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Upgrading Your Credit Card Terminals? 6 Things to Consider

Upgrading Your Credit Card Terminals? 6 Things to Consider
Credit: Tuthelens/Shutterstock

Credit-card processors have changed a lot in recent years, and if you've been in business for a while, you might be thinking about upgrading your systems.

Perhaps you are looking to get an EMV chip reader, or want to add near-field-communication (NFC) technologies to your reader for processing mobile phone and wearable tech transactions. Whatever the reason for needing new card readers, there are a few things to keep in mind as you choose a vendor.

Based on research conducted for our sister site Top Ten Reviews, here are six important factors to consider when upgrading your credit card terminals.

This article is focused on adding card readers to an existing point-of-sale (POS) system. If you're in the market for an entirely new POS package, check out our buyer's guide here.

Your new card reader must be compatible with your existing setup. You may be able to find lower priced options online rather than from your merchant service, but request a list of compatible card machine models from them to ensure that you purchase the correct versions. If you require assistance, it may benefit you to pay for a technician to help you add the card readers to your existing POS system.

Due to EMV compliance and liability reasons, you should upgrade to readers that can process chip debit and credit cards. The liability shift took place in October 2015, which means that now merchants can be deemed liable in a fraud issue if they are not compliant. Compliance involves more than simply having a chip reader, but that is one part of it. Most EMV card readers also include a magnetic card reader as well to accommodate your customers who do not have chip cards yet.

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a credit card processor? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

buyerzone widget

Near-field-communication technology can help you process payments from mobile wallets or emerging wearable tech, such as rings, smart watches, stickers or key chains. Acquiring this tech is reasonably priced and worth considering if you think your customers will want to make payments using this type of technology. This tech is also necessary if you want to process mobile-wallet-type loyalty or gift cards.

You may feel pressured to enter a long-term leasing agreement. If you can, avoid it. Online reviews are laden with bad experiences and tales of warning. In the long run, you could save thousands by purchasing the card readers outright, even if you have to use a credit card to do it. Most new EMV chip- card readers are about $200 for a single unit. If you lease the readers, you might pay $50 or more, per month per machine, for three years. That adds up to $3,600, which is significantly more than just buying the readers. Some leasing agreements will even include an automatic contract renewal, so if you are not paying close attention you may find yourself in another three (or more) year agreement that may prove difficult to get out of.

There are a variety of technologies available for your customers to consent to payment. The most common way is entering a PIN, so many credit-card machines will have a connected PIN pad. But you may also want to include a signature device for those who need to sign for their credit-card purchases. You can choose from one that allows customers to sign on a screen or on a signature pad. As mentioned, you may also want to consider adding NFC technologies for additional options. Biometric technologies are beginning to become available, but are not commonly used at this time.

Card machines can connect to your payment processor and POS system in a variety of ways, so be sure to choose the type of technology that works best with your system. Some connect by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, cable or Ethernet connection. The lowest-priced options often physically connect with wires, but if you desire a cleaner sales counter with fewer cords, you may want to consider a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi option.

If you sell product away from your business's home base, such as at an outdoor market or a convention center, you may also want a mobile option. Often merchant services will add mobile processing for no additional cost over regular transaction fees.

There are many affordable, capable credit-card terminals available to help you upgrade your point-of-sale experience. Once you put together your buying list, you can easily find compatible and compliant card machines.

To learn more about card machines and processing, visit Business News Daily's F.A.Q. page.

Editor's Note: Are you trying to choose a credit card processor? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

buyerzone widget

Pamela S. Stevens

Pamela has one personal business motto: "If I ever lose money, I quit." And that has not happened yet through the past 20 years and five small businesses. Pamela is a California transplant who now resides in Ogden, Utah, where Business News Daily's parent company, Purch, is headquartered. She started with Purch in 2005 as one of the first writers for Top Ten Reviews (TTR), where she reviewed all types of products including business, security and financial software and services. Now she writes and develops content for all Purch B2B properties, covering a broad range of small business and IT topics. Her formal education includes a degree in Creative Writing and Geography, with a special interest in smart planning and urban development.