There are many different credit card terminals out there – which one is right for your business? The answer depends on a few factors, including how you generally take payments, the kinds of goods or services you sell, and even where you do business. In this post, we’ll break down five common ways to accept credit card payments and the types of businesses best suited for them.

Traditional Countertop Terminals

This type of credit card terminal has historically been the most common. It sits next to the cash register at a business and cards are physically swiped through or dipped into it, either by the cashier or the customer. In credit card processing lingo, these kinds of transactions are known as “card present” because both the customer and their credit card are physically present at the time the sale is made. There are many types of businesses for whom this type of credit card terminal is a perfect fit. If you own a retail store, nail salon, or coffee shop, – or really any business that has a fixed location where customers come in physically to pay – a traditional countertop terminal could be perfect for you.

Mobile Swipers

Is your business constantly on the go? Maybe you’re a contractor who travels to job sites frequently. Maybe you’re a community organization that holds lots of offsite events. Maybe you’re a caterer or event planner who needs to be able to make transactions at venues all around your area. If any of these describe you, you might just be the perfect candidate for a mobile terminal. Although they come in several different varieties, the most common mobile swipers attach to your phone or tablet and offer a convenient way to swipe or dip customer credit cards wherever you are. This type of credit card terminal is usually associated with an app that you can use to manage your transactions. It’s quick, convenient, and streamlined for businesses who need processing power wherever they are.

Online Shopping Carts and Payment Gateways

If you sell your products and services on your website, using a shopping cart and payment gateway as your credit card terminal is a no-brainer. This is an example of a “card not present” transaction, which is exactly what it sounds like. In this type of transaction, the customer and their credit card are not physically present in front of you when they make the transaction. This is nothing new in the age of Amazon and eBay, and it’s a great option for your business to consider if your customers come from far and wide.

Virtual Terminals

Some businesses don’t neatly fit into any of these molds. They may do the bulk of their business in person but take the occasional phone order. They may send their field technicians out to make service calls but want all payments to be handled by the main office. For these types of businesses, a virtual terminal could be the perfect credit card terminal option. Since you access a virtual terminal from a web browser, you can process payments from anywhere with an internet or data connection. This means you can enter all the card numbers from the day late at night from your couch – you don’t need to be physically standing next to your credit card terminal. Even if you think you don’t need a virtual terminal, it’s good to have one as a backup plan. If your traditional countertop terminal goes on the fritz, you’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing you still have a way to take payments.

Integrated Payments

This type of credit card terminal is fast becoming the norm as more and more business owners choose to manage their businesses using software. Integrated payments are fairly straightforward – they integrate seamlessly into your business management software system, allowing you to check customers out more efficiently, reconcile your books more cleanly, and speed up the whole way you run your business. Some integrations offer additional special features, like Text to Pay from 360 Payments. With Text to Pay, you can text your customer their invoice and they can pay from their phones when it’s convenient for them. Integrated payments are perfect for forward-thinking business owners who want to leverage the power of technology to help them manage their business more effectively.

Which Credit Card Terminal is Right for Me?

We know there are a lot of options when it comes to credit card processing – that’s why we’re here to help. If you’ve read through this list and aren’t sure which credit card terminal would best suit your needs, give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’ll help you get set up with a terminal that’s perfect for you.

PS – Watch out for these five bogus fees on your credit card processing statement.

PPS – Is it time to switch banks? Find out.