What is merchant equipment?
Merchant equipment are the things some businesses need to accept credit card payments from their customers. When you buy something in a retail store you will swipe or insert your credit card into a piece of equipment on the counter. This is called a credit card terminal. And this is what most people think of when they say merchant equipment. Credit card terminals, for example, read the information on the credit card and send the information to the credit card network. When the credit card network responds back to the credit card terminal, an approval message tells the business that the purchase is complete and ok. We’ll go through each piece of merchant equipment and help you determine if you need it or not. Also we’ll give you tips on how to get the best deal.

What kind of business are you?

Farmer market, kiosk, arts & crafts or some other kind of mobile pop-up business? If so, you’ll want Mobile Payments.

Retail location such as a cafe, restaurant, car repair shop, grocery, retail store, barber shop and etc.? If you are, you’ll want a credit card terminal.

Mobile Payments Equipment

If you’re a business at a farmers market, at a kiosk in a mall, you won’t need a traditional and clunky credit card terminal. You can take payments on your iPhone or iPad with Square payments. But there is likely some other equipment that you’ll need.

Credit Card Reader

Credit card readers are small devices that plug into your iPad or smartphone and they’re very small and very cheap. You’ll pay under $20 for each one. They’re sometimes called dongles and they work with your payment processor. You can’t buy just any credit card reader. You’ll need to get the ones that are approved by your payment processor. It’s a good idea to have several of them in case you lose one. Here is a picture of what they look like.

Paper Receipt Printer

Paper receipt printers print out a receipt for your customer. When the purchase transaction has been approved the printer prints out a receipt. The receipt is on thermal paper and this means it uses heat to print the receipt and not ink. A receipt gives your customer a way for them to get a refund and customer want receipts. The paper receipt printers are not big and they are easy to setup with either a bluetooth wireless connection or a USB connection to your iPad or smartphone. They can be a little expensive and so you’ll want to check prices but we see them for around $200 to $400.


If you’re doing mobile payments you’ll want an iPad. The iPad accepts the credit credit card reader one of its slots on the side of the computer and you just insert the reader. You’ll swipe or insert the credit card into the reader and wait a few seconds. What’s great about using an iPad for mobile payments is that it gives a nice big screen to show the purchase transaction. This is much better than pulling a smartphone out of your pocket and huddling around a sweaty iPhone with your customer: Not a great image at all!

iPad Stand

An iPad Stand holds your iPad in an upright position and makes it look more like a cash register. You’ll be able to sit your iPad on a counter or flat area. The iPad stands are typically white in color or black and the look very clean. You’ll want to check prices and shop around a to get the best price.

iPad Cover

If you’re not planning to use an iPad stand then you may want an iPad cover. The cover protects your iPad so that you can handle it . There is a slot or a hole for the card reader to be inserted into the cover and this makes the cover useful if you have a very portable retail operation. If you’re selling from a latte cart, for example, you won’t have a room to put an iPad stand on a counter but you can keep your iPad in it’s cover behind the latte stand. It’s runs in price around $50 or so but be sure to check prices and shop around a little if you have time.

Credit Card Terminals

Stay tuned. We’re writing some huge content on credit card terminals.