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Which credit card swiper is right for me?


Basics of Credit Card Swipers

With more and more customers opting to use credit and debit cards over cash when making purchases, your business could be missing out on potential sales if you don’t have the right credit card swiper, more commonly known as a card reader. 

Deciding which card reader to buy is an important decision, so we have compiled a handy guide to help you make the right decision for your business. 

Card readers go by several names, you may also hear them being referred to as card machines, terminals, PDQ machines, pin entry device, or chip and pin machines. You will need to set up a payment processing account before you are able to start accepting card payments. It is important to do this first to ensure that you purchase a card reader that is compatible and so that your business remains PCI compliant. 

So which one is right for your business? Here are the three main types of card readers.

Stand-alone terminals

Stand-alone card reader terminals or countertop card machines operate independently to your cash register or other payment processing devices. They are typically fixed in place and used at the till in shops, some cafes and beauty salons. 

Stand-alone terminals work using a phone or broadband connection connected via an ethernet cable. This type of connectivity is reliable and allows for uninterrupted transactions. These card readers are lower cost, reliable and easy-to-use, making them ideal for small businesses looking to expand their payment options. Most stand-alone terminals also accept gift cards although they do not usually support loyalty card functions.

Mobile terminals

There are two types of mobile or portable terminal card readers, wireless terminals and payment dongles. Wireless card terminals operate in the same way as a stand-alone terminal, except they are easily portable and operate via a wifi or bluetooth connection. 

Payment dongles can be attached to a smartphone or tablet to turn it into a functioning card reader. These are more commonly used for home-based businesses, kiosks and pop-up stalls. 

Both of these types of mobile terminals offer a portable payment solution that is particularly ideal for cafes and restaurants as it allows customers to pay wherever they are within the store, reducing queuing. Mobile terminals are typically more expensive than stand-alone card readers, however they have a greater range of use and offer connectivity wherever there is wifi. 

Smart terminals

Smart card terminals are the latest thing in card readers. They are entirely portable, often touch screen, and fully customizable card readers that offer a greater range of features and functionalities. Smart terminals have the ability to incorporate software programmes such as inventory management, loyalty programmes and data analysis tools, so you can easily track your business performance. 

Some smart terminals also offer dual screens, with one for the customer and one for the merchant. These card readers are ideal for taxi drivers, courier services or any business looking to enhance their customer experience and keep track of their performance and inventory. Smart terminals work using a SIM card or GPRS connection so they can be used anywhere your business takes you. 

Although smart terminals are the more expensive card readers option, their range of features and customization means they are more easily adaptable and able to grow and change with your business, unlike static card readers.

Best card readers at a glance

Here is a quick look at our top picks for card readers


  • Engage V400c Plus: This stand alone terminal is ideal for businesses who deal with a high volume of transactions. With a smudge proof touch screen and fast receipt printing features, this card swiper will ensure a seamless transaction every time for both you and your customers. End-to-end encryption also ensures that your customers’ information is dealt with securely and keeps your business PCI compliant.

  • Engage V240m Plus: The Engage V240m Plus is our mobile answer to the Engage V400c Plus, and is perfect for hospitality businesses or any SME looking for a portable card swiper option. Bring the card reader to your customers and reduce the need for queuing with this lightweight card reader featuring Wifi and GPRS connectivity allowing you to move around freely. This mobile terminal also has a long battery life so you can use it all day without having to worry about recharging. As with all of our payment solutions, the Engage V240m Plus has point-to-point encryption and is PCI DSS approved, to keep your customers’ personal information secure throughout your transaction.

  • Engage P400 Plus: This powerful smart card swiper offers innovative app capabilities and customisable payments features so you can accept all major card types, loyalty cards, customer points, card-linked promotions and keep track of your business’s performance from one device. Every transaction is quick and simple with the Engage P400 Plus’ ultra-fast in-built processor and end-to-end encryption. With multimedia capabilities, this smart card reader is ideal for any business looking to bring their brand to life and offer an excellent customer experience.


With credit and debit cards becoming an increasingly popular method of payment, it is important to ensure that your business is able to accommodate your customers purchasing preferences. 

With an extensive range of card readers on the market, there is one to suit every type of business and customer. At Opayo we offer a range of card readers such as countertop card machines and portable card machines designed to accept debit and credit card payments as well as contactless payments. To discover how partnering with Opayo could help your business offer more payment options, explore our range of face-to-face payment options or contact us today to discuss your business needs.