For face to face transactions, whether in a fixed location or on the move, the key piece of equipment you will need is a credit card processing terminal. These machines are payment systems which authorize payments, process refunds and send funds to your account.
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Some of the latest models on the market can also be used to run other applications such as loyalty programs and most will accept the four major card providers; Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
Credit Card Terminal Manufacturers
Verifone are the world's largest manufacturer of credit card terminals and are known throughout the industry as being a company who produce high quality machines that last for many years. They have a full range of terminals from basic entry level models through to some of the most advanced machines on the market.
At the budget end of their range is the VX510 which comes in a compact design and has fast processing capabilities. It includes a thermal printer for producing receipts and the latest in security protection.
Alternatively, at the other end of the spectrum, is the VX820, a feature rich processor with a high end specification which includes; the ability to accept multiple payments including contactless, a 3.5 inch color screen that reduces mistakes and speeds up transaction times and an impressive memory which supports a number of applications including customer loyalty cards.
Prices for these terminals vary depending on their particular specification, but typically range from $200 to $800 per machine. Many providers also offer leasing options to reduce the initial investment.
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Equinox, who where previously known as Hypercom, have been producing credit card terminals for over three decades. Their machines have powerful operating systems and are regarded as versatile and reliable. Their T7 range has created some of the best selling terminals of all time, and many last for over ten years.
The company also produce some of the few terminals on the market which are capable of accepting all payment applications including lodging apps for hotel check-in.
The entry level terminal produced by Hypercom is the T405 which is a small device ideal for merchants with limited space. This model is PCI PED approved and operates using a standard analog telephone line.
Their top of the line machine is the M4230 which has a number of features including; a thermal printer with graphics capability for printing logos and coupons at the point of sale, GSM technology for multi-location use and software which can handle a number of add on applications such as the acceptance of loyalty or gift cards.
Again, prices for these terminals will vary but can reach several hundred dollars for the top of the line models.
Nurit have been manufacturing terminals for over 15 years and offer merchants a variety of affordable, feature packed solutions.
One of their most popular models is the Nurit 2085 which is one of the most basic terminals on the market. This no frills device offers some of the fastest authorization times of all terminals and has a correspondingly fast print function.
It has an easy to use interface and large back-lit display and is popular with businesses that make fewer than 50 transactions each day.
The Nurit 8020 is their premium model and its features include; a thermal printer, touchscreen, electronic signature capture, gift card support and loyalty programs. This is a wireless machine so it can also be used in a number of locations such as; limos, trade fairs, festivals, home sales and taxis.
In order to process transactions wirelessly, a SIM card must be purchased alongside the machine.
Ingencio offer a number of different credit card terminals. Their latest model is the ICT220 which has a larger easy to read screen, support for contactless payments, dial up or Ethernet capabilities and DSS PCI security.
Alternatively, Ingencio's ICT 250 has all the features of the 220 but also includes a color screen, color options and a thermal printer which can reach speeds of up to 18 lines a second.
Virtual Credit Card Machines
Increasingly, businesses are looking to use virtual credit card machines on their PCs or laptops. These can be used to process cards from any web browser.
Merchants simply log on to their account, enter the card information manually or swipe it using a small attachment, after which the payment can be processed.
A virtual credit card machine can be popular with newly formed businesses as they have a relatively low start up cost and can be set up instantly.
They are especially suited to businesses who take a lot of orders over the phone or by mail. Prices for these models can start from as little as $8 a month, plus the transaction fee.
What Other Equipment do I Need?
Credit card terminals only require a minimal amount of additional equipment to work. Generally, they need access to a power source and an analog phone line. Alternatively, you could opt for a credit card machine that connects to your internet router or WiFi.
Peripheral or Integral Printers?
Peripheral printers plug in directly to the POS machine and can also be useful if purchasing is made via a mobile phone or handheld device application.
New, these can cost around $200 and refurbished around $120. You can also purchase second hand printers online on bidding style websites, but it is advisable to check what back up you have after purchase and if the printer has been serviced regularly.
Credit card terminals with integral printers are available in a wide range of prices according to the particular model's specifications. Prices start from $180 upwards and a refurbished terminal can be bought from $100.
Additional thermal paper rolls are available for around $30 to $40 (for 100 rolls) depending on which size you require.
Which Model is Best for Me?
The model that is best for you will depend very much on the budget and the nature of your customer transactions.
Wireless models may be best suited to a restaurant or other trader where the terminal is taken to a client, whereas for a small grocery store a more basic model may be sufficient.
You will also need to consider the transaction fee charged as this can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
It's therefore highly advisable to check out a number of suppliers and compare their rates in order to secure the best deal.