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Countertop Card Machines vs Portable Card Machines

Countertop Card Machines vs Portable Card Machines

With cash payments on the rapid decline, it’s no wonder that businesses all over the planet have adopted using card machines – both countertop and portable. But which one is better for your business? Are there any discernible differences between portable card machines and countertop card machines?

Continue reading below to find out the key differences, and which one is better suited to your business.

What is a countertop card machine?

Countertop card machines are a traditional type of card machine that must be plugged into a power socket and, in many cases, an internet connection. They can also be classed as fixed-line terminals and need either an ethernet cable, phone line or WiFi connection to work effectively.

A countertop card machine is a stationary device so cannot be moved, meaning they’re a reliable option for small businesses where customers pay in one location.

You’re likely to find countertop card machines in the following business premises:

  • Accountants
  • Bridal Shops
  • Cafes
  • Chemists
  • Convenience Stores
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Gift Shops

What is a portable card machine?

A portable card machine is a pay terminal that doesn’t have to be physically connected to a specific location. Having said this, they can only – usually – operate within a specific range.

Portable card machines – similar to mobile card machines – work via a connection to WiFi or mobile data and can be taken to the customer to complete payment. For this reason, they’re frequently used in restaurants and cafes where customers can pay at their table, rather than paying at a fixed location.

A portable card machine makes it easy for businesses to take debit card payments, offering convenience and mobility. A card machine of this type is typically compact and powered by batteries, making it easy to accept payments on the go.

Another key benefit of a portable card machine is the speed at which a business can collect card payments, allowing it to serve more customers quickly and efficiently.

The types of businesses that may use portable card machines are:

  • Hair and Beauty
  • Wedding Services
  • Cafes / Wine Bars
  • Convenience Stores
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Jewellers
  • Takeaways


So, what’s the main difference between countertop card machines and portable card machines? Card machines for small businesses must be quick and easy to use, efficient and convenient.

Both portable and countertop card machines make it easy to collect card payments, but the big difference between the two types is that one is mobile and the other is stationary.

Portable and countertop card machines both have their benefits for the businesses that use them, but some may argue that a countertop card reader machine is more reliable.

Because a portable card payment machine relies on mobile data or a WiFi connection, there is a chance that the connection may drop. If this happens, the business owner won’t be able to accept payment until the signal is back up again.

As many countertop card machines have an internet connection via an ethernet cable, the signal is less likely to drop, offering more reliability.

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