Getting the right credit card terminals for your business is an involved process. It requires that you look for machines that fit your needs, as well as fall within your price range. Merchant account providers like MerchantExpress.com can often help you find different credit card terminals that fit your needs.
Cost considerations for credit card terminals
Even though quality and functionality are important, the truth is that businesses operate using a bottom line. Therefore, price is an important part of the equation. When choosing credit card terminals, it is important to choose something that fits within your price range. You can get credit card terminals either by renting a machine, or buy buying one.
- Buying: When you buy a credit card terminal, you own it. You pay a one time fee to buy the credit card terminal, and perhaps pay for installation. (Other costs, such as those related to a merchant account are extra.) You own the terminal, and that means if it breaks, or if you want an upgrade, you will have to buy a new terminal. For the less expensive models, it makes sense to buy the terminal outright. You can get a low end model for $95 or less and up to $200 or so. You can also sometimes purchase used terminals for even less. These usually provide adequate service for anywhere between two and 10 years, depending on use and your needs.
- Renting: Some companies allow you to rent your credit card terminals. Instead of buying the terminal outright, you instead pay a monthly fee. (You may have to pay a set up fee upfront as well.) These fees can be anywhere between $5 and $25 or more a month, depending on the services you get and the model of credit card machine that you get. Renting is advantageous for the higher-end models, since you don’t have to pay the entire cost upfront. Additionally, as new models come out, you can switch out your model. Usually an agreement is made, specifying how often you can get an upgraded model. Rentals are also replaced when they break, and you usually get period, automatic software upgrades.
Do an analysis of your needs and your budget to determine whether renting or buying is the right choice for you.
Deciding on a credit card terminal
Once you have an idea of your price range, and whether you plan to rent or buy your credit card terminals, you will need to decide what kind of terminal you need. There are different kinds of terminals, made by different companies. The most common companies are Lipman Nurit, Verifone, Hypercom and Ingenico. These companies offer models with different features and connection capabilities.
Your first order of business will be to determine the kind of connection you want from your credit card terminals. Your machine has to be able to communicate with the merchant account system so that you can get authorization for transactions from your customers’ banks. This means that your credit card terminals must either connect through a land line, via Internet protocol (IP) or with a wireless connection. A wireless terminal generally costs more. Those that connect through a conventional land phone line cost the least. For most stationary businesses, though, a credit card terminal that uses an IP connection is preferred. It won’t take up a phone line, and it is usually reasonably priced. If you do have a mobile business, it is a good idea to get a wireless terminal, so that you can take it with you.
You should also decide on the features that you need from your credit card terminals. Do you have multiple merchant accounts? If you accept American Express, you usually need a different account than the one used to accept MasterCard. Also, you might have more than one business using the credit card terminal. In these scenarios, it is a good idea to purchase a credit card machine that allows the use of different merchant accounts. Another useful feature is a storage capability. This way, if your connection is unavailable for some reason, you can store the information from your customers, and get authorization later, when the connection is available again.
If you do most of your business over the phone or the Internet, a virtual terminal is your best bet, rather than relying on a physical terminal. It is important to carefully consider your business and its needs. In some cases, a physical credit card terminal is completely unnecessary.