Although both enable merchants to accept various forms of payments besides cash, credit card terminals and point of sale (POS) systems have their differences. Consequently, merchants should assess their organizations' needs and choose the solution best aligned with their business model. Essentially, it’s not that a terminal is better than a POS system, or vice versa, it’s that one is likely better for your business.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two:
Credit Card Terminals
Credit card terminals are payment gateways that can process credit, debit, gift, and loyalty cards, as well as checks, from consumers. These are smaller, hand-held machines that are typically lightweight and easy to use, with a screen, keypad, magnetic stripe reader, EMV-chip reader, and signature pen. Many also include a printer for receipts. However, credit card terminals aren’t all the same—their design and features vary depending on the brand and manufacturer.
POS systems, on the other hand, possess the same capabilities as credit card terminals, but typically also include additional components.
For example, POS system Clover Station—provided to merchants by payment solutions company First Data and its partners—accepts all card types and cash, prints receipts, tracks inventory and employee activity, and runs real-time reports for merchants.
These solutions are more ideal for those who own retail stores and supermarkets—industries in which you don’t accept payments from customers on-the-go. This is because POS systems aren’t easily transportable. They include keypads, magnetic stripe and EMV-chip readers, similar to terminals, as well as larger screens, printers, and a cash drawer.
Which solution is right for your business?
The main consideration when deciding which payment solution is more advantageous for your business is: Where do you accept payments from customers? As aforementioned, companies that accept payments in one location, such as a clothing store or restaurant, may opt for a POS system. But a contractor, for instance, may prefer a credit card terminal, because he or she travels from client to client, and needs a payment solution that can tag along, without a hassle.
Whichever solution you choose, be sure to keep in mind some of the key features every type credit card reader should have.