When signing up for a new merchant account for your business you have many options when it comes to the merchant account terminal you will need. This article is intended to clarify the various merchant account terminal types to help you identify the terminal that is best for your business.
Merchant account terminal types:
- Retail terminal
- Virtual terminal
- Mobile terminal
- Point of sale terminal (POS)
A retail terminal is the most common type of terminal and the type you see at most retail stores across the country. This is the terminal you will need if you have retail store front that your customer visit and hand their credit card to you for payment. There are numerous manufacturers such as Verifone, Hypercom, Nurit, and Ingenico to name a few. You will want to select a manufacturer and terminal that offers the features you are looking for. Some common items to consider:
- Do you have a phone line for the terminal to communicate on?
- Do you have an Internet connect (IP) for the communication?
- Do you need wireless capabilities?
- What is your budget for the terminal?
A virtual terminal offers the same functionality as a traditional retail terminal however the interface is typically enabled through a computer. This is the terminal you will want to select if you do not perform face-to-face transactions.
A mobile terminal is a merchant account terminal that is enabled through a smart phone. Years ago the only way you could accept credit card payments in a mobile environment was to purchase a costly wireless retail terminal. Not only was this equipment expensive, but you are also required to purchase a wireless data plan from one of the major wireless carriers which added a great deal of costs. Now, with the abundance of smart phones most credit card processors have a mobile credit card processing terminal that can be downloaded to the phone. The application will be accompanied with a small piece of inexpensive equipment that will allow you to swipe your customer’s credit card to complete the sale.
A point of sale (POS) terminal is a merchant account terminal that is integrated or a part of a larger system that is set up to manage the entire business. POS systems are usually comprised of a computer, monitor, bar code scanner, credit card swiper and has lots of functions that stretch beyond payment processing. If you have a POS system you will want to make sure that the system supports the credit card processor you select. Not all processors work with all POS systems.