If you’ve recently started a brick and mortar retail business, you’ll no doubt be researching the most efficient and affordable way to accept credit and debit card payments. But, with so many options available, choosing a merchant provider isn’t always as straightforward as it should be.

From one-off app-based card readers to low-rate monthly contracts, it’s essential to understand the different types of card readers on the market and how to choose the right one for your business.

In this guide, we’ll run through what a card reader is, what different types of card readers are available, how they differ from card machines, and how they’re used for different industries. 

We’ll also cover important features and security requirements that help small business owners accept cards safely, in line with PCI requirements.

Dojo Go Product Shot

What is a credit card reader?

In simple terms, a credit and debit card reader is a piece of hardware that allows businesses to process card transactions in person from their customers. Card readers typically enable customers to pay using chip and PIN, contactless for purchases £100 or under, and digital wallets – such as Apple and Google Pay.

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Why do businesses need card readers? 

As cash is in decline across the world, consumers are opting to pay in more convenient and quick ways. Card payments mean that rather than carrying lots of loose change or notes, people can take one card to pay for everything – not just higher value items as it once was the case. 

And with the increase in the contactless card transaction from £45 to £100, consumers can pay for things even faster, without entering their PIN, which means less waiting, fewer queues and happier customers.

Card readers vs card machines: What’s the difference? 

When researching, you’ll no doubt have come across plenty of different words for a card reader. PDQ machine, contactless card machine, card terminal. In essence, they all do the same thing – process card payments. But in 2021, as the market has expanded, there are plenty of different options. So is there a real difference between a card reader and a card machine? 

Although they both process card payments the same way, there are some slight differences between what people refer to as card readers and card machines. The main differences are physical and functional.

Back in their infancy, card machines were bulky things that stayed fixed to a countertop for customers to pay. Now, in 2021, they’ve transformed into a range of shapes and sizes to become lightweight and completely portable and mobile.

Introducing the Dojo Go – as sleek and lightweight as a card reader and powerful and intuitive as a card machine. 

The Dojo Go is our fully portable and mobile card machine, built with a powerful and intuitive interface that makes business owners’ lives easier. From real-time transaction insights on the device to simple refunds and trading insights to full EPOS integration for end of day reconciliations – streamlining your processes has never been easier. 

And with a sleek 5” touchscreen and 10-hour battery life, it’s just as smart, well-designed and fully portable as a card reader – designed to get you paid at the counter, at the bar, in the beer garden, or at a food festival 400 miles away.

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    Mobile Connectivity
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    Wi-Fi connectivity
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    Built-in thermal printer
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    5-inch HD touchscreen
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    10-hour battery life
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    Integrated payments enabled
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    Point-to-point encryption

£20/mth

Delivery: Free delivery – next working day

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    3G/4G SIM card connectivity

    Switch to 3G/4G mobile connectivity if you’re on the road or if your Wi-Fi drops out. You’ll never miss a payment again.

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    Sleek 5-inch touchscreen

    A smooth touchscreen interface with an easy-to-clean glass surface.

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    Wi-Fi enabled

    Connect to your Wi-Fi connection for smooth, portable payments.

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    Lightweight but durable

    The Dojo Go is a sleek, lightweight terminal, easy to carry around but durable enough to last.

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    Built-in thermal printer

    Print receipts for you and your customers easily with the integrated printer.

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    Intuitive interface

    Card payments and refunds are fuss-free with easy-to-use interfaces and intuitive technology. 

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    Contactless and Apple and Google Pay enabled

    Stay up to date with customer preferences by accepting digital wallet payments from the get-go.

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    Market-leading security

    All Dojo card machines use point-to-point encryption – the world’s best payment security. It makes PCI compliance a breeze and gives you peace of mind. 

Join Dojo today. 

Need a next-gen card machine that takes payments 80% faster than the industry average? Look no further. Request your bespoke pricing plan today.  

The different types of card reader available. 

There are three main ways you can take payments with a card reader – tillside with a countertop card reader, around your business premises and outdoors with a portable card reader and outside your premises at your clients’ house or a pop-up event with a completely mobile card reader

The main difference between Dojo countertop card readers and portable or mobile is the level of connectivity. Portable and mobile card readers can use either Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connectivity to process transactions, whereas our countertop card readers only use Ethernet cables. 

While you may only want to take payments at your till the Dojo Go gives you the freedom and flexibility to connect to Wi-Fi and even a 4G mobile connection for no extra cost.

