Best payment terminals & (credit) card readers. Compare payment processors for US businesses

*note: all percentages are the minimum rates estimates as they are not all standardised. Requesting quotes can give you different % offers.

Square payment terminal


Manufacturer + processor

All-in-one payment

Chip and PIN cards

Contactless cards

Mobile devices

Designed to work (even offline)

% 2.65

per creditcard transaction

Stripe terminal


Manufacturer + processor

Chip, swipe, and contactless payments

Ability to collect input on-screen

Plug-in, plus Stripe’s longest battery life

WiFi connectivity

High-definition display

% 2.7

per creditcard transaction

Helcim terminal


Manufacturer + processor

all on one device

No extra devices or connections needed

Built-in thermal receipt printer

Easy to set up, Easier to use

% 1.94

per creditcard transaction

Clover paytment terminal


Manufacturer + processor

Charges in an hour

Lasts up to 8 hours

Built in receipt printer and barcode scanner

5-inch hi-res antimicrobial touchscreen

Built-in fingerprint reader security

% 2.30

per creditcard transaction

Moneris Go Plus terminal


Payment Processor

Minimal setup time

User-friendly features

Stay up and running

24/7 live customer support

Start processing payments right out of the box

% 2.25

per creditcard transaction

Global payments terminal image

Global Payments

Payment Processor

Accept chip & PIN, or contactless payments

Print or email receipts quickly and easily

Connect to ethernet, WiFi and 4G

Mobile pay

POS solutions

% 1.50

per creditcard transaction

Ingenico image



Performance optimized at affordable price

Payment anywhere and anytime

All methods of payment accepted

Fast integrated printer

PAX technology terminal

PAX POS terminals


Powered by Android 10

Cortex A55, 1.6 GHz Octa-Core processor

4G + WiFi + Bluetooth

Contactless + Chip & PIN + Magstripe

Fast-speed printer

Worldline image


Boost performance and make sales easy

Accept local and international schemes

Large set of value-added services directly available on terminals

Facilitate self-checkout with eye-catching contactless area

% 2.70

per creditcard transaction

Card & payment terminal reader processing costs from POS systems

lightspeed logo

Lightspeed Payments - USA

Innovate faster

Stay on top of business performance

Gain valuable insights

Boost customer satisfaction

Keep staff happy

Simplify workflows

% 2.6

per creditcard transaction

Payment terminal and card reader cost comparison

Card machines payment processors – Canada Card reader cost Payment terminal cost Payment Fees cost – credit cards
Square $69 $349 2.65%
Clover $49 $599 2.30%
Stripe $79 $299 2.70%
Global Payments na na 1.50%
Moneris na na 1.56%
Helcim $139 $429 1.73%
Worldline na na 2.70%
PAX na na na
Ingenico na na na

Payment terminals and card readers in the US typically work by utilizing a combination of hardware and software to facilitate transactions between merchants and customers. Here’s a general overview of how they work:

  1. Card Swiping/Insertion: When a customer is ready to make a purchase, they either swipe their card or insert it into the card reader, depending on the type of card (magnetic stripe or chip card).
  2. Data Transmission: The card reader reads the information stored on the magnetic stripe or chip of the card. This information typically includes the card number, expiration date, and other relevant details.
  3. Encryption: The card reader encrypts the data to ensure its security during transmission. This encryption helps protect sensitive cardholder information from being intercepted or stolen by unauthorized parties.
  4. Authorization Request: Once the card information is securely transmitted, the payment terminal sends an authorization request to the card issuer (e.g., bank or financial institution) through the payment network (e.g., Visa, Mastercard, American Express).
  5. Authorization Response: The card issuer receives the authorization request, verifies the card details, and checks the cardholder’s account for available funds or credit limit. Based on this information, the issuer sends an authorization response back to the payment terminal.
  6. Transaction Approval/Decline: Upon receiving the authorization response, the payment terminal either approves or declines the transaction based on the issuer’s decision. If approved, the terminal prints a receipt for the customer to sign (if required) and completes the transaction.
  7. Settlement: At the end of the day, the merchant settles their transactions with their acquiring bank. The funds from approved transactions are transferred from the cardholder’s account to the merchant’s account, typically within a few business days.
  8. End of Day Procedures: Merchants usually perform end-of-day procedures on their payment terminals to reconcile transactions, print reports, and ensure that all transactions are properly accounted for.

It’s important to note that with the introduction of contactless payment methods like NFC (Near Field Communication) and mobile wallets (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay), the process may vary slightly, but the underlying principles remain largely the same. Additionally, advancements in technology and security measures continue to evolve the payment terminal landscape.