Whether you run a retail store or a mobile market pop-up, accepting credit and debit cards is essential for keeping customers happy and your business running smoothly. Credit card machines come in many forms, including countertop, mobile, virtual and integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems. They can be connected via a hardwired phone line, a cellular network or Wi-Fi and process credit cards, PIN debit cards and digital wallet payments as well as card-not-present transactions.
The most popular credit card machines are POS terminals, which offer the most flexibility. They’re designed to be compact and easy to use, with a monitor or tablet that displays payment options, transaction details and a receipt for your customer. They can also connect to a variety of additional apps and services that help you track inventory, monitor sales, generate discounts and create financial reports.
Credit card machines have evolved significantly since their introduction in 1979. Before that, merchants used manual imprinters to capture embossed information on a customer’s card onto paper slips, which then had to be taken to the bank for processing. Today, credit card terminals scan the customer’s card and authenticate its data using a combination of hardware and software, then transmit it to a host for processing.
While countertop POS terminals are the most common, mobile and virtual credit card machines can be equally useful for small businesses. The smallest options are portable credit card readers that attach to a smartphone or tablet and process payments by swiping, tapping or waving the plastic. These devices can connect to a network via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or an ethernet connection and process magstripe cards as well as the newer EMV chip cards. credit card machines