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What to know about Wireless Credit Card Processing

Wireless Credit Card Processing is a relatively new service that will allow a person to process credit cards electronically virtually anywhere. Wireless credit card processing is a very desirable system, because it allows businesses to process transactions from mobile locations quickly, efficiently and professionally.

Wireless credit card processing is most often used by businesses that operate mainly in a mobile environment. These businesses include mobile utility repair service businesses, locksmiths, mobile windshield repair and others. There are even some upscale restaurants that are using wireless processing equipment for the security of their credit card paying customers.

While wireless processing is a very good system for many companies, it is not for all mobile businesses. There are some drawbacks to wireless processing that many potential wireless users should be aware of before they venture into wireless processing.

First: Wireless processing equipment is expensive.
There's no way to get around this. Wireless credit card machines are the most advanced processing terminals available. You get what you pay for! You may be able to get a lease on a wireless terminal, but in the end you will pay significantly more than purchasing the terminal outright. For a wireless terminal with a printer, expect to pay at least $600 for a new terminal, and $500 for a refurbished terminal. If you find yourself about to purchase a terminal that is much cheaper than any others you find, it is most likely outdated equipment that uses outdated cellular networks. In other words, IT'S A SCAM, and you are about to buy a really expensive paperweight.

Second: Wireless processing comes with extra fees.
Just like a cell phone, wireless credit card machines operate on cellular networks. You have to pay for this cellular service in addition to the high cost of equipment. Luckily wireless fees for processing are nowhere near what they are for cell phones. Expect to pay $20 - $30 per month for a wireless service fee.

Third: Wireless Credit Card Machines are subject to cellular coverage blackouts.
I know what you're thinking. My cell phone works almost everywhere, so my wireless credit card machine will too. Sadly this is nowhere near the case. Wireless credit card processing uses a business cellular network called the Motient or Mobitex network. Your cell phone uses a networks called CDMA or TDMA(GSM) networks. The coverage that your cell phone gets is much greater than the wireless processing network. There are at least five states with no coverage for wireless processing at all!

wireless credit card processing coverage

Fourth: You cannot process checks or debit transactions over a wireless network.
Currently due to federal regulations, it is impossible to process debit transaction, or electronic checks over a wireless network. This is something that will probably end up being allowed in the future, but as of now there's isn't sufficient security or encryption to process these transactions wireless.

What it comes down to, is whether your business does a sufficient volume of 'credit card' transactions and your area is within the Mobitex or Motient coverage area, to warrant the extra costs of a wireless processing solution. There are other solutions available for mobile businesses with lower volume or in no coverage areas that are better suited for these businesses.

Many companies offer outdated wireless terminals for sale on ebay or through special offers. They are selling these terminals to rip off the unknowing customer. These discount terminals use a wireless network called the CDPD network. This network is being abandoned as a processing network rendering these machines useless for wireless processing. Make sure the terminal you are buying is not a CDPD terminal. If the seller wont disclose, doesn't know which network the machine operated on, or tells you that the terminal will still work, walk away. Its not worth loosing the money over.

Also in the next year, the TDMA and CDMA networks are scheduled to be opening up to wireless credit card processing. There are already several terminals designed to operate on these networks that are undergoing their final certification. These networks will open up most of the US to wireless processing even in areas that were restricted in cellular coverage before.

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