If your business relies on merchant services to accept credit card payments from customers, you may benefit from a virtual terminal. A virtual terminal allows you to offer more payment options to your customers, and some industries depend on it for a significant portion of their sales.
What is a Virtual Terminal?
A virtual terminal is a secure web page that allows you to manually enter your customers’ credit card information. If you have customers who prefer to pay by phone rather than online, you’ll need to have virtual terminal capabilities.
These types of payments are typically processed without the cardholder physically present. Instead, the information is transmitted by phone, submitted by mail, or provided via online chat. To process a payment via virtual terminal, you’ll need to have an internet connection, a computer or mobile device, and access to a payment processor with virtual terminal services.
Third-party merchant providers like PayPal and Square offer limited virtual terminals, but these come with significant restrictions and tend to have higher-than-average processing fees. If you require a virtual terminal, you’ll typically want to invest in a traditional payment processor that offers this service.
How Do Virtual Terminals Work?
To access your virtual terminal, you’ll typically need to log in to your merchant account and access the encrypted virtual terminal page. Next, you’ll need to select the payment type, usually debit/credit or eCheck. From there, you can input the sale amount and manually enter the customer’s name, zip code, credit/debit card number, expiration date, and CVV.
The payment is then processed through the payment gateway just as it would be if the customer entered their own information online. You’ll receive an immediate confirmation of the payment status (approved or declined), after which you can automatically send a receipt to your buyer. You can also use your virtual terminal to issue refunds or see your transaction history at a glance.
Do I Need One?
Virtual terminals are most commonly relied upon by MOTO (mail order/telephone order) organisations and any business that accepts orders, reservations, or payments over the phone. Examples include:
- Hospitality: Hotels, vacation rental properties, and other reservation-business services often accept bookings over the phone. While customers may have the option of booking online, some still prefer to secure their room by phone.
- Delivery Services: Whether for local food delivery, pharmaceutical delivery, or any other delivery service, telephone transactions remain integral to the business. Customers are still more likely to call in an order than use the internet, though this trend is slowly shifting.
- Debt Collection: Debt collection agencies work predominantly by phone, and payments—at least initial payments—are often collected during the call. In some cases, the agency may set up recurring payments using their virtual terminal.
- Local Service Professionals: Local business professionals like dentists, attorneys, plumbers, and moving companies will usually have a virtual terminal set up to accept client payments by phone.
- Freelance Workers: Freelancers including content writers, designers, and consultants will often accept payments from their clients over the phone.
In the age of COVID-19, virtual terminals are becoming more popular even among businesses that don’t traditionally use them. For example, some local and chain restaurants are using them to process customer orders over the phone for takeout. This allows for sanitary, hands-free payment.
Advantages of Virtual Terminals
A virtual terminal affords you more payment options for your customers. With more options and greater convenience, you can ensure the maximum number of sales. You can accommodate customers who aren’t tech-savvy, customers who are impatient, and customers who might take their business elsewhere if given more time to compare their options online.
Another nice thing about virtual terminals is that they’re simple and affordable. All you need is an online account. You don’t need expensive credit card machines, chip readers, or point-of-sale software. Best of all, you can manage payments from anywhere in the world using any internet-connected device.
Disadvantages of Virtual Terminals
When using a virtual terminal, you need to be especially diligent about fighting fraud and chargebacks. Fraud is rampant with card-not-present transactions, as credit card thieves will often rack up charges remotely to avoid detection. Make sure to use a virtual terminal provider with excellent fraud detection tools.
In addition, manual payments take a bit longer. You have to enter all of the information yourself, confirm it with the customer, and ensure that the form is complete. Virtual terminals also tend to come with higher fees to offset the increased possibility of fraudulent charges. Still, you can circumvent many of these disadvantages if you go with a quality virtual terminal provider that offers affordable rates and top-notch security.
How to Choose a Virtual Terminal Service
When comparing virtual terminals, certain features are essential:
- Always choose a trusted merchant services provider with a stellar reputation.
- Go with a company that offers virtual terminals as part of a full-service merchant services account; this will save you money and streamline your payment processing.
- Work with a provider that offers secure gateways; PCI compliance is important, but the best providers will go above and beyond with sophisticated fraud prevention tools.
- Make sure the company offers on-the-spot reporting and payment tracking.
QPay Europe is a leading UK payment processor for MOTO businesses and other organisations requiring a virtual terminal. We offer full-service merchant and payment gateway tools, so you can accept and manage credit card payments both online and off.
Our payment gateways are Level 1 PCI Compliant and SHA-256 Encrypted, and we offer round-the-clock fraud and chargeback prevention. Our sophisticated system is designed to identify potentially fraudulent charges in real time, and our services are flexible, scalable, and affordable. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today to receive your free, personalised quote.
Regardless of who you choose for your virtual terminal, be sure that security is a top priority. When your customer data is secured and your merchant account is protected from excessive chargebacks, your terminal can be an extremely valuable addition to your business.