When signing up for a merchant account, a common merchant concern is whether or not they will need a credit card terminal or which terminal is the best solution for their business. With so many terminals available on the market, it can sometimes be confusing, but finding the right one is actually easy and requires a simple evaluation of your business needs.

The obvious question that is first asked is if the merchant will need a credit card terminal. Businesses such as retail shops, restaurants or storefronts that require face to face contact with customers most often require a terminal. Transactions where the credit card is physically present more than 50% of the time means a credit card terminal is needed to process the transactions.

Some card not present transactions also use a credit card terminal. Some possible cases include merchants who take mail orders or Internet orders and just type the credit card numbers and expiration dates into the terminal by using the keypad. Merchant account providers will usually advise online businesses to use software or Internet programs, though some merchants still choose to use a terminal.

After deciding if you need a terminal, you should research what types of terminals are available and make the most sense for your business. Identify how many merchant accounts you need to set up. If you need more than one merchant account, there are terminals that can contain as many as 9 merchant accounts. Terminals that can accommodate this are a great solution for multiple businesses sharing one terminal.

Most credit card terminals use a phone line to dial out each transaction and can take as much as 15 seconds to process. If the line used by the terminal to dial through is shared with other devices like a fax machine or modem. Most newer terminals use IP connections instead of traditional phone lines. This type of terminal is the best option if your business has DSL or high-speed internet access, it will help you cut cost and save money on additional phone lines as well as decrease your transaction times to about 2-3 seconds.

Wireless terminals are suggested terminals where a phone line or Internet connection is not available. Wireless terminals communicate wirelessly like cell phones or PDAs and don't require to be plugged in through a phone line or Internet connection, while allowing merchants to process transactions anywhere at any time. Wireless terminals are great solutions for mobile and service businesses, making it easy for merchants to accept credit cards on location, reduce fraud and processing rates by swiping cards and lower the need to carry cash.

If you know you will need to accept ATM cards through your terminal, then you will also need a PIN pad. PIN pads let customers pay for goods and services using their ATM cards. Merchants can still accept debit cards if they don't have a PIN pad, but they will need to process the transactions as check cards.