Upfront costs for accepting card payments can add up and it can be tempting to cut corners on a credit card reader. Auction sites such as ebay frequently list used terminals, some for very low prices. For instance, I searched today and found a second hand credit card reader starting at £0.99 (+ £5 shipping). Even new terminals were available ‘Buy Now’ for around £20.
It can be tempting to purchase a cheap terminal rather than go through your merchant services provider. However, it is a bit of a minefield and there are certainly a number of things you should be aware of.
1. PCI Compliance
The PCI is an international security standards council. It was founded by card payment processors such as VISA and Mastercard to ensure secure card payments. Merchants who offer card payments are responsible for protecting cardholder data. No sensitive cardholder data should be stored and credit card readers have to meet current standards.
If cardholder data is stolen and its your fault you could be subject to fines, penalties and possibly be unable to accept card payments in the future. Many machines which have been manufactured in the past 10 years are no longer compliant with the standards and using them could leave you open to penalties if anything goes wrong (for instance if a card machine is hacked or stolen).
2. Incompatibility with Merchant Acquiring Bank
The terminal has to be able to work with the software your merchant acquiring bank uses so data can be smoothly passed back and forth between the two. If the terminal is old or unsupported by your bank it won’t work. This problem can be overcome by requesting an approved terminals list from your merchant services provider and ensuring the terminal in question is approved.
3. Terminal May Have Been Hacked
To the average person it is very hard to tell if a terminal has been hacked and malicious hardware of software installed. If the terminal does contain malicious elements thieves can harvest card details from the terminal. This can be done from a remote location without you being aware. In the past whole shipments of new machines have been affected resulting in millions of pounds being defrauded from customers.
4. Terminal May be Broken
Like with any second hand items the credit card reader may be in a state of disrepair. You might have problems printing receipts, buttons may be broken, the electronics may be faulty. Even if the machine appears to work you may soon discover the fault and then its too late.
5. Terminal May Be Worn Out
Some terminals experience heavy use. You could get a terminal that has reached the end of its natural life. Buttons could be worn, it looks tatty and keeps breaking. Do you really want these problems with a terminal? Even if it works a tatty looking terminal send the wrong signals about your business.
We appreciate that our readers want the best deals on their credit card readers and we want to help you achieve that. By all means shop around for payment terminals and don’t necessarily go with your merchant services provider. Take precautions though and above all make sure sure you get a terminal you can trust.
If you do need a credit card reader whether that be a mobile card machine, portable or countertop it is worth requesting a quote from our partner, they currently offer great prices, just click the link at the top of the page, complete the form and someone will be in touch shortly.