With a virtual payment terminal, accepting credit cards without traditional processing hardware is as easy as connecting to the internet. That’s because the device is exactly what it sounds like—a credit card processing terminal, without the actual terminal.
The terminal exists virtually; it lives online, not on your countertop. To access it, simply pull up a web browser, type in the web address of the terminal and you’re in.
A virtual terminal requires no extra hardware for manually entered transactions (note that a plug-in card reader is needed to swipe or dip cards). It works great to complement a traditional POS system or by itself for businesses that want to sell remotely or have infrequent credit card sales.
Virtual payment terminals offer a flexible, secure, reliable, and cost-effective way to accept credit cards. Benefits include:
- Process credit cards anywhere with an internet connection
- Accept keyed transactions by manually entering the number, or swiped transactions with a plug-in card reader
- No additional equipment cost
- Real-time processing
- A backup when your in-store point of sale system isn’t working properly
Some models offer additional functionality such as comprehensive transaction reporting, employee sales monitoring, and card data security per PCI compliance mandates with support of Level 2 and 3 payments.
When to use a virtual payment terminal?
Card not present transactions
This type of terminal is useful for merchants who accept card not present transactions such as those made online, over the phone, or by mail order. It allows merchants to simply enter their customer’s credit card information as they receive it and process sales.
At a remote location
A virtual terminal makes it possible to accept credit cards anywhere with access to the internet, so it’s great for merchants that operate outside of a brick-and-mortar location. A card reader can be attached to the device using virtual terminal to accept EMV chip cards or magnetic stripe card.
What to look for
Not all virtual payment terminals offer the same features. Here are some things to look for when choosing one for your business:
- Support for multiple users and locations
- Accessibility on all popular browsers
- An easy-to-use interface
- Card data security that supports PCI compliance mandates
- The ability to:
- Set up recurring payments
- Generate refunds
- Customize the transaction data captured based on your needs
- Search customer data
- Automatically create end-of-day batch settlement reports
If you already accept credit cards or are just getting started, a virtual payment terminal can be a great option. Today’s options are quick and easy to set up without any upfront equipment costs. Plus, some models offer access to additional features that help streamline business operations.