Paying for purchases with credit or debit cards has become the predominant method in recent years. As a result, any business that deals directly with customers needs a card payment machine to accommodate this trend. Choosing the right card machine for your business is an important matter, so you should first figure out what type of terminal is best adapted to your needs.
Today’s card payment machines operate on Parallel Data Query (PDQ) technology, which uses differing methods to contact the acquiring bank to validate card data. PDQ terminals come in three basic varieties: countertop, mobile, or Bluetooth.
- Countertop models are the most common, found at the checkout counter in most shops. These stationary, portable machines process Chip-and-PIN as well as magnetic-swipe card transactions by connecting to the acquiring bank through a fixed telephone line. You’ll encounter this payment machine at the supermarket and retail stores.
- Bluetooth portable card readers utilise a frequency-hopping radio technology which works as long as the machine remains within range of its source. They are mobile but generally rest in a charging cradle, which is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet cable or through a fixed phone line. This is the model typically used in restaurants to allow diners to pay at table.
- Mobile card payment machines work with “General Packet Radio Service” (GPRS) technology, connecting to the bank via the same wireless networks used by mobile phones. As the name implies, they can be used anywhere a network is available. They are light-weight and must be occasionally recharged, and are very handy for taxi drivers and others who sell their products or services on the go.
So, once you’ve figured out which type of card payment machine is appropriate for your particular line of business, you’ll need to open a merchant processing account. You will also most likely rent a card payment machine from your merchant. Make sure they offer responsive customer service and technical assistance. If your card machine breaks down and remains down for an extended period of time, you cannot process card sales and will lose sales. But a proactive merchant account manager will get your machine up and running quickly.
Your merchant processing service charges will be based on transaction volume. But ask about minimum monthly fees before signing on, and also find out what penalties apply if you decide to switch to another merchant processor or card payment machine.