10 Best Credit Card Machines and Terminals for Small Businesses

These are the best credit card terminals for small businesses that need flexibility when it comes to features.
Whitney Vandiver
By Whitney Vandiver 
Edited by Sally Lauckner

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Credit card machines and terminals can accept payments, print receipts and make transactions easier for businesses. Depending on your business, the best credit card machine might work offline and scan barcodes, or it may have a customer-facing screen and print receipts.

Below are the best credit card machines for small businesses, with a summary of the key features.

To see a quick summary of the options, check out our comparison table.

Clover Flex: Best overall

The Clover Flex credit card reader.

(Photo courtesy of Clover)

Style: Handheld.

POS monthly fee:

  • $14.95 for Starter Retail, Starter and Standard Professional Services, and Home & Field Services plans.

  • $44.95 for Standard Retail, Starter and Standard QSR, and Advanced Professional Services plans.

  • $54.90 for Advanced Retail and Advanced QSR plans.

  • $74.95 for Starter Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $84.90 for Standard Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $94.85 for Advanced Full-Service Dining plan.

Hardware cost: $499.

Payment processing:

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.

Clover

Clover
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Clover's website

Why we like it: The Clover Flex lets customers swipe, dip and tap credit cards and accepts the trio of digital wallet payments: Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. The 5-inch touch screen displays transaction details. It also includes a receipt printer and barcode scanner for faster checkout, and has a free monthly plan available with limited point-of-sale, or POS, features for those on a budget.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripes and digital wallets.

  • Features a 5-inch touch screen.

  • Prints receipts.

  • Scans barcodes.

  • Allows offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Device is relatively expensive.

Square Stand: Best value for money

A customer signs on a Square Stand POS system screen while a merchant smiles at him from behind the counter.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Square Stand

Square
Shop Now

on Square's website

Style: Tabletop.

POS monthly fee:

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Hardware cost: $149.

Payment processing:

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Why we like it: Despite being the cheapest tabletop reader on this list, the Square Stand offers small businesses a lot of value. Working in tandem with the Square Reader (which is a separate device), the Stand uses an iPad as a screen, giving you the feeling of a register-style terminal without the high price. It also swivels so customers can see transaction details and accepts all types of credit cards, digital wallets like Apple Pay and QR codes through Cash App. You'll need to purchase accessories to print receipts or scan barcodes with this terminal.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripes (via the Square Reader), digital wallets and QR codes.

  • Features a swivel screen so customers can see transaction details.

  • Comes with Square Reader for contactless and chip payments.

  • Allows offline payments (requires Square Reader to work).

Cons:

  • Requires an iPad to use as a screen.

  • Can’t print physical receipts on its own.

  • Can’t scan barcodes on its own.

SumUp Plus: Best low-cost option

A customer swipes a blue credit card with the SumUp credit card reader.

(Photo courtesy of SumUp)

Style: Handheld.

POS monthly fee: $0.

Hardware cost:

  • $35 for SumUp Plus card reader.

  • $49 for SumUp Plus cradle bundle.

  • $99 for SumUp Solo touchscreen.

Payment processing:

  • 2.75% for in-person transactions.

  • 2.90% plus 15 cents for online transactions.

  • 3.25% plus 15 cents for manually keyed or payment-linked transactions.

Why we like it: The SumUp Plus comes with all the basic features for a card reader and a low price. It connects to a smart device to process payments and features a small screen to display transaction totals for swiping, dipping and tapping credit cards and accepting Apple Pay and Google Pay. While the Plus doesn’t print receipts, you can send digital receipts to customers’ email addresses.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripes and digital wallets.

Cons:

  • Displays only minimal details on screen.

  • Requires a smart device.

  • Can’t print physical receipts.

  • Can’t scan bar codes.

  • Doesn’t process offline payments.

Clover Station Duo: Best option with two screens

The Clover Station Duo sits against a white background with a screen on top of a cash box, a customer screen facing the camera, and a receipt printer.

(Photo courtesy of Clover)

Style: Tabletop.

POS monthly fee:

  • $14.95 for Starter Retail, Starter and Standard Professional Services, and Home & Field Services plans.

  • $44.95 for Standard Retail, Starter and Standard QSR, and Advanced Professional Services plans.

  • $54.90 for Advanced Retail and Advanced QSR plans.

  • $74.95 for Starter Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $84.90 for Standard Full-Service Dining plan.

  • $94.85 for Advanced Full-Service Dining plan.

