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FAQ For Buying An EMV Chip Card Terminal

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Tom DeSimone
Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, Tom has written for Merchant Maverick since 2013. His work is cited by publications including TechCrunch, Washington Business Journal, and Bank Advisor. He currently serves as Partner Marketing Manager, where he works to connect exceptional brands with the readers they serve best.
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    Taylor Bishop

    Thanks for this advice for getting an EMV chip card reader. It’s good to know that you should upgrade the terminal often. It sounds important to stay up to date on any changes with EMV especially if it can let you know if you need to update the terminal.

      Nathan Carter

      I like where you say that you technically don’t need to upgrade to EMV, but practically it’s a good idea. I am interested in wireless EMV, and what it can do for my wife’s business. She uses a system on her phone, so hopefully we can find something that works with that.

        Kim yang

        I need help I have questions, we have a pos provider as pc America they refer us to chip machine VX805 or PAXS300 but it’s not compatible with our merchant services provider which is first data. Would it still be hook up set up or it would not work..? our merchant referred us to another chip card machine but our pos provider not compatible with it. Not sure what I should do. Help…!!!


          There are Emv/NFC terminals and EMVNFC pin pads. Do I need a terminal and a pin pad that can accept EMV and NFC?

            Paula Corrigan

            Our credit card company/terminal is costing us a small fortune in fees. A lot of our customers do not know their PINs….causing us to back out and manually enter the credit card number. Is there a terminal out there that won’t force us to do this?

              Donna farkas

              I travel every weekend, so I need a wireless device. I bought a new chip machine, but now am told, there are no Wireless machines that take the chip card. Do you know if this is true?

                Chloe Bahal

                Hi Donna,

                You should be able to use Square, Clover Go, and PayPal Here. Their readers should have chip compatibility.

                  Laurel Kindley

                  I had a business that I closed in 2008. Have reopened and want to accept credit and debit cards in my shop. I still have the credit card machine that I used with my old business. Is it possible to have this same machine upgraded? I really don’t want to buy a new one if I can help it. If I can have it upgraded, do you know of a company that would do this?

                    Annette McDonald

                    I had an interesting experience upgrading to a EMV terminal. I needed a wireless one and was looking at the FD-410. I connected my current service provider on-line and the person on the chatline was only interested in switching me to the Clover portable unit which did not interest me at all. Later I contacted them by phone and they said that it would $950 for the FD-410 terminal and that they would not reprogram a terminal purchased from a third party. That was unsatisfactory, so I started shopping around.
                    I also called my bank because my current service provider is through my bank and I did not want to damage my relationship with my bank. I did a fair amount of research and contacted different companies. During this process, I again had connect with my current provider; they now were willing to sell me the terminal for $860, but would lower my rates.
                    Flagship finally offered me lower rates and a free FD-410 terminal with a two-year contract.
                    My current provider called again and I told them that I was going to switch my account and drop their service because of this problem with the price of the terminal. They suddenly changed their tune and offered me the terminal for free with no contract. I signed a contract agreeing to the free terminal and the connection fee for the wireless terminal of $15/month. I am now happy with my new terminal. It is just right for my towing business and I learned that the threat of losing my business is what got me what I wanted. I hope that others are able to learn from my experience.


                      I’d like an answer to this question as well since I have a similar problem.

                      Rebeccah January 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm

                      Hello! I have a question.
                      The restaurant I manage has ordered, paid for and has been operating using a new EMV machine, in compliance with our processing company in which the machine was ordered through. This was done prior to October 2015. We have been instructed to use the machine but we have since been waiting for the processing company to become completely compatible with reading the chip cards. Our processing company has just informed us that we are being held liable for an apparent fraudulent transaction that occurred in November, due to the fact they have not yet made their machines completely compatible with processing the chip cards. Is there anything that protects the merchant in this case?

                        Tom DeSimone

                        Hi Tom,

                        The answer is, it’s complicated. It depends on exact what kind of fraud occurred and the exact language in the contract. It’s a totally unfair situation, that much is clear. I’d probably just make peace with the fact I might be held liable for this transaction, and then find a new processor ASAP.



