Everything You Need to Know About Credit Card Readers

paying with a wireless credit card reader

Not all credit card terminals are created equal. Some work as wireless readers while some need a phone line to work. Others can have add-ons like touch screens and receipt drawers. In this blog, we’ll show you what you need to know about credit card readers – and what you should look for.

Connecting Your Terminal: the Basics

Terminals usually connect over a phone line, WiFi, Ethernet, or 3G. You should note that a terminal that connects over a phone line will need its own dedicated line to work. Traditional terminals stay on your countertop, though some can be wireless and battery-powered for mobility.

Beyond countertop terminals, mobile swipers can either plug into your phone’s audio jack or connect over bluetooth to work. Mobile swipers work for when your business is at trade shows, farmers markets, or pop-up events.

Add-ons: Pick What Works for You

Most merchant service providers will have some kind of diverse line of hardware available for you to choose from. But this means there’s no one-size-fits-all terminal. A restaurant will need a different terminal than a dentist’s office, so the best terminal for you could come down to what kind of day you have.

Let’s look at an example: Mary, a flower shop owner, takes a lot of orders over the phone. But she also takes final payments at a countertop terminal. Since she gets a lot of orders for corporate events, a lot of her customers need receipts for their accounting department. Mary would need a virtual terminal so she can enter a customer’s information over the phone, and then an integrated credit card terminal so she can send the final transaction to the terminal for checkout. Mary would also want a terminal with a touch screen for customer signatures and a built-in receipt printer for the final sale. And if she’s delivering an order, Mary would also want a mobile swiper to take payments on the road.

All businesses have different needs, so finding the right hardware that fits your day-to-day operations will dictate what terminal you should purchase.

EMV and NFC: Let Your Customers Pay How They Want

EMV cards or “chip” cards are a more secure form of payment for customers. EMV-enabled terminals allow customers to dip their cards instead of swiping. The chip on the card encrypts card information, so it’s more difficult for thieves to steal cardholder data. NFC, or near field contact payment, are also popular choices for payment methods. ApplePay, SamsungPay, and other mobile wallets are the most common types of NFC payments.

Let’s go to another example: Sam owns a coffee shop. A lot of his customers like to use their phones to check out because it’s faster. If he used an integrated terminal, his customers could dip, swipe, or tap and complete their purchase. And if there was ever a long line, a wireless credit card terminal will bust up lines so Sam can take orders, let customers pay, and then hand them a receipt. Without those kinds of capabilities, Sam could be facing long lines and annoyed customers.

Lease or Buy?

Not all credit card processors will let you buy your own hardware. Some processors have an option to lease credit card terminals and hardware instead of buying them outright. This becomes another line item on your statement. While this might look like a good deal at the beginning, the terminal lease fee adds up month-over-month to be way more expensive than if you had bought the terminal outright.

While you’re looking at terminal options, make sure you can buy the terminal outright. It may be an upfront investment, but it’s better to buy than lease in the long run.

The credit card terminals you choose for your business ultimately need to work for you and suits your needs. It all comes down to knowing what you need and what you want for your business. And like any investment for your business, it pays to shop around and do due diligence.

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