3 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Credit Card Machine for Your Business

If you’re a retail business looking to accept card-present transactions, the very first thing you’ll need is a credit card machine. Though these devices tend to be fairly basic, there are still a few options you’ll need to consider if you want to find the right fit for your needs. Here are the three main factors that may influence your buying decision.

1. Type of Device

First things first: where will your customers pay for their purchases? If it’s an office or a storefront, you should be fine with a standard countertop device. These devices are best known as payment terminals. Before choosing your terminal, check how it will communicate with your payment processor, i.e. hardwire internet connection, Wi-Fi, analog phone line, etc.

If you’re offering delivery services or at-home payments, you’ll require a portable credit card machine. These machines are also known as mobile credit card readers and they’re connected by Wi-Fi or wireless connectivity (Telus, Rogers, etc.).

2. Payment Methods

Credit card machines can support a variety of ways to capture customers’ credit card info. Advanced models accept most or all of the payment methods listed below:

  • Tap payments: This transaction type allows customers to make a purchase by tapping their credit card or phone against your credit card machine. Tap (or contactless) payments support apps like Google Pay, but they often have transaction size limits.
  • Swiping: The traditional method of taking a credit card payment that relies on reading magnetic stripes on cards. Some credit cards are phasing out magnetic stripes in favor of more secure transaction methods.
  • EMV: EMV or chip-and-pin is a newer standard that provides a high level of fraud protection. With this method, a customer inserts the credit card into the machine and enters a PIN code. The chip inside the card can store additional data.
  • QR scanning: With QR scanning, a customer simply has to scan a QR code with their phone and enter the amount to pay. QR scanning helps speed up the payment process and encourages self-serve for customers.

3. Additional Features

Depending on the terminal you choose, you may have access to some features you may find very useful. Common examples include:

  • Signature capture: This feature allows the customer to sign on the machine’s screen. The machine will then capture and store the signature electronically. Signatures allow you to cut down on paper records and reduce the chance of misplacing receipts.
  • Automatic updates: This allows the machine to download the latest software updates without you having to schedule them. These updates are important, as they ensure that the software you’re using is compliant with the latest security requirements.
  • Store and forward: This mode makes it possible to “store” transactions when your internet is down, ensuring you don’t miss out on a sale. Stored transactions will then be forwarded for processing as soon as your connection comes back.
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