Looking to take payments over the phone or mail? Not sure which virtual terminal to choose?

There are quite a few payment solutions in Australia offering virtual terminals or MOTO (Mail Order Telephone Order), but only a handful are well-suited for small businesses.

What is a virtual terminal?

A virtual terminal is a web payment page where the merchant enters card details on behalf of the cardholder to complete a transaction. Card details are typically communicated via telephone or mail order by the customer.

Accepting payment when a card is not present comes with a greater risk than your regular card swipe or contactless transaction. This is reflected in the transaction fees that are higher than EFTPOS fees, plus the typical requirement of PCI-DSS compliance documentation, which is a global security standard for card payments.

With all of the possible virtual terminals, fees and data security conditions, which option should you go with?

Our virtual terminal comparison gives you an overview of the best ones in Australia.

Provider Costs Rating Website

Square

$0/mo
2.2% card fee

Best free features

PayPal

$25/mo (incl. GST)
Domestic: 3.6% + $0.30
International: 4.6% + $0.30

Convenient for PayPal users

Mint

$0/mo
1.5%+ per transaction

Best for simplicity and low fees

Tyro

$0/mo
Custom transaction fees

Best for Tyro EFTPOS users

PayWay

Custom quote
Card fees
based on revenue

Best for those looking for security

Shopify

US$29-$299/mo
2.4%-2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Only for Shopify users
Who Cost Link
Square No monthly fee
2.2% card fee
PayPal $25/mo (incl. GST)
Card fee: 3.6% + $0.30 (domestic), 4.6% + $0.30 (international)
Mint $0/mo
1.5%+ per transaction
Tyro $0/mo
Custom transaction fees
PayWay Custom quote
Card fees
based on revenue
Shopify US$29-$299/mo
2.4%-2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Square – easy and no monthly fees

Square
Our rating
  • No monthly cost, only pay card fee

  • Easy sign-up

  • Very simple and user-friendly

  • No commitment

If you’re looking for no commitment, quick registration and no monthly fees, Square is your best solution. The only thing you pay is a fixed transaction fee per Virtual Terminal payment.

Square Virtual Terminal Australia

Square Virtual Terminal is a very simple page focusing on card details. Photo: Square

You can go many months without using the terminal, without being charged anything, and it will still be available as a complimentary feature in your Square account.

Square Virtual Terminal accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express.

The virtual payment terminal page is straightforward – enter the card details, payment amount and a short note to be shown in sales reports (i.e. not for personal details), or itemise the bill with products from your library (or custom items), GST, discounts and variants.

Pricing

Monthly cost: Free

Transaction fee: 2.2% (any card)

PCI compliance: No fee

If you’ve saved a customer’s card details in the system, you can pick that for the payment, or start a recurring payment if you’re setting up a new regularly occurring transaction. It is also possible to record the payment in cash, gift card or other tenders, or split the transaction into different payment methods.

Square really has lowered the threshold for getting started with payments, whether it’s for the point of sale, via invoicing, ecommerce or in this case a virtual terminal. With a Square account, you can take payments in any of these ways for a fixed percentage. There is no requirement to submit PCI documentation with Square, but they do expect you to follow general safety check recommendations in line with PCI regulations.

Best for: Small, new or seasonal businesses needing an easy, not-committing option for remote payments.

PayPal – high fees, but convenient for PayPal users

PayPal
Our rating
  • $25/month + choice of fee plans

  • Transaction rate: From 3.6% + $0.30

  • Quick settlement in PayPal account

  • Integrates with other PayPal services

PayPal is a popular choice for small business, perhaps partly because it is so well-known. The virtual terminal itself is effective and highly secure, but PayPal makes it your responsibility to set up PCI compliance, which can be costly if you require assistance. PayPal Virtual Terminal accepts Visa, Mastercard and Maestro, and transactions settle in your PayPal account within minutes. Customer service is only available during working hours in Australia.

PayPal’s virtual terminal is simple to use, but costs are a little complicated.

To cut to the chase, the costs of their virtual terminal are some of the highest for small businesses. Firstly, there’s a $25 monthly (GST included) fee for having the virtual terminal in the first place.

As standard, virtual terminal payments cost 3.6% + $0.30 of the transaction amount for domestic transactions, while international transactions incur a large 4.6% + $0.30 fee.

A currency conversion fee of either 3 or 4% on top of the base exchange rate is applied on all plans if the payer’s account is in a non-Australian currency.

Pricing

Monthly fee: $25 (incl. GST)

Domestic transactions: 3.6% + $0.30
International transactions: 4.6% + $0.30

Currency conversion fee: 3% or 4%

PCI compliance: Costs apply

There may also be additional fees applied on certain transactions, e.g. for “card account verification” or “uncaptured” payments.

