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I Need To Purchase Hardware For My Retail Business. What Are The Different Types Of POS/Terminals Available? What Features/Functionality Should I Look For?

Most credit card terminal warranties last anywhere from one to five years. If yours is no longer covered, you’re probably ready for a hardware upgrade. Though even if your POS reader is relatively new, you may want to consider updating your payment infrastructure anyway. The credit card industry is undergoing significant changes, and merchants who continue using legacy terminals could face higher costs in the coming years.

However, not all terminal upgrades are created equally. Before you purchase any new hardware for your retail business, it’s important that you understand the different options available.

Legacy Credit Card Readers Vs. EMV and NFC Terminals

If you haven't upgraded your credit card terminal in a while, you probably have a legacy reader — the kind in which customers swipe and sign their plastic in order to complete a transaction.

Although these older terminals have been standard issue for decades, they are quickly being phased out in favor of newer EMV credit card readers. These chip-ready terminals are much more effective at preventing fraud within brick-and-mortar retail environments. This is why the credit card industry has introduced new liability rules to encourage both merchants and banks to adopt the EMV standard. 

As of October 1, 2015:

  • Merchants who aren’t using EMV-ready terminals must cover fraudulent losses if their customers use chip-enabled credit cards.
  • Card issuers who don’t provide customers with EMVs must cover fraudulent losses if those cards are used at chip-ready terminals.

Another new feature is near field communication (NFC) — a contactless payment option that allows customers to wave their cards or mobile devices across wireless readers. Unlike EMV terminals, NFC readers are 100 percent optional. By upgrading, however, you can join the hundreds of thousands of merchants who now accept Apple Pay.

Fortunately, many high-quality EMV readers also come equipped with NFC capabilities — you won’t need to buy two separate machines.

Nevertheless, you will need to decide between stationary terminals versus mobile readers.

1.  Stationary Credit Card Terminals

Stationary readers are the most common type of terminal. They remain next to the cash register at all times. The primary advantage of stationary readers is familiarity — most merchants and employees are already accustomed to using them. Another benefit is that most technological advances are designed with stationary readers in mind. As you shop for EMV and NFC upgrades, there are tons of stationary terminals available.

2.  Mobile Credit Card Readers

Mobile terminals are credit card readers that attach directly to smartphones and tablets. The primary advantage is that you are no longer tied to any single location.  Mobile readers can be used throughout your store or at off-site events like tradeshows or conferences. Finding mobile readers that are both EMV ready and NFC-enabled is a bit more challenging — but options do exist.

Other Important Features?

No matter which terminals you explore, you want to make certain that they come with additional features like:

  • Key entry options (for card-not-present transactions)
  • PIN authorization capabilities
  • Refund and chargeback functions
  • Surcharge and tipping options

Most newer terminals already come with all of the above installed, so finding a good fit shouldn't be difficult.

However, if you need help selecting the right credit card terminal for your business, let us know.  

Topics: EMV

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