Credit Card Terminals and Their Features

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Types of Credit Card Terminals

Credit card terminals come in three main varieties (with printers or not): traditional, wireless, and software-based (virtual). Most of these terminals have similar functions, as well as basic features.

Varieties of Credit Card Terminals

TRADITIONAL - These are the terminals that are “plugged in.” They come with a reader for magnetic stripes, a keypad for necessary information, and a display. A printer is usually needed, and some come with printers built in. However, it is possible to purchase printers separately. Many business owners prefer the ease of having only one piece of terminal equipment, but buying separately will not increase or decrease your cost by a significant amount.

You need to decide how large you prefer your keypads and displays. If you have a keypad with more keys, it is possible to have each function assigned its own keys. Additionally, a larger keypad can be easier to use. Larger displays naturally allow you to see more at once. They are denoted by lines of texts and number of columns: a display 5x10 shows 5 lines of text, 10 columns wide. Most newer terminals come with backlit displays that make it easier to see in conditions of low light.

WIRELESS - All wireless terminals have printers built in, as the main advantage to them is that they work without the need for a corded power source. These terminals are especially helpful to businesses that do not make use of counter space: seasonal or traveling businesses with temporary setups, taxi drivers, and businesses with large lots. For most permanent location businesses, however, the expense of wireless terminals is not cost-efficient.

When choosing wireless terminals you should consider battery life, weight, durability, shock resistance (in case of dropping), and range. All of these factors should answer the individual needs of your business.

VIRTUAL - Virtual credit card terminals are the ultimate expression of our rapidly shrinking world and expanding business capabilities. This type of terminal is very convenient for businesses that do a great deal of business over the Internet or over the phone. Special terminal software allows you to type in the account number and purchase information, and the authorization is handled by the merchant account provider’s software.

It is possible to combine terminal types, especially if your business has a permanent location (use a traditional terminal) and also sells merchandise online (virtual terminal).

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