How To Take Card Payments In The UK

Whether you are a small business looking for the best way to accept card payments or you are an established service looking to expand, finding the best way to receive card payments is very important.

But with so many options available, from non-card transactions to traditional card machines, how do you choose the right one?

Check out our guide below for the best way to make credit card payments in the UK and find out which method is most convenient for your business!

How To Take Card Payments In The UK

Simple 5 Steps To Taking Card Payments

1. Understand your business needs

Before you settle on the best way to receive card payments, you need to know your exact needs. Are you planning to make payments on the go, or are you just looking to add a card machine to the side of your escrow?

Because there are so many different types of card machines, knowing which one is the best for your business is very important. Ideally, you want to offer your customers the right choice for the service you offer.

For example, a portable machine is probably the best choice for a taxi-style service, while a stationary countertop machine is ideal for coffee shops and other retail stores.

2. Apply and create a merchant account

A very important part of making card payments is the payment gateway chosen and the processor you use when it comes to payments. Once you have chosen the best gateway for your needs, you will need to create a business or merchant account.

Although not all portals require this, most of the top options like PayPal require a company to create a separate account. Creating a merchant account is very simple, but the process will vary slightly depending on the portal you choose.

Most of the portal options will provide a short explanation or guide to setting up a merchant account with them. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for this if you’ve never used a gate before.

3. Connect with your POS system and website hosting platform

To accept card payments, whether through a hardware device or via a virtual terminal, you’ll need to connect your system to a hosting platform. Since most payment gateways are designed for website use, you need to make sure your system is connected correctly or you may not get paid!

You will also need to link your hosting system to your POS system in order for payments to be recorded. A POS system is used to manage and track sales, which is why your chosen payment option must be linked to your POS.

4. Set up your card reader, payment gateway or virtual terminal

Now that you’ve linked your POS and hosting platform, it’s time to set up your chosen payment option. The exact steps required for this section depend entirely on your chosen device for receiving card payments, but all three should be fairly straightforward.

For the card reader, you will have to choose a physical location in which to place it. Countertop options are best suited next to a clipboard or in an easily accessible space where you can make payments. Mobile and portable options can be placed in a mount in your car or similar location.

Both payment gateways and virtual terminals are completely online, so you don’t have to worry about the exact physical location. But you will need to set up online payment services to redirect to your chosen gateway or virtual terminal.

Once this is done, accepting card payments is very easy and your business will be taken to a whole new level!

5. Receive your money

Now that you’ve chosen the right services or devices for receiving card payments, you’re ready to start accepting card payments. The time it takes to receive your money depends entirely on the process used.

For most online payments, you can expect the funds to be processed within 1-3 business days. For card machine payments, these transactions can take anywhere from 2 hours to 3 business days.

Always check that the payment went through successfully, this way you can be sure there is no error processing the funds!

The Three Ways You Can Take Card Payments

Card Machine

Perhaps the most common way to receive card payments in a store is to use a card machine. These extremely useful devices scan the details of a card that has been swiped or entered, allowing you to accept card payments.

There are a variety of different card machines available today. Take a look below to see which one best fits your business needs.

Online using a payment gateway

The method most businesses will come across if they offer an online store is online payments. Whether through gateways like WorldPay or PayPal, online payment gateways can be extremely vital to the success of businesses.

Accepting card payments can only be difficult, which is why online payment methods exist. To get the most out of an online payment gateway, you’ll need to create a merchant account before offering your customers an online payment method.

Most online payment gateways require your customer to enter their card details and send money – but few will require them to create accounts. Make sure to keep this in mind when deciding which method of online payment is best for your business transactions.

Mobile card payment machine

Choosing the right mobile card payment machine is just as important as choosing the perfect payment processor or gateway. There is a range of popular card payment machines out there, so researching the many types can really make a difference.

Some of the most popular card payment devices on the market today are:

Zettle card reader
SumUp Card Reader
square reader
Dojo card machines
Worldpay card machines
Barclay Card Business
Fortunately, most card machines work in similar ways, so even if you’re changing to a brand-new one, you should be able to get a handle on how it works pretty quickly.

You should also be sure to check out the different mobile payment apps if you are looking for a mobile payment option. Accepting card payments on the go can really boost your business, especially if the service you provide has some form of mobile aspect.


As technology improves, more and more people are slowly adapting from using cash to relying solely on card payments. The importance of offering card payments cannot be overemphasized, regardless of whether you accept them online or through a mobile card machine.

We hope to provide you with everything you need to know about making card payments in the UK. So, whether you’re starting a small business or looking to improve your existing business, be sure to keep our guide in mind!

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