Should you buy a used or refurbished credit card terminal? In many instances merchants will seek to buy credit card machines on eBay or Craigslist instead of investing in a new model. In other cases websites will sell refurbished models for a lower price than a new machine, which is ordinarily fairly expensive. The best credit card terminals are designed to operate for years in heavy-duty environments like restaurant kitchens, checkout lines, shops, and warehouses. Terminals have to stand up to temperature extremes, minor spills, dust, dirt, and abuse. When you buy a refurbished or used machine, you have no idea about the environment to which it has been exposed.
While it is possible to reprogram many credit card devices to work with your current credit card processing company, you should still ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the terminal work with your processor? Most credit card processing companies will support a specific group of terminals, and may not be able to program or troubleshoot a machine that is not part of that group. For security purposes, a processor may not accept any machine model that might put them (or you) at risk of a data breach.
- Can you add peripherals like PIN pads or external printers? Can you upgrade it to accept Smart Cards? Will it work with your POS system?
- Does it come with a warranty? A “gently used” machine from your processor could be a good deal if there is support for performance issues, but an “as-is” model sold by an individual may obligate you to get a new device if the machine breaks.
- Does the terminal really work? A “high mileage” credit card machine may be broken, have bad keys, display issues, or might have intermittent errors. Can you return it if it breaks or is too old to accept security updates?
- Is the device PCI-DSS Compliant? Some old machines are on the market because business owners had to get new equipment in order to comply with PCI-DSS regulations, which are outlined by credit card companies. If a machine is out of compliance and can’t be upgraded, no processor will reprogram it or allow it to be used, as it poses a major security risk. Alternatively, auctioneers and liquidators of shuttered businesses may have no idea that they are selling “blacklisted” machines with no real value. Any machine or PIN Pad you use must meet minimum PCI compliance standards or you could face fees and fines.
- Has the device been modified? You may be getting a cheap machine from a data thief who has altered the terminal to steal credit card numbers from your customers. Modified terminal fraud even happens to large retailers. Remember, if your used machine is breached by hackers or thieves, your contract with the credit card companies obligates you to pay all costs involved, which could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
If you are looking for used or refurbished card processing equipment, you should consider the lifetime costs involved. If your machine breaks, how much time is it going to take to be repaired? How many sales will you lose? How many hours will you waste trying to get the machine fixed? Often these costs totally negate the “bargain” price of a used terminal, and an old credit card machine may have already passed the end of its expected service life.
At Capital Processing Network, we have an “equipment for life” program that includes troubleshooting, repairs, and reprogramming. Additionally, if your terminal goes out of compliance, we will replace it with one that meets current PCI-DSS standards. Furthermore, or terminals come with 24/7 US-based service and technical support, so if you have any issues with your card processing equipment we can resolve them right away. Used or refurbished terminals (and even some new ones) bought online don’t generally come with this level of service. At Capital Processing Network, we offer low cost credit card processing services and a variety of terminals, PIN pads, and peripherals which can give you a great alternative to “buying used.”