Best Payment Gateway
Updated: April 07,2022
ECommerce is growing fast. Global eCommerce sales surpassed $4.8 billion in 2021, cementing this sector’s place in the economy. Whether you’re just starting your business or have decided to add online sales to your existing infrastructure, you’ll need a payment gateway to facilitate online transactions.
Finding the best payment gateway is paramount for quick and easy online transactions. Payment gateways are merchant services that integrate with your platform and give your business card payment processing capabilities. These gateways differ in transaction fees, accepted payment types, and country coverage. In this article, we’ve identified, reviewed, and compared the top payment gateways on the market.
- Easy to implement
- Extensive country coverage
- Simplified PCI compliance
- No PayPal payments
- Cannot be used with own merchant account
What makes Stripe possibly the best payment gateway for eCommerce is the sheer amount of payment options it supports. Besides processing traditional credit/debit card one-time payments, Stripe allows you to create subscription models and customizable invoices for recurring payments, as well as accept payments through your company’s mobile app.
This level of flexibility is made possible by an impressive set of integrations and developer tools. The easiest way to integrate payment is via the pre-built Stripe Checkout page. Mobile and terminal credit card gateway SDKs allow you to easily accept payments through mobile apps or in-person POS terminals. As the best eCommerce payment gateway must, Stripe simplifies PCI compliance, as the payment fields are hosted on Stripe’s PCI-compliant servers.
Stripe’s true potential lies with its powerful API integrations. Through Stripe Elements, businesses can design their payment pages using pre-built UI components. If you do not have the coding knowledge to implement the API yourself, Stripe can assist you. Additionally, Stripe offers integration with a slew of other third-party apps through their partner system.
Aside from being the best payment gateway API provider, Stripe supports a multitude of payment methods, including credit and debit cards, and e-wallets. It also supports processing payments in more than 135 currencies across 46 countries, including much of Europe, the US, UK, Japan, and Australia. Stripe’s one significant downside is that it does not accept PayPal payments.
Stripe acts as an all-in-one payment processor, so you won’t need a merchant account to use it. Unfortunately, if you already have one, you cannot use it with Stripe.
What makes Stripe possibly the best payment gateway for a small business is its flat-rate pricing. Stripe charges 2.9% + $0.30 per successful credit card transaction. This is a great rate for low-to-medium transaction-volume businesses. However, companies with higher volumes might lose a significant amount of their revenue through these same transaction fees. To offset this, Stripe also offers customized plans for larger enterprises. While they do not divulge the exact fees, they should be discounted.
Aside from transaction processing, this online payment gateway comes with a powerful fraud-prevention tool based on machine learning, as well as acceptance optimization, which automatically updates expired cards and retries failed transactions.
If you’re looking for the best online payment gateway for a small business, Stripe is definitely worth considering. This is an extremely powerful payment gateway that provides an unmatched level of integration flexibility. Many additional features, like simplified PCI compliance and fraud prevention, shouldn’t be overlooked. Its pricing is competitive, but high-volume companies might be better off with processors that allow you to use your own merchant account.
- Straightforward pricing
- No hidden fees
- Easy mobile app integrations
- Only accepts US businesses
Payline isn’t just an online payment processor. It offers complete credit card processing services, from in-person transactions to mobile and online payments. Like many of the best payment gateways, Payline has a proprietary payment gateway for accepting online transactions.
The Payline gateway can be easily integrated with eCommerce shopping carts - 175 in total. The quick and easy integration process is especially useful for existing eCommerce businesses, as you don’t have to change the look of your store. Hence, you retain the UI your customers grew accustomed to. Of course, Payline allows you to accept credit cards, debit cards, and electronic payments at your store.
As one of the best payment gateways for eCommerce, Payline offers pre-built payment gateways. This is especially useful for non-tech-savvy store owners, as it gives you a customer-ready page for accepting payments. Of course, Payline also offers its APIs and SDKs for those who want to tinker a bit. Through them, you can easily integrate the payment gateway into your mobile app, without the need to redirect customers to your website.
Easily-digestible documentation and powerful APIs make implementation easy for developers. Payline also allows the creation of invoices and lets you quickly set up recurring payments for customers. Another great feature that places Payline on our best credit card payment gateway list is managing multiple merchant accounts through a single gateway. Other valuable features include batch processing and inventory management for virtual terminal transactions.
Payline comes with full PCI compliance at no additional cost. This is very important for safe and secure online transaction processing. Unfortunately, Payline only works with US businesses at the moment.
