Virtual terminals enable merchants to process credit card and/or eCheck transactions manually.
Merchants access virtual terminals through a web-based browser application. In most cases, transactions batches are automatically submitted for settlement at the end of each day, relieving the merchant of that responsibility.
Virtual terminals are often the best solution for merchants who manually enter credit card and electronic check transactions for mail order/telephone order (MOTO) and e-commerce sales. They might be the only option for merchants who must process card not present transactions (i.e., the cardholder is not physically present with his or her credit card at the time of the transaction).
By using a virtual terminal, merchants can avoid the expense of leasing or purchasing physical credit card terminals.
Virtual terminals allow merchants to enter several types of card transactions:
Sale - a sale is a transaction that is authorized and captured for settlement in one step. After a sale is processed, the transaction is automatically flagged to be settled.
Authorization - an authorization is used to check if there are sufficient funds for a given transaction.
Capture - a capture is used when a transaction has already been authorized and is ready to be settled. Merchants who receive orders on one day and then ship on another can use a two-step authorization/capture process. That is, they can authorize a transaction at the time the order is received and then capture when the order is shipped.
Void - a void can be used to cancel a transaction before it has settled. For example, if you enter a Sale transaction, you can void it before settlement if the Sale was entered in error. Transactions that have already been settled cannot be voided.
Refund - a refund can be used if a merchant needs to return money for a transaction that has already settled.
One benefit of using virtual terminals is that you don't need to store or process credit card information on your computer. Rather, you enter credit card info directly through the virtual terminal provided by the gateway provider. In this way, you can reduce your exposure to the risk of a credit card data breach.
Note: you should never store unencrypted credit card information on your computer. In fact, it's best not store store credit card information even if it is encrypted. If you do need to store credit card information, we recommend that you use a gateway that supports customer vault functionality.