VeriFone VX520 Credit Card Reader Unboxing and Review
With so many different types of credit card readers available these days, it can be a nearly Herculean task to determine which kind is right for your business. There are such a lot of factors to consider – does the card reader accept contactless payments, is it EMV compatible, can it take gift cards, is it portable, how well does it print receipts – it’s no wonder that many business owners find themselves struggling when it comes time to purchase new hardware. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!
Fear not, though. I (along with all the other writers and reviewers on Merchant Maverick) have made it a personal mission to give you the tools you need to make informed decisions about your business. For that reason, I ordered one of the most popular card readers around – the VeriFone VX520 – and took a hard look at the basics. I examined everything from packaging to product specs to customer reviews. If you want to know what to expect after you order a VX520, you’re in luck, my friend. Read on to see what I discovered.
Table of Contents
I ordered my VX 520 from Amazon, and though it took quite a while to get here (there has been a high demand this month for EMV-capable card readers in lieu of the recent liability shift), it arrived in excellent shape. Every element was well packed, protected by bubble-wrap or plastic, and the set-up instructions were neatly folded on the top of the box.
I was fairly apprehensive before receiving this particular card reader, as there were some real horror stories about the VX520 on the Amazon site. In fact, multiple customers complained they were sent outdated, non-EMV capable models of the card reader, readers that had been used and refurbished, or readers that were not actually capable of NFC transactions. Consequently, I was unsure what I would find when I opened up the package. However, to my relief, the reader I got was obviously brand-new and EMV enabled. All of the accompanying parts (the power cables, the receipt paper, and the phone cord) were also new and untouched. Mind you, considering the number of negative reviews on the Amazon site, I’m not sure if I just lucked out by getting a non-lemon or if service has gotten better recently. Either way, whether you’re ordering from Amazon or another site, be careful when you receive your card reader. Check it for signs of previous use, and ensure right off the bat that all the components work well.
What’s In the Box?
- VeriFone VX520 Dual Comm (M252-753-03-NAA-3) credit card terminal
- Power supply
- Roll of paper
- Phone cord
- One year manufacturer warranty
Price: $180-$300 (depending on where/from whom you purchase)
Processor: 400 MHz | ARM11 32-bit RISC processor
Memory: 160MB (128MB Flash, 32MB SDRAM)
Display: 128×64 pixel graphical | white backlit LCD
Connectivity: Dial | Ethernet
Printer: 24 lps | Standard: 49mm paper roll | Contactless: 40mm paper roll
Card Readers: Triple Track MSR
Contactless: ISO18092 | supports major NFC/contactless schemes
Peripheral Ports: One Ethernet | one telco | one RS-232 port | one USB 2.0 Host port | one USB Client port
Security: PCI PTS 3.X approved
Power: 8V DC, 2.25A or optional 9V DC, 4A
Environmental: 0º to 50º C (32º to 122º F) operating temperature. -20º to 60º C (-4º to 140º F) storing temperature. 5% to 90% relative humidity, non-condensing
Physical Dimensions: 203mm L x 78mm W x 87mm H; 500g weight
The instructional diagram that came with the VX520 is fairly straightforward.
You can also read a helpful reference guide to help you with set-up instructions and best practices, but there’s really not that much to know, fortunately. Getting the reader ready to run consists of plugging in a few cords, feeding in a roll of receipt paper, and downloading information from your merchant accounts provider. This isn’t rocket science.
The VeriFone VX520 looks very much like every other standard card reader you ever seen, though it stands out somewhat due to its compact, portable design and ATM-style interface. In addition, the VX520 is distinguished by a large, high contrast screen that features an 8-line by 21-character display. I found myself unexpectedly impressed by the size, brightness, and readability of the display. This reader can stand up to the oldest or most near-sighted of your clientele, in other words. And the display is not the only component of the reader that is backlit for optimum visibility. The keypad also features large numbers and is backlit in blue, so as to function smoothly in even the dimmest of settings (or most atmospheric of restaurants). I hate low light environments – no candle-lit eateries for me, if you please – but even I had to admit that the display and keypad on this reader were more than a match for a dark locale.
The VX520 is EMV-ready, which means that it is able to process chip cards (either chip-and-pin or chip-and-signature) as well as standard magstripe cards. EMV compliance hasn’t been much of a big deal in the United States until recently, due to a liability shift which occurred October 1st, 2015. Now, merchants who have not upgraded their hardware are responsible for fraud that might have been prevented by devices that can read chip cards. This means potentially huge financial losses for businesses with outdated card readers, and makes the fact that the VX520 is EMV-ready that much more significant.
There is a slot in the bottom of the VX520 where chip cards can be “dipped” – inserted half way in the slot and held there for the duration of the transaction. Chip cards, as well as regular old magstripe cards, can also be swiped along the right edge of the card reader. “Dipping” is a relatively new procedure here in the U.S., so most new credit cards (in addition to having a microprocessor embedded for chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature transactions) will also be equipped with a magstripe. It may seem counterintuitive to offer both options at a time when everyone is really trying to push the security and convenience of chip cards, but the liability shift has only been in effect a short time; swiping is so ingrained in our culture that it will take some time for card dipping to become the norm.
Ostensibly, this reader also has integrated NFC (near field communication) capabilities which support alternative payment methods (contactless payments like Apple Pay, PayPal, Android Pay, etc.) as well as loyalty card/gift card acceptance. However, according to VeriFone’s official data sheet on the product, NFC capability is merely optional. As I mentioned above, there are numerous online complaints from people who bought the VX520 expecting to be able to process contactless payments, only to have their hopes dashed. If you do decide to purchase this card reader, I recommend that you communicate carefully with your dealer to make sure the model you’re getting can actually do everything you’re expecting it to do.
VeriFone claims that the VX520 is incredibly fast, able to manage processing, encryption, and decryption and processing at amazing speeds “thanks to its powerful processor and expandable memory.” Even more importantly, perhaps, is the fact that it has an optional battery which allows you to take it wherever you need to go, within reason. As long as you have a power source, the point of payment can be pretty much anywhere in your store. Thankfully, in addition to simply being portable, the VX520 is lightweight and fits comfortably in the hand, so it’s practical to carry around as well.
The last aspect I want to mention is the paper door, which seems sturdy and well made. It’s transparent, which is nice, as it allows you to see just how low on receipt paper you really are, and it opens and shuts quickly and without much wasted movement. It’s efficient, in other words.
Final Thoughts on the VeriFone VX520
In general, I think this is an excellent product: user friendly, portable, easy to read, and able to process both magstripe and chip credit cards. The VeriFone VX520 looks like a great card reader, feels like a great card reader, and – for the most part – operates like a great card reader. I advise you to proceed with caution, though, especially if you’re looking for something that can process contactless or NFC payments. The only tip I can offer you on that front is to be smart. Do your homework before purchasing. It’s really all about due diligence, after all. Talk to the seller, and to your merchant account provider, to make sure that the VX520 can really perform all the functions your business requires.
Are you thinking about getting a VeriFone VX520? Do you already have one? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the product in the comments section below.