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What Payment Processing Hardware Do You Need?

Choosing a payment processing software can be hard enough on its own, but what about the actual hardware that your clients are going to interact with? What features should you look for, and what pieces do you need to put together the payments puzzle? While it can sound complicated, selecting credit card processing hardware for your business isn’t difficult once you understand the key components. Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing Payment Processing Hardware 

The term “hardware” can refer to internal components or external components, but when talking about payment processing, it usually refers to the latter. For instance, a credit card swipe machine is a type of payment processing hardware. Other examples of hardware you may need to include a chip reader or near field communication (NFC) system. Oftentimes, a swipe, chip reader, and NFC system are combined into a single terminal.

While credit card processing hardware often puts the spotlight on the card reader, there are other pieces of hardware your business may need to complete the picture. For instance, you might need a barcode scanner or a monitor for the checkout process. With that in mind, let’s walk through some integral components you can choose from when designing your checkout experience. 

Payment Terminals

As a business, there are three major ways you can accept payments, each with its own pros and cons. Here’s an overview of each to help you decide. 

Credit Card Machine

Credit card machines remain the most popular type of credit card processing hardware and they’re capable of processing credit cards, debit cards, and EBT payments. Most can also handle contactless payments using NFC, which allows customers to hold their smartphone or eligible card close to the reader to instantly pay. 

These machines are self-contained and you see them at most major retailers. With a small screen to display the total and ask for a signature when needed, these terminals are reliable, affordable, and secure. Still, some retailers prefer a solution with more bells and whistles, so they may consider one of the following. 

Mobile Payment System

A mobile payment system allows a business to accept payment without asking customers to walk up to a checkout counter. This system was pioneered by Apple stores, where employees carry a card reader with them so customers don’t have to wait in line. Now, this technique is used by delivery and service companies, like plumbers and cleaners, to accept payment on the spot. 

Most mobile systems offer the flexibility of being placed on a counter like a credit card machine with the option to pick it up and bring it to the customer when needed. However, the biggest downside is that these machines rely on third-party hardware, such as a smartphone. Whereas a credit card machine is self-contained, these systems are simply card readers that need to be attached to a phone or tablet. 

With that said, these solutions can look very modern and they’re inexpensive if you have a smart device available for this purpose. They’re great for small businesses and mobile businesses that demand mobility, but if you tend to accept payments in one place, a point-of-sale system might be the better option thanks to its advanced features. 

Point-of-Sale (POS) System

A point-of-sale (POS) system is considered the best option for modern businesses thanks to integrating a chip reader, swiper, and contactless options along with a sleek design, high-definition screen, a receipt printer, and all of the back-end capabilities you need to process payments. Whereas a credit card machine needs to be connected to your system to add up prices and track sales, a point-of-sale system tries to do it all.

If you like the idea of having a “hub” for inventory, customer management, loyalty programs, gift cards, and so on, you need a point-of-sale system. Aside from taking payments like a credit card machine, a POS will truly act as an integral part of running your business, even when taking cash payments and gift cards. 

Should You Upgrade Your Hardware?

If you’re thinking about improving the guest checkout experience, new credit card processing hardware might be near the top of your list, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you plan to change. Aside from the hardware, the payment processor behind your business can also have a lot to do with a slow, clunky, or expensive checkout experience. At LOLA POS, we seek to offer the latest technology and features while keeping service fees low for small businesses.

Upgrading your hardware may sound appealing, but don’t let hardware distract you from high fees and bad service. As a business, it’s important that you choose a processor with the service and software you need to succeed before putting money into new hardware. If you have questions about how we can help support and grow your business, reach out to our team. 


LOLA POS. (LOLA POS) is a merchant advocacy group dedicated to reducing or eliminating the unnecessary fees associated with accepting credit card payments. Since 2004, LOLA POS’s payment processing solutions have been delivering tailored solutions, best-in-class customer service, and high-quality service offerings for businesses across multiple industries. Whether it’s high-risk or low-risk, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, LOLA POS will create the best processing experience for your company.

For more information, visit us at our www.lolapos.com or call (866) 509-7199.

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