You may have heard the old adage, “necessity is the mother of invention”. The very first credit card was invented because a businessman forgot his wallet while dining with his wife in a fancy restaurant in New York City in 1950. He vowed never to be in that embarrassing situation again which led to the creation of the Diner’s Club card. The credit card industry boom that followed gave rise to the invention of credit card machines and credit card terminals.
Maybe you remember the manual devices from the 1970’s that had metal plates to make a carbon copy of your credit card so the merchant would get paid? Point of Sale (POS) systems have come a long way since then, especially when you consider the sophisticated card readers and cloud-based transaction processing systems we have today.
What’s the difference between a Credit Card Machine and a POS?
A credit card machine is a device that can read the encrypted data on a credit card, whether it be stripe or chip to process credit card payments. Some credit card machines also support contactless payments using NFC technology, which allows a customer to complete a transaction by just tapping their smartphone or credit card to the reader. Others may also process gift cards or connect to a check reader but for the most part a credit card machine is only used to complete payment transactions.
A Point of Sale (POS) system on the other hand, is designed to help a merchant manage the financial end of their business by offering a variety of features in addition to credit card processing. Most POS systems offer merchants extras such as receipt printing, bar code scanning, inventory management and sales analytics.
There are quite a few credit card machines and terminals available in today’s payment processing market. Ingenico and Verifone top the list as two of the oldest and most reputable brands. Pax, First Data, IDTech and MagTek are also reliable credit card machines that Payline has access to and can easily integrate. If you are currently shopping for credit card terminals and machines for your business, you should start by considering the type of business you own or manage whether it be a restaurant, a retail store or something in the service sector. Next, make a list of the payment processing needs of your business.
Evaluating the Needs of your Business – Questions to Ask
- Should the machine be mobile, or does it need to sit on a counter?
- Does it need to accept Mag Stripe, EMV, and/or be NFC Contactless?
- Will it be customer-facing or merchant-facing, and how large should the display screen be?
- Does your business accept PIN debit transactions?
- Do you need to print a receipt for your customers?
- Does the credit card terminal need to integrate with a third-party software system or POS?
Credit Card Machine or Mobile Reader?
If you have a restaurant or brick-and-mortar shop, the best option for your business would most likely be a credit card terminal or payment terminal that sits on a counter to facilitate in-person payment transactions. Credit card terminals don’t usually include their own POS or processing systems, instead, they complete transactions using technology to access the merchant’s payment processing account.
Payline has software and hardware options available with support for Ingenico, Verifone, Shopkeep, and Clover. These credit card terminals are ideal for in-person transactions that are typical in the brick-and-mortar retail world, and with Payline’s Android and iPhone compatible mobile card reader you can also take payments on the go.
As for models, Ingenico is a reputable manufacturer of traditional credit card terminals and POS solutions. Ingenico’s iCT220 Dual Com Terminal is one of the best credit card readers available. Customers can use EMV-enabled cards, use contactless payments like Apple Pay, or swipe their traditional magstripe cards. The credit card reader features a PIN-hiding privacy shield for debit card transactions, and an easy-to-read display, and user friendly buttons. A credit card terminal is more costly than a mobile card reader, but you can connect the iCT220 to almost any existing POS system.
Maybe you have a smaller business like a booth at a farmer’s market or a food truck? If you simply need to process onsite customer payments you probably aren’t looking for the wider range of features that a credit card terminal or POS offers. A mobile reader that connects via bluetooth or plugs into your laptop or smartphone would most likely suit your business needs. This simpler option is also ideal for small nonprofits such as school booster clubs and stand-alone fundraisers.
Most of us have seen the small white credit card swipe device that Square offers for processing credit card payments, but there is also a highly rated credit card reader from Clover – the Clover Go. This credit card reader for tablets and smartphones connects to your device with Bluetooth technology. It can read chip cards, magstripe cards, and even process NFC contactless payments.
Another option that Payline supports are the MagTek and IDTech brands of credit card machines. The MagTek and IDTech Readers is a simple, affordable, and versatile way to receive payments using a PC, Mac, or existing POS terminal. This credit card machine is simple to set up with no separate drivers required. Keep in mind that these readers swipe and do EMV payments only. They are typically connected via USB and connect to a particular software. These devices are very versatile and are typically the easiest to be certified and integrated into 3rd party softwares or POSs.
A POS would be the ideal choice for merchants that need financial management features in addition to simple payment processing. If you need a system to handle staff scheduling, manage inventory and payroll, or accumulate customer loyalty data in addition to processing payments, a POS is probably the way to go.
Payment processors usually choose to feature one or two quality POS systems. Payline features Clover and Shopkeep but can integrate processing into almost any other POS with a friendly API. API stands for Application Program Interface, which is a set of routines and protocols that allow programmers to build connections between two different software systems.
Can you Swap Payment Processors With Your Current Credit Card Machine?
If you are interested in becoming a Payline client and you’ve previously invested in a credit card machine or terminal, you can still make the switch – but it depends on a few important factors. Your existing hardware needs to be a brand and model that Payline currently supports, and the device can’t be locked. It’s also helpful if the machine’s software is up to date. Of course, it’s best if you purchase your hardware directly from Payline because your machine will arrive preprogrammed with your account information and be ready to use just as soon as it’s unpacked.
More customers than ever are using credit cards for payments as opposed to cash. Newer technology like chip and NFC contactless payment is allowing merchants to accept and process payments swiftly and efficiently without physical payments changing hands. Payline offers many options for POS systems, credit card terminals, and mobile readers. Payline aims to help your business thrive whether it be a traditional retail store, an online shop or even a mobile food truck.