                          Call your merchant processing company and check to make sure the EMV acceptance feature is ACTIVE under your MID. You will still be held liable if you have the hardware but the EMV chip reader feature is not Active on the account.


                            Hello! I have a question.
                            The restaurant I manage has ordered, paid for and has been operating using a new EMV machine, in compliance with our processing company in which the machine was ordered through. This was done prior to October 2015. We have been instructed to use the machine but we have since been waiting for the processing company to become completely compatible with reading the chip cards. Our processing company has just informed us that we are being held liable for an apparent fraudulent transaction that occurred in November, due to the fact they have not yet made their machines completely compatible with processing the chip cards. Is there anything that protects the merchant in this case?

                              Laura Craig

                              Hi, guys,
                              I manage a farmers market in Montana and we need a wireless battery operated terminal that will process MC, V, Discover and SNAP (food stamp) cards. We’ll need a pin pad for the SNAP & debit cards as well as receipts.
                              Current processor (Digital) is quoting $700 for a new terminal.
                              First Security Bank wants $850.
                              From your comments so far: both these prices are high and there could be a more affordable machine as well as processor out there.
                              How do I make sure what we get accepts the food stamp cards as well as the credit cards and it works in a rural area?


                                ERVIN ROBINSON

                                PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHERE I CAN BUY ONE OF THESE FROM

                                  Amad Ebrahimi


                                  You can either buy one from our top rated processors, or Amazon.


                                    I work at a dental office and our credit card processing company charged us almost $600 for the new terminal. The previous terminal we had was leased so we did not own that. They kind of made it sound like we had no choice but to pay that money. My husband owns a coffee shop and when his processing company tried to get him to buy the new terminal he told them he would not be paying anything for a new terminal and to avoid having him leave for another company, they did not make him pay a dime for it. Is this something that is usually negotiable with these companies if you have the nerve to ask? And were we severely over-charged?

                                      Amad Ebrahimi


                                      $600 for a new terminal is generally overpriced, but it really depends on which terminal it is. The Verifone VX 520 is only about $300 max. As for negotiating terminal price, yes you probably can, but it depends on how much the processor is marking it up. If they’re selling it at cost, then chances are you won’t be able to get them to come down very much.

                                        Tina Shely

                                        Hi Tom,
                                        All this EMV stuff is a bit confusing. So my question that I have been trying to get answered from our Merchant Provider, is….Is the VeriFone Vx570 in compliance?
                                        I have been trying to get this answered for 2 days now, not sure what there hang-up in?? Your help is really appreciated.

                                          Amad Ebrahimi


                                          Here is the data sheet for the Vx570. If you search the PDF for “EMV” you will see that it is in-fact EMV compatible.


                                            What if I have complaint machines installed in all of my locations but my ERP provider has not upgraded their software to accept it yet? Am I still liable??


                                              Hi Tom,
                                              Thank you for your post! It helped me with better understanding on this EVM technology change. I have a couple of questions.
                                              We are retailer and have our own POS system. we are current using old PC software called PC Charge for our credit card payment processing.

                                              So if we want to switch to EMV terminal, each POS device needs EMV terminal?
                                              Our merchant service provider got us a price quote for $625 (EMV terminal and pin pad) and encryption service fee of $50. it sounds a little expensive but I am not sure it is because we have currently old pc software so we need EMV terminal and pinpad?
                                              based on my research for EVM terminal, we dont have to buy Terminal and pin pad separately. Most merchant equipment sellers are saying the terminal has pin pad on it so we only need to purchase the terminal.

                                              from your post, it doesn’t have to be programmed by our merchant service provider.
                                              that means it can be encrypted by third party?

                                              So many questions! Sorry!
                                              but thank you for your help in advance!!!

