Credit Card Equipment

Merchant account equipmentThe basic piece of equipment most small retail operation will want is a terminal, that black box that sits next to the cash register and is connected to the card processor via phone line or Internet. Cards may be swiped or input manually and an optional debit PIN pad allows customers to enter their secret PIN for their debit card. If you accept checks, you can also connect a check swipe reader that will scan the check through the check guarantee service of your choice and electronically deposits the funds into your account, saving trips to the bank. Connected to or part of the terminal is a receipt printer.
Instead of a terminal, you may elect to use a personal computer with a card swipe reader attached to it. There are literally hundreds of POS systems available on the market, many industry-specific, such as for hotels or restaurants. When shopping, avoid POS systems that are proprietary to a single merchant services provider, although the MSP may offer those systems free of charge. You will ever after be locked in to utilizing only that MSP with the POS software, as these proprietary systems do not allow you to change to utilizing another MSP.
If you do not have or want a POS system, you can set up a “virtual terminal” on your PC by logging in to your credit card processor’s website and swiping or manually entering card information for authorization. Such sites usually also permit you to void, force and refund transactions or set up recurring transactions such as monthly health club memberships, automobile payments, etc.
Virtual processing usually also permits you to use your cell phone to get authorizations on the go, out in the field, and usually also offers or includes a shopping cart that you can integrate into your company website for online purchases.
You can acquire equipment by outright purchase, or lease it. Each option has advantages, discuss them with your accountant. If you do lease, you don’t have to worry if the terminal breaks, just swap it for a new one.

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