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Credit Card Processing Devices for Retail FFLs Explained

Written by Orchid


August 03, 2021



For retail businesses selling products and services, payment is generally collected in one of four forms – cash, checks, prepaid/gift cards and debit/credit cards. Cash, of course, is the oldest form of payment and remains accepted almost everywhere. However, once “king,” cash has since been dethroned by debit/credit cards.

According to the Consumer Payments Research Center’s “2020 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice,” cash payments have been on the decline since 2009, accounting for 21% of all monthly payments in 2020. Inversely, use of debit/credit cards has been on the rise over the same period, combining for 60% of monthly payments last year. The report also noted debit/credit cards were used more than three times as much for the payment of retail goods and services than cash.

Numbers aside, handling regular cash transactions as a retail FFL, where firearm sales can quickly reach four digits, can also be a logistical nightmare. In a modern marketplace where plastic trumps paper, debit/credit card payments can save you and your employees time, reduce operational and financial risks and increase facility security.

Having previously discussed how merchant payment processing works, we’ll now look at the credit card processing device options available for retail FFLs.

Types of Credit Card Devices

Depending on where and how you do business, credit card processing devices should match your specific needs as a retail FFL. Luckily, there are lots of options to choose from, each offering different payment functionality and features.

Credit card devices come in all shapes and sizes, but can be organized into four categories: mobile, handheld, countertop and integrated.

Mobile Card Readers

For small FFLs who conduct business at gun shows or from home, mobile card readers the simplest of all devices. Compatible with common Android and iOS devices, mobile card readers can be paired with mobile phones and tablets by way of Bluetooth or a direct connection for swipe, dip and contactless payment.

Easy to setup and use, mobile card readers and their accompanying apps require minimal training for FFLs looking for quick transactions on the go without the hassle of additional hardware or POS infrastructure.

Handheld Card Readers

Similar to mobile readers, handheld card devices put payment processing directly in the palm of your hands for extending transactions away from the counter. Unlike mobile devices, handheld readers also offer greater functionality for payments and other tasks, often packing intuitive touchscreen interfaces, two-way barcode scanners and thermal receipt printers into one device.

With WiFi capability, handheld card devices can also transmit signals over your store’s internet connection for seamlessly starting a transaction at the gun counter and finishing up at the register.

Countertop Card Readers

Perhaps the most commonly used payment device type, countertop card readers can either sit on a flat surface or be mounted on a stand for improved customer access. While similar in size to handheld readers, countertop devices often accompany a cash drawer and other register components, making it easier to leave them stationary where they can be plugged into a power supply.

Designed to be customer-facing, countertop card devices usually include PIN pads to account for debit transactions while also offering swipe, dip, tap and contactless payment. Devices may also include a touchscreen, stylus pen, barcode scanner or receipt printer for all-in-one functionality.

Integrated Card Devices

Speaking of all-in-one functionality, integrated card devices provide retailers with everything they need to complete a transaction in a single unit. Ideal for FFLs with high-volume transactions or multiple registers, integrated devices can include a touchscreen POS interface with customer-facing display, barcode scanners, cash drawers and receipt printers.

While the most complex and least mobile of the card processing device options, integrated units offer the most operational functionality and allow your FFL to accept payment for firearm sales by card or cash for efficient transactions at scale.

With so many options and features, selecting card payment devices can seem overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to. Once you determine the where and how of your retail business, contact Orchid to learn more about Orchid POS™ and our Orchid Gun Show™ plans. Our team of executives has managed over 2,000 shooting sports merchant accounts and will help your FFL select the right devices to start taking credit card payments and generating sales.

Payment Card Devices


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