The credit card is second only to cash in popularity throughout the US. If your business doesn’t take credit cards, you’re turning away a lot of business. And if your competitors have credit card terminals, you’re in trouble. You’re handing them a clear advantage. It doesn’t have to be expensive to invest in some form of credit card reader.
Here are a few of the options for credit card readers, complete with their advantages and drawbacks.
The traditional credit card terminal involves swiping the card to make a payment. It usually requires a power source, but there are portable options which run using batteries. You need a telephone line or Internet connection to process these cards in real-time. All information is stored securely within the terminal.
You can use them at special events or as a regular part of your land-based store. They have a good record for security and speed. They only cost a few hundred dollars from your bank. You can also rent a terminal if you only intend on using it for certain events.
Imprinting machines, which aren’t recommended, can be sent to your bank for processing. Your bank is responsible for all the information, so if something goes wrong none of the liability falls on you. It will take a few days to see the money in your account, but you’ll receive an acknowledgement quickly.
It’s more expensive than other credit card payment options, and if the card is declined the offender will be long gone.
iPhones and iPads are a new generation of mobile devices which allow you to install apps to process credit cards. As long as you have a 3G or wireless connection, which they all do, you can process credit cards. You can manually enter the card numbers, swipe it over the device’s camera, or get a special iOS or Android credit card reader to plug into your phone.
This provides a small business with the advantage of portability. It’s a much cheaper option than anything else on the market. The only concern is security. Not all apps encrypt the numbers, so if it goes wrong this will lead to a lot of bad PR.
A newer credit card processing option is the virtual terminal. It’s a secure online form hosted by a dedicated credit card processing website. It doesn’t support swiping, so you’ll have to enter everything manually. This slows thing down, but as a small business it’s unlikely you’ll constantly have a shop crammed full of people. You can afford to take a little more time. It’s also a good option for ecommerce or online credit processing.
Virtual processing is another cheap option. Most services charge you a token monthly fee. It does require an Internet connection, so if you’re having problems with your connection, you should look to other options.
Overall, there are lots of choices for processing credit card payments. You can’t get away with not offering at least one of them. Ideally, you should have these highly advanced payment options and an imprinting machine if you experience problems. It’s always good to have a backup option for the sake of your card-carrying customers.
Michelle Patterson uses an android credit card reader for small business needs. She recommends purchasing readers from True Merchant for its reputable support services. It is essential for business owners to inspect each credit card processing company to make sure they provide the service and security businesses need.