An online Virtual Terminal is a web-based application one can access from any computer that has internet connectivity using a user name and password.
Once logged in, a world of credit card processing is enabled. Using an online graphical user interface (GUI), the user can (manually) enter credit card details (received earlier by fax or phone) and perform any credit card processing transaction usually performed through a physical device, such as authorize, capture and refund.
Virtual terminals are often used by online entrepreneurs. These (usually home based businesses) do not have the volume that justifies full automated online integration, and use the virtual terminal as an ‘in between’ solution, until business activity grows to a full scale automated site.
Most online businesses, even if fully integrated to an automated solution, maintain a virtual terminal connectivity for back up and back office purposes
Today’s virtual terminals are usually: easy to use, accessed via SSL, enable separate authorization and settlement transactions, connected to AVS and CVV fraud tests and support multi user access with multiple permissions.
When choosing a virtual terminal provider, one should check all other aspects of credit card processing, such as: merchant account vs third party processing, fraud management capabilities, merchant tools and reports, rates and payment schedules.