These days, practically anyone can run an online business – all that you need, really, is a website.
And, with the rise of the user-friendly WordPress CMS and simple-but-powerful shopping cart functionality courtesy of WooCommerce, even non-technical individuals can put together an aesthetically pleasing, fully functional website. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either – the WooCommerce and WordPress core are free to use, and there’s plenty of affordable hosting and domain providers out there.
Before you jump in, however, you have one other important consideration to make. Businesses need money to survive, but collecting money from your website doesn’t happen by magic. To collect customer payments directly via your website, you need to choose and install a payment gateway.
Are you looking to make the correct payment gateway decision for your business? Then read on!
What is a Payment Gateway?
Simply put, payment gateways are used by online businesses to authorize and process customer transactions. In other words, without a payment gateway, a business doesn’t get paid.
Now, even if you’ve never set up a payment gateway yourself, we’ve all used them before from a customer’s perspective – if you’ve ever bought anything online, that is, which should be everyone!
Every time you make a purchase with Amazon, your payment goes through Amazon’s payment gateway. PayPal is another instantly recognizable payment gateway that you’ve probably used before.
Today, we’re not looking at payment gateways from a customer’s perspective, though; we’re looking at it from the other side – from a business owner’s perspective, aka the merchant.
Every business needs a payment gateway in order to handle payments from their website . Not all payment gateways are created equally, however. There are a few important things to weigh up when choosing a payment gateway, including:
Does the payment gateway integrate with your chosen eCommerce platform?
Is the payment gateway available in your country?
What is the checkout process like for your customers?
How much does the service cost?
How quickly can you access your funds?
Let’s get on with it, here’s the comparison:
PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments
PayPal Payments Standard
A big reason for this: PayPal Standard is perhaps the easiest payment gateway to configure. Regular users will know that customers are redirected to the PayPal website to make their payment. As such, there are no processing, authorization, and security issues for you to worry about at your end – simply add a Pay with PayPal button on your website, and let PayPal handle the rest.
This checkout procedure is a downside, however, as many store owners dislike redirecting customers away to the external PayPal website – you’re effectively relinquishing control of the checkout experience. Handling all payments on-site is a far more streamlined checkout procedure, which, unfortunately, isn’t supported by PayPal Standard.
But with no setup costs or monthly fees to worry about, plus a free, seamless integration with WooCommerce, PayPal Standard is ideal for small business owners just starting out.
- PayPal Standard is available in 203 countries.
- US fees are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
- Micropayments (transactions under $10) are charged at 5% + $0.05 per transaction. (PayPal doesn’t give you the best rates for micropayments vs Stripe or other solutions)
- No startup costs or monthly fees.
- Checkout process is handled externally.
- Customers can pay with any major credit card or their PayPal account.
- PayPal is a well-known, trusted brand. (PayPal wins here vs Authorize.net or vs Sripe)
- Funds transferred to your bank account in 3-4 days.
Some plugins you can use to integrate PayPal Standard with your WordPress site:
PayPal Payments Pro
It uses the same well-respected PayPal name, but this time you’re able to handle card payments directly from your website. This gives you back control over the checkout experience, giving you the opportunity to customize and tailor your checkout to maximize conversions.
Another neat feature for PayPal Pro users is PayPal Virtual Terminal. The Virtual Terminal service lets your business accept customer payments over the phone, giving you an additional sales channel to target. This service is free, but slightly steeper transaction fees apply.
Like PayPal Standard, PayPal Pro comes with no setup fees. You will have to pay a $30 monthly fee, however, plus transaction fees. The official PayPal Pro extension for WooCommerce will set you back a further $79, too.
- PayPal Pro is only available in the US, UK, and Canada. (Doesn’t come near vs what PayPal Standard offers when it comes to coverage)
- Fees are the same as PayPal Standard – 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, or 5% + $0.05 for microtransactions.
- No startup costs, but a monthly fee of $30. (PayPal Standard vs PayPal Pro looks much cheaper)
- Customers never leave your website, giving you full control of the checkout process.
- Accept payments over the phone using Virtual Terminal (fees of 3.1% + $0.30 per transaction apply).
- Add the PayPal trust symbol to your checkout.
- Withdrawals must be manually requested, taking 3-4 days for the funds to hit your bank.
Some plugins you can use to integrate PayPal Pro with your WordPress site:
Why is Stripe so popular? Because it gives you the opportunity to take on-site payments without the monthly fee. If you’re a WooCommerce user wanting to integrate Stripe using the official extension, it will set you back $79, though.
Stripe is a slightly trickier proposition to configure, especially vs PayPal Standard – after all, Stripe is targeted at developers. If you know what you’re doing, though, or you’re willing to hire someone, then Stripe is one of the best payment gateways for the job.
Stripe also has an effective anti-fraud team on-hand to deal with any dubious transactions. It supports recurring payments out-the-box, too, and is one of the best solutions for international businesses – you can accept over 100 currencies, which are automatically converted to your default currency.
- Stripe is currently available in 21 countries, with more expected to be added. (Vs PayPal, it’s not a lot)
- 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee – on par vs PayPal.
- Transactions handled on-site giving you complete control of the checkout process.
- No setup costs or monthly fees.
