How to Choose the Best POS System for a Small Business

Defining “small business” isn’t an exact science. You might think your enterprise is small because you have tiny premises, or maybe you’re operating out of your bedroom, or your car. You might gauge your size by the number (or lack) of employees. From a financial perspective, your business size is measured by the volume of your gross income or the number of transactions. For example, credit card networks divide businesses into four levels, according to their annual card activity. The four levels are:

  • More than 6 million transactions a year – Level 1
  • 1 million to 6 million transactions a year – Level 2
  • 20,000 to 1 million transactions a year – Level 3
  • Less than 20,000 transactions a year – Level 4

Each level requires different compliance measures, especially in accordance to PCI. Your immediate concern is more focused on getting the right merchant account, one that has great service and minimal costs.

What is Included?

An important way to save money and get the best service is to find out what services are included at no extra cost with your account. Any brick-and-mortar business will need some kind of POS terminal (Point of Sale). This could be a hard-wired physical card reader, a mobile card reader, an online checkout portal, or a mobile app. Each option has its own pros and cons. Electronic card readers – for example – are ideal businesses that conduct all or almost all of their business face-to-face at their business location.

However, this is a separate piece of equipment that you may have to purchase, depending upon which merchant account provider you choose, and it also has to be programmed for each card network (Visa, Amex, MasterCard etc.). Accordingly, you may want to try to see if you can find a merchant account provider that offers you the hardware and programing for free. Another option is to use mobile apps, which are often free. They work out even cheaper than portable keypads, because you don’t need a separate device. Just download the app onto your existing mobile phone or tablet. It’s less gear to carry around as well.

On the other hand, if any of your sales are made online, then a better option may be an online payment gateway combined with a virtual terminal.  This gives you the best of both worlds, because your customers can pay you online, while your virtual terminal will allow you to accept credit cards face-to-face, over the phone, or by mail using a browser on any Internet-connected device.

For more information on how to choose the best Point-of-Sale system for your small business, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to


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