When one is in business, no matter the size, it is almost essential that one accept credit cards. A profusion of plastic by paying customers, whether credit or debit cards, is the reason that credit card terminals are so important. When you get ready to install credit card terminals, or to upgrade your existing terminals, there are three main types of terminals that you should know about: traditional, wireless, and virtual.
Traditional Credit Card Terminals
These are still the most common types of credit card terminal used by businesses today. They need to be “plugged in” to an electrical source and to a phone line that allows it to interact with the bank or credit card merchant institution that you are using. Most come with printers built in (for receipts), but on some models you will need to buy the printer separately.
A variety of display and key-size options are available with traditional credit card terminals. Displays are expressed in terms of lines of text by columns wide. 5×10 is a common option (5 lines of text by 10 columns wide). Additionally, most models now come with a backlit display, This is very helpful in low-light conditions.
Wireless Credit Card Terminals
As the name implies, a wireless credit card terminal makes use of no wires. It does not need to be “plugged in.” These terminals are nice for seasonal businesses, or businesses that travel about. Additionally, temporary setups such as lot sales, taxi drivers, and fair booths are made more efficient by wireless credit card terminals. These are ore expensive, however, and one has to have access to a “hot spot” wireless network to tap into. While nice for when one cannot conveniently use a corded power source, they are not cost-effective for permanent businesses.
Things to keep in mind when looking at wireless credit card terminals include weight, durability, resistance to shock (in case someone drops it), battery life, and wireless range. Many of these come with printers already built in for increased ease of use.
Virtual Credit Card Terminals
These are used only online. In today’s world, it is a good idea to have a Web site where people can purchase items. This is especially useful for small businesses, as it increases the client base, even when the business only have one location. A virtual credit card terminal allows customers to order right from the Internet, rather than calling a phone number and having a representative type in the credit card info on a traditional terminal.
Virtual credit card terminals have special software that keeps information secure, and that sends authorization to the software of the merchant account provider. Nearly all merchant account providers are set up to accept transactions from a virtual credit card terminal. Many businesses make use of a combination of traditional credit card terminals and a virtual terminal so that business can be transacted both online and off.