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Business adviceStarting a business

What’s the best card machine for my business?

4 min read

Once you’ve decided that a card machine is necessary for your business, where do you begin? Card machines come in all shapes and sizes, so we’ve put together a guide to help you choose a POS terminal.

What are the different types of card machine?

They say three is the magic number, and in broad brushstrokes, card machines come in these three categories:

  • Countertop card machines
  • Portable card machines
  • Mobile card machines

But how do these different types of card machines work? And which is the best card machine for new businesses? Let’s take a look at your options.

Countertop card machines

They say that money makes the world go round, but sometimes getting paid means staying right where you are. Countertop card machines – sometimes called desktop card machines – give you the opportunity to take payments from a fixed location. These devices simply connect to an Ethernet cable, but can take contactless payments and perform many operations you’d expect of a card machine, from printing receipts to tracking orders through a payment portal.

Our Ingenico Desk 3500 is a heavyweight champion in the countertop card machine arena. Other features include:

  • A 2.8-inch bold backlit screen
  • The ability to track sales through the Tyl portal.

Portable card machines

A portable card machine allows you to take payments over a greater radius than a countertop card machine. They are sometimes referred to as handheld card machines, though this flexibility has its limits, as taking payments may get trickier the further you move from the router if you’re only connected to WiFi. But if you want a pocket-sized device that allows you to get paid on the move, a portable card machine could be worth considering.

Our Ingenico Move 3500 is a small and clever card machine, so you can use the WiFi version if you don’t need to venture far. It also features:

  • 3.2-inch bold backlit screen
  • Compatibility with Apple Pay, Google Pay and secure payment gateways
  • Settlements and invoices through the Tyl portal.

If portability is your aim, you could also consider the Clover Flex – more on that later.

Mobile card machines

A mobile card machine features a pre-installed SIM card that enables fully mobile coverage. So as long as you have a mobile signal, you can take payments on the move regardless of how close you are to a router. Just like a portable card machine, a mobile card machine gives you the opportunity to roam beyond a fixed countertop and take payments on the go.

Our Clover Flex card machine can take payments over 3G, thanks to its incremental wireless charge. It’s a compact and mobile POS system with a neat central hub. Other features include:

  • A 5-inch glass touchscreen with high-resolution display
  • PCI compliantsecurity system
  • 8 hours of battery life.

You could also consider the 3G version of the Ingenico Move 3500, which comes at an extra cost compared to the WiFi-only version.

Tyl- fees and eligibility criteria apply

Which card machine is right for my business?

Whether you’re a new business or long established, most would agree that card machines can make your life easier. But when choosing a card machine, you may want to think about the industry you operate in, and the needs of you and your staff on a day-to-day basis.

If you simply operate on a shop floor and don’t wander too much – like a small coffee shop, convenience store or hair and beauty salon – then you may find a small portable device like the Ingenico Move 3500 on a WiFi signal is the no-frills solution for you.

Equally, if your business has a counter, but also provides table service – like a garden centre with a café, or a pub with a restaurant – you could consider an all-in-one solution like the Clover Flex for its versatility and 3G connectivity, or indeed the 3G version of the Ingenico Move 3500.

On the other end of the spectrum, a countertop card machine may appeal to any business that takes payments at a fixed location, such as supermarkets, car garages and hardware shops.

But of course, when any of us choose a product or service, we go with our heart as well as our head. The sleek, white aesthetic of the Clover Flex may feel right at home at a dental practice, for example. But if the ambience at your premises isn’t quite so important – like a vehicle repair workshop, perhaps – the safe and sturdy Ingenico Desk 3500 may fit the bill.

So, what’s the best card machine for a small business?

We’re not going to tell you which card machine to buy, as there are many quality ones on the market, and every business has different needs. In this ever-changing world, you could argue that the Clover Flex provides the flexibility small businesses need to meet different challenges. It works as a portable, mobile and countertop device, and adapts to the connectivity it finds. But equally, if you’re dead certain that your connectivity needs won’t change, the Ingenico card machines may be right for your business.


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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