A card terminal is a point of sale (POS) device that allows merchants to process credit and debit cards for customer purchases. It’s one of the most popular forms of cashless commerce for small business owners. Whether you operate a food truck, retail store or another type of business, you’ll need a terminal to accept payments.
In addition to processing credit cards, many terminals allow you to swipe and dip debit cards, and to verify checks and eCheck/ACH transactions. Some also include a printer to issue a receipt for customers. Some have the ability to add a custom image to the receipt, which can help enhance branding and promote a professional appearance for your business.
Standalone terminals are available in a variety of styles and prices, from basic models to high-end options with more advanced features. Some are proprietary, meaning they’re only compatible with one payment processor, while others work across multiple processing platforms.
Most credit card terminals feature a keypad for entering the transaction amount and a slot where the customer inserts their credit or debit card. The terminal then reads the card’s magnetic stripe, sends the data for verification and returns an approval or decline message to the merchant.
Some credit card terminals are designed to function in a card-not-present environment, which can be useful for businesses that accept mail, telephone or fax orders. These devices typically cost more to process, however, as they are more prone to fraud and must be manually keyed in by an employee. card terminal