What is a credit card terminal ?

A credit card terminal is a device used by business owners in authenticating the credit cards used by customers in paying for services or goods. Although credit card terminals come in various forms, these small machines work have the same purpose: to protect the retailer who employs the credit cards. Since an expired, stolen or invalid credit card would not push through, the retailer would not receive a cent from the sale. Credit card terminals help in avoiding such instances, so that all purchases are paid for.

The most common credit card terminal being used these days is the small machine with a sliding slot and keypad. Once a customer gives his or her credit card as payment, the retailer would slide the card into the slot, which then records the data set on the card’s magnetic strip. Most machines require the retailers to type in the last digits of the customer’s credit card number for additional security.

The data gathered would be sent to a verification center, which gives a confirmation message back to the retailer. If the credit card is declined, the retailer may refuse the sale. However, if no problems were seen during the verification, the client can pay for the goods or services using the card.

Most credit card terminals, which act as a modem, are connected to a telephone line. Some terminals are wireless, which entails cellular communications or Wi-Fi to verify credit card information. For stores that allow clients to go through their own checkout procedures, data is transmitted automatically and reiterate the message from the verification center to the clients.

For businesses without phone lives or wireless access, the credit card terminals available do not permit instant verification. Instead, the machine only stores the received data from the swipe and then prints out a receipt for the customer. All credit card transactions within a day can be transmitted to the verification center in one batch.

A new type of credit card terminal is web-based, which you see in retail stores like amazon.com. These terminals verify credit card information instantly without having to swipe in the actual card.

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