If you expect to make a success of your retail business, you had better be willing to accept credit cards. Plastic is everywhere these days (and been so for at least 20 years now) - credit cards, debit cards, you name it. You just can't say that you don't accept plastic and expect to be taken seriously as a retail business anymore. If you are thinking of getting your business ready for plastic, or if you are thinking of upgrading your old machines with something more up-to-date, you need a little primer on what the market is like in the credit card processing terminal. Basically, you have your pick of three kinds of machine - the conventional wired kind, the wireless kind, and the mystifying new development, the virtual credit card processing terminal.

The conventional wired terminal is still the most common one you'll find anywhere. These have to be plugged into a phone line so that they can make contact with a bank or credit card institution. They have little printers inside, and they'll print out your receipts right away. You have your pick of different display sizes and keypad types too. Your most common kind has a display that can put out 50 characters at a time. You can make sure you get a model with backlighting to help in dimly-lit store conditions. A wireless credit card terminal of course does not need to be plugged into a phone line. If you ever asked to have a phone bill or other bill picked up from your home, you probably saw someone walk up with one of these devices attached to their belts. It doesn't have to be plugged in anywhere - it has its own power, and it can connect through its built-in cell phone connection to the bank or credit card merchant institution. These are very useful for semipermanent payment centers such as booths at fairs or exhibitions. Some models don't have a cell phone connection; they connect by internal WiFi. Depending on what suits your needs, you can have your pick of form and function.

The virtual credit card processing terminal is slightly different. Most businesses, if not every one of them today does a good deal of its selling online through a commercial website. Small businesses that find it hard to compete with bigger rivals on sheer presence or store size can often make gains in dynamic online presence. A virtual credit card terminal is a secure webpage on a website where a customer can enter their credit card information and process the sale themselves. With one of these, you have no need to call up the company's toll-free number and read your credit card number out to the representative. Whatever product you buy to have this functionality programmed into your website, make sure that it's secure so that they can make a mention of it in your advertising.