The Best Card Reader for Vending Machines

In an increasingly cashless society, the ability to accept credit card payments is essential for a vending machine business’ success. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about vending machine card readers including what they are, why they’re important, and how to choose the best card reader for your vending business.

What Is a Vending Card Reader?

A vending card reader is a point-of-sale (POS) device that vending machine customers use to pay for their purchases. Vending card readers are a cashless system with which customers can use credit, debit, and prepaid cards as well as other payment methods such as NFC (near-field communication).

There are two types of vending card readers: magnetic readers and proximity readers. Magnetic readers recognize cards through physical contact in the form of swiping or plunging. Proximity readers, which are becoming increasingly commonplace, use RFID technology to recognize a card with a tap or wave.

Why Do You Need a Vending Card Reader?

While it’s possible to operate your vending machine exclusively with cash, this is a surefire way to limit the amount of business you will have. Only 13% of American adults say they make all or most of their purchases with cash, and 60% report making only a few or no purchases with cash nowadays.

If you want to make your vending machine accessible to as many customers as possible – and maintain a competitive advantage in a world quickly moving toward cashlessness – a vending card reader is a must.

This is especially true in a post-COVID world in which 50% of people say they are using less cash than they were pre-pandemic and 67% of retailers accept some form of contactless payment.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Card Reader

paying at a vending machine with a credit card

While card readers are an essential part of a customer-friendly vending machine business, they are not all created equal. Below, we review some of the things you should consider when choosing the best vending machine card reader for your business.

Types of Vending Card Readers

As mentioned above, there are two types of vending card readers: contact (magnetic) and contactless (proximity). Contact card readers are more traditional, meaning that your customers are most likely already used to them. But contactless payments are growing in popularity and offer more security and hygiene than contact readers. In order to capture as many customers as possible, you may want to choose a vending card reader that offers both contact and contactless options.

Compatibility with Your Machine

If you don’t already have a card reader on your vending machine, it’s important that you choose one that can be retrofitted onto your vending machine model. When comparing card reader options, be sure to check how the reader is installed, whether you can do it yourself or if you need a technician, and if there are vending machine models that are incompatible with the reader. Some card readers offer plug-and-play installation, which means that you can quickly install the reader for immediate use. Maintenance is also easier, as software updates happen remotely.

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In order to protect your customers and reduce the risk of fraud, it’s important to choose as secure a card reader as possible. Be sure to check the security features of the card readers you’re considering, including what payment and communication protocols the reader uses and whether or not it has any certifications.  Another important element is the ability to accept secure payments such as EMV, which uses encryption to prevent data theft and can be used for both magnetic and proximity payments.


Today’s most advanced card readers come with many features including inventory monitoring and marketing tools, but their most important job is to work consistently and reliably as a POS system to process payments. The last thing you want is for your card reader to cost you a sale because it has a bug or fails to work for whatever reason.

To that end, it’s helpful to read reviews online of the card readers you’re thinking of using. Search for reviews related to reliability. If you read that a particular card reader has a tendency to fail, it’s best to cross it off your list as an option.


When it comes to cost, you’ll want to find a delicate balance between a card reader that is affordable and one that is secure, reliable, and technologically advanced. Note that most card readers will charge you several fees, including a monthly service fee and a transaction fee. If you are working on a tight budget, it’s better to choose a simpler reader from a trusted company, such as Nayax, that offers the most useful features rather than taking a chance on an unknown, less reliable company.

EMV Payments and 4G LTE Connectivity

An EMV (short for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) chip is a payment method using a small, square computer chip. This safer alternative to swipe payments is continually increasing in popularity. In order to accept EMV payments in the United States, card readers must have 4G LTE connectivity.

4G LTE connectivity is a feature that allows card readers to connect to the 4G/LTE network that most smartphones use for cell phone service. In addition to making EMV payments possible, this feature also lets card readers connect to the internet without having to use physical ethernet cables, making the reader more mobile and flexible.

Both of these are important features to look for in a vending machine card reader, giving the reader security and flexibility and improving the customer experience.

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Telemetry and Management

Some card readers also come with additional telemetry features that allow the device to collect and transmit important data that can be used to improve your vending machine business’ efficiency and lower your operational expenses.

Telemetry-capable vending card readers can gather data such as your vending machine’s name, ID number, product stock levels, sales numbers, power status, and temperature, and forward it to a management application to keep you up to date on what’s going on with your machine no matter where you are.

With Nayax Core (formerly NayaxVend), Nayax’s vending management system, you can even set up alerts to let you know if stock of a certain product is low or if your machine is overheating or disconnected from power. This way, you can easily monitor and  manage vending machines from afar – whether you have just one or an entire fleet – and keep them in good working order in order to make as many sales as possible.

This vending management system also helps you save time by keeping track of inventory to know exactly when your machine needs to be filled and with what. Keeping close track of your inventory also helps you understand which products are the most popular, helping you optimize your sales and provide customers with the right products at the right time.

VPOS Touch and Onyx Vending Card Readers

The Best Card Reader for Vending Machines

Nayax is the proud manufacturer of leading secure vending machine card readers including the VPOS Touch and Onyx.

The VPOS Touch credit card reader is an all-in-one device that accepts both contact and contactless payments. The VPOS Touch is an integrated POS complete with telemetry that integrates with Nayax’s vending management system. The VPOS Touch has a color touch screen and voice interaction, which provides customers with an enhanced experience. It accepts over 80 different payment methods in 50 currencies so that you never miss out on a sale.

The Onyx contactless card reader cashless payment device is an advanced card reader and telemetry device that offers customers a convenient cashless payment solution and machine owners a number of powerful capabilities including marketing tools, telemetry, and remote machine management. This device only accepts contactless payments.

Whichever card reader you choose for your vending machine, Nayax offers secure, reliable options certain to meet your needs, satisfy your customers, and help grow your business.

To learn more about which card reader is the best option for your business, contact Nayax today.

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