Advice on Purchasing Credit Card Processing Machines & Merchant Account Equipment

Merchant Warehouse |

November 23, 2010

In the “olden days” of credit card processing (the 1960s and 1970s), the only “equipment” a merchant needed was an imprinter and some receipt paper. Now, of course, everything is electronic and computerized. The average merchant today, compared to those early trailblazers, has plenty of needs no matter how they complete their processing.

For a new business that’s just starting out, choosing just the right credit card processing machine for its particular needs can save thousands of dollars over the first few all-important years. While it may be convenient for a firm to let its current bank handle the processing of credit card sales, it may be able to save some money using another provider. However, fees shouldn’t be the only factor taken into consideration while selecting a credit card processor, since terms are often open to negotiation. And the most overlooked costs are not rates or fees, anyway, but all of those “extras” that really should be listed in the “essential” column.

Too Many Choices?

Merchants have a dizzying array of options when choosing processing credit card processing machines (read: terminals) and merchant account equipment. Merchants can start off with a terminal that is completely bare bones, which means that they start off with a low-cost, no-frills machine and add options along the way when they can be appropriately planned and budgeted for. There are various entry-level terminals from Nurit and Verifone that perform all of the major, required functions and the capacity to add additional features, such as a printer or PIN pad, at a later date.

Obtaining, maintaining and paying the ongoing costs of credit card processors and merchant account equipment is a great matter of concern for some small firms. Credit card sales, of course, are essential for every business. The proper equipment will allow things to run smoothly and keep customer happy with the varied payment options. Credit card processing terminals generally cost between $250 and $1000, depending on built-in features, wireless capability, and expandability. In addition, you will need a method for connecting to your account processor, either by using a shared or separate telephone line, or via the Internet.
“Virtual” equipment, etc.

In many cases, merchants can utilize the PC that they already have to implement the necessary credit card processing. All the merchant would need is access to the provider’s processing network and a little free hard disk space to add the required software to their computer. Still, if a company does card-present business (in a storefront, at trade shows, mobile sales from a car), the customers will need receipts, so the use of the computer does not necessarily reduce the amount of paper needed, although the current office printer can do double (or triple) duty and print receipts.

These are the kind of things every merchant needs to consider when thinking about the breadth and depth of the definition of “equipment.” Whatever processing method a merchant chooses, they need to remember that credit card terminals, whether wired or wireless, often require additional features or equipment to manage a steady flow of sales revenue. Ensuring that expenses are less than these revenues is the first step toward profitability. This requires having a complete, hopefully exhaustive list of the additional items – mobile battery packs, cables, printer supplies, card reader cleaners, etc. – that are sometimes the “hidden” costs of doing business.

Clearly, decision-makers in any size or kind of business must be very careful to have accurate figures when making a final decision on a credit care processing equipment purchase. For businesses in a troubled economy, it can be the difference between a failed attempt – and being sentenced to the dustbowl of history – or a successful venture and the promise of a bright future.