Unlike many payment processors, Payline clearly displays its pricing structure on the website. There are two simple and easy-to-understand transaction tariffs: One for in-person transactions and one for online payments. Thanks to its interchange-plus pricing structure, Payline is one of the cheapest payment processing options available, especially for businesses with higher transaction volumes:
- In-person fees: 0.2% + $0.10 per transaction + $10/month
- Online fees: 0.4% + $0.20 per transaction + $20/month
Payline is a full merchant-account provider, supplying each business with its own unique merchant ID. It doesn’t require you to sign long-term contracts, and there are no hidden or cancellation fees. There is a monthly minimum of $25 that Payline charges, but even businesses with minimal volumes should cross that threshold easily. PCI compliance also comes at no additional cost.
Payline is definitely one of the best payment gateways for eCommerce. While its developer tools might not be as powerful as Stripe’s, it’s highly affordable and offers full merchant accounts and PCI compliance. Its transparency with pricing is another one of Payline’s key assets.
- Best country coverage
- High acceptance rate
- Robust integration
- Affordable payment gateway
- Not for high-risk businesses
If it wasn’t already obvious from its vast user base, PayPal is nearly unmatched in popularity. You can use PayPal to send and receive payments (any even request refunds) in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and it supports more than 25 currencies. This type of global availability makes PayPal ideal for international businesses.
The hallmark of the best payment gateway in the USA is flexibility: PayPal can act either as a basic payment gateway or as a full-fledged credit card processor.
The gateway-only service is called Payflow, and it’s tailored to businesses that already have their own eCommerce credit card processor and merchant account. Payflow will connect your store to your merchant account and card processor, providing you with an affordable, PCI-compliant checkout solution that’s easy to implement. There are two Payflow plans available: Link and Pro. There are no monthly fees, but there is a small transaction fee.
If you want to get a payment gateway that works well on WooCommerce, you should go with Payflow Pro. This gives you access to a fully customizable payment template that can be hosted on your website. This plan includes a monthly fee.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a merchant account and a processor, PayPal Business and PayPal Credit are ideal options. Through these services, PayPal acts as a payment aggregator. This means they don’t provide a unique merchant account for you, just online transaction processing. Through the best international payment gateway, you can accept credit and debit cards, as well as a multitude of other payment methods.
Like other payment gateway providers we’ve reviewed, PayPal also lets you create invoices and set up recurring payments, subscriptions, and pay-later options. You also have a variety of integration options at your disposal. You can integrate a Pay with PayPal button by just pasting in a line of code, incorporate PayPal payments into your shopping cart, product, and payment pages, as well as create custom integrations for your platform.
PayPal has different pricing plans depending on whether you opt-in for full credit card processing or you just need the best payment gateway for WordPress, for example.
Here are the fees for PayPal Payflow:
- Payflow Link: $0 setup fee, $0/month, $0.10 per transaction fee
- Payflow Pro: $0 setup fee, $25/month, $0.10 per transaction fee
For businesses in need of a merchant account and credit card processor, PayPal charges flat rates, as follows:
- Domestic online transactions: 1.90%-3.49% + $0.49 per transaction
- International online transactions: domestic transaction fee + 1.50%
So, is PayPal one of the best payment gateways? Absolutely. PayPal offers flexibility and is easy to integrate within your eCommerce infrastructure. Due to its incredible popularity and coverage, you can accept payments online from practically any country in the world, with customers using a payment service they know and love.
- Most payment methods supported, including Venmo
- POS integration
- Recurring payments, subscriptions, and buy now, pay later
- Level 1 PCI compliance
- Not suitable for high-risk businesses
While Braintree is a division of PayPal, its payment processing services are completely separate. The two types of services are full payment processing and payment-gateway-only.
The latter targets customers that already have their own merchant account and payment processor and merely need an online payment platform. Braintree’s payment gateway is compatible with most US merchant accounts, and of course, costs significantly less than its full merchant services.
Of course, like other providers on our best gateway list, Braintree mainly advertises its full merchant service. Besides credit and debit cards, Braintree also enables you to receive payments via Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and Venmo (US-only).
In addition to one-time payments, you can also set up recurring charges and have the “buy now, pay later” option. Although Braintree mainly focuses on eCommerce payment processing, they do have POS processing tools as well.
When it comes to integrations, Braintree offers two methods of direct checkout integration - via the drop-in UI and custom UI. Their drop-in UI provides a customer-ready payment interface that’s incredibly easy to implement and requires no coding skills. On the other hand, if you want to get the best payment gateway for your website and customize it according to your needs, you’ll have to streamline PCI compliance by yourself, as you won’t be accepting payments through Braintree’s PCI-compliant template.
Braintree also supports a multitude of third-party integrations with shopping-cart, accounting, and enterprise plug-ins.
Braintree truly excels with safety and reporting: All the data that goes through Braintree’s payment gateway is encrypted. Braintree is a Level 1 PCI-compliant service, and there are no additional costs for PCI compliance. Moreover, Braintree offers robust fraud-protection tools.
Besides being the best payment gateway for OpenCart and other shopping cart solutions, Braintree provides robust transaction reports with insights into the transactions processed through your eCommerce store.
