Once you’ve decided to increase your sales and customer base with a credit card merchant account, you must then choose the credit card processing equipment that best matches your business’ needs. Credit card terminals work to process and send the cardholder’s information, including the card number, available credit and expiration date to the issuer for authorization. There are a few basic types of credit card terminals from which you can choose, and your final decision should depend on how your business operates on a day-to-day basis.
Types of Credit Card Terminals
Understanding the different types of credit card terminals, as well as their features and options, can help you determine which equipment will work best for your business.
- Traditional terminals: These machines are designed to read and process the magnetic stripe found on most credit cards, which contains card data such as account number, country code and credit card limit. Basic features include a magnetic stripe reader, a keypad and a display screen. Depending on your business, you may choose a larger display screen or more item-specific keypad. Additional features include a built-in printer, internal PIN pad and check processing capabilities. Traditional terminals are often most beneficial for businesses that deal mainly with card-present, point-of-sale transactions, such as retailers and restaurants.
- Wireless terminals: For professionals who are frequently taking their business on the road, wireless terminals offer payment processing capabilities that make it easy to complete transactions at any location. This equipment is often used by companies with employees who constantly travel, such as taxi cab drivers and service repair workers. When purchasing a wireless credit card terminal for your business, factors to consider include the terminal’s weight, range, battery life and durability.
- Virtual terminals: As today’s consumers rely heavily on the Internet to find services, shop and make payments, bringing your business online can help you improve cash flow and attract new customers. Virtual terminals allow your business to process card-not-present transactions, whether online or over the phone. Because there is no need for a physical credit card terminal, a virtual terminal uses software to process transactions – the merchant simply enters in the credit card number, and the software handles the authorization.
When choosing a credit card terminal, be sure to consider which features and options best match your business’ needs. Your merchant account service provider can help you determine which equipment will work seamlessly with your existing software and processing capabilities.