As a merchant, you’re often inundated with phone calls from solicitors offering you “great” deals on your monthly processing costs, “guaranteed” low rates, and of course, the “free” credit card terminal. While these offers certainly sound appealing, there are two major issues to watch out for before you agree to any offer regarding your merchant services.

Whether it’s a monthly fee built into your costs or just higher rates in general, many companies will not provide you with a brand new terminal without making up for its cost in many other ways. Even “low” processing rates are often recouped with higher transaction fees, monthly fees, annual fees, semiannual fees, etc.  When you notice these additional fees and attempt to switch or cancel your account with that merchant services company, you may also be hit with expensive termination fees.

Even if your terminal is 100% free-of-charge with no strings attached, there’s a chance that your machine may be “end-of-life’ or unable to accept EMV chip cards. Any terminal that is not EMV capable could leave you vulnerable to fraud or fines, while an end-of-life terminal is one that is no longer receiving any support from the manufacturer. In either case, a new terminal will be needed.

While the cost of a new EMV terminal, POS system, or mobile card reader may seem daunting at first, many affordable options exist. In the end, the cost of most “free” credit card terminals is much higher than it would be to purchase a new one on your own.