What is a wireless card machine?

A wireless card machine is a card terminal that doesn’t need to be ‘wired-up’ to work.

This means that it can be used to take payments beyond the traditional countertop transaction. Wireless card terminals can be moved around and process payments around your premises - or even on the go.

It’s that simple - and precisely as its name would suggest!

With wireless connectivity, this type of card machine has a range of uses and benefits that a static card terminal doesn’t have - and below, we’re going to explore them all in detail.

How do wireless card machines work?


It depends on what type of wireless card machine you use, but essentially a wireless handset can digitally connect via:

Built-in SIM card Wireless Card Machine

Built-in SIM card

- this connects to the strongest 4G network available to process payments using a mobile card machine

Built-in Bluetooth capability Wireless Card Machine

Built-in Bluetooth capability

- this connects to a ‘base unit’ supplied with a portable card machine (provided both components are within range of one another)

WiFi network Wireless Card Payment Machine

Wi-Fi network

- alternatively, you can connect a portable card machine to Wi-Fi routers within your business.


Across each type of wireless connectivity, the card machine performs the usual functions you would expect from a static machine.

Again, depending on the type of machine you’re dealing with - it enables the customer to swipe, use Chip & PIN or pay via contactless from their card or digital wallet (Samsung Pay, Apple Pay or Google Pay).

Wireless Payment Card Machine Options

Customers Using a Wireless Card Machine

Types of wireless card readers

A wireless card reader could refer to a number of different types of card machine terminals. This includes the following:


Portable card machines can connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. They can be used whenever they’re within the maximum range of the Bluetooth base unit or Wi-Fi connection point. This makes them a great option for businesses who need to take wireless payments on-site.

Restaurants, bars and cafes are prime examples of this. Portable card machines are carried around by members of staff, so that they can conveniently take card payments at the customer’s table when they’re ready.


Just like a mobile phone, mobile card machines connect to a network via a built-in roaming SIM card. This means that they’re not as limited by the range as a portable card machine.

Provided you’re not in a remote area - a mobile card machine can process payments anywhere it can pick up a 4G network.

Think of food delivery service, for example. The courier turns up at your door with your order, but you want to pay via card.

Fortunately, the courier has a mobile card machine to hand, fully connected up to 4G. The payment is completed in seconds as the food is passed through your doorway.


This applies to both portable and mobile card machines.

Not every wireless card terminal will accept contactless - but many do (under a maximum limit of £100 in most cases).

Contactless card machines connected wirelessly use the same contactless payment technology as a static card reader. Payments can be made from contactless cards, or even digitally through Samsung Pay, Google Pay or Apple Pay (as long as the card machine provider can process payments through this method).

Benefits of wireless card machines

So, why are wireless card machines such a valuable asset?

There are a number of benefits that enable businesses to run smoothly and also ensure customers remain satisfied at all times.

This includes:

  • Convenience - the card machine comes to the customer, not the other way around
  • Wireless machines enable businesses to be more agile in the way they accept payments - meaning they can take payments anywhere they like within their own building or even ‘on-the-road’
  • Wireless terminals are lightweight and easy to carry around wherever they’re needed
  • Wireless terminals usually benefit from a long-lasting battery - so you can rely on them all day long once they’re fully charged
  • Wireless terminals are safe and secure - set up to account for the latest anti-fraud measures
  • Wireless terminals can be set up easily as soon as they’re taken out of the box and charged

wireless card payment machine

Wireless Payment Device for Your Online shop

Which businesses could use a wireless credit card machine?

There are many different types of businesses that use wireless card machines every day.

We’ve already touched on a couple of examples above - but generally speaking, they are common in the following places:

  • Butchers
  • Car Servicing
  • Car Sales
  • DIY Stores
  • Florists
  • Golf Clubs
  • Hair and Beauty
  • Wedding Services
  • Cafes
  • Wine Bars
  • Convenience Stores
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Funeral Directors
  • Guest Houses
  • Jewellers
  • Take Aways
  • Restaurants

...and many, many more.

How much does it cost to get a wireless card reader?

Of course, the cost will vary from provider to provider.

However, the main thing to bear in mind is that wireless card readers are very affordable - and the card machine cost coupled with monthly fees will depend on what type of business you are.

Are wireless card machines more expensive than other card machines?

Again, this depends on your provider.

You might find that the type of connection directly influences the cost. For example, mobile card machines might be subject to higher fees for 3G connectivity than portable card machines that only need to connect to the businesses’ existing WiFi.

However, broadly speaking - it’s important to bear in mind that different providers offer different packages. So, getting an understanding of what each provider includes in their contracts when shopping around is vital.

Why choose a wireless card terminal?

The benefits listed above are all great starting points to illustrate your ‘business case’ for taking payments with a wireless card reader.

But, in short - wireless credit card machines are a great investment for all types of businesses thanks to the sheer convenience they bring for the merchant and the customer.

If you need further advice on all things related to the different types of wireless card terminal - please get in touch.

We’re more than happy to assist on all things from set-up to switching provider.


How long will my wireless card machine last between charges?

This depends on your usage during the day. Without heavy use, a wireless card machine can last between 2-3 days. For busier businesses you might need to charge it everyday. Typically we say a machine can last 100 transactions between charges, so if you can work out how many customers will use it during your day then that will give you an idea.

Does a wireless card machine need a secure network?

It is strongly recommended that your wireless card terminal is connected to a secure network. Besides from being safer, a secure network is often quicker - as wireless card terminals connected to open networks tend to process payments at a much slower rate.

How long does it take to connect to a secure network on a wireless card machine?

It shouldn’t take any longer than 2 minutes to fully connect to a secure network on a wireless card machine.

Will there be any issues connecting my wireless card machine?

It can only be sometimes problematic if you’re trying to connect to a busy open network, in a remote area with no reception or there is an outage in WiFi signal. If it’s neither of the two - it’s likely that there could be a fault with the actual card machine.

Will my wireless connection be slower if I have multiple wireless card machines on one network?

Yes. Like any wireless network, the more devices you have connected to it the more pressure you put on the network and the slower your connection might be. We’ll always work with customers to understand what their business’ individual requirements are and then give advice on the best course of action.

Is there a minimum network connection speed I would need to have a wireless card machine for my business?

Honestly this depends on the bandwidth you're already using within the business. So for instance are you running streaming services? Do you have CCTV connected to the same WiFi as your wireless card machine? Wireless card machines typically work well over any network, but we’d definitely recommend checking what is using up your connection bandwidth and making sure it’s only things essential to your business.

How can I boost my network signal to increase the range on my wireless card machine?

If your business operates over a large area like a department store and you’re experiencing “connection blind spots” with your devices, you can invest in equipment like WiFi repeaters or extenders, which will expand the range of your signal.

The other option is to upgrade the connection speed with your service provider.

If you think you might have connection issues, we’d recommend you test and research areas of your store or business that you’ll be using a wireless card device and make sure you have a connection.

Will a wireless card machine work abroad?

Wireless card machines can still work abroad - but you will need to set up a separate EURO merchant account if you want to process card payments in Euros.

Date Published: 28/01/2021