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What Is the Best Card Machine?

Alise Bailey, Editor
Square

Whether you’re looking to take table-side payments at your restaurant or charge clients for a great new head of highlights, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best card machine for your business.

Cost (initial as well as ongoing), security, and usability should be top of mind when selecting the best card machine for your business. This guide will help you understand what to look for in a card machine so you can make the right decision.

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10 features to look for

Choosing the best credit card machine might seem like a pretty easy proposition. It just needs to take payments, right? Well, yes and no. To make sure you’re getting the most reliable and cost-efficient technology that creates a seamless experience for your customers, you need to think about more than just the payment.

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first credit card machine or switch to a new one, here are the 10 most important features to look out for during your decision-making process.

  1. Ease of use: Consider how usable the card machine is. Look for a machine that’s easy to use and requires minimal training. If it’s complicated for you, your team, and your customers to understand, you’ll hold up your queue and frustrate clients.

  2. Reliability: Getting paid is the lifeblood of your business, so a reliable card machine to take payments is key to keeping everything running smoothly. Look for a high-quality card machine that is rated well for reliability, so you never have to miss a payment.

  3. Simple price input: Whatever your customers are buying, you should be able to easily input the exact amount they’re paying. Look for a card machine with custom input, so you never have to compromise with a workaround.

  4. Payment security and PCI compliance: Violating PCI compliance can lead to major financial penalties, and it leaves you and your customers vulnerable to fraudulent charges. Your card machine should be PCI compliant to avoid financial and security infringements.

  5. Portability: You’re never in the same place, and your card machine shouldn’t have to be, either. Look for a card machine that’s portable and easy to shift around, so you can take payments wherever you and your customers are.

  6. Contracts: Often, card machines require contracts or long-term commitments to begin processing payments with their hardware. You may be required to pay fees for things like applications, chargebacks, compliance, retrieval, hardware leasing, and more. Look for a card machine that doesn’t tie you into long-term commitments or hidden fees.

  7. Contracts: Often, credit card machines require contracts to begin processing payments with their hardware. You may be required to sign contracts like a [merchant account agreement][5], and pay fees for things like applications, chargebacks, compliance, retrieval, hardware leasing, and more.

  8. Connectivity: Wherever and whatever you’re doing, it’s important that your card machine can actually take payments and stay connected when you move around. Determine if your card machine will connect via Wi-Fi or Ethernet at your business, and select a machine that processes accordingly.

  9. Trial period and warranty: Look for a system that you can try out (like with a 30-day trial) and that has a warranty in case issues arise. You should also look for a machine that includes 24/7 phone support, so if something goes wrong, you can get help quickly.

  10. Ability to print receipts: If it’s important for your business, printing receipts is a critical attribute of a terminal that’s right for you. Some card machines have a built-in printer, while others need to be connected to a separate receipt printer.

How to evaluate the cost

Another thing to keep in mind is the cost. There are two main factors that determine the cost of your card machine: hardware costs and processing costs. These costs will in turn reflect the card machine price.

Hardware costs

Also referred to as equipment costs, hardware costs include the price to purchase or lease the actual card machine and any additional accessories you might need, like a separate receipt printer, scanner, or charger. (It’s easy to forget, but be sure to factor accessories into the final price of your machine.)

Processing costs

Whenever your customers insert their card or tap their contactless or mobile device, their payment is processed by a number of parties. That costs money, and charges per card type and per transaction can differ, depending on the card machine you are using.

Charges may include fees like startup fees, statement fees, monthly fees, refund fees, PCI-compliance fees, business card fees or hardware leasing fees.

Be sure you know how much you’ll pay for processing, both up front and on an ongoing basis.

The best card machine for your business

Every business is different and so what card machine is best for your business is something only you can determine.

Square Terminal is the all-in-one terminal, receipt printer, and POS that enables merchants to accept any form of payment (contactless, chip and PIN, or mobile device) all in one device. It’s a modern device optimised for easy, professional, and reliable payments that treat you and your money fairly.
Square Terminal users pay a flat rate of 1.75% per contactless, chip and PIN or mobile payment, no matter the card used. And if you process over £250,000 per year, our sales team can create a custom rate for you.

If you try out Square Terminal, you can get started in minutes and try it risk-free for 30 days. Square Terminal also comes with a one-year warranty with next-business-day hardware replacement and 24/7 phone support.

Interested in Square Terminal? Order now.

Alise is an editor at Square, where she writes about how to start, run, and grow a business, highlighting our sellers around the world.