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Tips for Choosing the Right Credit Card Terminal

For virtually any business today, accepting payments by credit card is a must. However, because merchant accounts vary, credit card processing can be complex. To determine which credit card terminal is right for a business, there are many factors to take into consideration.

Does A Business Need a Terminal?

If the business is one that entails credit card processing face-to-face with customers, such as restaurants or retail shops, a terminal is a necessity. For businesses that do not deal directly with customers, such as mail-order or online companies, terminals can also be used to key in the credit card information.

How Much Should the Terminal Cost?

What a business pays for a terminal depends on several factors, such as how old the terminal is, the model, whether a printer is included and what features it offers. As is often the case, the older the terminal the less it will cost. For newer businesses that are just starting out, cheaper terminals are usually recommended. Many companies will offer a business the option to purchase a lesser-priced terminal starting out, then allow them to upgrade to newer models as their business needs dictate.

Phone line, IP or Wireless Terminal?

Businesses that purchase older terminals for credit card processing often use ones that dial out through a phone line. The advantage is these can use a shared line, enabling other devices such as modems or fax machines to use the same line. Newer terminals rely more on IP connections, which are considerably faster and can be more reliable. These terminals are best for businesses using DSL or high-speed internet connections, and also allow for saving money by eliminating the need for an additional phone line and having transaction times 2-3 seconds faster than phone line models. However, with mobility becoming more commonplace in the business world, wireless terminals are becoming very popular with merchant accounts. These are great for businesses that often go off-site to sell merchandise, such as at festivals or trade shows. These terminals can be used anywhere at anytime, and can be connected to mobile devices to download information onto a smartphone or tablet.

It’s also a good idea to buy rather than lease a terminal, since leasing will cost more over time and may come with some restrictions or hidden fees. By knowing exactly what a business needs, choosing the right credit card terminal can be a stress-free experience.


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