Choose the best mobile card reader

Using a mobile card reader can add flexibility to large businesses as well as SMEs, especially is a company not only has premises but also sells at trade fairs and exhibitions.

SOHO (small office/home office) workers who visit markets or fairs can also benefit from mobile technology, as well as sole traders who run mobile businesses – such as hairdressers, window cleaners, gardeners and beauticians.
A mobile card reader is also useful for businesses where payments are made at the table, such as bars, restaurants and clubs.

Card readers now use swipe, Chip and PIN and contactless technology and it is important to choose a model that suits all your business needs.

Mobile Card Reader Essentials

Mobile technology for payment transactions is developing and more functions are being added to card readers, so it is important to research the mobile card reader which would best suit your business. Some specifications to look out for include:

  • Portability – choose a lightweight model which is also robust
  • Transaction time – payment transactions using mobile technology should take between 3 to 6 seconds
  • MOTO payments – Optional telephone Chip and PIN payment solutions for MOTO (mail order/telephone orders)
  • PCI PED compliant – all payment terminals and credit and debit card regulations are in the process of being standardised, so make sure your mobile card reader is PCI PED (Payment Card Industry Pin Entry Device) compliant
  • Card readers can be independent units which connect to a mobile phone – decide if this would suit you or whether an integrated mobile card reader payment terminal would be better
  • Fast printing – integrated thermal printers can speed up transactions
  • Battery life – look for a model which recharges quickly and has a long battery life eg 200 -300 or more payment transactions (up to 700 with some models)
  • Re-charging time – preferably under one hour with in-car charger
  • Support help desk – make sure there is a reliable technical support service and maintenance service with your card reader, including easy installation and set up
  • Supplies – choose a mobile card reader with easily available print rolls, ink and battery supplies.

Mobile card readers use GPRS and can use either swipe technology or more usually Chip and PIN. They are sometimes called PDQ (Process Data Quickly) terminals and can be used both for indoor payment transactions, or at open air events such as car boot sales, markets, agricultural shows, garden centres or beach shops and stalls.

Because a mobile card reader does not require a landline, extra terminals can be added to cover seasonal fluctuations in staff or trade or if your business grows.

Choosing mobile payment terminals

The easiest way to choose the best mobile card reader for you business is to obtain a range of quotes and free advice from a specialist comparison website like Companeo.

Generally, before choosing a mobile card reader, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the most popular models on the market, what they can do for your business and be aware of any options involved:


  • Some mobile card readers are an integrated system – and other models of card reader may require connection to a separate mobile phone handset, so need to be compatible with that model of phone and network
  • Providers of merchant services and business banking will also offer various models if you sign up to a merchant services contract with them
  • It is possible to buy a mobile card reader and your merchant services plan separately if this would be a better deal
  • It is also important to consider which network you mobile card reader will operate on (eg Vodafone, O2) and the model and make of mobile phone you have
  • It is possible to hire a mobile card reader on long- or short-term contracts – for example, if you have premises but occasionally attend trade fairs or open air events to sell products. Mobile card readers which are available for hire usually cover a choice of networks and come with a SIM card.

Some of the various card readers using mobile technology available are:

  • Countertop – The Verifone VX520 is a robust countertop payment terminal which can operate using GPRS or Ethernet connection – it has an integrated Chip and PIN keypad, swipe card reader and a small footprint
  • GPRS – The Hypercom Optimum M4230 is a complete mobile payment solution with an optional EMV (EuroCard, Mastercard, Visa) chip card reader, optional recharging dock and a high performance battery
  • Wi-Fi – The Verifone VX670 is currently the smallest wireless payment terminal and is splashproof, with backlit keys and screen for use in poor lighting conditions
  • Bluetooth – The Hypercom Optimum M4240 has a 24MB memory and IP, Power Amp Bluetooth or dial-up connectivity to cover all events. The M4240 also has an optional recharging dock and optional EMV (EuroCard, Mastercard, Visa) chip card reader.

If you would like more advice on the best mobile card reader and payment terminal for your business, complete the online enquiry form on our website for free quotes without obligation, which will be sent to you within 48 hours.

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