force customers to walk longer than they’d like to pay – so it’s important to carefully consider the position of your card machine.

Portable card machine benefits

Portable card machines offer more freedom

Portable card machines allow you to take payments from anywhere in store and within range of a WiFi or mobile connection. This is ideal if you want to take payments directly to customers, rather than having them gather in one place to complete a purchase.

These shop floor payments can also boost your revenue or profits because it reduces the chance of a customer changing their mind about a purchase while walking to a till.

Portable card machines add to the customer experience

The customer service experience encompasses everything from the moment the customer enters an establishment to the moment they leave – including their payment. Portable card machines save customers time and energy and can offer them a feeling of all-around great service, where all their needs are attended to.

Android card machines add even more benefits

In recent years, android portable card machine have only increased the benefits offered by portable card machines.

Upgraded connections mean Android machines can connect using 4G signals, rather than the outdated GDPRS signals older models relied on. This not only improves the reliability of the connection, but also the speed at which transactions occur.

Android machines also offer a more appealing, sleek variation on the slightly clunky looking models of days gone by. Gone are the physical keys and small screen, replaced instead by a higher definition touch screen.

They also last significantly longer between charges, often taking as many as 8 hours to require a charge, even after heavy use.

Portable card machine disadvantages

Portable card machines are easier to lose

If you’ve worked in a busy restaurant, you’ll likely have had the opportunity to use a portable card machine. You’ve also likely encountered times when the portable card machine has gone missing, which is easily done when they move all over the place.

While portability has its benefits, and there are ways to track down these card machines, losing them during a busy shift can present more problems than portability solves.

Portable card machines are more likely to be dropped or broken

Portable card machines and modern portable devices of all types are often built to withstand some light impact, in the event they are dropped. But that doesn’t stop damage from occurring every time. Cracked screens, broken chassis and internal machinery damage are just some of the problems that may arise from dropping a portable card machine.

Many portable card machines rely on Wi-Fi 

Some portable card machines can collect payments over a mobile network, as mentioned above. But those that are not able to collect payments this way are restricted to the business Wi-Fi. If the card machine is used in a business that covers a large area, the Wi-Fi signal can weaken the further the machine travels from the router and it can be difficult to collect payments from customers.

What is the best card machine for you?

Hopefully, you’ll now have some insight into the best card machine for your business.  Whether you’re a portable card machine fan or a countertop card machine faithful,  there are plenty of options out there to suit your business needs.