                                                Annette McDonald

                                                I am looking to purchase a mobile terminal for EMV cards. My merchant service provider really want me to sign a lease, but I am still feeling burned about the last, very expensive, four-year lease I signed with them three years ago. I would just like to purchase one mobile terminal. Can you recommend a good company for this purchase?
                                                We are a towing company. Many of our transactions are done with credit card information provided to us by phone. Almost all of our card-present transactions are done in the truck, not in the office. Our driver does not carry a smart phone or tablet, so we just want a mobile terminal.

                                                  Amad Ebrahimi


                                                  Don’t ever lease a terminal; it’s never worth it. Take a look at our article about leases here.

                                                  We’ve also written extensively about EMV terminals here and here, but to give you a quick answer, if you’re doing over $10K/mn in processing volume, then I highly suggest Dharma Merchant Services. If you’re under $10K/mn, then Helcim would be a great choice. Both of those processors are outstanding and will never try to put you in an equipment lease.

                                                    Kathy Hager

                                                    Hi Tom;

                                                    We are a small business (specialty meat shop), we use two terminals and need to buy new machines, our bank gave us a price of $899.00, per terminal, we have always felt they have been ripping us off, we are wanting to replace not just the terminals, but our provider as well, what questions should we ask in our search for a new provider.

                                                      Tom DeSimone

                                                      Hi Kathy,

                                                      That sounds like a good choice. $900 is among the highest price tags I’ve heard so far for a new machine! Check out our article on contract negotiation and our infographic on merchant account fees. Those should have all the information you need.

                                                      Good luck!


                                                        Tom, we use a Benseron POS in our coffee house. Since we have had problems with cc fraud, we want to get their custom built EMV reader. The cost is $399. Does that sound reasonable? Do you have an option about Benseron (Naples, FL). They seem to be wedded to Hybrid for cc processing. We found that Benseron’s customer service is rather poor. Hanna

                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                          Hi Hanna,

                                                          $400 is within reason. I would generally expect between $200 and $400 depending on the machine. I haven’t heard anything about Benseron specifically.

                                                          If you’re not satisfied with the service, this might be a good opportunity to switch. Try out our merchant account finder!


                                                            Hi Tom,

                                                            I am transitioning form a cash register and cc terminal to an online web based POS called LikeSew that will run through a pc with a little black swiper. Will that work like the folks in comments above where, because it is going into a computer, you do not need a chip reader?

                                                            Have you heard of any readers that attach to a web based pos system through a computer?

                                                            Thanks for any info you can share.

                                                              Tom DeSimone

                                                              Hi Sarah,

                                                              I believe Like Sew will be selling chip card readers that integrate with the system. I’m not familiar with the system first hand, so your best bet to get the most up-to-date info will be to contact the company directly. Sometimes the reader that connects to a computer will just transpose the card info to the computer form, but sometimes they actually qualify as card-present, and thus would be subject to the liability shift.

                                                                Sarah Phillips

                                                                Hi Tom,
                                                                Apparently LikeSew does not seem to be concerned with the changes coming as they say our industry does not have much fraud, so they are not going to be ready with any device for us. We are concerned about this.

                                                                  Amad Ebrahimi


                                                                  Unfortunatley EMV compliance isn’t mandatory, so anytime you have to rely on a software/service provider to add EMV capability, you’re at their mercy. This is really an issue of risk. If you’re willing to accept the risk that LikeSew seems to so easily have accepted, then you can essentially continue with business as usual. However, if EMV is a big concern for you then you may want to start looking for a new POS system like Shopkeep. With that said, I can’t imagine that LikeSew will hold out on EMV capability forever. Eventually they’re going to jump on board, but the timeframe is obviously unknown.


                                                                    Hi Tom,
                                                                    NCR Silver seems to be offering their EMV devices at a discounted price or for free to new customers. Existing customers however, have the choice to either upgrade their monthly service subscription (to a “concierge level” with questionable to no value added for most existing users – paying an extra $20/month) or if they want to keep the service level the same, you end up paying $299 for the device + an “EMV gateway service fee” of $10 / month! Are other ios-based POS providers, such as square, clover or shopkeep trying to get an increased monthly fee from their customers because of EMV as well? Does that have any rime or reason? What options do we have?