Unfortunately, Braintree has somewhat limited international coverage compared to other online payment providers. The supported countries and territories include the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, and several European states. On the plus side, merchants can accept payments in more than 130 currencies.
The pricing for Braintree is on par with other best WooCommerce payment gateways. The transaction fees for the full merchant services are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
At first glance, Braintree isn’t all that different from much of the competition. However, its transparent pricing, excellent integration capabilities, and huge list of supported currencies make it a viable alternative to services like PayPal.
Top Rated Payment Gateway Services
- Stripe - Best for Developers
- Payline - Best for High Transaction Volumes
- PayPal - Best for International Businesses
- Braintree - Best for Multiple Payment Methods
- Authorize.net - Best for WooCommerce Integration
How We Evaluate Payment Gateway Services
To an untrained eye, all of the best payment gateways may seem identical. However, while they all offer online payment services, things like fees, integration options, and merchant account offers vary by provider and affect your bottom line. Here’s the evaluation methodology we rely on when reviewing and scoring payment gateways:
A merchant account is a type of bank account that enables businesses to process card payments. A merchant account is usually unique to your business, and opening one is an essential step in the lead-up to selecting the best payment processor. The application process involves bank underwriters looking into your credit and payment history and that of your business. However, some payment gateway providers can open a merchant account for you, saving you time and effort - for a price. Payment processor merchant account providers also differ in whether they provide you with a unique merchant ID or act as a third-party payment processor instead of you.
Payment processing companies charge various fees for their services. The most significant ones are transaction fees: As a rule, the top payment gateways charge a percentage of each transaction or a fixed amount. The costs largely depend on whether the processor is providing you with a merchant account or you have your own. For businesses with their own merchant accounts, transaction fees are usually slightly higher than interchange fees - unavoidable transaction costs charged by credit card networks. If the processor provides a merchant account for you, the prices can be significantly higher: Between 1.5% and 3.5% of the total transaction, plus a fixed processing fee.
The best payment processor for eCommerce will offer both types of pricing. Conventional wisdom says that businesses with a smaller transaction volume can stick to third-party processors, as they won’t lose too much money since the fees are percentage-based. However, once your transaction volume increases, you’re better off with a merchant account and fixed fees to avoid hemorrhaging money when the percentages stack up.
Aside from transaction costs, some processors may charge setup fees, monthly fees, and termination fees. The key to picking the right online payment processing provider is reading the fine print and calculating potential costs based on your current transaction volume.
Currency and Country Coverage
Even the best online payment processors don’t have complete global coverage: While there are payment gateways that support a massive number of countries and their respective, they still vary greatly, so this is an important factor for anyone adopting a specific payment gateway.
In general, businesses in the US, UK, and other parts of Europe are almost always fully covered. If your business is located in a country the payment processor supports, you’ll be able to accept payments from anywhere in the world. However, even the best online payment processor has a limited number of currencies it can accept transactions in. Additionally, not all processors accept the same payment methods. Aside from credit and debit cards, it might be worth checking whether the processor accepts payments from e-wallets, direct deposits, etc.
The main purpose of payment gateways, aside from transaction processing, is to seamlessly integrate into your eCommerce platform. Slow or complicated payment processes might annoy customers and negatively impact your sales. Luckily, most online payment solutions feature the pre-built checkout page option.
The best payment gateway providers offer instantly usable checkout pages which require no coding experience to set up. The majority of providers also offer API integrations, creating customized payment pages, and a variety of other integration solutions. Don’t get overwhelmed by the choices, though - focus only on the things your business really needs, or the extra costs will stack up quickly.
Compliance and Security
It goes without saying that payment processing involves handling extremely sensitive customer data. Therefore, it’s imperative that you protect your site in general and payment gateways in particular with the necessary security measures. The best payment gateway providers need to adhere to the so-called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The PCI represents a unified data security standard required from all entities that process card payments. While PCI compliance is not required by federal law, individual states have local legislation that directly refers to the PCI DSS.
PCI compliance is managed by the PCI Security Standards Council. This body, comprised of major card brands, works to enhance global payment account data security. Failure to comply can lead to financial penalties and can even get you banned from accepting card payments. Therefore, the best online payment gateway will be fully PCI-compliant.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you already have a merchant account, PayPal offers the most affordable payment gateway. Payline is the best option for high-transaction-volume businesses, while Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.net will cost small and medium merchants roughly the same.
PayPal and Stripe are some of the best payment gateways in the UK.
No. There aren’t any companies that will process credit card payments and provide you with a merchant account for free. If you already have a merchant account and a processor, you can get a payment gateway with a minuscule transaction fee from PayPal, Braintree, or Authorize.net.
The best payment gateway companies charge 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction if they’re acting as a merchant account provider or payment aggregator for you. If you already have a merchant account, you can get a payment gateway for a $0 to $10 monthly fee and a $0.10 transaction charge.
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