7 Best Virtual Terminal Solutions for Merchants [2023 Edition]
As payment processing becomes increasingly digital, both emerging and established businesses need to make sure they keep up with the latest payment trends.
With 83% of Americans now owning at least one credit card, virtual payment processing has taken on a new significance. A virtual terminal allows businesses to easily process transactions from any internet-capable device, with robust security features to protect them and their customers from fraud.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a virtual credit card terminal—and how you can select the right provider for your business.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Virtual Terminal?
A virtual terminal is a web or app-based payment solution that allows merchants to process card-not-present transactions. This can be done on a mobile device, tablet, or computer with an internet connection. Virtual terminals are a convenient system for merchants who do not have a physical point of sale or credit card terminal.
Virtual terminals offer the flexibility to process transactions that cannot be processed in person, such as mail orders, phone, or digital payments. Because card-not-present payments carry a higher risk of fraud, virtual terminals use secure connections and encryption such as tokenization to protect cardholders.
According to the Virtual Payment (POS) Terminal Global Market Report 2022, the global virtual terminal market is forecast to grow to $70.68 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 25.7%. As more customers search for the most convenient payment option for their needs, virtual terminals are going to play a significant role in businesses’ ability to deliver.
For this reason, virtual terminals are commonly used by small business owners, freelancers, and eCommerce merchants who need a cost-effective way to process a range of payment methods.
The biggest advantage of virtual terminals is that merchants don’t require POS hardware, which can be expensive and lack portability. For businesses that already have some form of POS, virtual terminals provide a helpful backup if a system goes offline or is having issues.
How Does a Virtual Terminal Work?
Because they only require software to be loaded onto a device, virtual terminal systems are easy for businesses to operate. The merchant logs in to their account via a web browser or app and enters the customer’s card information. This includes the credit card number, the expiration date, and the three-digit CVV code.
The terminal submits this information to the credit card network to obtain authorization for the transaction and complete the payment. Some virtual terminal solutions, such as Payment Depot, allow for cards to be kept on file to authorize recurring payments.
As the merchant manually enters the card details, a virtual terminal functions differently from a traditional eCommerce payment gateway. Credit or debit card payments are not submitted at the checkout. Instead, customer information must be provided to the merchant when an order or purchase request is made.
7 Best Virtual Terminal Solutions for Merchants in 2023
Choosing a virtual terminal can be confusing for merchants, given how many providers are available. We’ve rounded up a list of the top virtual terminal solutions to consider in 2023.
1. Payment Depot
Payment Depot is a full-service payment solution offering credit card processing, POS systems, and shopping cart integrations in addition to a robust virtual terminal. This is a great option for businesses that want the flexibility of accepting in-person and eCommerce payments, in addition to just card-not-present transactions.
Unlike most of its competitors, Payment Depot doesn’t charge a markup. Instead, it passes on only the interchange rate in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. With multiple payment plans tailored to different processing volumes, Payment Depot easily scales alongside your business. This avoids having to switch payment providers as you grow.
- The virtual terminal comes free with every subscription
- No long-term contracts or hidden fees
- Access to funds within 24-48 hours
- 24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat
- Integrations with shopping carts, POS, and card terminal hardware
Payments accepted: All major credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Pricing: Starts at $59 per month.
A highly rated payment solution for in-person and contactless payment processing, Clover’s virtual terminal for standalone credit card processing is designed to suit the needs of every business, from restaurants to professional services.
Their intuitive web dashboard allows merchants to accept payments, track sales, manage invoices, and store credit card information for returning customers. It’s a particularly good solution for existing Clover merchants, as their virtual terminal software comes pre-loaded on the point-of-sale system.
Fully PCI compliant, businesses don’t have to worry about the security of credit card payments or recurring payments. Payments can be processed via your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, making it easy to manage payments while you’re away from your desk.
- Advanced fraud protection via AVS and CVV
- Manage receipts via email and text
- Secure card on file storage
- 24/7 customer support
- Same pricing for all credit cards
Payments accepted: All major credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
Pricing: $14.95 per month (free 30-day trial available).
Although best known for its POS system and mobile credit card readers, Square doesn’t require retailers to purchase either to access its virtual terminal solution. Charging a simple transaction fee per payment, Square is a good option for small businesses that require an easy and affordable digital payment processor.
In addition to accepting payments via the Square Charge app, Square also allows merchants to send payment links via text to their customers. This is valuable for custom or one-off products and services. Thanks to the existence of the wider Square payment ecosystem, it’s easy for businesses to scale up to accept in-person payments.
The Square virtual terminal also allows for full access to purchasing history and customer profiles. This makes it possible to build personas, loyalty programs, and more to boost sales and customer retention.
- Free refund and chargeback processing
- Real-time reporting tools
- Recurring billing services
- Receipt management
- Access to funds the next business day
Payments accepted: Visa, Visa Electron, V Pay, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express, Square gift cards, AfterPay.
Pricing: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction, no monthly fees.
PayPal offers a robust virtual terminal solution via a secure app as part of its PayPal Payment Pros bundle. PayPal Payments Pro is a credit card processor and payment gateway, which enables merchants to accept payments directly on their websites without redirecting customers to a third-party payment page. Merchants can process transactions in multiple currencies and accept various payment options.
