Card Payment Machines—The Ultimate Convenience for Your Small Business and Customers

Card Payment Machines—The Ultimate Convenience for Your Small Business and Customers

Data confirms that cash is no longer king. Card payments are the most commonly used payment method among American consumers (57%). Debit cards account for 29% of all payments, while credit cards account for 28% in terms of transaction volumes.

Card payment machines allow customers to settle their purchases without having to carry cash or make a trip to the ATM. As such, both brick-and-mortar and eCommerce SMBs must learn how to leverage them to cater to diverse payment preferences and stay competitive in the market. 

In this article, we’ll explore what these smart devices are, their benefits, the types available, and where you can get one. We’ll also discuss the factors you should consider when deciding the best scalable option for your small business. 

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What Is a Card Payment Machine and How Does It Work?

Card payment machines, otherwise known as card readers, allow customers to make in-store card payments. They often have a slot or a swipe area where shoppers can insert or swipe their cards.

Depending on the card type and security requirements, they may include a PIN pad or a touchscreen display.

These electronic devices process transactions by connecting to the payment network. Here’s what happens behind the scenes after the customer sets up payment.

  1. Secure verification. The machine communicates with the customer’s bank and the payment processor to authenticate the card and check for available funds. This step protects your company from fraudulent transactions.
  2. Transaction approval. Once authenticated, the transaction is approved. Shoppers may need to enter their personal identification number (PIN) or provide a signature to finalize the payment.
  3. Receipt generation. The reader generates a receipt for the customer. It also records the transaction details on your end, keeping track of sales and maintaining accurate accounting.
  4. Funds transfer. The payment processor initiates a fund transfer from the customer’s account to your merchant account on the scheduled date (usually in batches).

To clarify: Payment machines don’t hold or store funds. They only serve as intermediaries for straightforward and secure fund transfers. 

Benefits of Using Card Payment Machines

Card payment machines help your operations, customer experience, and overall business success. Here are the practical benefits they offer to small businesses: 

  • Increased sales. Cash use only accounts for 19% of all payments. As such most consumers prefer the convenience and security of these card machines. Accepting card payments thus allows you to tap into a larger customer base.
  • Increased credibility. Offering card payment solutions shows your customers that you value modern consumer preferences. It boosts your brand’s credibility in today’s cashless society, where 60% of American adults make few or no cash purchases.
  • Better customer experiences. Over 50% of shoppers abandon a purchase if the checkout process is too complicated. Payment machines offer quick, hassle-free payment options while reducing wait times at the checkout counter. 
  • Enhanced security. Card payment machines ensure secure payments through encryption and tokenization. These advanced safety features safeguard card information during transmission and storage, minimizing data breaches and fraud.
  • Real-time reporting. Card payment systems let you monitor sales, track inventory, and make timely, informed business decisions. Maximizing efficiency and reducing costs are possible when you recognize daily transaction patterns. For example, you can schedule more staff members during peak hours and fewer during slower periods. 

With the benefits at your fingertips, it’s time to learn about your terminal options. Discover how these five types of card payment machines can help equip your business with the perfect payment solution.

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5 Major Types of Payment Terminals

The debit card market expects a surge of $96.84 billion in 2026, while the credit card market forecasts $106.67 billion. Businesses can use the following payment machine types to cater to this growing demand:

  1. Countertop terminals. These debit and credit card terminals are stationary with a fixed checkout counter (e.g., retail stores and restaurants) for in-person transactions. They connect to the internet via Bluetooth, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi connectivity and offer reliable processing capabilities.
  2. Mobile/wireless terminals. Compact and lightweight, mobile payment machines can accept payments outside a traditional brick-and-mortar setting. They’re handy for reaching customers at different locations and events, especially for those running food trucks or pop-up shops.
  3. Integrated POS systems. Integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems combine card payment machines with other business management features like inventory management and sales reporting. This is your best bet if you want to simplify your workflows and automate data entry tasks.
  4. Virtual terminals. Customers can access these virtual portals through a computer, smartphone, or whatever device they prefer to complete the payment. They’re ideal for eCommerce transactions where buyers aren’t physically present at the point of sale. 
  5. Contactless readers. These cutting-edge machines use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to secure communication between devices in proximity. Shoppers can finish their purchases by tapping their cards or smartphones into the terminal—no physical contact, no card swiping.

The type of payment solution you choose should match your current sales operations and customers’ preferences. 

While you weigh your options, let’s explore where you can obtain your preferred payment machine.

Where Can You Get a Card Payment Machine?

Finding the right supplier or provider is crucial to ensure you get a top-of-the-line card payment machine. 

To their advantage, small business owners can purchase one from PSPs, merchant service providers, financial institutions, and online retailers.

Payment Service Providers (PSPs) like Payment Depot offer card terminals with online and card payment processing services. PSPs can save you the headache of dealing with multiple service providers and integration issues.

Merchant service providers that offer credit card processing may often bundle a pre-programmed payment terminal into their package offerings. You can start accepting payments right away without configuring it yourself.

Business account holders at financial institutions (e.g., banks and credit unions) may opt to acquire their debit and credit card readers. This contract might stipulate faster settlement times and other business banking perks.

If you can’t acquire a terminal from any of these providers, online retailers like Amazon can be an accessible alternative. But don’t forget to look for reputable sellers with positive customer reviews and reasonable pricing. 

How Much Does a Card Reader Cost?

Some card payment machines are available for purchase, while others are offered on a rental or lease basis. Pricing models include upfront costs, monthly fees, transaction-based processing fees, or a combination of all. 

