How to Choose the Best Credit Card Machine for Your Business

How to Choose the Best Credit Card Machine for Your Business
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best credit card machine for your business -- this guide will help you understand what to look for so you can make the right decision.
by Alise Bailey Dec 27, 2021 — 4 min read
How to Choose the Best Credit Card Machine for Your Business

Whether you’re looking to take copays at your health care practice or to charge clients for a great new head of highlights, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best credit card machine for your business.

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

10 credit card terminal 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 credit 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 line and frustrate clients.

2. No contracts or hidden fees: 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, and pay fees for things like applications, chargebacks, compliance, retrieval, hardware leasing, and more.

3. Connects to any POS: No matter which point of sale you use, look for a terminal that seamlessly (and wirelessly) syncs with any POS, so you can say goodbye to manual bookkeeping and focus on your business.

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 credit card machine should be PCI compliant to avoid financial and security infringements.

5. EMV and NFC compatibility: Your credit card machine should be able to accept whatever ways your clients want to pay. Whether they tap with NFC payments, dip their EMV chip, or swipe, get a credit card machine that does it all.

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

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

8. Connectivity: Wherever and whatever you’re doing, it’s important that your credit card machine can actually take payments and stay connected when you move around. Determine if your credit 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 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 credit 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 credit card machine: hardware costs and processing costs. These costs will in turn reflect the credit card machine price.

Credit card hardware costs

Also referred to as equipment costs, hardware costs include the price to purchase or lease the actual credit 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.)

Credit card processing costs

Whenever your customers swipe, dip, or tap, 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 credit 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.

Types of credit card transaction fees

As a merchant there are three types of fees associated with each credit card transaction. These fees are split among the financial institutions involved. They include:


The best credit card machine for your business

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

Square Terminal is the next-generation sidecar terminal and receipt printer that enables merchants to accept any form of payment (tap, dip, or swipe) all in one device. It’s a modern device optimized for easy, professional, and reliable payments that treat you and your money fairly.

Thanks to its intuitive design, you can get started with Square Terminal in under five minutes. 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 Bailey
Alise Bailey is an editor at Square, where she writes about how to start, run, and grow a business, highlighting our sellers around the world.


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