The Difference Between a POS System and a Credit Card Machine

In modern trade, there are three main ways to receive money: paper, plastic, and digital. Technically, US currency isn’t paper at all, because it’s made from cotton, but generally, physical currency (notes and coins) are referred to as ‘paper money’. Plastic refers to credit cards and debit cards, while digital currency is passed through virtual money systems.

These include mobile money payments, website transactions, and trade in virtual worlds. These forms of currency can often be interchanged, and they are regulated by universally accepted exchange rates. A POS (Point of Sale) system is a framework that allows this interchange between the various forms of currency.

Swipe to pay

When people think of POS, they usually focus on credit card machines. These are the most common type of purchase terminal. A customer swipes their card through the machine and it reads data, transferring funds from your customer’s bank to yours. The credit card machine will then issue a duplicate receipt that the customer will have to sign, verifying the purchase.

Credit card machines can be stationary or portable. ATMs are a form of stationary card machine, though they accept both credit and debit cards. cash registers at grocery stores and retail premises are another type of stationary card machine, though they veer into POS territory. A POS is a card machine with additional features.

More than payment options

A POS is a payment system that includes additional function like receipting, money management, inventory, scanning bar codes, time tracking, analytics, and more. Physical POS like cashier tills even have an automated cash drawer for notes and coins. Your employees can use them to clock in or out of their shifts and tabulate their breaks.

Not all POS are physical. Websites and mobile apps contain virtual POS platforms. In your online shop, your virtual POS allows customers to input their card details, receive instant verification, pay for purchases, and transfer cash into your account. Your account will reflect the cash within one to three days, but you can review transactions at will.

A credit card machine has a very limited function. All it can do is enable a cash transfer and produce a receipt. It sometimes duplicates transactions and causes card errors. POS is more comprehensive. It has deeper encryption, wider data access, and better oversight. Select a merchant account processor that provides both these options as a single package.

For more information on the difference between POS systems and a credit card machine, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to

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