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Small firms could save thousands on card reader fees

8 August 2023

New rules will make it easier for small businesses to shop around for a good deal on card readers.

New regulations regarding POS card readers came into effect in July, with the potential to save businesses up to £5,400 a year, according to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).

The new rules make it easier to compare prices and switch; contract lengths have now been capped at 18 months and card reader providers must tell business customers when their contracts are about to expire, so they're not locked into bad deals.

A four-year review of the card acquiring market by the PSR concluded that the market is "not working well" for the 1.1 million small firms that accept card payments in the UK. It found that 92% of small merchants, such as newsagents, restaurants, hairdressers and plumbers, have been with the same payment provider for more than a year, and 66% don't know the fees that they are paying to providers.

Getting the best deal on card readers

Cam Jaques, business expert at said: "Card-acquiring services not only affect the small businesses and retailers that use them, but also the customers using them to pay. The new rules will ensure that businesses are able to easily keep on top of their payments and provide healthy competition between providers so that businesses can continue to get the best deals.

"Card-acquiring services will now need to let clients know that they can shop around for a better deal at the end of their contract, as well as providing a summary of the card fees businesses are charged and an online quote tool of key changes to give them all the tools to make informed choices. Point of Sale (POS) terminal contracts can now not run for more than 18 months, to ensure businesses don't get locked in to a bad deal."

How to save up to £5,400 a year in card fees

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents has estimated that when its members switched acquirers, they saved between £100 and £450 per month on the cost of card acceptance services - potentially a saving of up to £5,400 a year.

New services are emerging that make it easier for small firms to shop around for card readers. Statement is a platform that allows small businesses to compare card payment providers. "We all use our cards without a second thought, but accepting card payments has been frustrating for small business owners for far too long," said Ed Hardy, ceo of Statement. "90% of contracts are still signed through telesales or field sales making it hard to quickly search the market. We're building the technology to create a more transparent payment industry where businesses can compare and board to their chosen provider online, cutting the process of finding the right provider from days down to minutes."

Written by Rachel Miller.

Need a card payment system? We can help.


We have taken the guesswork out of buying a POS system. See our top picks below or read the review on the Money Donut.

Best for start ups

Square | No monthly fee, from 1.75% | Popular and adaptable all-rounder

Best for ecommerce

Shopify | From £19 a month plus 1.7% | Complete ecommerce and payments platform

Best for hospitality

Lightspeed | From £39 a month plus 1.6% | Flexible hardware and powerful integrations

Best for mobile payments

SumUp | No monthly fee, 1.69% | Portable card readers stand out for mobile payments

Best for growth

EPOS Now | From £25 a month plus 1.7% | Sophisticated hardware and integrations

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