Virtual Terminals For Small Businesses: The Best Options And Why

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    Today’s business landscape is becoming more digital, so prioritizing secure online payments is a must. The ease of payment procedures is a huge part of what drives customer conversions; if you do not offer convenient payment options, it’s unlikely that you’ll land sales and/or repeat customers.

    That said, choosing the best virtual terminal credit card processing system for your small business is crucial. Learning about the benefits of a virtual terminal and the various costs involved can help you make a more informed decision. 


    The Benefits Of A Virtual Terminal  

    Investing in a virtual payment terminal for your business has many perks. In particular, home-based businesses, service-oriented businesses, those who travel often, and those without a brick-and-mortar location would benefit from having a virtual terminal. 

    It also opens up additional possibilities when it comes to payment processing, such as phone orders, and can be much more affordable for businesses that don’t have high-volume transactions. 

    Other benefits of virtual terminal payment systems include:

    • Lack of hardware to buy and upgrade 
    • Allows businesses to accept credit, debit, cash, check, and recurring payments
    • Easily accessible through most web browsers
    • Ability to generate reports for analytics so that you can track business trends
    • Can either print or email payment receipts

    What Are The Best Virtual Payment Terminals?  

    The best virtual credit card terminals for small business types include PayPal, Square, Clover, Payment Depot, and Chase. 


    PayPal is one of the most popular names in the market today when it comes to virtual terminal payment processing. It is easy to use, has no minimums, and accepts payments in over 200 countries, including cryptocurrency, making it extremely flexible. 

    PayPal’s Pricing 

    PayPal virtual terminal fees have a monthly cost of $30, in addition to a virtual terminal fee of 3.09% + 0.49 cents for US dollar transactions. However, this varies depending on which currency you choose.

    In addition, you may have to pay an international transaction fee starting at 4.40% + 30 cents for US dollar transactions or a different fixed fee depending on your currency choice. Chargeback fees are $20 per transaction in the United States. 

    PayPal’s Features 

    PayPal has useful integrations with multiple POS systems and many types of software that small businesses can use. It allows quick and easy access to funds through a PayPal account, which is a major plus.

    However, it lacks ACH payment processing and chargeback protection, and large volume transactions may lead to payment holds. Despite this, it has a broad international reach and good third-party app integration, along with plenty of free tools like its mobile app. 

    Who Is PayPal Best For?  

    PayPal is best for businesses that want to accept multiple currencies, partial payments, and sell goods through an online store or social media. Since PayPal virtual terminal fees can be a more expensive per transaction, it may be best to avoid this if you have high-volume sales. 


    When it comes to credit card terminals for small business models, Square is one of the most affordable when it comes to the number of features they provide and the lack of monthly fees. There are also no chargeback fees, making it ideal for cost savings. 

    Square’s Pricing

    In terms of pricing, Square charges a transaction fee of 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in transactions or 2.6% + 10 cents per swiped transaction. There is also an instant payout fee of 1.5%. In addition, ACH/bank transfer fees are 1% with a $1 minimum.

    Other fees include an invoice transaction fee of 2.9% + 30 cents and e-commerce transaction fees of 2.9% + 10 cents for online stores.  Compared to other payment processors, Square has a rather high transaction fee but provides useful tools that can outweigh the costs. 

    Square’s Features 

    One of Square’s major benefits is the free POS system it comes with. It allows business owners to manage their inventory, create discounts, figure out taxes, and encode customer data. Compared to other virtual terminal options, Square is generally more advanced and automated. 

    Square also offers chargeback protection and doesn’t charge any fees unless they exceed $250 monthly. They also offer free and easy setup of their virtual terminal, which can integrate with popular accounting software types like QuickBooks. Their mobile app also comes with a physical card reader to help lower transaction costs. 

    Who Is Square Best For?  

    Square is arguably the best virtual terminal for small business owners looking for a power-packed system that allows QR payments, online payments, and invoicing. However, it may not be the best fit for businesses with high volume sales or those classified as high risk. 

    Those who process over $250,000 worth of sales annually may also qualify for more affordable rates from Square. 


    Clover offers one of the top POS systems on the market in addition to mobile payment processing. Although pricing information varies since there are plenty of market resellers, they are generally comparable to Square’s pricing. They offer plenty of merchant provider choices and offer plenty of liability protection. 

    Clover’s Pricing 

    Clover charges between $9.95 without hardware to $39.95 a month for their point of sale systems with transaction fees of 3.5% + 15 cents for every keyed-in transaction. 

    You may need to look at other resellers to gain access to discounts and potentially free Clover systems, but the quality of their offerings may vary significantly. There are also different chargeback rates offered along with different contract lengths, so it is best to be thorough with your research. 

