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10 Tips for Selecting the Ideal Virtual Terminal for Your Business

By: Janet Lilly


Virtual terminals are necessary for phone, fax, and mail orders, when you don’t physically have the customer’s credit card in order to swipe it. You can process credit cards from any computer with internet access. Since the terminal is browser-based, no additional equipment is necessary. A virtual terminal can also be used to process refunds and void transactions. 

When selecting a virtual terminal, business owners should consider several factors:
Annual Revenue
Some providers focus only on large businesses, whereas others focus on small businesses. The size of your company should narrow your choices by eliminating a few providers.
Make sure the provider is compatible with all your current systems and with all major payment processors.
Customer Service
Verify the provider offers technical help, and determine the associated fees. If you are processing credit cards at a trade show, for example, you need to know that help is available if you run into trouble.
Providers typically charge a per-transaction fee as well as a monthly fee. Estimate your monthly activity and see which provider best meets your needs. Some providers will let you choose whether you want your fees deducted monthly or from each transaction.
Check to see how many years of transaction history you will have access to. You’d probably like to be able to go back seven years, which is typically how far back the IRS would request information in the case of an audit.
Multiple Bank Accounts
If you use more than one bank account, make sure the provider can accommodate your needs.
Other Users
If you plan to have additional employees using the virtual terminal, determine if you want various access levels for different employees. Decide if they can process refunds or run reports.
Recurring Payments
If a customer is purchasing a subscription, you don’t want to manually enter the payment information each time. A recurring payment feature would be very helpful to you.
Repeat Payments
This allows you to process a charge from a repeat customer without having to enter the customer’s credit card information each time.
With a virtual terminal, cardholder information is typically not stored inside your network. Rather, the data is often stored on your provider’s servers. For PCI compliance, verify where cardholder information is held.
Decide what information you would like to see—activity by user, by location, by time of day, by card type, and much more.
Virtual terminals can save your business time and money. Prioritize which features are most important to you, then find the provider that best meets the needs of your business.
Published: October 4, 2013

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Janet Lilly

Janet Lilly is a full-time freelance writer who enjoys focusing on a wide range of topics. She specializes in small business issues and profiles of prominent industry leaders.

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