FAQ / Knowledge Base -- Processing Equipment, Shopping Carts, Gateways & Software -- Free Credit Card Machines
Free Credit Card Machines
Gone are the days when a credit card machine cost a small fortune to purchase or rivaled a mortgage payment in monthly lease fees. Nowadays it seems like every merchant service provider is itching to give away free credit card machines. Most people see the word "Free" and can't help but to raise an eyebrow waiting for the catch.
So what's the catch with free credit card machines? Do merchant service providers really profit that much from every merchant account that they can give away a free credit card machine without worrying about losing money? In short, the answer is no, however, free credit card machines truly are a sweet deal if you get the right one; the right deal that is. Here's the story behind the free credit card machine offers that most merchant service providers offer.
No merchant account, no free credit card machine
Before a merchant service provider will give you a free credit card machine, you have to open a merchant account with them. Providers that give free equipment with a new merchant account are counting on the profits from the merchant account to offset the cost of the free machine.
It's free but you don't own it
Once you open a merchant account and are given the free credit card machine, the machine is not really yours, it's just yours to use while you process credit cards with the provider that gave you the machine. If you ever stop processing cards or you want to switch merchant account providers, you will have to return the terminal before the provider will close your merchant account. If you don't return the terminal the merchant account will remain open and monthly fees will continue to be charged.
If the machine isn't mine, who pays to fix it if it breaks?
It may seem sneaky that providers advertise machines for free that they're only letting you use while you process credit cards with them but further insight reveals some hidden benefits. Perhaps the biggest benefit is maintenance. If the terminal ever breaks you should be able to get a replacement for little or no cost. Most providers will just charge shipping fees to replace free terminals. However, there are always exceptions. Be sure to read the fine print in every free credit card machine offer before signing any agreements.
If the machine is free, does that mean supplies are too?
Offering free credit card machines is one marketing tool that's often separate from free supplies. There are providers that offer free machines and supplies but the offers are inconsistent and usually come around when business is slow. For most processing equipment, supplies aren't very expensive at all. Time spent looking for a merchant account provider that offers free supplies would probably be better spent looking for a provider with great rates, customer service and other vital attributes.
So are free credit card machine offers legit and are they worth it?
As long as you're careful to read the fine print in the merchant processing agreement, getting a free credit card machine with a new merchant account is definitely worth it. Especially with offers where you can close the merchant account at any time and simply return the terminal - there's virtually no downside.
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