If you’ve been in the taxi driving game for any length of time, you’ll have seen plenty of changes over the years. But one of the biggest in recent times has to be the rapid change among passengers from those preferring traditional cash payments to those using a card. To find out more about why this shift could be good news for you read our quick guide to contactless card readers. 


Understanding the ins and outs of contactless card readers is only one part of running a successful taxi service. Arranging the right taxi insurance has to be one of the most important things any driver can do to protect themselves, their vehicle and other road users.


Call the team at Taxi Insurer and see how we can help guide you through this potential minefield. It’s so easy and straightforward when you get the right advice from a specialist source.

 Screen in taxi

6 great reasons to invest in a contactless card reader


  1. It’s cleaner and more hygienic than cash


Over the past few years issues of health and hygiene have been brought to the forefront of many people’s minds – both customers and drivers. Indeed, during the COVID-19 pandemic taxi drivers had among the highest death rates from the disease in the UK.


Alongside security guards, taxi drivers were more likely to die with COVID-19 than any other occupation! In view of those frightening figures, it’s no wonder taking card payments has become so popular among drivers. It’s simply the safest and most sensible thing to do to protect you, your customers and your loved ones.


Consider what happens if a passenger with an infectious disease passes you a note or some coins. Cash is a great breeding ground for all manner of viruses and bacteria, and could leave you at potential risk of both illness and lost earnings. Because even if you’re not ill in bed, you might need to self-isolate at home and be unable to earn.


However, with a contactless card reader, your passenger can quickly and simply pass their card over the machine with no contact involved whatsoever. They can pay without the need to pass money, or an infection, between you.


And it works both ways, having a contactless card reader means you won’t pass any infection on to your customers either. Your taxi service is probably a lifeline for many vulnerable people, you never want to be the cause of them becoming seriously ill!


During a period when everyone is so focused on protecting their health, contactless card payments are altogether less risky than cash.


Another great way to cut down on a range of hazards to taxi drivers is to fit a screen in your taxi.  If you’re wondering about the benefits of doing this, where to get a screen and how to fit one then look no further than our recent guide. After all, at Taxi Insurer, we aren’t just about finding you the right taxi insurance, we want your business to be as successful and safe as possible.


  1. It’s less risky than carrying cash


Being a taxi driver can be a hazardous occupation. Working late at night and into the early morning, particularly at weekends, leaves you vulnerable not only to drunk and abusive passengers but also criminals looking to steal your takings.


After a successful night behind the wheel, you could be carrying around hundreds of pounds in cash in your taxi. If this sounds familiar, you’ll know the anxiety you’ll feel when leaving your taxi at the end of a shift, or driving through a notorious trouble-spot.


Unfortunately, while cash does have lots of benefits for customers and businesses, it leaves you at risk of theft or even worse. On the other hand, while a contactless card reader can’t completely protect you from harm, it can make you less of a target for criminals as there’s less cash to steal.


Also, with most of your takings safe and secure in your bank account, you’ll be less likely to put yourself in harm’s way if ever the worst should happen. Money in the bank is also a better way to cover yourself in case of fraud.


  1. It can save you both time and effort


There are so many benefits to being a self-employed taxi driver from choosing where, when and how long you want to work to being your own boss. However, something that’ll never be considered a highlight is the amount of time you have to spend dealing with the physical demands of hard cash.


From making sure you’ve got enough change for passengers to counting out and then depositing your fares at the bank, it can take up many hours of your life. Time that could be better spent either earning more or enjoying the benefits of your hard work with family and friends. And with high street bank branches closing all the time even finding one to take your cash isn’t an easy proposition.


By accepting card payments all the money is directly deposited into your business account, making your daily life a whole lot easier. And what’s more, it’ll also help when it comes to completing your self-assessment tax return. All your fares will be recorded neatly on your bank statement, so the record of your income should be straightforward to come by. So, when the self-assessment tax return deadline approaches, there’s no need to stress.


To make things even easier, Taxi Insurer has also put together this recent tax return guide for self-employed taxi drivers. It’s so easy when you know how.

 man in taxi

  1. The future is cashless


Okay, perhaps not quite yet, but with contactless cards and even mobile payments proving more popular than ever, people just don’t want to carry cash around anymore. Indeed, a recent study by the banking trade body UK Finance found a massive 35% drop in cash transactions in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped-up this change in spending habits. This means five out of every six payments now involve no cash, compared with half of all transactions just 10 years ago.


