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So you’ve set up your business, been trading for a while.  You’ve decided that only taking cash payments is holding the growth of your business back.  You’re thinking about taking card payments, but you’re not sure where to begin.  This short guide will help you.

1) You’re going to need a business bank account 

This is essential in order to start taking credit or debit card payments.  Before thinking about a merchant service provider and a card payment machine, you need to sort out your business bank account.

All banks offer business bank accounts to their customers.  You will need to go through an application with your chosen bank and some banks ask for a copy of your business plan.  You will then receive a credit/debit card and access to mobile or online banking.

Do your homework and shop around for the best deals.  Once you have this organised, you’re ready to look at merchant service providers and card payment machines.  

2) You’re going to need a merchant service provider

A merchant service provider is a bank or a private company that offers to handle credit and debit card transactions for businesses.

Most banks provide this type of service, often together with your business bank account.  They typically charge a small fee for each transaction, and some charge a monthly fee too.  Some offer a card payment machine as part of their package, and some have an extra fee for this as a rental fee.

There are a number of private companies who offer the same services, often with lower costs than the banks.  Again most charge a small fee per transaction, and some charge a monthly fee either instead or on top of this.  Some offer card payment machines, and some charge extra for this as a rental fee.

Our advice is to shop around for the best deals and speak to companies to get a feel for the services they will provide.

3) You’re going to need a card payment machine 

So you have a business bank account, and you have a merchant service provider ready to process payments.  All you now need is a card payment machine to take the transactions.

There are lots of choices for this.  You can choose a card machine that takes a payment using the traditional chip and pin method.  You can also choose a card machine that is contactless, meaning people can tap it with their credit and debit card for the transaction.  Lastly, there are already card machines offering Apple Pay, which is linked to Apple iPhones and iPads, although these aren’t really common yet.

You can choose to rent or buy a card payment machine, and again there are lots of options.  Speak to your chosen merchant service provider about this.

  • You need an internet connection 

This might be a really obvious piece of advice, but it is so easily overlooked.  For a card payment machine to function, you need an internet connection.  If you are a mobile trader then you are going to take use of a standard mobile data connection, similar to how your phone works.  If you are at a fixed location then wifi may be best.  Again there are lots of options here.  If you are in a place with little/no signal it may be difficult to process transactions, so might be best not to offer card payments in these areas.

  • You’re going to need to let your customers know you now take card payments

 This may also sound obvious, but your customers won’t know you take card payments unless they see your machine or know you take card payments.  Hang a sign, put your machine in a prominent place (rather than under your counter) and your customers will then know you take card payments.

This means they have a better choice of payment method, see your business as professional, and may even spend more at your shop/stall because they can use their card!

If you want any advice, please feel free to contact us at