Virtual Terminals and Payment Gateways for High-Risk Merchants

Many businesses today are considered high risk. This means that these business owners have to take extra precautions if they want to accept payments online. Virtual terminals and payment gateways are two tools that can help high-risk merchants reduce their risk for chargebacks and fraud.

Our experts at Salus Payments will discuss virtual terminals and payment gateways for high-risk merchants in this blog post!

Virtual Terminals and Payment Gateways

Table of Contents:

  1. Virtual Terminals And Payment Gateways: What Are They?
  2. How Do Virtual Terminals Work?
  3. How Do Payment Gateways Work?
  4. What Are High-Risk Merchants?
  5. Important Benefits of High-Risk Virtual Terminals And Payment Gateways
  6. Why High-Risk Payment Gateways Are Important for E-commerce
  7. High-Risk Virtual Terminals and Payment Gateways: Understanding Your Options
  8. Virtual Terminals With Point Of Sale Systems
  9. Payment Gateways With Virtual Card Terminals
  10. Conclusion

Virtual Terminals And Payment Gateways: What Are They?

The machine you swipe your credit card into at the store is a physical card terminal. It is also known as a POS (point of sale) system.

A virtual terminal is similar but in software form. Virtual terminals are programs that allow you to enter your customers’ information into an online payment form. Anytime you make an online purchase, you fill one of these out. Virtual terminals ask for various data to complete a transaction, such as your name, mailing and billing address, and credit card information.

Payment gateways are the service that sends all of the credit card transactions to your business’s card processors. They’re designed to send you a message from your card processor, letting you know that the transaction has been authorized and approved.

How Do Virtual Terminals Work?

Getting started with virtual credit card terminals is simpler than you may think.

Depending on your high-risk merchant provider, you may:

  1. Log in to an online payment gateway or dashboard and open up the virtual card terminal.
  2. Select the card payment type (debit, credit, etc.)
  3. Enter the sales amount and any other notes regarding the transaction.
  4. Enter the card number and bank account information into the online form, along with all billing information. You can dip or swipe the card at this time if you have a USB card reader.
  5. Click the “submit” button to submit the transaction.
  6. Receive card approval or decline confirmation. If approved, most virtual card terminals have email receipt options for your customers.

You can process payments within the virtual terminal, issue refunds, and review your transaction history.

How Do Payment Gateways Work?

Here’s a step-by-step of how payment gateways work:

  1. First, a customer must choose the service or product you sell. Once they’ve made their selection, they’ll continue to the payment page. Many payments gateways offer businesses owners different options for their payment page.
  2. Your customer enters their debit or credit card information on the payment page. This data should include their name, card expiration date, and card verification value (CVV). The information is passed securely onto your payment gateway.
  3. Your payment gateways will encrypt or tokenize the card information and perform fraud checks before sending the card information to the acquiring bank.
  4. The acquiring bank securely sends the customer’s card information to their issuing card company (Visa, Mastercard, etc.)
  5. The card company does a thorough fraud check and sends the payment information to the issuing bank.
  6. After performing the fraud screening, the issuing bank authorizes the card transaction. A message of transaction decline or approval is sent back to the card company, then to you.
  7. The acquiring bank sends the decline or approval message back to the payment gateway, which then transmits the message to you, the merchant. If approved, the acquiring bank takes the payment amount from the issuing bank and stores it in your merchant account.
  8. Depending on the message, you can either show a payment confirmation page or ask your customer to provide another payment method.

What Are High-Risk Merchants?

A high-risk merchant is a business that is considered to be high-risk by banks. Banks typically determine this based on the type of industry the company in question operates in. This is because high-risk industries usually include irregular, high-ticket sales and numerous chargebacks.

Companies that work in highly-controlled industries also deal with rules and regulations that are often unclear. Other factors like poor credit ratings, operating outside the U.S., or not meeting specific business standards can result in high-risk identification.

Examples of high-risk merchant industries include:

  • Online Gaming
  • Travel Agencies
  • Call Centers
  • Tech Support
  • Adult Entertainment
  • Pharmacies
  • Debt Collections

Important Benefits of High-Risk Virtual Terminals And Payment Gateways

Just because your business is considered higher-risk doesn’t mean that you can’t still benefit from a sound payment gateway system and virtual terminal. One of the most significant advantages of these tools is that they’re designed to provide safer and more secure online payment processing.

High-risk payment gateways and virtual terminals use multiple types of security programs to ensure the safety of your information. These tools also help with fraud detection, reducing high levels of chargebacks and other potential concerns.

Why High-Risk Payment Gateways Are Important for E-commerce

E-Commerce websites and online shopping are constantly evolving. Because so, virtual terminals and payment gateways for high-risk merchants are more critical than ever. These gateways help ensure higher security for your customers while also performing at the highest level.

High-risk payment gateways also ensure:

  • Customers data stays safe
  • Fast processing speeds
  • No delays or downtime
  • Less transaction errors
  • Fewer chances for lost business

Additionally, high-risk payment gateways paired with virtual terminals act as between your website and the payment processor. They can also generate reports on either side for improved customer service.

High-Risk Virtual Terminals and Payment Gateways: Understanding Your Options

Before choosing a payment gateway and virtual credit card terminal, you need to evaluate your business to determine the best kind. As a high-risk merchant, it’s also essential to understand your options.

Virtual Terminals With Point Of Sale Systems

Virtual terminals paired with POS systems provide functionality that gives you the flexibility to accept card payments from your physical, in-store POS. Many point-of-sale systems that include virtual terminals allow you to process payments anywhere at any time.

PCI-compliant virtual terminals can securely store customer information for safer, faster card transactions. You can also use collected customer contact data to engage with your clientele through direct and email marketing.

Payment Gateways With Virtual Card Terminals

The purpose of a payment gateway is to accept payments for services and goods online. In today’s digital payment landscape, gateway software and technology have evolved to create a seamless buying experience across all sales channels.

In addition to E-Commerce transactions, payment gateways can also integrate payments into your CRM or accounting software on a virtual terminal.


Whether you use virtual payment gateways tools for your credit card acceptance method, it’s always good to have options to accommodate changes. You never know how business may shift or what might happen with the economy.

Providing seamless and secure online payments is beneficial so that when your customers need another payment option, they can still come to you!

Do you want to find out how virtual terminals and payment gateways can benefit your high-risk business?

Our experts are here to help! Contact Salus Payments today to learn more!