                                                                      Tom DeSimone

                                                                      Hi CS,

                                                                      No, for the most part the EMV upgrades for services like Square just entail the purchase of new hardware, not an overall account upgrade. I’m not 100% clear on the specifics of how NCR Silver is handling the transition (don’t know why a new gateway fee would be necessary), but that sounds like a tough choice to make value-wise.

                                                                        art r


                                                                        I also carry NCR Silver. I found an EMV reader at Staples that looks identical to the one NCR Silver offers. The only difference is that one says PayPal and the other one NCR Silver. Do you know if these two are compatible via Bluetooth or would NCE have to reprogram the reader according to their software?


                                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                                          Hi Art,

                                                                          Unfortunately although the reader may even be from the same manufacturer, they are programed to only work with one provider and cannot be reprogramed.



                                                                            We use an online terminal which allows us to enter the credit card by hand for phone payments or swipe an in-person credit card via a USB credit card swipe terminal. We were told that since the system is an online portal that the EMV liability shift will not affect us even for swiped cards. The reasoning is that even though the card is swiped, the transaction is submitted as an online payment, so the EMV liability shift will not affect us. Is this correct?

                                                                              Tom DeSimone

                                                                              Hi JT,

                                                                              Yes, that is correct. It sounds like the swiper you are using simply transmits the card number to the computer, and then the transaction is processed as a keyed-in payment. This means that, while the transaction fee is higher, the transaction is not impacted by the liability shift. To some extent we’ll have to wait and see how the credit card companies handle fraud cases for this type of transaction in the future, but at the moment it looks like there won’t be any change.


                                                                                Hello Tom – I have a small alternative health care office and have maybe $1000-2000 a month in charge card payments. For many years I have had a great deal with B of A with about 2.01% fees per month, no contracts, no minimums, no transaction fees. They want me to buy an FD 130 for $650. I think my risk of having someone use a card fraudulently is miniscule, but the rep said that I could be liable for more than my own appointment fee. He said if my client had previously had her card info stolen and then paid me for an appointment with that card, I could be liable for whatever the thief bought because my old machine could not notify her of the problem. Is this true, or is there something else I need to understand here? The rep said that if I bought the machine elsewhere for less, B of A would be prohibited from downloading over the phone and I’d have to mail it to them to encrypt for $300 and no warranty. When I brought up Square, he said that because Square is not affiliated with a bank, they are held to a lesser standard of protection for merchants, plus it’d be a higher fee for me. Any advice? Thanks.

                                                                                  Tom DeSimone

                                                                                  Hi Doreen,

                                                                                  To the best of my knowledge, you absolutely can NOT be held liable for more than your own loss in the case of chip card fraud. You will be liable for the fraudulent transactions that you process, while the other merchants who process the other fraudulent transactions will be liable for those. Why should you be penalized for the lack of chip card terminals at other businesses? The exception to this would be if you caused the thief to get the card info because of a data breach on your end. In that case you could be liable for other damages. But that has nothing to do with chip cards.

                                                                                  And note that this is ONLY for card-present (in-person) transactions. If you take a credit card online or over the phone (keyed-in, aka card-not-present), there is no change in liability from what it is today, regardless of your terminal.

                                                                                  If I’m understanding correctly, the scenario this rep gave you is absurd. If your client has her card info stolen previously, and then she pays you with that card, you are not at fault at all. You won’t even lose the transaction, because your customer legitimately purchased from you. Even if you had a chip card terminal, that wouldn’t do anything to alert her of fraud occurring elsewhere. The chip is merely to verify that the card you have at the register is authentic, nothing more.

                                                                                  I can also confirm that many other processors are able to remotely reprogram (no mailing required) chip card terminals, so I don’t know why BofA wouldn’t be able to. The part about BofA being affiliated with a bank is BS. All payment processors are affiliated with banks. The fact that BofA MS uses the bank’s branding doesn’t mean that they have any additional protections not seen elsewhere. I also HIGHLY doubt that Square would be more expensive for you running $1K to $2K per month. Square has its own issues, but for low volume businesses it’s usually incredibly inexpensive.

