Portable card machines for small businesses

Contactless card machines aren’t just for big businesses

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In this article, we’ll explain why a portable card machine could benefit your small business, how to find the right card payment machine for you, and how card machine costs have fallen in recent years. We’ll also tell you about some other ways you can boost your business with SumUp.


Nowadays, more and more businesses have a card machine at hand. With customers increasingly wanting to make cashless payments, owning a portable card machine has never been more important. 

Card machine prices and recurring fees used to be so prohibitive that many small businesses opted for accepting cash only. On top of that, business owners had to contend with the binding contracts and bureaucracy that came with using a card machine. Then card machines for small businesses were created. 

Now, there are affordable mobile card readers that let you process payments without having to worry about binding contracts or hidden costs. Here’s everything you need to know. 

What are portable card machines? 

Traditional countertop card machines, the type you commonly see in supermarkets and large retail chains, require a physical connection to the internet or a phone line. Conversely, portable card machines connect over Wi-Fi or mobile data, and so don’t need to be tethered to a fixed spot in your place of business. 

Like their countertop counterparts, SumUp’s mobile credit card machines enable multiple payment methods. Your customers can pay using chip and PIN – inserting their card into the reader and entering their Personal Identification Number (PIN) via the keypad. Our card machines also incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to enable contactless payment. This is when a cardholder authorises a payment simply by tapping their card against the reader. And with the advent of mobile payment apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay, consumers can use a smartphone instead of a physical card to make a contactless payment. 

Opting for a mobile card payment machine doesn’t mean you need to compromise on security. SumUp is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant. This is the highest security standard used in the credit card industry to regulate data transfer and storage. SumUp card readers transfer only encrypted information to our secure payment server. And we never store any sensitive data on your card reader or mobile devices.

Why use mobile card machines? 

A major advantage of mobile card machines is that you can use them to process payments on the go. A portable card machine is the obvious choice if your small business offers home visits, or operates from multiple locations. Whether you’re a mobile hairdresser, a market trader, a plumber or a pet groomer, buying a portable card machine is the quickest and simplest way to offer your customers cashless payments. 

Business owners operating from fixed locations also love the portability of our mobile card machines. If you run a restaurant, for example, you can offer your customers the convenience of paying at the table, rather than forcing them to queue at the bar.

But the flexibility doesn’t end there. Whereas traditional credit card machines typically involve minimum-term contracts and significant monthly fixed costs, SumUp’s portable card machines require no such commitment. Once you’ve bought your card reader, the only additional cost is a fixed fee per transaction.

There are many other compelling reasons to buy a card payment machine for your small business. Contactless has become the payment method of choice for many in recent years, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic made hygiene everybody’s top concern. Offering contactless payment can also speed up your overall checkout time, reduce queues and incentivise spontaneous purchases.

All our card readers accept major cards including Amex (American Express), Visa and MasterCard credit cards as well as MasterCard's Maestro and Visa Europe's V PAY debit cards. And with any SumUp card payment machine, you can process contactless and Chip-and-PIN payments, as well as payments via Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Does your business accept card payments?

The SumUp Card Machine enables businesses to accept debit, credit and contactless payments with a simple 3-in-1 device. No monthly contracts. No hidden fees. Ever.

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How to sign up for SumUp

To get started with any of our mobile card machines, all you need to do is create a SumUp profile. Once you’re signed up, you’ll have instant access to a suite of powerful business tools via our mobile app or web dashboard. Not only does a SumUp profile let you make the most of your card machine, but it also allows you to create payment links for remote payments, set up QR codes to speed up sales, send invoices, build your own online store, and much more besides.

For a quick overview of how to sign up for SumUp, check out the video below.

Sign up for SumUp

What about card machine costs? 

You’ll pay a one-off fee for your SumUp portable card machine. The low-cost SumUp Air, which you can pair with your mobile phone to process payments anywhere, is a great option if want to keep upfront spending to a minimum. If you’re looking for a standalone device with a slick touch-screen interface, you might want to spend a little extra on SumUp Solo.

While you’ll need to account for the initial card machine price, you don’t need to worry about any fixed monthly costs or hidden fees. We keep our pricing simple and transparent. You’ll only pay a fee of 1.69% for each credit or debit card payment you process.

Whether you run a thriving full-time business or have an occasional side hustle, a SumUp card reader machine is the perfect cashless payment solution. You’ll only pay a transaction fee once you’ve been paid, and you won’t pay a penny when your card machine isn’t in use. 


“Having a SumUp card reader has been a game-changer for my business. It’s helped secure more day-to-day sales and offers a level of flexibility that really helps me.”

Matt, Vintage Furniture Dealer, London


SumUp – boosting small businesses across the world

Today, over 3 million business owners in 33 countries rely on SumUp to get paid. 

To support this global network of small and growing businesses, we’ve built a product ecosystem that extends far beyond affordable credit card machines. 

With a free SumUp Business Account, any money you earn using SumUp is available the next day, even on holidays and weekends. You can also choose to receive payouts from SumUp into your existing bank account, but transactions can take 1-3 business days to process. Opening a SumUp Business Account is a quick and simple way to separate your business and personal finances – you can apply online in minutes, and we’ll send you a free contactless Mastercard for all your business spending.

Creating a SumUp profile also gives you instant access to a host of additional business tools, for those times when your contactless card machine isn’t the right solution. Our online store builder lets you create your own e-commerce site, for free, in minutes. If you want to sell online without a business website, you can create payment links to send directly to your customers via email, text message or social media. And our invoicing solution lets you create professional invoices and get paid in just a few clicks. To try out all these tools and more, simply create a free SumUp profile and start exploring our app or web dashboard.

Find the right card machine for you

We offer a range of card reader machines, all created with the small business owner in mind. Every SumUp card payment machine is quick and easy to set up, impressively multifunctional and entirely portable. But each device offers a slightly different feature set. Here’s a simple overview.

SumUp Air

  • Requires the free SumUp app to accept payments

  • Connects easily via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet

  • Up to 12 hours of battery life

  • Comes with micro-USB cable for charging

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SumUp Solo

  • Accepts payments as a standalone device

  • Works with Wi-Fi, plus free unlimited mobile data with built-in SIM card

  • Fast-charging battery up to 8 hours of battery life

  • Comes with a charging station

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SumUp 3G

  • Accepts payments as a standalone device

  • Works with Wi-Fi, plus free unlimited mobile data with built-in SIM card

  • Up to 8 hours of battery life

  • Comes with a charging station and print receipts on the go

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SumUp POS

  • Powerful software for retail and hospitality businesses

  • Process orders, accept payments and generate reports

  • Compatible with your SumUp Air card reader

  • Flexible pricing

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Have questions? We’ve got you covered

Find the right payment solution for your small business today

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With SumUp, you can quickly and easily accept credit and debit card payments with your smartphone or tablet.

*Price excluding VAT. 30-day-money-back-guarantee from date of delivery. Further conditions apply.