Credit Card Terminals

Learn more about the different types of credit card terminals available for merchants including traditional, wireless and virtual credit card terminals.

Credit card terminals are devices for processing credit or debit cards at point of sale locations. Often such a terminal is known as POS credit card terminal (Point Of Sale credit card terminal). In the past, these were simple machines that imprinted the digits on credit cards onto several thin sheets using copy paper. Today credit card terminals are more sophisticated in a technological sense but all perform the same function. They allow an individual’s credit card information to be processed and for a sale to take place. Credit card terminals can often check an individual’s credit, send and receive credit card acceptance data, process surcharges, and allow cash withdrawals from a merchant. Even if vendors or service providers are quite limited in size, almost all these businesses can benefit from credit card terminals.
The following are some varieties of credit card terminals:

Traditional Credit Card Terminal: As noted above these devices are mechanical in nature, imprinting credit or debit card digits on receipts, copies of which are then given to the customer, kept by the merchant, and sent off to the credit card company. These have not totally been phased out by any means – many businesses still use them.

The term traditional may also refer to a terminal that is indeed connected to the internet or which faxes the credit card information to the credit card company through telephone lines or a traditional type of internet connection.

Wireless Credit Card Terminal: A wireless credit card terminal uses wireless technology to transmit credit card information. They may use cell phone or satellite networks to send and receive the information needed. This kind of functionality is quite useful and mobile and does away with the need for having a credit card terminal always in a fixed location.

Virtual Terminals: Virtual terminals are ones used for online credit card acceptance. These are simple programs that perform the same function in the virtual worlds as a POS terminal does at a physical merchant location. They are used on a vast number of merchant sites on the internet.
There are a wide variety of marketing strategies that credit card terminal vendors use to sell their terminals. Some offer a free credit card terminal along with a contract, some do not offer contracts at all but allow a vendor to pay on a per sale basis, and some offer attractive contracts with unlimited sale processing. In some ways the marketing of these devices resembles cell phone plans.

Though, as noted before, some businesses have not yet made the switch to the most modern credit card terminal technology, doing so has a number of advantages:

Faster Processing: This is the main and most obvious advantage. Transactions can be directly processed at the time of the transaction making use of real time communications networks, rather than having to wait to be processed through the mail or over slow phone lines.

Better Transaction Security: When transactions can be processed real time they are more secure than waiting for a response by mail (or call the company over the phone). It is also more secure than other payment methods like checks. The vendor can see right away whether or not the customer has the funds to pay for an item.

Modern Appearance: The ability to process credit or debit card transactions electronically and even wirelessly makes a company appear modern and up to date, and this can attract customers.

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