Image of card payment machine

For a customer-facing small business, the right card reader isn't just a convenience—it's critical for efficient operations. 

The choice of a card payment system can dramatically influence the ability of your business to function properly. Affecting everything from customer experience to your bottom line. 

In a country where shopping and complaining are both practically national pastimes, nobody wants a line of frustrated and impatient customers who can’t pay for the goods or services you are trying to sell them. 

Neither do you want inaccurate and skewed transaction data that will make filing your self-assessment even more of a headache than it already is. Although that could mean more clients for us : )

As we near the end of 2023, three card readers stand out for UK-based small businesses: Takepayments A920, Worldpay, and Zettle by PayPal. All are highly rated but which one is right for you?

In this article, we'll scrutinise these systems through a multi-faceted lens, evaluating them on criteria such as Pricing, Customer Service, Features, and Flexibility. 

Whether you’re launching a start-up or looking to switch payment systems in your established venture, we'll provide insights to help guide you towards the card reader that will best suit the unique demands of your small business. 

Takepayments: Tailoring Your Payment Solutions

In an era where customisation is king, Takepayments offers the intriguing benefit of bespoke hardware costs, opening the door for businesses to handpick features that directly meet their needs. 

This personalised pricing extends even to transaction fees, which can differ based on your unique business model and monthly sales, offering a level of financial flexibility that's rare in the card reader market.

  • Benefits

One of the attractive aspects of Takepayments is the zero-cost setup, a feature particularly enticing for fledgling enterprises or those cautious about initial outlays. When it comes to waving goodbye, Takepayments doesn't make the process an unnavigable maze to struggle out of.

With a relatively clear-cut cancellation policy that only asks for a month's notice, it stands in contrast to competitors that tie you down with cumbersome exit fees.

  • Drawbacks

While there's a lot to admire, the Takepayments A920 isn't without its hurdles. A fixed monthly service charge exists, the cost of which can differ depending on your specific contract terms. 

This can be a point of concern for businesses that experience seasonal ebbs and flows, as the charge could eat into profit margins during lean months.

  • Pricing 

With Takepayments, you're not pigeonholed into a standard pricing structure. The company offers a custom pricing model, requiring prospective users to engage in a one-on-one consultation to hash out the details. 

While this might require a bit more legwork upfront, it provides an opportunity to negotiate a contract that aligns closely with your business objectives and financial capabilities.

By casting a spotlight on the individual needs of each business, Takepayments A920 offers a level of adaptability that can be a solid match for many UK small business owners.

Worldpay: A Balance of Features and Customer Service

When it comes to flexibility and customer support, Worldpay sets a high bar. With an assortment of card reader models and fee structures, this payment provider strives to be all things to all businesses. Let's dive into the nuances that make Worldpay a contender in the payment solutions arena.

  • Features 

Worldpay’s range is its strong suit, offering different machines like the Ingenico Desk/5000 for countertops and the mobile Ingenico Axium DX8000 with Wi-Fi. This makes it a suitable choice whether you're a brick-and-mortar shop or a restaurant offering table service. 

Moreover, their fixed and custom plans provide another layer of adaptability, making it easier for you to select what aligns with your business model.

  • Benefits

Where Worldpay really shines is in its customer service. Achieving high ratings, the company offers 24/7 support, putting them ahead in this domain. 

Their robust fraud protection and PCI compliance are other vital benefits, ensuring that both businesses and consumers can engage in transactions with peace-of-mind.

  • Drawbacks

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Worldpay's transaction fees are on the steeper side, especially when compared to competitors like Square and SumUp. 

This makes it a less ideal option for businesses dealing in lower-cost items. Additionally, the 18-month commitment required for a subscription can be a potential drawback for those wary of long-term contracts.

  • Pricing

The pricing models are fairly straightforward. A fixed monthly plan offers you predictability at the cost of £49.99 per month with transaction fees ranging from 1% to 2.75%. Alternatively, the custom plan comes with a lower device cost but variable transaction fees.

As per the product pages on Worldpay's website (at the time of writing), the DX8000 Mobile Card Machine is now available from £15 per month with a 1.5% transaction fee and zero up-front, authorisation or premium fees/charges. And the Desk/5000 Countertop Card Machine is currently available from £10 per month with a 1.5% transaction fee and zero up-front, authorisation or premium fees/charges.

Zettle by PayPal: A Nimble Solution for On-the-Go Transactions

If your small business thrives on flexibility and quick transactions, Zettle by PayPal could be your go-to payment solution. Here's a comprehensive look at what sets this system apart from the pack.

  • Features

Perhaps one of Zettle's most appealing features is its adaptability to third-party hardware. This compatibility extends to receipt printers, cash drawers, and barcode scanners, offering businesses an all-encompassing POS system. 

Additionally, Zettle supports a plethora of payment methods, ranging from major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard to digital wallets such as Apple Pay, making it an inclusive choice for diverse customer bases.

  • Benefits

The budget-friendly nature of Zettle is a major selling point. The system boasts low startup costs and transaction fees, making it a fitting choice for businesses with constrained budgets. 

In a world where cash flow is king, Zettle also impresses with its quick payouts. Transaction funds often appear in your account within one to two business days, offering much-needed liquidity.

  • Drawbacks

Yet, there are some caveats. Zettle's app does not provide an online store feature, limiting its appeal to businesses that operate purely online. 

Moreover, its customer service has restricted availability, with phone lines open only between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, which could be a downside for businesses that require round-the-clock support.

  • Pricing

In terms of pricing, Zettle takes a straightforward approach. The device starts at £29 + VAT, with a fixed transaction fee of 1.75%. This is slightly higher than some competitors but is offset by its other advantages such as quick payout and no setup fees.

The Ultimate Showdown: Takeaway Vs. WorldPay Vs. Zettle

When it comes to choosing a card reader, every small business has unique needs and priorities. Below, we've created a quick rundown of each system's strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision.

Feature/Provider Takepayments A920 WorldPay Zettle by PayPal
Hardware Cost: Bespoke Multiple machines £29 + VAT
Transaction Fees: Varied Higher Fixed at 1.75%
Customer Service: Average High Limited
Contract Length: Variable 18-month Contract-free
Setup Fees: None Varies None

Business Suitability Discussion

Takepayments A920 - If you're after a bespoke solution tailored to your business needs and are okay with a monthly minimum service charge, Takepayments could be the one for you. It's particularly well-suited for retail businesses with varying transaction volumes.

WorldPay - This is the option for companies requiring robust fraud protection and high levels of customer service. Its higher transaction fees make it more suitable for businesses with larger transaction sizes where fees are less of an issue. Given its 18-month commitment, it’s ideal for established businesses rather than startups.

Zettle by PayPal - If you need a flexible, cost-effective solution that lets you hit the ground running, Zettle is a solid choice. It’s perfect for businesses that have variable locations such as food trucks, pop-up shops, and freelancers. With quick payouts, it's also a good pick for businesses that need fast access to cash flow.

We hope this comparison guide serves as a useful resource in your search for the perfect card payment system. You may want to delve deeper into each option to determine the best fit for your business. 

Whether you're a bustling café looking for quick transactions, or a high-end boutique in need of robust security features, the right card reader can make all the difference. So, take your time, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed decision that will help your business thrive.

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James Waller
Content Specialist
Updated on
October 30, 2023

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