Looking for the best credit card machine for your business?
Selecting the right credit card machine for your business is a big decision. Whether you lease or purchase, a credit card machine can be a sizeable investment. The decision to choose among stand-alone terminals and integrated point-of-sale devices, or even mobile point-of-sale devices, has everything to do with what your business needs. Let's explore some of the features and options to consider when choosing the right credit card hardware for your business.
Do your research
It’s critical that you do your research prior to locking into any single type of credit card machine or device. The payments processor that you choose should be one that has experience in your industry and is ready to offer guidance on which option is the best for your business type and needs. Here are some other ways you can research to find the right solution:
- Talk to other similar businesses in your local area or network to see which credit card machines, terminals or devices they use and what they do or don’t like about them. Also ask about what they’ve used in the past, and try to understand why they switched so you can get an idea of features that you need and those that may not be useful for your business.
- Consult industry or trade publications to see if they publish reviews of credit card hardware that work best for your industry. If you can’t find anything that’s been published, contact your industry-specific professional organization to see if they have any helpful information.
- Read online reviews of several devices or systems you’re considering. People love to voice their opinions online—both positive and negative—of products and experiences, so take advantage of this forum that can help you understand how these solutions operate on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure that the reviews you’re reading are truly unbiased and third-party, and not sponsored by the manufacturer.
It’s worth your investment of time and effort to make sure the credit card machine you’re considering is generally well liked by real-life users and is useful to those in your industry. The “latest and greatest” credit card hardware may not really be the best for you, so make sure you keep an open mind as you conduct your search.
There are some features of credit card machines that your business simply can’t do without. Don’t skimp on cost and forego these important features:
- Ability to accept EMV chip cards
- Ability to accept traditional magnetic stripe cards
- Fully secured terminal and processing system
- Ability to print paper receipts
Features to consider for a countertop model
When it comes to credit card terminals these days, the features are practically limitless. But, do you really need all those bells and whistles to keep your business and processing systems running along smoothly? Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t. Here are some features that you may want to consider for your credit card machine:
- Ability to accept mobile payments and other NFC (near-field communication) payment types
- Customer-facing PIN pad
- Barcode scanner
- Touchscreen interface
- Ability to email customers their receipt
Other credit card machine options
Besides the traditional countertop credit card machines that you’re probably used to, there are many other types of processing systems on the market today. Mobile systems, for example, make it easier to take your POS system directly to your customers rather than forcing them to wait in line at your checkout counter.
Tablet-based POS systems are a popular in-store mobile solution. These systems are useful for in-store application in both restaurant and retail settings. Retail merchant sales associates can carry the tablet with them on the salesroom floor, allowing them to assist customers in real-time with product information, check on inventory levels, and even accept card payments. In a restaurant setting, a tablet POS can be mounted to each table for increased convenience. Diners can order more food, another round of drinks, or dessert at the touch of a button, as well as have the ability to split and pay their bill using a credit or debit card.
Smartphone-based POS systems can give businesses the ability to accept credit and debit card payments outside the confines of their four walls. It’s easy to take credit card payments with a smartphone you probably already own. Here’s how it works:
- Download the POS app on your smartphone
- Sign into your account
- Plug in the provided dongle (credit card reader)
- Start making money!
Smartphone- and tablet-based POS systems allow merchants to accept credit cards at a wide variety of locations. All you need is a WiFi or cellular data connection to run payments. And with some systems, you don’t even need a live connection—the system safely gathers the payment data and processes the transactions as soon as you’re back on a secure WiFi connection. Here are some venues in which today’s merchants are using these new, mobile payments technologies:
- Farmers’ markets
- Craft shows
- Trade shows
- Food trucks
Making the decision
Once you’ve done your research and understand which of the above features would be useful for your business, it’s time to make your decision. Keep in mind that the features of the credit card processing equipment you select should be driven by:
- Your business needs. What features are must-haves to help your business thrive and grow in the coming years? What features are “nice to have”? What features will make your life easier? You may need to prioritize based on the actual credit card machines currently available, as well as according to your budget.
- Your customers’ needs. What do your customers expect and need in terms of payment types? Do your type of customers expect the ability to receive an emailed copy of their sales invoice, or does a printed receipt work just fine? Different types of businesses attract different types of customers, so make sure that the credit card machine you select will help you attract the types of customers you want and need to help your business be successful.
- Pricing. Whether we like it or not, how much a credit card machine costs (especially if you need to invest in multiple units) will impact which model you select. Consider whether paying for a higher-end model that enables you to accept more payment types will truly pay for itself in terms of transactions that you run in that payment type.