Responsibility and service: merchant’s or provider’s burden
A purchased card machine should come with a warranty of at least a year for defects and internal faults. At the end of its user life, it’s best to recycle the card machine like other electrical equipment.
If an issue arises because you haven’t taken good care of the terminal, the consumer warranty won’t be valid. Merchants are therefore still responsible for protecting the hardware from damage and misuse. That is, of course, unless the cost of buying a replacement terminal isn’t an issue.
A rented card machine doesn’t have a warranty that the business owner deals with. Instead, faults and technical issues are raised with the merchant service provider, who typically first tries to resolve the issue remotely, then sends out an engineer to fix or replace the terminal. Some contracts include these things free in the lease, but next-day terminal replacement typically comes with a significant charge.
Suffice to say, business owners should still take care of a rented card machine to avoid extra charges, lost sales while out of order, or the hassle of fixing it.
Because you don’t own a rented terminal outright, you are essentially borrowing it. So when it’s no longer needed, it has to be sent back to the provider, sometimes for an extra fee. On the plus side, some plans allow you to upgrade the card machine to a newer model after some time, so dealing with a swap could be worthwhile.