    Clover’s Features 

    One of Clover’s best features is its $100,000 worth of liability protection in the event of a cybersecurity breach. This can help protect businesses that suffer from a data breach. Like most other virtual terminal options, they process credit and debit payments in addition to online payments. However, they don’t take ACH payments or electronic checks.  

    They offer CRM software integration with Zoho and provide useful security features to keep your business safe. This includes PCI compliance, fraud tools, and CVV recording. 

    Who Is Clover Best For? 

    Ideally, Clover is the best virtual terminal for businesses looking to choose a specific payment provider or merchant service. It is easy to use and comparable to other virtual terminal types in the market today, with plenty of useful features like invoicing and recurring payments. 

    Payment Depot 

    Payment Depot is a good option for businesses that deal with high volumes of sales on a monthly or yearly basis. Although they charge high monthly fees, their transaction fees are very affordable. It’s worth noting that they only deal with businesses in the United States that aren’t classified as high risk. 

    Payment Depot’s Pricing 

    The monthly fees you’ll have to pay for Payment Depot’s payment services range between $79 to $199, which can be quite steep for smaller businesses. However, this includes the cost of a free virtual terminal and other equipment as well. 

    The good news is that you won’t have to pay a percentage fee per transaction, which is ideal for small businesses that sell high-value goods. They only charge a flat rate of 7 to 15 cents per transaction, so it’s worth calculating which pricing model works better for your business. 

    Payment Depot’s Features 

    In terms of their virtual credit card terminal, Payment Depot provides several choices, including ones from Authorize.net, SwipeSimple, PayTrace, and NMI. You can consult a representative to help you choose which one is best for your business, along with any software or hardware options you’ll need.

    Many reviewers also mention their high level of customer support, which can be useful if you run into any problems. Other useful features include third-party integrations, some of which come free with premium plans. 

    Who Is Payment Depot Best For?  

    Payment Depot is the most suitable option for merchants looking for responsive customer support, those with high-ticket sales, and those who want an all-in-one payment processing solution. However, its high monthly fees may not be the best option for small businesses with limited budgets. 

    Chase Merchant Services 

    Chase Merchant Services provides virtual terminals for some high-risk businesses. They can also accept international currencies and provide negotiable rates, although some plans may require long-term contracts. Businesses looking for fast funds processing are also an ideal fit for Chase. 

    Chase’s Pricing 

    When it comes to pricing, Chase charges 3.5% + 10 cents for every keyed-in transaction on a virtual terminal. You may also need to pay a monthly fee of $15 for your Chase Business Checking account unless you meet several qualifications, such as having a daily balance of over $2,000. 

    Chase’s virtual credit card terminal is unique in that it allows the splitting of shipments, which is useful for businesses that sell items that require a deposit. You can also choose between different gateways. They also support both Level 2 and Level 3 processing which comes with more affordable rates.

    Chargeback fees are $25, and they charge 2.9% + 25 cents per online transaction. If you have high-volume sales or deal with B2B sales, you may be able to negotiate for better rates. However, not all of their pricing information is disclosed online. 

    Chase’s Features 

    However, Chase may only provide long-term contracts for some businesses. They also require you to use their bank account, which allows for quick funds withdrawal but may be inconvenient for some business owners. 

    Who Is Chase Best For?  

    Ultimately, Chase is most suited for businesses looking to withdraw their earnings the same day or the next day. Businesses that do B2B sales are a great fit for Chase, in addition to those that sell goods or services internationally. Those who want to choose their own payment gateway should also consider using Chase. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Learn more about the basics of virtual terminal processing with some of the most common questions business owners ask. 

    What is a virtual terminal for processing credit cards?

    A virtual payment terminal is a web-based application that allows you to process debit and credit payments through a computer, smartphone, or another device. 

    What is a virtual terminal fee?

    A virtual terminal fee is usually charged as a percentage of the transaction along with several cents as the cost of processing the payment. 

    How does a virtual terminal work?

    A virtual payment terminal allows the person accepting the payment to input customer payment information which is electronically sent to a payment processor. 

    What is the difference between a virtual terminal and a payment gateway?

    The virtual terminal allows you to input customer payment information while a payment gateway is responsible for encrypting and sending this safely to the payment processor. 

    What is a gateway in credit card processing?

    A gateway is a channel that connects the virtual terminal to the payment processor and safely transmits customer payment data. 

    When choosing the best virtual terminal credit card processing for your business, don’t forget to read the fine print and ensure that you are well aware of any transaction and monthly fees that you may have to pay for their service.

    Learn more about the process with this guide to credit card processing on Processing Card today!