The United States has become a plastic nation. Indeed, the plastic generation has proven to spend almost 20% more money than cash-bearers. Given our preference for plastic payment options, such as credit and debit cards, merchants have had to develop a certain amount of flexibility in order to successfully sell to a broader clientele. Well, the payment scheme continues to change, and in addition to standard card payment terminals, there’s also been a sharp rise in mobile card processing. So what are the differences between the two? Take a closer look at our comparison between traditional and mobile credit card processing.
No matter the type, credit card readers gather necessary cardholder data when a buyer swipes his or her card. These devices then transmit card data to a service provider for authorization and later give the funds to the merchant. Traditional terminals perform all of these functions through a stationary machine.
Traditional Credit Card Terminals
When utilizing a traditional machine, merchants must buy or lease the terminal itself. Along with this, a point-of-sale system will be required, which includes necessary hardware and operational software to make and process sales. A few ways these machines actually work is through a connection to the location’s landline phone or through a desktop computer’s internet connection. Once the terminal is operational, customers need only swipe their cards through the machine to make purchases.
The traditional credit card terminals have been around for quite some time and have a number of distinct advantages. For instance:
- Traditional terminals are capable of processing not only credit and debit cards but also gift cards and sometimes checks.
- Remote purchases are made possible by key entry, where an employee will type in card details manually for customers who call or send in orders. Additionally, businesses using this model are expanding their purchase options by providing the opportunity to buy online.
- Reasonable prices, as each swipe collects as little as .19% of the total purchase. However, traditional terminals also require month to month operating contracts.
Traditional processing methods are ideal in a few different circumstances. Users of traditional terminals may not have the need for the freedom of portability, as they run brick-and-mortar businesses like storefronts or restaurants and hardly work in the field. Additionally, not everyone is eager to switch to tech-savvy methods, as technology is hard to adjust to. However, those who DO require the convenience of portability, such as craft show merchants or landscapers welcome the likes of mobile credit card processing.
Mobile Credit Card Readers
Portable credit card readers allow merchants to connect a small, convenient battery-operate reader via USB to devices like smartphones or tablets. Upon purchasing the device and installing the corresponding Android app, these readers can store data, transmit payments and provide purchase receipts. They, too, have various additional advantages:
- These readers are 100% portable; as they are not tied to a landline and can go anywhere your mobile device goes. It’s ideal to have a separate cell phone just for business, however, to keep information separate and secure.
- Portable credit card readers work over a simple internet connection, such as Wi-Fi or 4G, however this does give rise to various threats—antivirus software is recommended.
- The costs of using them are minimal, as the swiping fee is as low as 2.75% and there are NO setup or monthly fees.
- On-the-go service workers, such window washers, can accept payments right away instead of billing customers.
Obviously payment needs vary by merchant, and those needs will dictate whether traditional or mobile card processing is the right fit. But it’s beneficial to have different processing options, as these business owners want to please their customers. So which is more important? The reliability of traditional methods or the convenience of mobile? You decide!