Determining the best way to process your customer’s credit cards can be difficult. There are hundreds of processing companies, but really only two methods; via terminal and via virtual gateway. Picking which method is right for your business is one of the first steps to determining how you will process your customer’s credit cards.
Of course, the first step to solving this problem is understand what each method is. Terminal processing is the traditional method that many established brick and mortar stores use to accept credit cards. This method involves having a terminal or “swipe machine” installed at each registar in your business. As customers come in and make purchases, they simply swipe their card and the transaction is processed over a phone line.
Virtual gateway is a way of processing credit cards without a terminal. Most commonly, cards are swiped or the credit card number is entered into a computer program or mobile app. From here, the transaction is processed over the internet.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Terminals have been used for decades and are very familiar to a lot of consumers, making them very easy to use. They are ideal for high-volume businesses that are comfortable having a credit card reader permanently installed on their premises. They are unable to be moved, however, making it possible to process credit cards only at the location that the terminal is located.
For this reason, many businesses that perform services in multiple locations or who make sales outside of a single location like the flexibility that virtual gateway processing gives them. This method allows employees to process credit cards anywhere that they can get an internet connection. This means that a lawn service company can accept credit cards for services immediately after doing the work; they don’t have to wait for a check to clear the bank or the customer to come to the shop to pay the bill.
Of course, some customers have questions about the security of virtual gateways. Because it is a new technology, this is to be expected, but these transactions are just as safe as terminal transactions. In fact, many programs for virtual terminals are more secure than terminal processing.