- Customers can pay using any major credit card.
- Money received is transferred into your bank on a two-day rolling basis – no manual withdrawals required.
Some plugins you can use to integrate Stripe with your WordPress site:
This gets you a high quality on-site payment gateway, though, allowing you to accept all major credit cards directly from your website (and also PayPal).
For the price, you also get an Advanced Fraud Detection Suite, an exceptional support team on-hand to help you out, and quick-sync with QuickBooks to make the accounting-side of your business a little easier. Authorize.net also supports recurring payments.
- Available in US, Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe. (Not a lot, even vs Stripe, not mentioning vs PayPal Standard)
- 2.9% + $0.30 transaction costs.
- $49 setup fee, plus $25 recurring monthly charge.
- On-site checkout process.
- Customers can pay using any major credit card and PayPal.
Some plugins you can use to integrate Authorize.net with your WordPress site:
During the checkout process, your customers will have the option to Pay with Amazon. After logging into their Amazon account, the customer’s Amazon details – including address and payment information – will be passed through to your website for a quick checkout. This simplifies the checkout process from a customer’s perspective, and the Amazon name gives them peace of mind.
Amazon Payments effectively gives your customers the opportunity to make all their online payments using one account – just like PayPal – but allows you to process payments on-site for a more streamlined checkout experience (a good alternative vs PayPal). The order is processed by Amazon, which also gives you access to their highly regarded fraud protection service.
With no setup costs or monthly fees, plus affordable transaction costs, Amazon Payments is one of the best value payment gateways of all. The official WooCommerce Pay with Amazon extension is completely free, too.
- Available in the US, UK, and Germany.
- Charge of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
- No setup, monthly, or WooCommerce costs. (Great, vs Stripe, PayPal, or Authorize.net)
- Customers never leave your website during the checkout process.
- Customers can pay using any method supported by Amazon.
- Amazon is one of the world’s most trusted names.
Some plugins you can use to integrate Amazon Payments with your WordPress site:
So who wins this part of the PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments battle?
All good payment gateway services are transparent with their fees, listing them clearly on their websites. With this information on hand, you can easily calculate your approximate monthly cost and select the most affordable option.
Fortunately, I’m here to do some of the hard work for you: I’ve calculated an example monthly cost for each service to give you an idea of which payment gateway is the most cost-effective.
Such calculations are fraught with difficulties due to the need for several assumptions. It’s unavoidable, however, and for my calculation I’ll be assuming 50 transactions per month at $100 each ($5,000/month total).
I’ll also be calculating the cost from a US perspective. Prices vary from country to country, so be sure to confirm the cost in your country before committing.
With the disclaimers out the way, I’ve put together a pricing table comparing the costs of our five payment gateways.
|PayPal Standard||PayPal Pro||Stripe||Authorize.net||Amazon Payments|
|WooCommerce Extension Cost||X||$79||$79||$79||X|
|Transaction Fees||2.9% + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30|
|Transaction Fees per Month (Based on 50 Transactions at $100 each)||$160||$160||$160||$160||$160|
|Total Monthly Cost||$160||$190||$160||$185||$160|
|Total Annual Cost (Including Setup and WooCommerce Extension)||$1,920||$2,359||$1,999||$2,348||$1,920|
The only differences in prices between these five services are the setup, extension, and monthly costs.
Which Payment Gateway Should You Choose?
Of course, this answer is subjective.
What I will say, however, is that payment gateways aren’t mutually exclusive – you can use more than one if you want.
In fact, a restrictive checkout is one of the main reasons for cart abandonment. By giving your customers lots of payment options, you’re more likely to get them over the line.
With this in mind, I recommend choosing multiple payment options for your customers.
Most customers prefer to pay in one place, so I strongly recommend one of the on-site payment gateways, a choice from PayPal Pro vs Stripe vs Authorize.net (you select) – you only need one of these as they all provide essentially the same service. On-site payment gateways are harder to set up but make the payment process far more straightforward, so the pros easily outweigh the cons.
Personally, I like to give customers lots of choice. I recommend combining your on-site gateway with at least one of the other two options, PayPal Standard vs Amazon Payments (seems like a good selection) . (Note: if you decide to use PayPal Pro, you don’t need PayPal Standard). Both these services are free to setup and integrate, plus they add a well-respected trust symbol to your checkout in the form of two big-name brands.
Give your customers the option to pay by card or using their PayPal/Amazon account and you’re likely to get more conversions. This makes it more than worth the extra effort of setting up two gateways.
Of course, this is just my opinion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Which is your favorite payment gateway and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
- Best Amazon Prime TV shows (January 2018): 50 great series to watch today
- Amazon losing the e-book pricing battle: Will content trump distribution?
- Amazon to outfit Web site for U.K. retailer
- Amazon’s Vesta no-show highlights the challenges of home robots
- Mobile Payments Leap Ahead, But Consumers May Not Be Ready
- Amazon warrior predicts credit squeeze
- Amazon's Flexible Payment System
- Amazon, Gunning For "Biggest Jerk" Award, Will Be Banning Chromecast And Nexus Player Listings From Its US Store
- Amazon Web Services Improves AI for New Consultancy Program
- Amazon's PayPhrase: Can it juice Amazon Checkout, Payments?