Tired of reading about PayPal fees? Maybe this virtual terminal isn’t for you. However, the platform does offer a broad range of online payment features such as recurring payments and a PayPal checkout on your website. If you’d like to have all this in one place, you may prefer PayPal.

To sign up, you submit an online form followed by a phone call with PayPal to discuss your requirements.

Best for: Online businesses using PayPal services regularly and with primarily Australia-based customers.

Mint – local terminal with low fees

Mint Payments
Our rating
  • No monthly fees

  • Low transaction fees

  • Limited interface that’s simple to use

  • Integrates with plugins and software

Mint Payments is an Australian payments solution business operating in both brick and mortar retail locations and online. They aim to provide a tailored set up for merchants with custom pricing, fast settlements and a rewards program to help compete with larger international payment companies. Using the Mint Merchant Portal, merchants can receive payments through their web browser without a card being present.

Mint Virtual Terminal is quite basic, but does that job smoothly. Photo: Mint Payments

When compared against other virtual terminals like Square’s, the Mint virtual terminal appears to be quite minimal in its features and rather basic. Depending on the type of retailer using the application, this could be both a positive or a negative.

At its core, Mint virtual terminal allows you to add card details, customer information, a reference number, sales note and surcharge.

If you want to maintain a tight ship when tracking inventory, Mint may not be the payment you’re looking for.

Merchants must comply with PCI-DSS and obtain a timely certification of its systems and processes. Retailers are subject to data security audits from the Payment Networks or Mint themselves. Mint also states that merchants are responsible for ensuring that they are working with service providers that also meet compliance standards.

Pricing

Monthly fee: None

Transaction fees: 1.5%+ per Visa & Mastercard transaction

Custom fees with $90k+ monthly turnover

PCI compliance: Costs may apply

So if you need something for a short period, or are looking to dip your toes into the world of virtual terminals, Mint might be the option for you. With extremely competitive transaction fees and no monthly fees at all, it’s a simple yet limited platform that does the basics well.

Best for: Merchants looking to cut down on fees and those who don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Tyro – old-school EFTPOS service that’s branching out

Tyro
Our rating
  • Customised pricing structure

  • No lock-in contracts

  • Recurring payments also available

  • Great for existing Tyro merchants

Tyro is a chameleon of sorts in the payment industry. The company offers hardware terminals and POS options, its own banking app, and loans. It also offers its own mail order/telephone order virtual terminal (MOTO).

Tyro eCommerce dashboard allows you to accept keyed-in payments. Photo: Tyro

It can be accessed via Tyro’s own eCommerce dashboard, desktop and mobile card terminals, as well as third party EFTPOS machines from Xenta and Xentissimo. It’s easy enough to set up and if you have any trouble selecting this as a payment option, Tyro’s 24/7 customer support can help you add the virtual terminal option to your machine.

There is an added charge for MOTO transactions. On top of the base 1.1% transaction fee, merchants using Tyro will incur 0.15% on top.

Tyro does require relevant PCI paperwork and will determine your PCI-DSS level while onboarding. Their website lists four categories that need to be presented to be able to accept virtual terminal payments.

Pricing

Monthly cost: May apply

Transaction fee: Custom quote

PCI compliance: Costs may apply

Any merchants operating under category 1, 2 or 3 (high transactions) will need to prove their compliance regularly, while category 4 (low transactions) only need to comply with the standard. PCI-DSS compliance support will cost extra, but the cost is not listed on the Tyro website.

If you’re already involved with the Tyro ecosystem, then this Virtual Terminal would be a no-brainer. Tyro allows users to input any phone or mail orders straight into pre-existing terminals. And while it is a company that has a strong focus on in-store retail, customers who can only phone in for a payment can do so.

Best for: Those who are already committed to the in-store Tyro ecosystem.

PayWay – secure and simple Westpac solution

PayWay
Our rating
  • Pricing not transparent

  • Accessible via web, phone or tablet

  • Owned by a trusted name – Westpac

  • Accepts all major credit cards

PayWay Virtual Terminal is Westpac Bank’s own payments solution for merchants looking to find a simple and secure way to collect and manage customer payments online.

Being run by one of Australia’s largest banks has its advantages. All major credit cards are accepted, including: Mastercard, Visa, UnionPay, American Express, Diners Club and JCB, some of which require separate agreements to accept.

PayWay Virtual Terminal allows merchants to accept payments over the phone with an instant credit card approval/decline response for credit cards. Its website portal includes a suite of modules supporting multiple payment types, such as one-off and repeat payments for regularly invoiced customers.

