A credit card terminal is defined as a piece of hardware that businesses use to process customers’ payments.
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A terminal in the payment processing world is a type of hardware that businesses use to process payments. There are several types of terminals, and depending on the type of business you have, one might be preferred over the others. 

Credit Card Terminal Categories

There are two basic categories of terminals - universal and proprietary. 

A universal terminal will work with almost any merchant services provider. But a proprietary terminal is equipped with software that will only work with certain MSPs. 

Universal terminals are beneficial because they can be reprogrammed if a business decides to stop services with one MSP and switch to another. Proprietary terminals cannot be reprogrammed, but they tend to have better functionality. 

Types of Credit Card Terminals

There are three main types of credit card terminals. 

POS Systems

A POS system is best for businesses that need more features than just processing payments. They typically offer extras, such as payroll management, employee management, and inventory tracking software as well. 

Countertop Terminals

A countertop terminal is more compact, and while most of them have limited functionality, they work well for processing payments. This might be the hardware of choice for smaller businesses with minimal inventory. 

Mobile Terminals

Businesses that need to make sales on the go will likely opt for mobile terminals. They offer the ability to accept payments outside of a storefront. Mobile card readers require the use of some type of mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. You also need to connect to an app, so you need an internet connection or WiFi to use them. 

Payment Terminal Features

Every payment processor offers certain features along with their hardware, and there are some things you’ll want to watch out for too. 

  • Seamless syncing with a POS system
  • PCI compliance
  • NFC and EMV compatibility 
  • Printer connectivity for providing receipts

Businesses should look for terminals that: 

  • Are easy to use
  • Connect to the internet via WiFi or Ethernet
  • Have a high reliability rating
  • Do not come with contracts or hidden fees

It is possible to find terminals that include a 30-day trial period. A warranty is also important, in case something goes wrong. 

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