For the last seven years, as a self employed massage therapist, I have accepted cash, cheques or direct bank transfer as means of payment. Recently I am being asked if I accept either Visa of debit cards. Can anyone advice about hiring a card machine - costs and value to their business. Thoughts greatly appreciated.
Asked by PrueN

8 answers

Top answer
You can get them from your bank, HSBC charge £10 :)


Really? That's very cost-effective! I will look into this myself!
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As per the top answer, please note that the OP lives in the UK...
It seems that Square are only available in the USA!
The new "PayPal Here" device will be launched in the UK by the end of 2012. No monthly fee or device costs - just a simple 2.7% flat commission (at least that is the rate in USA, Canada, Australia and HK)
A decent option seems to be Elavon MobileMerchant -
These guys seem to offer a one off £99 + £25 set up fee + VAT to purchase their machine for life and then all transactions at a flat 3%.
Although the 3% is hefty, the one-off £150 or so, does appeal to me.
They also have the same deal on a monthly £10 charge + VAT (plus £30 set up).
I simply thought that the £99 deal is more attractive, as you get to keep the machine for "life". Although you do NOT own it outright, and it remains their property.
On the plus side, you get free (?) maintenance and replacement machines if needed.
Finally, a company called mPowa has just launched in the UK as a FREE SMART PHONE APP.
Please note that their 0.25% flat fee only applies if you have your own existing Merchant Account. Otherwise, to create a new Merchant Account, the fee is 3% again.
Still, you save the initial up front set up costs that Elavon charge...
Any ideas about cheap ways of creating a Merchant Account?
i used to be self employed and honestly didn't find it a problem only accepting cash and cheques. I now have a salon and cards are vital for those clients who like to impulse buy and online shopping. usually about 2.5% of takings
Hi Prue
My business has benefited greatly from accepting credit card payments. I do recommend looking into it as it makes your life much easier and your cash flow much healthier! You see, when you sell what I call "wellbeing packages" (eg deals like 3 for 2 or 6 for 5) it makes it easier for the client to see the convenience of getting a discount upfront while you are getting the money straight in the bank.
I use Card Processing Solutions but I am not entirely satisfied as I use a mobile terminal which sometimes doesn't get a signal. I pay £30 a month rental plus transaction fees (they are very low). Payments are made within 4 days of the date of puchase which is like a normal BACS transfer.
Having a credit card facility makes you as a professional look more stable and reliable to your clients (and they get a receipt), plus you can attract new clients as not many massage therapists accept card payments and clients will ultimately choose convenience.
In my experience I have found that people make choices on the basis of your personality, your skills, how far or near you are to their place of work or home and how easy it is to pay you. Facilities (your venue) may play a part too but as one of my clients said "I keep my eyes closed throughout the treatment so you could be anywhere really!".
Wishing you a great and prosperous 2011
Hi Prue
I have a card machine and definitely think its worth it. Of course you have the extra expenses a month, but it shows professionnelism and it makes it easier to upsell your treatments right there and then. I think its a great investment.
I did card payments through pay pal it's free or at a very low cost i don't use it any more, as I had to do it from my lap top, very good system though but then i joined the 'The Small business federation' were I could get a proper mobile 'hand held' card machine free, no set up costs, just a monthly cost. You can also get free phone line set up, bank & insurance privileges etc.
The hire of a streamline machine (card machine) is approx £100.00, thereafter a monthly payment requires to be made maybe around £20.00 not sure and a charge of around 30p per transaction depending on the type of card. If your business is transacting and this is cost effective to your business then discuss with your bank the pros & cons, however, like yourself at present I accept cash, cheques direct bank transfers at no cost and also have a pay pal account which is far more cost effective. I hope this information is of use to you.
i dont find that a Credit/Debit card machine is worth the costs for the few clients that wish to pay that way. I find that PayPal is good enough, and doesn't cost that much ...


mmh not sure... my clients love the convenience of paying by credit card. I am a big fan of Paypal too, don't get me wrong! By the way have you tried Paypal's gift voucher facility? I wasn't expecting it to be so cumbersome, it takes too many steps to redeem the voucher and get the payment, I will not bother next time. Also Google Checkout has lower fees...
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