Pricing

Monthly cost: Custom quote

Transaction fee: Based on revenue

PCI compliance: Costs may apply

All settlement reports and reconciliation can be accessed remotely from a device through the PayWay Portal. The content of such reports is quite basic, and includes transaction amount, customer reference number and the staff members who accepted the payment.

If you’re looking for something that can handle inventory and stock, you’ll do well to look at another more comprehensive virtual terminal.

Westpac offers customised quotes for businesses looking to start up with Virtual Terminals. Transaction fees are not listed but are based upon relative turnover.

Westpac requires a comprehensive PCI-DSS compliance check for its merchants. Depending on transaction amount, and if customer data and details are kept on site, most merchants will only be required to comply via a self-assessed questionnaire (SAQ). For virtual terminal users, this is around 80 questions long. For higher-transaction businesses, you may need to pay for an external assessment via an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) or Qualified Security Assessor (QSA).

Needless to say, using a virtual terminal through one of Australia’s biggest banks does come with a stringent set of compliance rules.

Best for: Business without a website looking for the security of a big bank.

Shopify – virtual terminal only for ecommerce users

Shopify
Our rating
  • Requires ecommerce subscription

  • Choice of online payment gateways

  • Links to ecommerce inventory

  • Only for occasional MOTO payments

Shopify is an easy-to-use, all-in-one ecommerce store builder. It’s an incredibly popular choice worldwide due to its impressive collection of tools allowing anybody to step up and take full control of their online business – this includes selling via a virtual terminal.

Shopify doesn’t use a virtual terminal in the same sense as the other solutions included in this comparison. Shopify allows users to instead create a draft order. This is where merchants can create orders for their customers, which are similar to orders that customers create for themselves.

Shopify virtual terminal

There’s nothing called “Shopify Virtual Terminal” officially – instead, it is called “Draft Order”.

Once a payment is accepted, the draft order is finalised and converted into an official order. Draft orders can be created in-store, online or elsewhere from a computer and are great for handling purchases where billing info is provided over the phone, just like other virtual terminals.

You can apply discounts, shipping, customer information and reference numbers, as well as duplicate existing online orders. It should be noted that you can’t edit a draft order after it’s been marked as paid, pending, or paid-for using a customer’s billing information. All major credit cards are accepted, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express.

Pricing

Monthly fee: US$29 – $299 depending on ecommerce plan

Shopify Payments rates: 2.4%-2.9% (plan-based) + $0.30 per transaction

Other payment system: Rates depend on provider + 0.5%-2% Shopify transaction fee for using external gateway

PCI compliance: Included in cost

One of the great features of Shopify is its inventory management and reporting systems. These are well integrated into the draft order process, affording retailers a seamless experience in creating and processing transactions via their clients’ billing information.

Transaction fees via the virtual terminal depend on whether you use Shopify Payments or another online payment gateway for ecommerce payments (you’ve got a choice). You are also required to subscribe to a monthly or annual Shopify ecommerce plan for online store store features – so using the virtual terminal on its own, without monthly fees, is not possible.

Any retailer who chooses Shopify Payments as the payment system shares level 1 PCI compliance by default. This means that Shopify’s own PCI certification covers your store, shopping cart, hosting and virtual terminal. This includes ongoing on-site assessments validating compliance to continuous risk management. There are no additional costs, with compliance included as standard when you subscribe.

Best for: Online retailers with a Shopify store that occasionally requires MOTO payments.

Summary

Accepting payments online through a Virtual terminal has never been more accessible. With a number of new and established platforms entering the game, there’s a choice out there for everybody.

Strengths of virtual terminal providers:

Virtual terminal Best for Website
Square Small, new or seasonal businesses needing an easy, not-committing option for remote payments.
PayPal Online businesses using PayPal services regularly and with primarily Australia-based customers.
Mint Payments Those looking to cut down on fees and those who don’t need all the bells and whistles.
Tyro Those who are already committed to the in-store Tyro ecosystem.
PayWay Business without a website looking for the security of a big bank.
Shopify Those with a Shopify online store who want to take the occasional MOTO payment.
Virtual
terminal
Best for
Square
Small, new or seasonal businesses needing an easy, not-committing option for remote payments.
PayPal
Online businesses using PayPal services regularly and with primarily Australia-based customers.
Mint
Those looking to cut down on fees and those who don’t need all the bells and whistles.
Tyro
Those who are already committed to the in-store Tyro ecosystem.
PayWay
Business without a website looking for the security of a big bank.
Shopify
Those with a Shopify online store who want to take the occasional MOTO payment.