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What Equipment Do I Need to Accept Credit Cards For My Business?


What Equipment Do I Need to Accept Credit Cards For My Business?

The basic piece of equipment most small retail operation will want is a terminal, that black box that sits next to the cash register and is connected to the card processor via phone line or Internet. Cards may be swiped or input manually and an optional debit PIN pad allows customers to enter their secret PIN for their debit card.

If you accept checks, you can also connect a check swipe reader that will scan the check through the check guarantee service of your choice and electronically deposits the funds into your account, saving trips to the bank. Connected to or part of the terminal is a receipt printer.

Instead of a terminal, you may elect to use a personal computer with a card swipe reader attached to it. Point-of-sale software installed on the computer will accept the input card and send it via internet or phone line for processing and authorization.

There are literally hundreds of POS systems available on the market, many industry-specific, such as for hotels or restaurants.

If you do not have or want a POS system, you can set up a “virtual terminal” on your PC by logging in to your credit card processor’s website and swiping or manually entering card information for authorization. Such sites usually also permit you to void, force and refund transactions or set up recurring transactions such as monthly health club memberships, automobile payments, etc.

Virtual processing usually also permits you to use you cell phone to get authorizations on the go, out in the field, and usually also offer a shopping cart that you can integrate into your company website for online purchases.

For businesses that deliver merchandise to customers, such as pizza shops, there is a new wireless terminal, most like a cell phone, that your drivers carry with them. At the customer’s home they swipe the customer’s card through this mobile terminal and get an authorization. This can represent a tremendous monthly savings over accepting orders over the phone at the store and manually keying in the customer’s credit card number. Remember, manually keyed-in cards are charged a higher Non-Qualified Rate because the fraud risk is higher when the card is not present and swiped. The mobile terminal does swipe the card and it is treated as a card-present transaction, at a much lower rate. Mobile terminals utilize Packet Radio Service or cell service and are very reliable. The driver carries a small printer on their belt to print receipts for the customer.

You can acquire equipment by outright purchase, or lease it. Each option has advantages, discuss them with your accountant. If you do lease, you don’t have to worry if the terminal breaks, just swap it for a new one. Some processors will provide you with a “free” terminal but you will usually end up paying higher transaction rates or other hidden fees. There is no free lunch.

James Hussher is a national Account Executive for Card Payment Solutions, a registered merchant services provider (MSP) for Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase banks. Contact James at, a site James maintains to inform his credit card merchant clients. Wherever you are in the USA, I offer a free analysis of your current merchant account statement. I will provide a report showing you exactly how much you are paying to accept cards in each tier, plus monthly fees; I will also propose the rates we can give you, for a clear side-by-side comparison.

The Credit Crunch – What Is It?


The Credit Crunch – What Is It?

THE CREDIT CRUNCH – The words everyone has begun to hate and fear. TV now uses it as a great marketing tool. Bit sick if you ask me. People are losing their homes, their families, their jobs, it’s disgusting and the rich are just cashing in and getting richer. But here’s an idea, why not get rich yourself. Instead of wanting to die, or kill the guy next to you out of frustration, build your own empire.

In the poorer countries, they are expert at doing this. There are no jobs there, so the people turn their hands at doing things themselves and make a good living. Say you are a mechanic, or, maybe you are just gifted at fixing cars. Start doing that. Fix your friends cars (always charge them, never do it for free) and then do THEIR friends cars and so on. Build yourself a reputation. Undercut all the garages around you and you will make a fairly good living. You don’t need to get yourself into knots. Learn to turn your hand to what you are good at. Focus on what you can do, not what you’ve just lost.

In times of distress, we focus on what we don’t have, because that’s what we are programmed to do. Don’t do that. It is so hard to make a living out of anything these days and everyone is out for themselves. I get that, but just the little you can do, will make you feel good about yourself and if you feel good about yourself, suddenly a whole new world of possibilities will open to you. It’s how it works. Nothing works when we are feeling down and desperate.

Get away from desperation, and start thinking about how you can become your own boss. This will give you tremendous power and a sense of achievement. Forget about those words THE CREDIT CRUNCH. Don’t let fear come anywhere into your thinking realm. Just push on ahead no matter what.

We need courage now. We all need so much courage and it’s so hard for all of us. It is hard to watch some people have it so good when we have it so bad, but if you can keep believing that you too will soon have it good then you’ll be more than fine before you know it.

All I can honestly tell you, is not to be afraid and to work on what you know you can do to make a living.

Be at peace, we have to be, and be determined to make your own way forward.

Deborah Mann