You Don't Need a Terminal To Swipe Credit Cards
If you want to get the cheapest rates on card processing, then you probably already know that in-person transactions are the key to savings. When cards are swiped through terminals, and a signature is collected, you can get the lowest possible rate on credit cards compared to keyed transactions or e-commerce orders. This is because "card not present" transactions carry a certain amount of risk, given that the card number may have been stolen and could be in the hands of international criminals. While there is a certain amount of fraud perpetrated by counterfeiters and crime rings who have legitimate looking cards or stolen plastic, the risk factor is so much lower that your rate is correspondingly decreased.
Until fairly recently, you needed a physical credit card terminal in order to swipe cards, but now there are a couple of options. For the brick-and-mortar style shop, USB readers can be connected to virtual terminal software. It should be noted that you should upgrade to newer encrypted USB readers as the old ones were less secure and are therefore easier to hack. For people who have smartphones, the choices are even greater, and you can often get free "dongles" which plug into the headphone jack of the device. If you look at your agreement, you will note once again that swiped transactions, when successful, give you lower rates than card numbers which are typed in manually. Some of the newer dongles have a higher success rate than the original versions, so you should not be turned off by bad experiences in the past. .
You can also get good readers that work quite nicely with established merchant accounts. This is where the savings are, and unless you plan to stay in the micro-business mode, selling your wares at bake sales and flea markets for pennies while your colleagues get rich, you will want to graduate to merchant services where the action is. Cash is dying, and cards are the wave of the future, and you can't take the cards without some kind of reading device. In fact, newer EMV-capable readers may one day secure your online shopping experience with customer-side chip-and-PIN devices.
Vending Machine Readers
Vending machines have become popular places for credit card integration, and many devices out there include swipers, contactless features, and other ways to take payments from people who apparently are no longer able to carry loose change or wrinkly dollar bills around on their persons. The vending machine credit card processing trade is doing a brisk business, despite the fact that interchange fees and transaction costs may be bumping up the price of items for the people who still make their purchases with cold hard cash. Brands like ViVOpay Vend and related vendors are all too happy to provide people with these cash-substituting devices, and if you are not able to jump on the vending machine phenomenon you might be stuck with a warehouse full of obsolete refrigerators. This can indeed be unfortunate as many devices can stay in operation for thirty years or more, but are not future-proof enough to take the magnetic stripe.