Hardware cost:

  • $49 for chip, swipe and contactless Clover Go card reader.

  • $499 for Clover Flex mobile POS with printer.

  • $799 for Clover Mini POS.

  • $1,349 for Clover Station Solo.

  • $1,799 for Clover Station Duo.

Payment processing:

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.

Why we like it: The Clover Station has two screens (one facing each side of the counter), processes credit card and digital payment options and prints receipts, giving customers a smoother checkout. It also comes with a cash drawer for an all-in-one setup. Clover offers two POS options for the Station Duo, one for retail and one for restaurants.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Has a 14-inch main screen and a 7-inch screen for customers.

  • Prints physical receipts.

  • Comes with a cash drawer.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Device is relatively expensive.

Clover

Clover
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Clover's website

Payanywhere Smart Terminal: Best option to print receipts

The Payanywhere Smart Terminal credit card reader sits against a white background.

(Photo courtesy of Payanywhere)

Style: Handheld.

POS monthly fee: $9.95.

Hardware: $349.95.

Payment processing:

  • 2.69% for in-person transactions.

  • 3.49% + $0.19 for online, keyed and virtual terminal transactions.

Why we like it: The Payanywhere Smart Terminal lets small businesses print receipts on the go and comes with a 5-inch touch screen to show transaction details. It also scans barcodes for faster checkout and accepts credit card payments, including some digital wallets. However, it doesn’t accept Google Pay. Payanywhere’s POS features include reporting, employee tracking and inventory management.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Has a 5-inch touch screen.

  • Prints physical receipts.

  • Scans barcodes.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Charges monthly $3.99 inactivity fee after 12 months.

PayPal Zettle: Best for QR code payments

The PayPal Zettle card reader sits on a coffee shop counter

(Photo courtesy of PayPal)

Style: Handheld.

POS monthly fee: $0.

Hardware cost:

  • $29 for first card reader; additional readers cost $79. Price includes USB cable.

  • $249 for Store Kit Mini (screen terminal with card reader).

  • $339 for Store Kit Portable kit with mobile card reader and printer.

  • $499 for Store Kit Standard (adds printer).

  • $699 for Store Kit Plus (adds barcode scanner).

Payment processing:

  • 2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person and QR code transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 9 cents for manual entry card transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 49 cents for invoicing transactions.

  • 1.90% for QR code transactions over $10; 2.4% if below $10; $2.29 plus 9 cents if through third-party integrator.

Why we like it: PayPal’s Zettle goes one step further by letting customers pay by QR code directly from their PayPal accounts — just create a unique QR code on the card reader and let the customer scan the code with their phone to initiate payment. QR code payments are charged a lower fee. It’s also a handheld design that’s easy to take on the go, accepts chip and contactless payments and has a screen to display simple transaction details.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including chip and contactless payments and digital wallets.

  • Creates QR codes for an additional payment method.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t swipe magstripe credit cards.

  • Requires a smart device to work.

  • Doesn’t support offline payments.

  • Doesn’t print receipts.

  • Doesn’t scan bar codes.

Square Register: Best for alternative payment methods

A customer uses her phone to checkout with a digital wallet. She holds her cell phone against the customer-facing screen of the register while the cashier stands behind the counter of a bakery.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Square Register

Square
Shop Now

on Square's website

Style: Tabletop with two screens.

POS monthly fee:

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Hardware cost:

  • $0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).

  • $49 for Square Reader contactless and chip card reader.

  • $149 for Square Stand iPad POS or Square Stand Mount (iPad not included).

  • $299 for Square Terminal mobile card reader with built-in printer.

  • $799 for Square Register two-screen system.

  • $659-$1,479 for various bundles of stands, cash drawers, printers and card readers.

Payment processing:

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Why we like it: The Square Register accepts digital wallets and all credit cards and also lets customers pay via QR code through Cash App. This option can help businesses avoid the higher processing fees associated with card-not-present transactions and is available for customers online if you set up a Square Online website. The system also comes with two screens: a 13.25-inch screen for the cashier and a 7-inch screen for the customer. While it doesn’t scan bar codes or print receipts, you can order additional hardware to set up these features.

Pros:

  • Has two screens, one for the business and one for customers.

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Accepts QR codes for Cash App.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Doesn't print receipts.

  • Doesn’t scan bar codes.

Square Terminal: Best for flexible setup

A customer inserts his credit card into the Square Terminal while the cashier holds a paper bag for him.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Square Terminal

Square
Shop Now

on Square's website

Style: Handheld to tabletop conversion.

