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5 Top Options for a Small Business Credit Card Terminal

As a small business owner, you know the payment processing shuffle all too well. Customers want convenience. You want reliability without costs spiraling out of control. 

Choosing the right credit card terminal can help you run your business more efficiently, speed up transactions, and keep customers happy. The wrong terminal, on the other hand, can lead to headaches — from clunky hardware to sky-high processing rates. So, how can you find the right terminal for your store?

This post walks through five top options for credit card terminals for small businesses. We’ll discuss features and pricing for each, giving you everything you need to choose the right terminal for your store. 

Investing in a Credit Card Terminal: Your Options 

Accepting credit card payments is crucial for nearly all small businesses today. But how do you find the right credit card terminal to invest in? Here are some options to consider:

  • Hardware Payment Terminals: These traditional countertop terminals physically accept chip, swipe, and contactless payments. They integrate with payment processors and often sync with point of sale (POS) systems.
  • Virtual Terminals: These software-based terminals allow businesses to manually enter credit card information through a web-based dashboard connected to a payment processor. 
  • Mobile Card Readers: For solopreneurs or businesses on the go, mobile card readers plug into smart devices to accept payments anywhere.

Related Read: What Is a Point of Sale Transaction? [ANSWERED]

The right terminal depends on your business needs and how it integrates with your existing systems. When considering terminal options, consider features like:

  • Integration With Inventory/POS Software: Select a terminal that easily syncs transaction and payment data with your existing retail management platforms.
  • Mobile Payments: Opt for a wireless terminal with Bluetooth connectivity or a mobile card reader if you're on the go.
  • Contactless Payments: Contactless payments via NFC technology are essential as consumer preferences shift. You should also select a credit card terminal that accepts payments from mobile apps, like Apple Pay. 

You can streamline your payment processing with a reliable and secure terminal that fits your business needs. To save you time, we’ve researched and evaluated the best hardware and software options for you. Read our list of top options for small business credit card terminals. 

Retail POS System Buyers Guide

1. Square Terminal 

Best for: Solopreneurs

Square offers an integrated suite of payment, point of sale, payroll, and other business services tailored for solopreneurs and very small businesses. The company aims to provide easy-to-use tools to help entrepreneurs start, run, and grow their operations.

Square Terminal is Square's portable, all-in-one payment processing hardware. It allows business owners to accept in-person tap, dip, and swipe payments. Funds can be deposited as fast as the next business day.

Related Read: Lightspeed vs. Square: Which POS Is Best for Your Retail Store?

Square Terminal has a long battery life, offline mode, a built-in receipt printer, and encrypted end-to-end security. There are also no long-term contracts required with Square. These capabilities allow solopreneurs to take their point of sale anywhere needed.

For entrepreneurs running their own small businesses, Square Terminal, combined with Square's free POS software, provides an integrated system to take payments, track sales data, and manage inventory from a single device. 

Pricing: Square Terminal costs $299, plus 2.6% + 10 cents per in-person payment.

2. Clover Flex 

Best for: Service businesses

Clover provides an all-in-one point of sale solution tailored to restaurants, salons, retail shops, and professional service providers. Small business owners in these spaces can use Clover to manage transactions, inventory, staff, and more efficiently.

Clover Flex is Clover's handheld credit card terminal and payment processing hardware. It allows on-the-go business owners to accept chip, tap, and swipe payments for competitive rates. 

Clover Flex features a built-in printer, barcode scanner, camera, six-inch touchscreen, and long-lasting battery. The solution also offers end-to-end encrypted security. Clover Flex, combined with Clover's software, provides an integrated system for appointment-based service businesses to take payments, track sales data, manage inventory, manage staff schedules, and more.

Pricing: Clover’s Register package starts at $85 per month for 36 months. 

3. Toast Go 2 

Best for: Restaurants

Toast offers a point of sale and restaurant management solution tailored specifically for the food service industry. With their solution, Toast aims to help restaurant owners improve operations, increase sales, and better serve guests.

Toast Go 2 is Toast's newest credit card terminal. This mobile payment processing device allows servers, bartenders, hosts, managers, and chefs to accept chip, tap, and swipe payments tableside.

Toast Go 2 features contactless payments like Apple Pay, a durable restaurant-grade design, 24-hour battery life, and integration with Toast's point of sale system. These mobile capabilities allow staff to take orders and payments anywhere in your venue.

Toast Go 2, combined with Toast's specialized software, provides an integrated restaurant management platform for full-service restaurants, bars, cafes, and other food businesses.

Pricing: Toast’s Core package starts at $69 per month. 

4. Shopify POS 

Best for: E-commerce integrations

Shopify is an e-commerce and brick-and-mortar point of sale solution that offers payment processing and retail POS services tailored to omnichannel merchants. With Shopify, store owners can more easily manage in-person and online sales, inventory, and staff across channels.

Shopify offers a countertop payment processing system as a USB-C tablet. This hardware allows retailers to accept tap, chip, and swipe payments in-store for competitive rates.

Shopify POS features custom branding, customer-facing display mode, and integration with Shopify's POS app for unified online and offline data. This omnichannel approach helps retailers grow a single business across physical and digital channels.

For store owners with significant e-commerce operations, Shopify POS provides the integrated tools you need to manage product catalogs, inventory, staff, promotions, and analytics across channels.

Pricing: Shopify’s software solution starts at $79 per month for small businesses. Shopify’s countertop hardware kit starts at $459.

5. POS Nation 

Best for: Small businesses

POS Nation provides all-in-one point of sale solutions tailored for small business owners across industries like retail, convenience, liquor, grocery, and tobacco. Our goal is to help entrepreneurs and small businesses streamline complex operations without overspending on expensive bells and whistles.

POS Nation offers both software and commercial-grade hardware bundled together. Small business owners can choose from preconfigured bundles or customize their own system with accessories like barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, scales, pin pads, and more.

Business owners also get access to POS Nation's payment processing services to accept debit, credit, gift cards, and contactless payments integrated directly with their POS software and hardware. And they have one-of-a-kind customer support available 24/7 to assist with any questions or technical issues.

POS Nation is a top-tier choice for small business owners looking to modernize systems and improve customer checkout experiences. 

Pricing: See the price tag for your ideal solution using our transparent build and price tool

Choosing the Best Credit Card Terminal for Your Store 

A modern credit card terminal is an essential part of any small business. The options covered in this article — from hardware terminals to virtual solutions — offer retailers valuable features. However, identifying your best fit hinges on carefully evaluating your existing operations, point of sale needs, and future growth plans.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The terminal that works for one merchant may not suit another. If you're a small to mid-sized retailer seeking an all-in-one system with flexible payment processing, robust inventory management, and advanced customer loyalty capabilities, POS Nation might be the right fit. 

Ready to find the perfect retail management platform and credit card terminal for your evolving business? Check out the POS Nation Buyer’s Guide today to learn more about our software and hardware offerings.

Retail POS System Buyers Guide


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