Free equipment, free credit card processing terminals! An online search for merchant accounts, credit card processing or credit card terminals and printers creates a brouhaha of results such as these.
So is this a good thing?
A word or two - about credit card processing "equipment".
A free standard credit card terminal and/or credit card imprinter, software or some lower end free solutions are fine for newly processing or low volume merchants. Understand that free is a relative term however, and accepting these programs ties you to the loaning merchant account provider and payment processor for the length of use. Usually a few additional "conditions" in the paperwork. Might work.
Keep in mind however, that in the overall equation of credit card processing - the free equipment offer is a small component - while the merchant account itself - pricing, fees, how the application is processed and set up - is what largely determines a merchants monthly costs to process sales via credit cards.
Yes XBS has free equipment programs - but free equipment doesn't meet the needs of every business -not by any stretch of the imagination.
Credit card processing equipment has changed radically with technological advances over the past 40 years, - think about it.
When I worked my way through college as a waitress and bartender I used a credit card imprinter for restaurant charges. Walked around with a wad of credit card receipts in my apron (if any went lost there went the merchants sale and money!) to be accounted for, tallied and I suppose - literally mailed out to the payment processor in the morning by the bookkeeper - talk about labor intensive! and secure? ah, not. I'll bet those funds didn't hit the business bank account for a good 7-10 business days - what a drag.
Compare that to today's equipment and security requirements (PCI DSS) by card associations- processing credit card transactions in real time with secure data encryption methods, via the internet, phone lines or cell phone service. Funding in 24-72 hrs depending on your processor. Transaction authorizations in seconds (they used to expect merchants and their employees to pour through outdated books of bad cards - get real!).
There is immeasurable value in these advances - lower costs - processing and labor, increased cash flow, integration with additional POS equipment and accounting systems. Heady stuff! In addition to all the benefits - like most technological advances (think computers) - costs are not as high for these products as they once were. Investing in state-of-the-art credit card processing equipment for a busy, viable, growing business - is a worthwhile endeavor.
Watch out for proprietary equipment! Some equipment and solutions only work with specific processors. Today's equipment should be reprogrammable so that should you need or want to - you can change payment processors.
Again, like computers, credit card processing terminals have operating systems (progressive versions) and a certain amount of memory. Two terminals can appear to be the same when in reality they have different performance, function and memory capability, a factor that can influence some of the wildly varied pricing you may see across the internet - vendor by vendor.
Due diligence please to equipment! Today's equipment costs, like the capital investments we make in computers and other hardware's and their operating systems, typically create tomorrows savings, efficiency's and streamlined processes.
What is important, is that you get the best value for your business. That may or may not be, free credit card processing equipment.