So, with many of your customers now using physical money less and less often, can you really afford not to take card payments? If you don’t then you’ll simply lose out on fares to other drivers who are better equipped than you. After all the hard work you’ve done to build your business it seems a shame to let it all go to waste.


That said, be aware not all your customers will want to go cashless, so you’ll still need to keep some money in your taxi. Age UK warns around 2.4 million people (that’s around one in five) aged 65 and over in the UK rely on cash in their day-to-day life. They use it for almost all their payments, so you’ll still need cash on hand to cater for them.


  1. Going contactless is easier and cheaper than you’d expect


Years ago getting a card machine in your taxi may have involved a significant investment in time and money, but with modern technology it’s now much easier to do. With contactless card readers, and eCommerce payment gateways for online bookings and payments, it’s now incredibly easy and very reasonable to start taking card payments in your taxi.


There are a huge array of payment solutions and providers so you really can take payment anywhere you find yourself. Just contact one of these companies and they’ll send a modern card reader directly to you – primed and ready for use in your taxi.


  1. You need it to stay in business


Recognising the importance of cashless payments to business and passenger safety, many local authorities are looking at making it compulsory for taxis to accept card payments. From London to Oxford and down to Bristol, if the plans go ahead you could find it difficult to work if you’re unable to take card payments.


Transport for London already requires licensed taxis to accept card payments along with a number of other requirements. These include:


  • A card payment device must be installed in the taxi.
  • The device must be TfL-approved.
  • If a passenger wants a receipt then you must be able to print one off.
  • The device has to be installed in the passenger area, not upfront with you.
  • You must display signs to show you accept contactless and card payments.
  • You can’t add a card payment surcharge to the fare total.


Taxi in residential area

How to accept cards in your taxi


It isn’t too difficult. Just contact one of the many providers advertising online, and get them to send you a device. Setting up is pretty straightforward, too. Just turn it on, follow the step-by-step instructions and you’re away.


But remember, if you’re in London make doubly sure it’s a TfL-approved device. Even outside London it’s still sensible to ask if your local council or authority has any rules regarding card readers that you need to follow. You don’t want to find yourself in trouble with the authorities.

Choosing the right system for you and your taxi business


When choosing the right contactless card reader for your taxi business, some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself include:


  • What card types and payment methods it accepts? You’ll want one that at least accepts contactless and all major credit and debit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard.
  • How long will the battery last on a single charge? How long does it take to fully charge? You don’t want to have to stop to charge it in the middle of a busy Friday night shift.
  • How long will it take for your passengers’ payments to be processed? Next working-day transfers make cash flow much easier.
  • How easy is the device to set up and use? The transaction needs to be both seamless and painless for both you and your passenger.
  • Is there support if something goes wrong? Or even if you get confused? Having a support team on hand to guide you through the process could be invaluable in the early days.
  • Is there a minimum length of contract?
  • How easy is it to switch providers?
  • How secure is it? Does it have end-to-end encryption?
  • Which connectivity options does it have? 3G, 4G, Wi-fi or all three? Signals can be variable across the country so it’s always good to have a couple of options. When you’re out and about, it has to be capable of operating on the road with you.
  • Can it print receipts?
  • Price? Always a key concern when making business decisions. Expect to pay a one-off fee for the device itself, as well as transaction fees for each payment.
  • Can customers add a tip? It’s always nice for customers to show appreciation for a job well done. You’ll want your card machine to allow your customer to add a tip amount.


Taxi tipping can be a modern minefield, but providing a contactless card reader can make it more convenient for passengers to tip. There are also apps which let passengers add a tip of their choice after the ride. For further advice and to find out the best tipping rates around the world, read our quick guide to taxi tipping.

Protecting your business with taxi insurance


The latest technology and how to stay safe and secure are just some of the things taxi drivers need to keep on top of. There are often new rules and regulations that you need to understand, so the life of a taxi driver isn’t always trouble-free.


That’s why the team of taxi insurance specialists at Taxi Insurer is always looking to come up with new ways to help. For example, our interest-free payment plans are here to make your payments more manageable alongside other expenses. Or perhaps your spouse wants to be able to drive your taxi for non-work related purposes and still be insured? That could be possible too, just give us a call and we’ll see if we can help.


Get a quote for taxi insurance today. We cover everything from single vehicles to entire fleets.


Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.