Friday, August 1, 2008

Virtual Terminals

A virtual terminal allows a merchant to process payments over the web. Generally a merchant account provider will offer one for free or a minimal charge. Depending on the provider they can be full featured or just contain the basic payment page. Here are some important parts of a virtual terminal.

Payment Page

All virtual terminals need to have a payment page. This is where you can enter your transactions from your customers. There will be a place for a credit card and the customer information. More advanced terminals have EFT or ACH processing capability. Once the payment information has been entered and submit button pressed the transaction is complete. The next screen will tell you if the transaction has been successful or not.

Recurring Payments

Often with membership sites or property management companies there is the need for a transaction to be performed on a regular basis. This is usually called recurring transactions or recurring payments. Some virtual terminals allow you to enter the recurring transactions on the same screen making it easy to set up the payment to go out again on a specific date.


A vital function of any virtual terminal are reports. Merchants need to know how many transactions have been performed so they can keep their books up to date. The types of reports vary from one terminal to the next. The most common report would be a received transaction report. The name may vary but the data will show how many transaction have come in within the desired time frame. The report should also contain the name of the customer and amount.

Creating Users

Some of the advanced virtual terminals have an area where additional users can be created. These users can be a bookkeeper or other accounting personnel that need to log on and perform certain duties. For example a bookkeeper may want to log in and pull reports, but they don't need to have access to perform transactions. This is very helpful to the merchant. The bookkeeper can log in anywhere there is a web connection.

These are only some of the features of virtual terminals. When shopping for a merchant account make sure you preview the virtual terminal that comes with the account. It should have the basic functions you need and allow you to run your business smoothly and efficiently.

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