One of the most important decisions for any business is what type of terminals they are going to purchase. There are many terminals on the market, but not all terminals are created equal. In this blog post, we will go over 7 things that you need to know before purchasing a credit card terminal so you can make an informed decision about your purchase!

Number of Terminals Your Business Needs:

The first thing you need to consider is how many terminals your business needs. For example, if you run a small restaurant with only one register and want to accept credit cards at the table, then you might decide on purchasing a wireless tablet terminal so that customers can pay their bills as they leave.

If you run a retail store with multiple registers, then you may want to opt for terminals at each register. This allows employees the freedom and flexibility of working throughout the store while still accepting credit cards. These terminals will also allow customers in line behind those paying cash or using checks to go about their shopping as they wait rather than standing idle by.

EMV Vs Magnetic Strip Reader

EMV terminals are what you typically see in brick-and-mortar stores. They use magnetic strip readers to read card information and then send it to be processed for fraud protection. Many merchants have older terminals that only have a magnetic stripe. These terminals are less secure and may put the merchant at risk for fraudulent transactions. When choosing a new terminal, it is worth finding one that has the ability to processes EMV cards.

Do You Need a Merchant Account

Some terminals require a merchant account. If you already have a merchant account, then this is not an issue for you. However, if your business does not currently process credit card payments and now wants to take them as payment options, there may be additional fees and costs associated with terminals that require a separate merchant service agreement (MSA). Some terminals, however, connect directly with banks and do not require a merchant account.

Physical Vs Virtual Terminal

It is important to understand that there are standalone terminals, terminals that physically attach to your phone or tablet, and terminals that can be accessed online. All three have advantages depending on the needs of your business. Phone terminals allow for more mobility, however, if you do not carry your device with you all the time, then a virtual terminal might work better. A virtual terminal is an application that can be downloaded on your computer or mobile device. This allows you to swipe the customer’s card through a credit card reader and process transactions without using a physical terminal at all. Physical terminals, the most popular option with small businesses, provide a relatively inexpensive way to process cards. Keep in mind that physical terminals require occasional software updates to keep your company secure.

Does your Current Processor Support the Terminal

Your current processor may not support all terminals available on the market. Before purchasing a terminal, you should confirm that it will be compatible with your current processor. If you want to use a particular terminal, you may have to look for another processor that supports it.

Fees Associated With The Terminal

Depending on the terminal, there may be a number of upfront or monthly costs. These costs will vary depending on the terminals you are comparing. For example, terminals that can be swiped over a phone line rather than an internet connection may require installation fees and monthly payments for service plans. Some credit card processing companies, however, will provide a terminal for free.

Full-Service Point of Sale System

Something else for business owners to consider is whether or not they need a full-service point of sale system (POS). A POS system not only allows your business to accept payments from customers and keep track of sales but can also be used for a range of additional services such as inventory management, stock control, purchasing, and more. A basic terminal is sufficient for most small businesses, and many businesses end up spending far too much for an expensive point of sale system that they do not need. When deciding if you want to purchase a full-service POS system, consider the following:

  • Do you want to track inventory and sales for tax purposes?
  • What specific features would a POS system provide for your business that a basic terminal would not?
  • Does the POS system connect with your other devices, or will you need to purchase additional new equipment as well?

Conclusion and Steps Forward

After reading this blog post, you should have a better understanding of what to look for when purchasing a terminal. If you’re looking for a new processor along with your terminal, make sure to check out our page highlighting 5 of the best processors on the market

About Author

Tom Holt

Tom is an entrepreneur with a proven track record for starting and running successful companies. He has years of experience in the business world, including co-founding several successful software companies. Tom also provides consulting to other businesses on marketing, business development, and product development.