Card Payment Insitu

How Much Does a Card Machine Cost?

Danielle Collard
1 Jul 2024

Card machines are a must for any business, but their costs can be difficult to calculate. When dealing with providers, there are always the same few factors you need to consider to get the cheapest card machine rates. Conveniently, they’re all summarised right here.


Buying or renting a card machine

Deciding whether to buy or rent your card machine is one of the first choices a business must make. Naturally, buying outright requires a larger upfront investment, especially for versatile, top-of-the-range devices. Some big providers only offer rental services for their card machines and though more businesses rent than buy, both options have their perks.

Rental expenses on a card machine can be reduced with many providers if you’re willing to sign up for a longer contract. Most card terminal providers will give you a better deal if it means extending the time you stay with them. Renters also get the advantage of added security. If a rented card machine is damaged, providers will usually replace them quickly and without cost (but do check this is included in your agreement when you sign up!).

Even if you have the funds to buy a good card machine, the rental fees tend to be much smaller than the actual processing costs. Combined with the above benefits, this leads to more rentals.

So how much does a card machine cost outright? As a general rule, low-cost card payment machines are obtainable, but if this is a card machine that your business will rely on for processing most of your transactions, the transaction rates are far more important. An initially cheap card machine cost may be less beneficial in the long run. Whether you’re buying or renting, the cheapest card machine rates will likely be what determines a good deal for your business.


 How much does a card payment machine cost to run?

Transaction or card processing fees tend to be where most people get confused, and it’s no wonder. Taking time to understand the details and get a good deal is important. There are several different ways card processors calculate rates, many different kinds of cards with their own fees, as well as additional charges for the merchant service.


Tiered Pricing

A tiered or bundled pricing structure on your deal would mean you pay different processing fees for different types of transactions. In order to calculate whether one of these deals would cost less for your business, you would need to know the kinds of cards most of your customers use to make purchases and see which tier they fall into.

Most of these deals will have a qualified rate on which the lowest percentage of a transaction is taken by the bank and card terminal company. You should expect debit card payments to fall into this category, and for most businesses, this means the bulk of transactions will get the best rate. At most, this should be 2%; at best, it can be well below that.

However, there will also be mid-qualified and unqualified tiers that have a middle and upper percentage fee. This could be significantly higher than the qualified rate, although the most expensive transactions should be for lesser-used transactions. For businesses with large numbers of international customers, CNP transactions, or even customers that use certain kinds of loyalty or credit cards, it will be important to check which tier those transactions fall under and how much you will be charged.

Tiered pricing used to be the standard but is now one among several kinds. However, they are still very common so it’s important to know to calculate potential costs as the complexity of tiered pricing means making an informed decision a little more difficult.


Interchange plus plus

Interchange plus plus is not to be confused with the interchange fee which all deals will have calculated into the deal they offer you. The interchange fee is the cost of moving the money from the customer's bank to the acquiring bank. This is money the banks charge and varies depending on the kind of transaction (in a manner that reflects the tiered structure, but at base cost).

Interchange plus plus simply passes along that interchange fee to you, the merchant, along with two additional costs. These are the costs of processing the transaction (the cost of a debit card machine transaction taken by the processor), as well as scheme fees that banks pay to be included in the payment network of the card terminal company. Those are the two “plusses”.

The card machine costs in interchange plus plus are quite transparent, so it should be quite easy to see when you’re given a competitive offer. Interchange plus plus deals often seem to be cheaper, but there is no guarantee that there won’t still be weaker offers out there, so be sure to scrutinize each offer you consider.


Flat rate

Flat rate processing fees are even simpler to understand. While tiered pricing involves a list of transaction types and percentages, flat rate is one simple “2.2% + 22c” format. This means every transaction you process will be charged a percentage and a small fee.

While this is very simple to understand because everyone is paying the same basic charge, this means businesses with a high sales volume but many small transactions will be getting a worse deal. For example, a car dealership would benefit from a flat rate far more than an ice cream van.

To understand if flat rates work out as a smaller percentage will require you to work out your average transaction and therefore what percentage you pay on average, with the base rate included. Then you can compare any offers with interchange plus plus or tiered prices. This can be made much easier if your point of sale system has strong reports features.


Additional Fees

As well as rental and transaction fees, there are several other bank card machine costs that are sometimes included in the point of sale fees. Some offers will not have these included and could be the difference between a good and a bad deal.

Merchant Account Fees

When you purchase a card machine, you need to have a merchant account your money can sit in as a go-between until the money clears and can be paid into your bank account. This is a common additional fee.

PCI Compliance

Payment Card Industry security standards are there to protect and secure any card and account information and compliance is a legal requirement. Some processors include this in their fees, others will charge a monthly extra to pay for the PCI procedures.

Monthly minimum service charge

If your business experiences periods of inactivity, your card terminal company may have a minimum transaction charge you will pay even if you have not processed any payments at all. This is one to look out for if you are a seasonal business, as it could be quite expensive.


Epos Now tills can integrate with the very best card machines available. Call +353 1 963 8949 to speak to our team and get a bespoke offer for your business on a top-of-the-range EPOS and find the best card machines for your business!

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