If you are operating a business in today’s modern world, you absolutely must have the capability of accepting credit cards. The old methods of payment are still alive, but many people are so used to using their card that they don’t bother to carry their checkbook, or even much cash. So if you can’t take their card, you will lose a sale.
In a physical business, in order to accept cards, you will need to have a credit card processing terminal, aka – a credit card swipe machine. This terminal is used to read the information on the card, and to send it to your merchant bank, or third party processor, so they can check on the validity of the card and transfer the money from the sale to your account.
There are many options available for your POS processing terminal, and the cost of the machine varies from zero to several thousand dollars, depending on the features you need. ( The zero cost is deceptive, since some processors will give you a simple terminal, but then charge enough for their service to defray the cost. )
One feature that you will almost certainly want is the ability to print a receipt for both you and your customer to keep as a record of the transaction. Another useful option is a PIN pad, which will let you take debit cards by allowing the customer to enter their PIN code after swiping the card.
A recent innovation is the ability to use any touch tone phone, including a cell phone, to transmit information about a purchase to the processor. It obviates the need for you to buy any equipment at all.
If you want to accept cards when you’re not at your physical store, another method would be to use a wireless credit card processing terminal. This comes in handy for making sales at trade shows.
And finally, you could buy a complete POS system that includes a computer, cash drawer, credit card processing terminal, barcode scanner, and printer for as little as $1600.
For more useful information on what you need to accept credit cards in a physical business, see the author’s website, as shown in the paragraph below.