How to choose the right credit card terminal.

How to choose the right credit card terminal.

Cast your mind back to the days when you were first developing your business plan. At that time, you may have concentrated solely on the viability of the products you wished to sell and the pain points they addressed in your potential customer base. Amid these vital concerns, you may never have considered the importance of choosing the right credit card terminal. It’s a far more critical decision than you might think. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of payment devices that are out there. 

Countertop terminals.

Deciding what type of payment processing terminal is best for your business requires you to think about what you do, where you do it, and who you sell your products and/or services to. If you solely operate a physical store or restaurant where customers walk in and buy items using actual credit or debit cards, you may only need a traditional countertop credit card terminal. 

This old-school way to accept payments connects to the internet through your phone line or via an ethernet cord and allows customers to dip (EMV chip cards), swipe, or tap (NFC contactless payments) their credit, debit or, or EBT card (or smartphone) through your card reader and PIN pad. 

By attaching a printer, you can create a paper receipt that is given to the customer upon completion of the purchase. Should you ever need to take a card-not-present payment over the phone or online, simply key the card information into your countertop terminal manually. Just be aware that there are higher interchange fees whenever you accept a card-not-present payment. 

Wireless terminals.

Highly flexible and portable, wireless credit card POS terminals use wifi, Bluetooth, or a cellular network to connect to your payment processor. As long as you have a reliable connection to the internet, you can take this type of terminal anywhere, which means you’re no longer bound to your physical store. Imagine how nice it would be to accept payments at a customer’s table or curbside at a consumer’s car. That is the flexibility that wireless terminals afford you, making them ideal solutions for food truck owners, home repair specialists, landscapers, mobile groomers, and other entrepreneurs who spend some or all of their time on the go. Security concerns are minimal as long as you are connected to a private network and adhere to rigorous safety protocols like PCI compliance. 

Integrated “smart” credit card terminals.

These hybrid devices allow you to have the best of both worlds: a terminal that accepts customer payments and a POS system that helps you to streamline a myriad of other business-related tasks. Although you’ll find this type of terminal to be a bit costlier, keep in mind that it packs a huge extra punch that allows you to create reports, track sales, manage employee schedules, cultivate vital relationships with your customers, and so much more. In addition to this functionality, there is a smooth flow of payment information between your processor to your POS software, minimizing the chance for costly errors. 

Bluetooth credit card readers.

Most likely, you have done business with a seller who uses a smartphone or tablet attached to a card reader as their credit card terminal. This mobile solution is highly portable and affordable, allowing even micro-entrepreneurs to have an accessible way to accept customer payments.

Virtual terminals.

If you conduct some or all of your sales online, a virtual terminal is a necessity. An online interface, a virtual terminal allows you or your customers to securely enter credit card data in preparation for completing a purchase. Without this electronic conduit, you will be unable to sell your products and services online. Think of your virtual terminal as your secure online POS solution that allows you to take payments through email or over the phone. Because they are hardware-free, costs are low and maintenance is rarely if ever an issue. 

Freelancers, ecommerce merchants, and medical billing companies are just some of the many businesses that would benefit most from these types of terminals. Depending on the agreement you sign, you might be charged on a subscription or per-transaction basis. At Total Merchant Services, we offer access to our Virtual Terminal in Payments Hub, our secure, online merchant portal. 

In closing. 

Remember that business plan that you worked so hard on as you contemplated starting your enterprise? You can use it again to determine the right credit card terminal for your company. Consider factors such as your current activities and procedures, the technology you use, your location, the types of payments you want to accept, and your budget. The more you know about your present and future needs, the better positioned you will be to choose the terminal type and style that can grow right along with your business.