How to Find The Best Credit Card Reader for Your Business

Savvy business owners know that little expenses really add up over time. Sure, spending a little extra money here or there isn’t a bad thing, but doing so continuously can spell trouble for your business. Payment processing is a great example of such an expense.

Savvy business owners know that little expenses really add up over time. Sure, spending a little extra money here or there isn’t a bad thing, but doing so continuously can spell trouble for your business. Payment processing is a great example of such an expense. Sure, a couple cents per transaction doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time, those small amounts add up to be the second highest expense business owners face, just behind labor.A big part of those costs -- believe it or not -- is in the hardware you use. If you’re not careful, your credit card reader can have some unexpected effects on your bottom line. Many payment processors rent or lease card readers to business owners and charge large monthly fees to use equipment that only costs them a few dollars to build.Rather than accepting the first hardware option thrown at you, take time to do some research and find your most cost-effective option. Given, there are hundreds of options, so narrowing your search is tough. Below are some tips on finding the best option for you, along with a comparison of some of the more popular hardware options out there.

First Things First

If you’re on the hunt for new payment processing hardware, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do your customers frequently use mobile payments? (If so, make sure to get NFC-enabled hardware.)
  • Do you often take your business outside the walls of your brick and mortar? (If you’re on the go, a mobile reader or portable terminal is a must.)
  • Do you care about aesthetics, or is function your only concern? (There are some ugly terminals out there, but they all do the same job.)
  • Do you only require one terminal or will you need several? (There may be discounts available when you’re buying multiple terminals, or you might encounter additional costs, such as a POS system that requires you to pay for each additional terminal you use.)
  • Do you already have a POS system? If so, do you want to keep it, or are you willing to switch? (If you already have a POS system, it’s important to see if it provides hardware and if you’re required to use it. Certain systems will only operate with certain hardware, so if the POS is not a good fit, you may need to go back to square one reassess your POS system before you can pick your new hardware.)

Once you’ve thought through the logistics of the payment process and the experience you want your customers to have, it’s time to start shopping. Here are a few options you might want to take a look at:

PayAnwhere Reader

This funky-shaped card reader is made to work wherever you are (hence its name, PayAnywhere). Unlike many other mobile readers, the PayAnywhere reader doesn’t have to be plugged into your smartphone to work. Even so, it has almost all the functions of your typical mobile reader. It can email and print receipts, as well as calculate customer discounts. It’s simple pricing structure is helpful for those who don’t consider themselves an accountant and it clearly lays out your transactions, voids, and refunds.Unfortunately, users of this reader tend to run into bugs when using its partner PayAnywhere app. Customers have also pointed out that PayAnywhere suffers from an issue that’s rampant in payments: lack of transparency.

Verifone VX 805

One of the most affordable options on this list, the Verifone VX 805 costs about $125 and is not tied to any single processor. In fact, some processors offer this terminal as part of their services, so if you’re shopping for a processor as well, this might be an option to keep an eye on. It’s not the prettiest option on this list, but it’s compact and does just about everything you could possibly want, including mobile payments.

Ingenico ISC Touch 250

Yes, the Ingenico ISC250 is a little more expensive at around $550, but the higher price comes with some great features. The sleek appearance is topped off with a color touch screen terminal, so your business won’t look behind the times. Business owners can also rest easy after closing shop for the night, as the secure card capturing device makes it one of the safest options on the market. However, the Ingenico ISC250 can’t connect to all POS systems, so if you’ve already got a POS system you love, make sure it’s compatible with this hardware before taking the plunge.

Oracle MICROS system

As one of the more well known and customizable options on the market, the Oracle MICROS system comes with a lot of bells and whistles. It offers merchants a point-of-sale application that includes a Windows operating system and a POS solution that can integrate multiple locations without a hitch, making it ideal for chain businesses. From receipt printers to payroll metrics, this system will definitely take some of the stress out of running a business. Though it’s great for a business with multiple locations, it isn’t exactly mobile (unless you really want to work on those biceps). The system is not compatible with tablets, so business owners who ever leave their brick and mortar will want to steer clear. It also leaves much to be wanted in the way of metrics. While it can keep track of company employees and online ordering, it doesn’t offer customer or marketing data.

Square Register

If you want the prettiest hardware on the block, the Square Register might be for you. It’s trendy appearance and comprehensive payments system has made Square a household name, not to mention the fact that they also offer compact mobile readers that automatically sync with your in-store systems. Square Register also allows you to create customer profiles, set up employee time cards, manage profitability, and take care of your business from one central location.Almost too good to be true, right? Well, your intuition is correct. All of these great features come with a hefty price tag. The hardware alone costs $999, which locks customers in to a flat rate of 2.5% and 10 cents per transaction for payments. If you don’t mind the extra costs, Square can offer a truly beautiful and comprehensive payments system for your business.The options above are only a small sampling of the hardware that is out there. If you’re serious about finding great payments hardware to fit your business, speak to your payment processor and point-of-sale provider and see what recommendations they can offer.Of course, SwipeSum is happy to help as well. When you fill out our online consultation, we’ll not only recommend hardware for your business, but we’ll find a payments solution that will save you money every single month.

Taft Anderson

Taft Anderson is the former Product Marketing Manager of Swipesum. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School, Taft is a content and branding expert.

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