As a globally recognized payment processor, PayPal is a good option for new businesses. It’s also suitable for merchants who are already using some PayPal features such as invoicing, as the virtual terminal requires an active PayPal business account. The virtual terminal comes ready to use and requires minimal set-up. However, it’s worth noting that PayPal charges additional fees for chargebacks and refunds on top of its high monthly cost.
- Doesn’t require customers to have a PayPal account
- Real-time reporting
- Multiple currencies
- Discounted transaction fees for non-profits
- Fully PCI compliant
Payments accepted: PayPal, all major credit cards, PayPal Credit.
Pricing: 3.09 %+$0.49 per transaction, $30 monthly fee.
Thanks to its interchange rate plus pricing, Helcim offers an affordable and secure virtual terminal solution for any internet-connected device. Capable of processing card, ACH, and EFT transactions, Helcim is a convenient option for businesses that want to offer customers a variety of payment methods.
Helcim’s virtual terminal also accepts keyed-in card payments in addition to card-not-present transactions. This makes it a useful backup in case your main POS system fails.
Volume-based discounts are available with Helcim, making it a good option for businesses that are processing a large number of transactions per day. If your business requires a merchant account for other payment processing needs such as eCommerce, Helcim offers this as an integrated option to keep your system as streamlined as possible.
- Batch processing of transactions
- Recurring billing
- International payment processing
- Inventory management capabilities
- Payment gateway integration
Payments accepted: All major credit cards, ACH, EFT.
Pricing: Interchange + 0.5% + $0.25 per transaction no monthly fees.
The Orbital virtual terminal is a payment solution offered by Chase for Business, also known as Chase Paymentech, the merchant services arm of JPMorgan Chase. To use it, you’ll need a Chase Paymentech merchant account, but once set up, it offers a secure solution for one-off and recurring payments.
Businesses can also use Orbital for order management, including issuing refunds and chargebacks. Because it supports Level 3 transactions, it allows businesses to accept government and corporate cards with ease. This makes it a good fit for larger businesses that manage corporate accounts.
However, Orbital cannot be configured to accept anything other than card-not-present payments, so it isn’t a good fit for businesses with broader payment processing needs.
- 24/7 customer support
- Custom B2B pricing is available
- Digital receipt management
- Next business day access to funds
Payment accepted: All major credit and debit cards.
Pricing: 3.5% + $0.10c per transaction
7. Dharma Merchant Services
As part of its wider suite of payment processing services, Dharma offers a virtual terminal solution via a secure, web-based platform. A certified eco-friendly business, Dharma donates a percentage of its profits to non-profit organizations, which can make it a good fit for ethically-minded merchants.
Due to the relatively expensive processing fees, it’s best suited to larger businesses that are processing at least $10,000 per month in transactions. However, Dharma also offers a partnership with Flint, which allows smaller businesses to accept payments via Apple or Android devices.
Dharma is also a flexible solution for businesses that also require in-person payment capabilities, as the software is compatible with existing POS hardware such as Clover, Vend, and Shopify.
- Discounted pricing for non-profits
- 24/7 customer support
- Access to the MX Merchant payment gateway
- Next-day access to funds
- Customer database to store customer information
Payments accepted: All major credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and ACH transfers.
Pricing: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.11, plus a $25 monthly fee.
What Types of Businesses Are Virtual Terminals Meant For?
Virtual terminals are well-suited to a wide range of businesses, including hospitality, professional services, freelancers, delivery services, and more. If you aren’t routinely accepting in-person payments, a virtual payment system is much more convenient than managing ACH or bank account transfers.
Virtual terminals can be combined with invoicing and payment reminders, so businesses can process payments before or after delivering products and services.
What Should Small Businesses Look for in a Virtual Terminal?
This depends on what payment solutions a business already has in place. If you operate an eCommerce platform or have a merchant account, you may want to consider a virtual terminal that’s able to integrate with these systems. This will help to streamline your workflows and avoid data issues.
If you’re a new business or a freelancer, a standalone virtual terminal system is likely sufficient. You also need to decide whether you require additional merchant services, such as recurring billing or inventory management.
It’s a good idea to read reviews and recommendations from other small business owners in your industry. This will give you a sense of which virtual terminal providers are the most reliable.
What Is the Cost of a Virtual Terminal?
The cost of a virtual terminal will vary depending on the provider and what additional services they offer. Features such as inventory management or sales analytics are likely to come in at a higher cost.
While some providers charge a monthly fee regardless of how many transactions are processed, others charge processing fees per transaction. Per-transaction fees are based on a percentage, plus a fixed fee. For example, Square charges 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction, while Payment Depot only charges merchants the interchange fees.
Which option is more cost-effective will depend on how large your sales volumes are. Per transaction fees are small, but can quickly add up over time. Monthly fees for a virtual terminal range anywhere from $10 to $100 or more, but often prove better value for larger businesses. Keep in mind that as well as the fees charged by your virtual terminal provider, you may also be subject to additional fees for chargebacks or refunds.
The Bottom Line
Virtual credit card terminals offer a wide range of benefits to businesses. Virtual terminals allow merchants to process credit card payments online, via email, or over the phone, without the need for a costly POS system or card reader. If you’re looking for an efficient and secure way to process credit card payments when your customers aren’t present, a virtual terminal solution such as Payment Depot is a great option to consider. Contact us today to learn more.