Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

November 2nd, 2006 by Jamie Estep

How long does a credit card machine last?

Filed in: Credit Card Equipment | 6 comments

I sell several thousand credit card machines through the company website each month, and one of the most common questions is regarding the warranty on a credit card machine, and how long will a terminal last. Verifone and Hypercom offer 5 Year terminal warranties (1 year on the printer) and Lipman offers a 1 year warranty on their terminals.

Broken Credit Card TerminalHow long should a credit card terminal last?

A warranty for a credit card terminal will cover any manufacturer defects with the terminal. Luckily, 99% of the time any defects are found within a week or two of using a terminal, as something that is going to fail is almost always going to fail early on. Thanks to the lack of advanced electronics in most credit card terminals, they are extremely reliable and will operate for many years under normal conditions.There are many terminals in operation today that are over 20 years old. Early Tranz and Zon series terminals, which were originally manufactured in the early 80’s are still working strongly, and are probably the most reliable terminal that have ever been made.

As long as any manufacturer defects are discovered early on, the terminal itself can fairly easily last 6 years or more. The expected life on a credit card terminal from the manufacturer is normally about 100,000 hours. With less than 10,000 hours in a year, the lifespan of a terminal should be around 10 years. The main reason that terminals don’t last this long, is that they are heavily used, dropped, or abused which reduces their life. Things like spilling a soda on the terminal, or dropping it on the floor will almost always drastically reduce the life of a terminal, if it doesn’t break it completely.

Maximizing the life or your terminal:
For a short period of time, liquids or physical shock are the most damaging things to a credit card machine. Looking at a terminal over time, heat, dirt and debris will reduce the overall life of your terminal.

Keep the terminal clean and avoid spilling food and especially liquids on it. Try to keep it in an area where there is adequate airflow, and someone where it wont get bumped or dropped.

Heat kills electronic equipment, and some of the components in a terminal can get fairly warm. Over time this degrades the internal components of the terminal, and will reduce the overall lifespan of the electronics. Try not to keep the AC adapter directly next to the terminal as it is probably the hottest part of the terminal. Also, try not to put the terminal in the exhaust path of a cash register or computer as these can produce a lot of heat that gets blown directly into the terminal.

If you do spill a liquid on it, immediately unplug it and call you processor for cleaning instructions. Normally drying it out and cleaning some of the parts with a mild isopropyl alcohol and water solution will fix it, but contact you provider or you may void your warranty or break your terminal by improperly cleaning it. Also, some terminals have intrusion prevention devices that will cause your terminal to be inoperable if it is opened, so don’t actually disassemble your terminal. The bottom line is that if you spill something on it, unplug it and call your processor’s technical department.

6 Responses to “How long does a credit card machine last?”

  1. cindy November 13, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    I have an old zon jr xL and it’s seems to want to retire now : (
    75% of the time lately it says “lost communication with host” or something like that. I was told it’s modem is probably worn out because it’s sharing a dsl line with my computer. They (merchant services) said I would need a new terminal that is made for a dsl line and they are so expensive. Have you heard of that?
    Thank you for any help!

  2. jestep November 13, 2006 at 5:13 pm


    If you have a phone line you can still use a standard terminal. The Zon\’s are indeed getting very old, and at some point they need to be retired.

    I\’ve never heard of a problem with a terminal and a computer sharing a phone line for processing and DSL, but I guess it could be possible.

    If \’you\’ want to upgrade, you can switch to a ethernet capable terminal.You should still be able to use a dial terminal with your DSL line. Right now the only ethernet terminal that I recommend is the Verifone Omni 3750, with the Dual Comm module.

    You can check this terminal out on our website: Omni 3750. It\’s priced just a little above wholesale so you will know about the lowest you can spend on it. The dual comm module is another $75 – $100 and it will allow you to process over the ethernet connection. Otherwise if you still want to use a standard terminal, you can get an Omni 3730, a Nurit 2085, or a Hypercom T7 Plus, all of which are very reliable and good terminals, and are all much less than the Omni 3750.


  3. Keith January 16, 2007 at 1:58 am

    I am about to go with a Verifone 3740. But I am confused by the dual comm module mentioned and other blog posts. Is it possible that ALL 3740 and 3750 units have the dual comm module standard now, and the option is past history? There is no mention of it here:
    thanks for any guidance.

  4. jestep January 19, 2007 at 8:04 am

    As far as I know the omni’s come standard with the dial module only. You are able to order terminals with the dual comm pre-installed, but the dual comm versions are a bit more expensive.

  5. Jackie February 1, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I am looking at purchasing a Omni 3730 for our business. Does this terminal print a cash receipt if you press the 9 key like the Omni 3740 does?

  6. Jimmy Timmins December 16, 2009 at 11:23 am

    To help the card reader last longer there are cleaning cards for cleaning the card readers magnetic heads available through a number of companies. Since this product is recommended by most credit card manufactures it is the safest means of cleaning the reader without having to worry about the warranty.