When it comes to choosing a card machine for your business, you might think that it’s as simple as purchasing the first one you see. A card machine is a card machine, right? You just need a quick way to accept card payments from your customers.
The truth is that even when two card machines have the same functionality, they can offer vastly different experiences. The extra features on the device and the service provider selling it determine what kind of experience you’ll have.
But with so many options available, how do you find the best one for your business?
The answer: determining what you need most from your card machine and finding the one that fits your needs.
12 things you should consider before purchasing your card machine
Where you do business will influence the type of card machine you should purchase. Do you operate at markets or travel to customers to do business? You’ll want to look for a portable card machine that is battery-operated. This will allow you to accept payments wherever you do business.
If you manage a restaurant and customers pay at tables, you’ll also need a card machine that functions without needing to be plugged into the wall.
2. Payment types
“We need our card machine to support a wide range of payment options, including chip and PIN, contactless payments, and magnetic strip cards,” explains Reece Davies, founder of RWD Honeybees.
The rise of payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay has led to consumers having more choices regarding their preferred payment method. To ensure you can close every sale, it’s important that your card machine not only accepts physical card payments but can process cards loaded onto alternative digital payment tools.
3. Card acceptance
While most of your customers will use cards issued by Mastercard or Visa, you might have customers with cards issued by other card payment networks, such as American Express, Diners Club and SASSA.
If your business attracts customers who use these cards, you’ll want to find a card machine that processes them. You’ll also want to check if there are additional costs associated with processing these cards.
4. Payment speed
During your business’ peak hours, the last thing you need is a payment process slowing down your service. The longer customers have to wait, the more frustrated they’ll be.
Find a card machine that processes payments in seconds so you can swiftly move from one customer to the next. Your payment speed is often linked to the connectivity in your area.
“Fast connectivity is a must-have,” says Lynette Penny, the owner of Bangbang Vintage Market. “This is something we previously fought with, so it is a huge factor in choosing a card machine.”
There’s nothing worse than losing connectivity while you’re trying to process a sale. When searching for a card machine, look for one that connects to Wi-Fi but also comes with a dual SIM card.
Most areas have one dominant network provider. By using a card machine with a dual SIM card, you can connect to the strongest network in your area when Wi-Fi isn’t available.
There are two types of costs associated with purchasing a card machine. The first is the price of the hardware. This is a once-off cost you’ll pay to own the device. The second type is the fees you’ll pay continuously. These can include card processing fees, monthly fees and settlement fees. While each service provider will charge a processing or transaction fee, not all will charge a monthly or settlement fee. While the upfront cost might be small, make sure to check all the other costs that your potential service provider charges. Once you know what these are, you can determine if the monthly cost is suitable for your budget.
7. Rent vs own
While some service providers let you purchase a card machine to own, others offer a rental service. If you’re using the card machine in your business long-term, it might be more cost-effective for you to own the device. If you opt to rent instead of owning a card machine, check out what the contract involves and if there are any additional fees associated with it.
“We are a cashless business and always have been,” says Euan Johnstone, co-founder of Local Brewery. “Our card machine is literally our only income point. When we look for a card machine, we want something that is simple, user- and customer-friendly and can work anywhere at any time.”
Running a business is tough enough without spending hours learning a new tool. Find a card machine that’s simple to use and doesn’t require extensive training. The last thing you want is to slow down a queue because you’re struggling to figure out how your card machine works. =
9. Transaction history
How do you reconcile your payments? Do you wait for daily reports, or do you prefer to browse your transaction history?
Quick access to your transaction history can help you keep track of your payments and simplify your reconciliation process. While some card machines come with an on-screen transaction, others don’t offer that functionality, and instead, you’ll need to rely on daily reports.
Does your business still rely on printed receipts? You’ll need to find a card machine with a built-in printer. Alternatively, many card machines are now paperless and have a digital receipts feature, which allows you to send a receipt to customers via SMS or email.
Want to collect tips for the services you’ve rendered? Find a card machine that allows you to add tips to your transactions. This makes it less awkward to bring up tipping with your customers. Additionally, it also makes it easier for you to calculate what proportion of your income is from sales and what is from tips.
12. Customer support
Whether you need help setting up your card machine or you’re having trouble with a specific payment, you’ll most likely need assistance from your service provider at some point. Determine how they provide support and if that suits your needs.
Do you need to log a ticket through their website, or can you call or email and receive direct support? When you’re in a bind with your card machine, the type of support you receive could be the difference between losing out on a few days of sales or continuing in no time.
While you might be tempted to head out and buy the first machine you stumble upon, it’s best to do your research first.
Use this list of features as a checklist to determine whether the card machine you’re eyeing will be the right fit for your business needs.
Choosing the right card machine from the start will not only make it easier for you to accept payments, but it will also decrease the time you spend calculating your sales, help you offer your customers a better experience, and save you money in the long run.