                                                                                  So honestly the whole thing sounds bogus and full of scare tactics. I’d suggest that you consider switching. A service like Flint might even be enough for your needs. If not, consider Payline Data. They have a great plan for low-volume businesses with a $5 monthly fee. A chip card terminal from Payline is only about $200. The only trouble you might run into is that a Payline might not be able to reprogram your current terminal depending on the model.

                                                                                  Hope this helps. Thank you for the great question. It’s very frustrating to see these kinds of sales tactics.


                                                                                    I have a customer who has 10 terminals what do I need to do in order for the liability ship not to affect him? Does he need to replace all 10 terminals or can he get away with just one EMV terminal for now?

                                                                                      Tom DeSimone

                                                                                      If he’ll be using all of the terminals to accept chip cards (I can’t imagine that he won’t be; they’ll be pretty much ubiquitous before you know it), then all terminals will need to be upgraded to avoid liability.


                                                                                        I’m curious about what liability we’re talking about here- If we’re slow in switching and if fraud occurs in our store, are we out our merchandise losses for any fraudulent charges, or are we liable for anything that then happens with that card thereafter? (or would that just be on those other merchants?)

                                                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                                                          Hi Craig,

                                                                                          In the case that a chip card is swiped using the magnetic stripe instead and the transaction ends up being fraudulent, you will lose the money from the sale and may also incur a chargeback and/or retrieval fee, $25 to $35 total. As long as a merchant is willing to make peace with this increased risk, it appears that they won’t be forced to upgrade in most cases. But the processor does generally reserve the right to require you to use only certain equipment if they choose.

                                                                                          You won’t be responsible for other damages caused by use of the fraudulent card or otherwise unauthorized use.

                                                                                            Matt Roth

                                                                                            Also they are quoting $1100 for their basic machine. Do you know of another company that sells them. I am stuck with them for another couple years!!

                                                                                              Matt Roth

                                                                                              Our processor is telling us that our machines are too old to get the card reader attachment you are talking about. We have old Hypercon machines, do you know anything about them and whether I am being told the truth??

                                                                                                Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                Hi Matt,

                                                                                                While NFC attachments are common, EMV chip card attachments are not. You will likely have to replace the machines. But you should absolutely not pay anything close to $1100! If they’re trying to charge you that much for the machine, I’d bet they are overcharging you elsewhere as well. Depending on what your early termination fee is, it might be worth looking to change providers before the contract is up.

                                                                                                Otherwise, you can buy credit card machines at a number of online retailers, such as Staples and Amazon. But before you buy, make sure that the model is supported by your processor and be sure to ask if there is a reprogramming fee.

                                                                                                  matt Roth

                                                                                                  Thanks for your response. When looking at new machines what am I looking for to make sure they are compliant for the new chip cards that are coming and we have to be compliant by Oct 1st??

                                                                                                    Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                    Hi Matt,

                                                                                                    The listings will include phrases like “EMV-compliant” or “accepts chip cards” or similar. Some of these machines will also accept NFC payments (like Apple Pay), but if you don’t have any real use for that I would suggest not paying the extra price for that kind of machine.

                                                                                                    In reality, you don’t “have” to upgrade your machine at all. No one will force you (most likely). But by not upgrading, you open yourself up to liability regarding some types of credit card fraud involving chip cards. For some businesses (such as businesses that truly know their customers and deal with them regularly, like doctors offices), the risk of fraud is very low. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the risk for your particular business. This change in how liability is dealt with will occur on October 1st.

                                                                                                    The most important thing you should consider if you are not going to change processors is whether the machine will be compatible with your current processor, and what the reprogramming fee will be (if any). It would be a huge pain to buy the new terminals only to find out that they aren’t compatible.

