The world of payment processing is filled with options that make a variety of merchant businesses run efficiently. Some businesses would best be served by using a virtual terminal to process payments. For example, a merchant that takes payments over the phone. So, what is a virtual terminal?

A virtual terminal is a web-based software interface that accepts a variety of payment types. Whether it be from credit or debit cards, to ACH bank transfers, the information is filled out via an online form. The convenience of a virtual terminal is that your business can accept payments when the card is present or not. Rather than having to purchase hardware, you can process payments using a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device.

Using a virtual terminal for payments probably sounds comparable to a payment gateway checkout page that you fill in yourself when completing a purchase from an ecommerce site. The key difference between a payment gateway and a virtual terminal is that a virtual terminal is operated solely by the merchant. It requires the merchant to input the information versus a payment gateway. The Gateway gives a buyer the freedom to complete a transaction on their own. 


How is a Virtual Terminal Used?

You can use a virtual terminal to charge or refund credit cards, and bank transactions (ACH). In order to use a V.T. to process a payment, a merchant logs in to a web based dashboard and then inputs payment details collected from the customer to complete the transaction. The very minimum amount of information you need to process payments with a virtual terminal is the customer’s card or account number, the expiration date, and amount.

You can add additional fields on most transaction processing pages for more information about the customer and the sale – things like an invoice number or the client’s name plus additional billing details. After the transaction has been processed and the payment is approved, the virtual terminal will return a transaction I.D. number. This is recorded and immediately given a success or decline notification. The transfer of information is fully encrypted so using a virtual terminal to process payments is both safe and secure.


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What Type of Businesses use Virtual Terminals?

The ideal merchant for a virtual terminal is any business that doesn’t have a web-based payment option or an online sales platform. For instance it’s a very popular tool in the mail order world, or service based business that operates across the nation. What other businesses might be ideally suited to a virtual terminal for payment processing?

A virtual terminal offers customers who call-in to place an order. This is a convenient way to pay for a product or service by simply sharing a few details over the phone. For example, the popular family-owned bistro that suddenly had to change service to ‘delivery only’ due to the pandemic. Now, they can use a virtual terminal to take payments over the phone before customers arrive to pick up their lunch order. Similarly, a law office that requires the client to pay a retainer before their first appointment. By using a Virtual Terminal, you can accept the payment for this transaction.

Merchants can also use virtual terminals for in-person customers when the credit card is present. The last time that I picked up my car at the repair shop the clerk behind the counter used a virtual terminal to input my payment information before they gave me my keys.

A virtual terminal is also a terrific payment solution for freelancers, delivery businesses, event and planning consultants, bookkeepers, and contractors. This allows your clients to place the order and provide payment ahead of time. 


Benefits for Virtual Terminal Users

Most virtual terminals do more than just process payments. Depending on which gateway provider you choose, the service comes with some additional perks to help you manage the financial side of your business. Payline integrates with a few of the most popular V.T./gateway providers, including CardPointe, NMI, Transax, and 

One of the most important benefits that any of these payment processors can provide is peace of mind. Your customer can rest easy knowing that their sensitive data is being protected. Through Payline’s solutions, all your payment transactions will be PCI compliant. Cardpointe, NMI,, and Transax all provide customizable Hosted Payment Pages, and tokenization to combat fraud.

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Hosted Payments Page and Tokenization

A Hosted Payments Page is a payment page that is ‘hosted’ on a secure third-party server. This means sensitive customer financial data is not being stored on your PC or mobile device. Having an ‘HPP” option relocates the risk of data breach from your business to a PCI Complaint server. This server is secured by professionals who are experts at safeguarding customer data. Best of all, the Hosted Payments Page is customizable. You can design the form that fits your branding and allows you to add additional information fields best suited for your business needs. You can hyperlink ‘Make a Payment’ or ‘Donate Now’ text to the Hosted Payment Page. Gives a shout and we can help you out.

Tokenization technology is when a client’s credit card or bank account information is transformed into a string of arbitrary characters referred to as a ‘token’ which is transferred between from the payment gateway to the financial institution. The token references the original data but has no significant value on it’s own.


Additional Benefits 

Additional features include automated recurring billing and electronic invoicing. Recurring billing facilitates businesses who manage monthly subscriptions, or payment plans by simply inputting scheduling information. Most virtual terminal payment gateways also offer a selection of standard exportable transaction reports. These reports can be customized so you can analyze the data that’s most important to you.

Electronic Invoicing is another feature that comes with most virtual terminals. The benefit of electronic invoicing is that you can invoice clients via email. After the payment is processed, you can follow up with a customized receipt.


The Takeaway 

There are many different types of payment processing available in today’s business world. Merchants without a web-based business are ideally suited for virtual terminal payment processing. Using this software provided by a payment gateway is economical and convenient. You don’t have to invest in bulky countertop hardware, and instead you can take payments with your laptop or smart phone. Payline integrates with many of the most popular payment gateways that provide virtual terminals. Your business will benefit from Payline’s reliable processing tools, and the additional built in security and fraud protection that Payline provides.


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