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How to add a card reader to a vending machine

A strategically positioned vending machine is a great way for companies and small business owners to earn additional revenue. In fact, the vending machine business and industry in the UK was valued at over $51 billion recently, indicating that running a vending business is a lucrative opportunity.

While most traditional vending machines accept bill notes and coins, modern ones can be modified to accept cashless payments. For this purpose, you need to add vending machine card readers to your machine.

If you are looking at how to add a card reader to a vending machine, below, we outline all the steps needed. Keep reading to discover more about the easy installation process.

What is a card reader for vending machines?

A credit card reader for vending machines is a modern device that enables business owners to accept payments on their vending machines through both cash and debit and credit cards.

In addition, they can accept credit card payments through a smartphone app such as Apple Pay. Credit card readers offer a secure payment gateway for cashless transactions on vending machines.

When a customer purchases from a vending machine, they can swipe their card or tap their phone to make a payment. This offers ease and convenience to customers who often carry less cash.

Can you add a card reader to any vending machine?

In the vending machine industry, there are two main types of vending machines: traditional and modern.

Traditional vending machines manufactured before 2015 often do not offer direct compatibility with a credit card processor, while modern machines manufactured after 2015 frequently offer this functionality.

However, with the addition of a few cables, it is possible to add a card reader to a vending machine that is considered a part of the older group of machines.

Card reader on a vending machine

How to set up a card reader on a vending machine

To set up a card reader on a vending machine, you first need to ensure that your vending machine is compatible with your card reader. If this is not the case, you may need to purchase additional specialised cables to ensure accurate connectivity. 

Next, you must prepare all the necessary tools and hardware that you will need for the installation process.

These include:

  • A drill;
  • Drill bits;
  • A screwdriver;
  • A card machine;
  • Antenna;
  • A bezel;
  • Telemeter;
  • An MDB cable and the other cables that come with your card reader.

The steps to install your credit card reader onto your vending machine are as follows:

  • Step 1: Power the machine off.
  • Step 2: Remove the bill validator or bill acceptor using your screwdriver and disattaching the necessary cables that have already been connected.
  • Step 3: Find a place on the face of the vending machine where you will place your card reader.
  • Step 4: Drill several pilot holes through which your cabling will be inserted into the back of the vending machine. In addition, this will be the location where you’ll mount your card reader using a template for the holes and the right size drill bits using your drill. 
  • Step 5: Plug in the credit card reader’s cable into the back of the bezel and pull the cable through the main hole that you’ve just drilled.
  • Step 6: Secure the credit card validator with screws to the back of the panel on the interior of the vending machine.
  • Step 7: Reinstall the bill validator back into the vending machine, ensuring all the cables are accurately connected to the right slots.
  • Step 8: Install your card reader telemeter. When doing this, you should first connect all the cables before mounting the box, including the antenna cable, the MDB (which sends data from the vending machine to the card reader device), the Dex cable and the cable for your credit card reader.
  • Step 9: Mount the telemeter inside the machine using velcro, a magnet or another means of secure attachment.
  • Step 10: Connect the wires to the vending machine cable slots. Start with the Dex cable, which you’ll find a slot for on the vending machine itself if it is a modern vending machine that is compatible with card readers.

    Next, plug in the MDB line and the antenna, which can be mounted anywhere inside or outside the vending machine. The purpose of the antenna is to act as a cellular modem and to ensure your credit card reader has a strong and stable internet connection.
  • Step 11: Power the vending machine back on and give the card reader a few minutes to light up and become operational.
  • Step 12: Perform a test transaction to determine whether the payment has been processed.
Card payment on a vending machine

Why a card reader is the best-unattended solution for a vending machine

A vending management system that incorporates a card reader device is an exceptional way to offer customers a helpful and convenient service that can save time.

It also facilitates a smoother sales process while enabling you to manage data remotely, keep track of your inventory and collect fees for purchasing your products.

Other reasons to consider adding card reader technology to your vending machine are the low associated costs with the installation process and transaction fees. You can also enjoy the convenience of a free merchant account that gives you instant access to your funds with myPOS.


Overall, the benefits of installing a card reader onto your vending machine offers opportunities for faster business growth through greater customer convenience that leads to more sales.

In this article, we covered the key steps to installing a card reader onto a vending machine. We hope they will be a useful guide to streamlining your business operations while boosting your bottom line.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an installed card reader on your vending machine, you will be able to enjoy multiple benefits, such as monitoring inventory levels, service more efficiently, receiving breakdown alerts, boosting income earned and increasing your sales.

Card readers that are installed on vending machines often offer functionalities for cashless payments, including magnetic stripe payments, chip & PIN transactions or contactless payments through tapping the card on the device or tapping a smartphone connected to a payment app.

Yes, since the security of card readers on vending machines is not compromised, meaning that transactions made on such card readers are safe and comply with industry-leading payment acceptance standards.

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