Small Business Credit Card Processing Options – Today’s credit card processing machines do more than just take payments; They can also provide you with real-time reporting, analytics and more.
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Small Business Credit Card Processing Options
Credit card machines have evolved from simple transaction processing capabilities to today’s high-tech devices with color touch screens, multiple monitors, and the ability to install additional software applications to help you run your business. If you want your business to accept credit cards (and you do), you need a quality credit card terminal to process your customers’ cards.
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This article will explain how much you can expect to pay for a credit card machine and what features to look for. We will also give you some recommendations for the best terminals on the market today.
The credit card processing hardware market today includes a bewildering variety of manufacturers and devices – all doing essentially the same thing. Options range from basic mobile card readers that require a smartphone or tablet to operate to full POS systems that can accept payments and handle most aspects of your business. Costs are all over the map too, with larger units and more features increasing the price.
Below is an overview of the typical features and costs of each type of credit card machine on the market today:
Starting in 2022, all new terminals include support for EMV payments. Most new terminals also support NFC-based payment methods (eg Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) and should be included due to the increasing popularity of this feature.
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A built-in printer adds to the cost of the machine but is important to have in order to provide paper receipts to your customers. Wireless terminals, although very important to some businesses, are bulky and significantly more expensive than wired models. You must also pay monthly fees for a wireless data plan. Smart terminals with color touch screens and installable apps are becoming increasingly common but also more expensive.
The easiest way to pay for your credit card terminals – and the one we highly recommend – is to buy them directly from your service provider. They will come programmed and ready to use right out of the box, and you will own them. A universal model can often be reprogrammed to work with a different processing network if you later decide to switch vendors. While buying your equipment outright is the best option, it can also be expensive – especially if you need more than one. Taking out a small business loan may be your best option if you don’t have the cash needed for a large one-time purchase.
Whatever you do, don’t agree to rent out your credit card terminals. The seemingly low monthly payments will add up to many times the actual value of the machine over the course of your non-cancelable lease. Leasing has become so unpopular with merchants that some providers now allow you to rent your terminals month-to-month instead. Although this can also be a very expensive option in the long run, it can save you money when you start.
Be very wary of offers for “free” credit card terminals. Many providers will now actually lend you a terminal that matches your merchant account. However, you will not own it, and you must return it immediately if you close your account. Also, these terminals are usually not really “free”. You can expect some concessions on your part, usually either faster processing speed, a higher monthly account fee, or having to agree to a long-term contract.
How Much Are Credit Card Processing Fees?
A word of caution regarding the cost of credit card units: Don’t spend more than you need to. Sales agents rush to try and sell you more of a complete (and more expensive) unit than you really need. A machine that meets all your current needs will be a better choice than a more expensive device that comes with features you will never use.
To give you more insight on this topic, we have articles on the best credit card readers for small business and how to choose a credit card machine for you to check out.
The best credit card machines for small businesses support EMV, NFC and magstripe payment methods. As well as being tough and reliable, they are increasingly likely to connect to your processor via a payment gateway, giving you real-time reporting and advanced analytics data.
Our top picks for a payment terminal for your small business are Square Terminal, Square Register, Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and Dejavoo Z11.
Pos Systems And Payment Solutions
Business owners who use Square for credit card processing and want something more advanced than a mobile card reader will find what they’re looking for with Square Terminal. This versatile device offers the following key features:
Square Terminal is a great choice for small businesses that just need a reliable terminal to accept credit and debit card transactions at their convenient location. It also adds some features you wouldn’t normally find at this price, including a stripped-down version of the Square for Restaurants app. Although there’s no support for Bluetooth peripherals, you can use an optional USB hub to connect a host of extras, including some third-party devices. It’s one of the cheapest devices we’ve found that can double as a mobile or desktop console, although it’s a little on the large side for mobile use. Square Terminal comes with the Square payment app pre-installed and can be purchased at full price or through interest-free payments.
If you’re having trouble deciding between this device and the Square Register (see below), check out our guide to Square POS Readers and Packages for a side-by-side comparison of all the products Square currently offers.
Although it only works with Square’s payment processing service, Square Register is a great choice for businesses that need the power and additional functionality of a full point of sale (POS) system.
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Square Register combines the power of a full-featured POS system with Square’s affordable credit card processing service. At $799, it’s one of the most versatile POS systems you’ll find anywhere — especially if you don’t need any of the company’s optional payment services. You will likely need to purchase some accessories, including a receipt printer and cash drawer. However, Square offers Square Register packages that can save you money over buying each product individually.
Unlike most POS providers, Square uses the same pay-as-you-go billing model, regardless of the hardware product you use. While you may need to add some additional payment services, Square Terminal’s list of built-in software is very impressive and includes support for inventory management, human resource management, loyalty/gift card programs, meeting scheduling, reporting, and e-commerce sales. Special restaurant functions are also available.
No extra fees or long-term contracts. Note, however, that Square’s ongoing pricing may be more expensive than a full-service merchant account if your monthly processing volume is higher than about $5,000.
Clover’s line of terminals and POS systems have been very popular with merchants due to their ease of use and extensibility through the Clover App Marketplace. Clover Mini combines the expandability of larger Clover POS systems with the form factor of a standard surface terminal and includes the following key features:
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The Clover Mini offers almost all the selling points of the larger Clover Station Solo/Duo, but in a smaller (and cheaper) design. It includes most of the “extra” features you need right out of the box, with a cash drawer almost the only accessory you can buy. Like other Clover devices, you can expand the Clover Mini’s functionality by installing additional apps from the Clover App Market. Most are free, but some require an additional monthly subscription.
Clover Mini is an excellent choice for businesses that don’t need the features of a full POS system, but want something more than just a simple credit card terminal. However, it is not the most cost-effective option, costing about twice as much as similar products from competitors and requiring monthly software fees. The Clover Mini is available direct from Clover or through one of several reputable Clover resellers.
Clover Flex bridges the gap between mobile and traditional disk terminals and performs equally well in both environments. Like other Clover devices, it comes with a host of features and can be further expanded with apps from the Clover App Marketplace.
If you like Clover’s point-of-sale functionality but need a mobile device, Clover Flex might be a good choice. With eight hours of battery life, it’s ideal for businesses that need to process transactions in the field. The Flex’s 5-inch screen is similar to many smartphones, and you can run any of Clover’s many add-on apps. Wireless connectivity is of course built into the device. However, it can also function perfectly as a surface terminal if desired. For truly portable use in
Card Machines For Small Businesses
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