POS monthly fee:

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Hardware cost: $299; add $39 for accessories hub.

Payment processing:

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Why we like it: On its own, Square’s Terminal can work as a handheld credit card reader for when you're on the go, but connect it to a tablet and you’ve got a tabletop terminal for when customers come to you. It accepts all payment types and can print receipts for a smooth checkout process. Although it requires an internet connection and won’t work on cellular data, it can connect to Wi-Fi or ethernet and can accept offline payments when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Can connect to a screen to create a tabletop model.

  • Prints receipts.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works as a handheld reader independently of a smart device.

Cons:

  • Works only with an internet connection.

  • Can’t scan bar codes.

Payanywhere Smart Flex: Best for on-the-go transactions

The Payanywhere Smart Flex credit card reader sits against a white background.

(Photo courtesy of Payanywhere)

Style: Handheld with two screens.

POS monthly fee: $19.95.

Hardware cost: $549.95.

Payment processing:

  • 2.69% for in-person transactions

  • 3.49% + $0.19 for online, keyed and virtual terminal transactions

Why we like it: Payanywhere’s Smart Flex has several features that make it great for on-the-go transactions, including a second screen for customers to see transaction details. It can also print receipts and scan barcodes. It accepts all payment types and can process offline transactions.

Pros:

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Has two screens, one for the business and one for customers.

  • Prints receipts.

  • Scans barcodes.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Double-screen setup is smaller than some competitors' screens.

  • Charges monthly $3.99 inactivity fee after 12 months and a $49.95 setup fee.

Toast Go 2: Best for food service

The handheld Toast Go 2 swiping a credit card.

(Photo courtesy of Toast)

Style: Handheld.

POS monthly fee:

  • $0 for Starter Kit plan.

  • $69 for Point of Sale plan.

  • $140 + $4 per employee for Restaurant Basics plan.

  • $165 for Essentials plan.

  • Custom plans available.

Hardware:

  • $0 for pay-as-you go hardware plan.

  • $609 for pay-upfront hardware plan, plus $69 per month.

Payment processing:

  • 2.99% plus 15 cents per transaction, if you choose pay-as-you-go option on hardware.

  • 2.49% plus 15 cents for card-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

  • 3.50% plus 15 cents for card-not-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

Why we like it: Toast’s Go 2 was built with food service in mind, with a 24-hour battery life and an exterior that can stand up to spills and being dropped. Working with Toast’s restaurant POS, it lets you submit orders and check out customers at the table. The handheld reader works well for food trucks and smaller cafes and also integrates into Toast’s larger kitchen system if you decide to expand. You can accept all types of payments and never worry about losing sales with the ability to accept offline payments.

Pros:

  • Designed for a food service environment.

  • Accepts credit card payments, including magstripe and digital wallets.

  • Has a 6.4-inch screen.

  • Accepts offline payments.

  • Works without a smart device.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t print receipts.

Toast POS

on Toast's website

Comparison table

Price

Payment processing rate

Clover Flex

$499.

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents or 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions, depending on plan.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online transactions.

Square Stand

$149.

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.

SumUp Plus

$35.

  • 2.75% for in-person transactions.

  • 2.90% plus 15 cents for online transactions.

  • 3.25% plus 15 cents for keyed or payment linked transactions.

Clover Station Duo

$1,799.

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents or 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions, depending on plan.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online transactions.

Payanywhere Smart Terminal

$349.95.

  • 2.69% for in-person transactions.

  • 3.49% + 19 cents for online, keyed and virtual terminal transactions.

PayPal Zettle

$29 for new customers; $79 for extra readers.

  • 2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 9 cents for manual entry card transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 49 cents for invoicing transactions.

Square Register

$799.

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.

Square Terminal

$299; $39 for accessories hub.

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.

Payanywhere Smart Flex

$549.95.

  • 2.69% for in-person transactions.

  • 3.49% + 19 cents for online, keyed and virtual terminal transactions.

Toast Go 2

  • $0 for pay-as-you-go hardware plan.

  • $609 plus $69 per month for pay-upfront hardware plan.

  • 2.99% + 15 cents per transaction, if you choose pay-as-you-go option on hardware.

  • 2.49% + 15 cents for card-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

  • 3.50% + 15 cents for card-not-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

Learn more

Check out these articles to learn more about credit card readers and POS systems for your small business:

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