                                                                                                      Travon Zomback

                                                                                                      My husband is a solo practitioner with 3 offices. Using 3 separate merchant numbers for the 3 terminals. Is there a way to stream line this without having to buy/rent 3 terminals for the Oct 1 deadline? In addition, 1 of the locations may be closing due to end of lease. The second location we own the condo. The third location will hopefully remain in business. Using terminals for co-pays and deductibles.
                                                                                                      Our Merchant Services is offering 3 options
                                                                                                      1. 3 yr extension plan -no cost but leave will be $300 termination fee, 175$ for pin pad.
                                                                                                      2. 1 yr extension plan -$100 for the terminal and 175 for pin pad.
                                                                                                      3. Purchase terminal for $225 and $175 for pin pad.
                                                                                                      Thank you,

                                                                                                        Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                        Hi Travon,

                                                                                                        Sorry for the delay. I don’t like the sound of any of those options. If you know your clients and don’t experience any fraud, you can probably go without upgrading at all. In your industry, card fraud is not common. But if you are going to switch to EMV terminals, I would definitely suggest buying them outright. But you should seriously consider changing providers. Helcim will get you set up for about $200 per terminal, including built-in printers and PIN pads – no early termination fees ever.

                                                                                                          cathie o'connor

                                                                                                          Hi Tom-Our very small company keys card info in manually.We never swipe b/c almost all of our business is conducted over the phone. We are probably going to begin taking payment via paypal or online soon. Since we never even see the actual card, so we still need to get an EMV terminal? Thanks!

                                                                                                            Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                            Hi Cathie,

                                                                                                            Nope! If you never see the card, you won’t need to upgrade. In fact, you don’t need a credit card machine at all. Using a virtual terminal, you can enter the card details via any internet-connected computer with a web browser if you’d like. Many merchant services providers give free access to a virtual terminal.

                                                                                                            Otherwise, you can just keep using your existing equipment.


                                                                                                              Regarding phone and online transactions; I am hearing rumors that processing fees may increase if you’re not EMV compatible. But since these types of transactions aren’t subject to the EMV requirements, why would this happen? Do you think this has any truth to it?

                                                                                                                Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                Hi Kate,

                                                                                                                There’s no good reason for telephone/mail order or online transaction fees to increase. Those transactions won’t be impacted, and the credit card networks do not even have the ability to determine if you have an EMV machine when an online transaction is completed. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the card networks will not increase interchange costs on these transactions in relation to the EMV liability shift, but I suppose it’s possible that merchant service providers may increase fees and blame it on EMV, although I would consider that deceptive and dishonest.

                                                                                                                The truth is that even if you process an in-person transaction without an EMV machine, the interchange fees will be the same. The only difference will be that the merchant could be liable for certain kinds of fraud.

                                                                                                                  Andrew Krompier

                                                                                                                  Hi Tom,
                                                                                                                  I use a BofA terminal(original cost $50?) for copays etc in my solo medical practice. BofA first quote was $850 for a new terminal. I protested and then it was $650. I was told “only” BofA equipment/programming. Since I have all the info of everyone paying by credit card why should I bother switching? A fraudulent $10 or $20 copayment doesn’t ‘t seem likely. Any comments? Thanks

                                                                                                                    Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                    Hi Andrew,

                                                                                                                    The new machine definitely should not cost that much! And it’s crazy that they won’t reprogram outside equipment.

                                                                                                                    Honestly I think this is a good opportunity for you to look into switching providers. If they are overcharging you for the new equipment, I can almost guarantee they are overcharging you elsewhere. Try our merchant account finder!

                                                                                                                    If you’re committed to staying with BofA, you have a few options. First, you can just tell them that you do not intend to switch. They might force you to switch or charge you a fee for using outdated equipment, but in the meantime you can just use the machine you have. The next option is to wait until BofA launches its mobile chip card reader for BofA Mobile Pay (in the next few months). This would allow you to accept cards via a smartphone or tablet and the reader shouldn’t be more than $50.

                                                                                                                    But again, I’d really suggest that you look elsewhere. Helcim sells chip card readers with built in printers for only $199.

                                                                                                                    Good luck!

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