Retail terminals and credit card machines for small businesses. How do they work? 23Sep

Retail terminals and credit card machines for small businesses. How do they work?

These days only a few consumers prefer to pay in cash, making it one of the least preferred payment methods. While card payments remain popular, contactless payments and mobile wallets are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19. While it may not appear to be a big deal, the sort of credit card machine you use to accept payments can have a big influence on your business. A slow and inefficient one can lead to terrible checkout experiences for your consumers. Still, a modern and efficient credit card terminal enables you to better customer service and even streamline payments and reporting in your organization.

Modern credit card reader machines come in various configurations, ranging from basic credit card processing to full-fledged POS system capability. To get the most out of your payment processing, select a credit card machine that meets your company's requirements. 

What does a credit card machine do?

Customers' debit and credit card payments can be accepted by credit card machines and transferred to your merchant account. These credit card machines for small businesses are intended to transfer data to a payment processor over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or a phone line. When a customer makes a payment, money is typically transferred from their bank account to your company's merchant account. The credit card processor may also use a merchant account to retain your funds before depositing them straight into your bank account. 

Credit card processing machines come in a variety of styles, sizes, and rates. The device you buy for your shop should depend on how much business you get from cardholders and your budget and available space. These machines are essential for any retailer looking to generate revenue by catering to customers who prefer to pay with credit cards.

Card Terminals

Credit card transactions are now processed by machines in the majority of modern stores. Credit card terminals are one of the most prevalent machines used for this purpose. These are ideal for merchants who accept a high number of payments. Customers will insert their credit card into the machine and then type their information onto the keypad, following which the payment will be processed. Many terminals will print a receipt after the credit card is accepted. 

Furthermore, certain card terminals are battery-powered, which adds an extra cost to the equation. Card terminals should also be physically connected to a telephone network to perform real-time transactions. More complex models allow you to keep transaction data, which is secure because it is held inside. 

How do credit card terminals function?

A credit card machine can receive payments in various ways, depending on the types of payments you accept. Magstripe cards, for example, are read by swiping them on a credit card terminal and storing cardholder data on magnetic stripes. Some terminals employ the chip-and-pin technique, which requires cardholders to insert their card and enter a pin. This provides increased security and complies with EMV (Eurocard, Mastercard, and Visa). Nowadays, most credit card machines incorporate both a standard card swiper and an EMV chip card reader. Contactless payments can be accepted by credit card machines equipped with NFC (near field communication) transmitters. Customers touch their credit cards or mobile phones against the credit card terminal for Google Pay or Apple Pay purchases, and the NFC transmitter wirelessly transmits information to it. Contactless payments are also EMV compliant. Keyed entry is also supported by some credit card machines for card-not-present transactions. These machines include keypads that allow you to manually enter credit card information obtained from customers over the phone or via email.

Types of credit card machines

Now that we've discussed what a credit card machine is and how it works let's look at the many sorts of credit card terminals available today. Each of them has its own set of advantages. You must select one that is compatible with your company's and customers' needs. 

Traditional countertop EMV credit card machines

Countertop terminals are the most prevalent type of terminal seen in retail businesses. They normally sit on a desk or countertop and require an ethernet or phone connection to handle payments. They accept an extensive range of payment methods, including credit, debit, and gift vouchers. They can also be used to handle card-not-present transactions or be outfitted with pin pads for added security.

Mobile credit card readers and wireless credit card machines

Because an increasing number of individuals are using their smartphones to shop, devices that allow consumers to pay with their credit cards via their mobile phones have been introduced. They do not require a physical connection to the internet or a phone line; these credit card terminals are great for processing payments on the go. They connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G, or mobile data, enabling you to accept payments virtually anywhere. Customers will either enter their credit card details manually or utilize special hardware add-ons to swipe their cards when using these devices. 

Mobile devices have a significant benefit over card terminals in terms of portability. Transactions can be completed anywhere there is phone reception, and in some situations, it can eliminate the need to wait in huge queues to pay for goods or services.

Integrated point-of-sale systems

If integrated with your payment processor, you can accept payments directly through your EPOS system. The payment processor and POS system exchange data in a seamless manner. This eliminates the need to enter amounts and decreases the possibility of human error manually.  

What features should a credit card processing machine have?

Your choice of credit card machine should be strongly influenced by the type of business you run. A wireless or mobile credit card terminal, for example, would be ideal if you operate a mobile business and need to process payments on the go. If you need to handle card-not-present transactions frequently, a standard terminal that supports them or a virtual terminal would be an excellent choice. Before choosing a credit card machine for your business, you need to consider a few other key factors, such as: 


The amount of connectivity provided by your credit card machine is essential - downtime or delay can substantially impact your ability to process payments and your bottom line.

Payment methods supported 

Consider the payment options you'll need to accept, such as credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets, gift vouchers, cash, and so on, and ensure that your credit card machine can accept them all. 

Pricing and contracts 

The price of a credit card machine varies substantially based on its features and whether it is purchased, rented, or leased. It is better to avoid leasing because it commits you to a long-term contract you must pay to break if you need change. Furthermore, a credit card machine normally costs only a few hundred pounds, whereas leasing can easily build up to a few thousand pounds over time.