Portable card readers

Portable card readers are the perfect solution for restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars. In fact, they’re the go-to for any small business that wants the flexibility of payments without wires.

With a Dojo portable card reader, you can take payments from your customers around your premises. Whether that’s at the table, the bar or the comfort of the salon chair. Your card machine will connect with your Wi-Fi and has up to 10-hours of battery life as well as a built-in thermal printer and 5-inch touch screen. 

Mobile card readers 

Not sure where your business could take you? Don’t be restricted by wires, or Wi-Fi. The Dojo Go comes with a SIM card with unlimited 4G data. So if you’re out on the road or your Wi-Fi drops out, your card machine will automatically connect to mobile connectivity to process speedy transactions. And best of all? Mobile card readers don’t cost you a penny more. We give all of our customers’ free dual connectivity as part of their standard plan.

Countertop card readers

Countertop card machines provide retailers with fixed payments in one spot. They’re sturdy and reliable and process transactions in seconds using your Ethernet cable. If you’re a retailer that only needs to take payment from one place, this is the card reader for you.

How much does a card reader cost?

The card reader

The Dojo Go is a fully mobile and portable card reader with unlimited 4G connectivity. It costs just £20 per month to rent and comes equipped with the best security on the market – making your PCI compliance a walk in the park. 

Your transactions 

Your transaction fees will be a small percentage of the transaction total and are calculated based on a number of factors including your annual card turnover. You can accept all major credit and debit cards from the get go, including Amex and the Discover Global Network if you’d like to.

Tools for agile payments.  

Some businesses needed more agile solutions and flexible payments options – rather than having something stuck in one place. 

This gave birth to portable and mobile card machines, sleek machines that work with Wi-Fi, or even 3G/4G mobile connectivity and can be used any time, any place – on the road, in the pub garden, in food festivals up and down the country, you name it. 

This called for the card reader. It offered small businesses the opportunity to take card payments quickly and easily.

App-based card readers

App-based card readers are usually small plastic card readers that are often pocket-sized. They’re fully portable, and they are aimed at micro-businesses that only trade seasonally or infrequently but need a quick set-up. This is because the transaction rates are the highest on the market, and the functionality is somewhat limited.  

For example, with some app-only card readers, you cannot connect to your existing hardware, i.e. your till, which means you have to buy new corresponding sales tools, which can be an unnecessary expense. 

They’re most often referred to as card readers as they’re streamlined and are suitable for simple card payments only. Other business tools and functions are serviced through an application.

 Contract-based card machines

Although card machines function in the same way to take payments from customers, they tend to be slightly bigger than a card reader. Most card machines are provided by a merchant provider. They typically require a monthly contract and provide competitive transaction processing rates. 

Card machines are usually bigger pieces of hardware as they’re powerful pieces of technology that help businesses accept contactless card payments and they integrate with their EPOS

This card to till synergy helps business owners process sales faster and more accurately and let groups of customers split the bill seamlessly.

Why is the Dojo Go an excellent solution for growing businesses? 

While app-only card readers focus on micro-sellers with their simplicity and ease of use, traditional card machines concentrate on value, low pricing and streamlined integrations. 

The Dojo Go sits somewhere in the middle – we’re taking the sleek, streamlined and lightweight designs of a card reader without compromising on the functionality and highly efficient technology of a card machine. 

And simplicity is at our core – so we’re building solutions that make business owners’ lives easier. For example, our intuitive interface allows you to see all of your transactions and refunds on the device in real-time and on the Dojo app.  

So, with a sleek 5-inch touchscreen, a monthly rolling contract for switchers and free EPOS integration, Dojo combines the modern simplicity of a card reader with the business tools needed to scale effectively – like downloadable business insights at the tap of a button and 10am next day transfers for effortless cash flow.

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Are card readers secure? 

Accepting card payments is safe and secure if you work with your merchant provider to understand and become PCI compliant

PCI compliance is an important financial industry regulation that helps keep cardholders’ sensitive information safe and lessens the risk of identity theft. You can find out more about PCI compliance and what it means for your small business in our complete guide. 

All Dojo card readers are built with the leading security on the market – point-to-point encryption. This level of encryption is so secure, and it makes the process of PCI compliance a lot easier. When you sign up with us, we’re able to help you become compliant via the Dojo app, with just a few simple questions.

Switching to Dojo from another provider? 

We’re so confident that you’ll love Dojo; we could pay your current provider’s exit fees up to £3,000 if you make the switch to us.