What Is A Virtual Terminal?

A virtual payment terminal is the software equivalent of an actual credit card processing terminal. It’s an on-line form used to manually input credit card data for processing. Since this “terminal”, or input point, is accessed on-line, you can process credit card payments anywhere, anytime, from a computer or mobile device with internet access.

Now let’s look at the bigger picture. The question you should really be asking is “What is virtual terminal credit card processing?” And why is that? Well, as we explained, a virtual terminal is only the point of input for credit card information. What happens to this information and how you eventually get paid for your product or service is all part of virtual terminal credit card processing.

What a virtual terminal is not, is a shopping cart for your website, although companies that support virtual payment terminals do have programs to integrate your virtual terminal account with your website. Instead, a virtual terminal is separate from your website. It’s an on-line form that looks like most any e-commerce payment form. There’s a place to input billing information and credit card information to submit to your virtual terminal credit card processor for payment authorization.

Also, do not confuse a virtual terminal with a mobile card reader. A mobile card reader attaches to your mobile device to scan and send credit card information through your smartphone. A virtual terminal is accessed directly on your mobile device through a secure internet connection.

Virtual Terminal Credit Card Processing is a cost effective way for the small merchant or the business owner on the go to accept credit card payments Think of it as the link between a business owner and his money. It has many benefits.

1. If you’re a merchant or service provider accepting credit card payments in the field, an account with a virtual terminal processing company allows you to input payment information manually through a secure web connection on any mobile device, anytime, anywhere.

2. It’s perfect if you run a small business that doesn’t deal with a high volume of credit card purchases, but you want to be able to offer this option to your customers.

3. If your business sales are more often faxed, phoned or mailed in, you can manually input the credit card data into a virtual terminal and submit it for processing.

4. A virtual terminal credit card processing account can act as a backup payment account in the event your main processing system or website crashes or is compromised.

5. There’s no cost for additional equipment like point-of-purchase terminals.

6. You can refund money to a customer’s credit card account.

7. You can run reports and check on transactions.

8. Many virtual terminal accounts allow multiple users so more than one person can be logged into your account and processing customer orders.

9. Credit card payments are transacted in real time so you’ll know within seconds if the charge has been accepted.

Though using a virtual terminal for your credit card payments can be a cost saver for the small business owner, there’s one negative: it can be very time-consuming. Even if you have a website and your customers have input their information into your shopping cart, unless that cart is integrated with your virtual terminal, you have to manually input your customer’s credit card information for processing. This process is not really suitable for a business with a high volume of credit card payments.

What Does It Cost?

Just like traditional credit card processing companies, virtual terminal credit card processors have a schedule of charges and usage fees, including a monthly service fee and transaction fees. Find out what fees each processor charges and how they structure their fees. For example, be sure to ask if they charge a flat transaction fee or do they charge a percentage for each transaction or is there a combination of the two. Statement fees, annual fees and minimum transaction fees can all add up. It’s important to review your needs to pick the processor that’s right for you.

Is It Secure?

Just as with any data being transmitted over the internet, information typed into a virtual terminal and submitted for processing can be compromised. Before you sign with a virtual terminal processor, be sure to ask about what security systems they have in place to protect you and customers.

No matter how small your business, it’s important to be competitive to grow. Accepting credit cards can be a big boost to your business. With a virtual terminal credit card processing account, you can keep your costs low, but still be able to say yes to your customers when they ask “Do you take credit cards?”

A Virtual Terminal Credit Card Processing system is also a good idea as a back up payment system should a business website crash, or if site security becomes compromised for any reason. However, Virtual Terminal Credit Card Processing systems can themselves become compromised by hackers or viruses although security breaches are usually detected quickly. To lessen the risk to the business user and the customer, a good Virtual Terminal Credit Card Processing system will incorporate a range of security systems and anti virus software to lessen the likelihood of any breach to security occurring. It is important to note that instances of security breaches are relatively rare and many businesses fully utilize the flexibility of this method of taking customer payments.