For a small-scale operation, a mobile reader like Payment Depot’s SwipeSimple B250 only costs $120 per unit. 

All-in-one smart terminals that combine a card reader, receipt printer, and touchscreen display range from $350 to $600. 

While more advanced POS systems with built-in integrations start at $800 to $1,800. 

To figure out which one is best for your business, evaluate the long-term costs associated with the payment terminal in addition to the initial purchase price. Long-term investments include any ongoing fees, maintenance costs, and potential upgrade expenses.

What to Look for in Your Card Payment Machine

Selecting the right merchant services is essential for smooth and efficient payment processing. Besides the costs and hardware types, here are some key considerations to add to your checklist.

  • Connectivity. Ensure the machine supports the type of internet connection available at your business location, whether it’s Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or cellular data.
  • Payment options. Check the flexibility of payment options, especially for major credit cards like Mastercard and Visa. It’s a plus if you can accept gift cards, recurring payments, and multi-currency transactions.
  • Offline mode. Consider your payment machine’s capacity and amount limit when processing card transactions during internet connection outages.
  • Security features. EMV chip card, magstripe encryption, and compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) guarantee customer data protection.
  • Functionality. Look for add-on components or functions, such as a barcode scanner, receipt printer, or autoconfiguration with other business systems.
  • Ease of use. Opt for a card payment machine with a user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation to minimize the time for staff training.
  • Customer support. Confirm that your card reader provider offers prompt 24/7 support to address questions and technical problems.

Check all these criteria off your list to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. Now, let’s review the best machines based on these factors. 

7 Best Credit Card Machines for Small Businesses

Here are the top-rated credit card machines for SMBs. From simple devices to high-end payment systems, you can find one to tailored to your specific requirements.

  1. Ingenico ICT220. This compact countertop device works well with other Ingenico hardware and third-party POS systems. It boasts fast, secure debit and credit card transactions. You can opt for its CL model to accept contactless payments.
  2. Clover Mini/Flex/Station. Clover devices offer a compact to full POS setup. Choose any of these models for comprehensive solutions like sales tracking and reporting, inventory management, and loyalty program processing.
  3. Verifone VX520. This card reader is EMV chip-enabled and can accept major debit and credit cards. It’s not a full POS system, but it’s your best bet if you have limited options to access the internet.
  4. Dejavoo QD2/QD4.  These compact Android-based terminals read credit card payments via Magstripe, EMV, and NFC. QD2’s wireless connectivity is designed for on-the-go use, while the QD4 is for stationary setups.
  5. SwipeSimple B250. With this mobile card reader, you can swipe cards anywhere using your iOS or Android devices. It gets high marks for its long battery life and easy integration with existing business systems.
  6. PAX A920. A 5-inch touchscreen card payment machine that runs on Wi-Fi or cellular data. Handheld with a built-in receipt printer, it’s one of the most convenient options for SMBs.
  7. First Data FD410. The FD410 is a wireless terminal known for its portability and authentication technologies. It has multi-connectivity options, including 3G or GPRS, to secure payment in remote locations or areas with unstable network coverage.

You can integrate any of these feature-rich card readers with Payment Depot’s payment processing platform. Partner with us today to enjoy smooth and transparent card transactions.

Transparent Card Payment Processing at Your Fingertips

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Whether it’s countertop devices, contactless terminals, or integrated POS systems, Payment Depot has the infrastructure to streamline your payment experience. Initiate the fund transfer with your preferred device, and we’ll handle the rest.

FAQs about Card Payment Machines

Q: What are card payment machines?

Card payment machines, also known as card readers, allow customers to make in-store card payments. They often have a slot or a swipe area where shoppers can insert or swipe their cards. These machines process transactions by connecting to the payment network. They don’t hold or store funds; they only serve as intermediaries for straightforward and secure fund transfers.

Q: How do card payment machines benefit small businesses?

Card payment machines offer a range of benefits to small businesses, including increased sales and credibility, better customer experiences, enhanced security, and real-time reporting. They help cater to the diverse payment preferences of consumers, thus allowing businesses to tap into a larger customer base. Card payment systems also allow businesses to monitor sales, track inventory, and make timely informed decisions.

Q: What are the different types of card payment machines?

There are various types of card payment machines, including countertop terminals, mobile/wireless terminals, integrated POS systems, virtual terminals, and contactless readers. Each type caters to different demands and suits different types of businesses. You should select a payment machine that matches your current sales operations and customers’ preferences.

Q: Where can small businesses find card payment machines?

Small businesses can purchase card payment machines from several sources, such as Payment Service Providers (PSPs), merchant service providers, financial institutions, and online retailers. The choice depends on the specific needs and preferences of the business.

Q: What is the cost of card payment machines?

The cost of card payment machines varies. Some are available for purchase, while others are offered on a rental or lease basis. The pricing models may include upfront costs, monthly fees, transaction-based processing fees, or a combination. The price can range from $120 for a simple mobile reader to up to $1,800 for advanced POS systems with built-in integrations.

Q: What considerations should be taken into account when choosing a card payment machine?

When choosing a card payment machine, consider factors such as connectivity, payment options, offline mode capability, security features, functionality, ease of use, and customer support. Additional long-term costs such as ongoing fees, maintenance costs, and potential upgrade expenses should also be considered.

Q: What are some highly recommended card payment machines for SMBs?

Several card payment machines are highly rated by SMBs. Devices ranging from simple ones like Ingenico ICT220 and SwipeSimple B250 to high-end payment systems like Clover and PAX A920 come highly recommended. The suitability of the device depends on the specific requirements of the business.

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