As you run credit card transactions for your customer’s purchases, the peace of mind that comes with a secure card processing system is a non-negotiable. As you sell your business product or service, you shouldn’t have to worry about a credit card transaction going wrong. Therefore, you might look to credit card processing companies like the Authorize.Net gateway—or, as it’s often called, the AuthNet gateway—to ensure that your customer’s card payments go through both quickly and securely.
To help you figure out whether or not Authorize.Net is right for your business’s payment gateway needs, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to everything that the AuthNet gateway has to offer. From answering basic questions like, “What is Authorize.Net?” to unveiling Authorize.Net fees to digging into customer reviews, this guide has it all.
What Is Authorize.Net?
Most people reading this review will want to solidify the fundamentals to knowing what this payment processor can offer their business. Namely, they’ll probably want an answer to the question, “What is Authorize.Net?”
Essentially, Authorize.Net offers the technological infrastructure necessary to connect a website with a payment processing network securely and reliably. Just like a traditional card swipe machine, Authorize.Net routes transactions through all the necessary steps, but the AuthNet gateway relies on the internet rather than phone service. As a result, Authorize.Net is an ideal payment gateway for ecommerce and web-based small businesses that want to ensure that the information at hand—both their business’s and their customers’—will be processed securely.
Therefore, if you use the Authorize.Net payment gateway, you’ll be able to accept a range of online payment methods including credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, and more. Although the Authorize.Net gateway only is available to businesses based in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, or Australia, businesses in these countries can accept international transactions from customers worldwide in multiple currencies.
Additionally, although Authorize.Net is most often used as a tool for ecommerce businesses to accept payments online, they also offer ways you can use mobile card readers, mobile payments, and virtual point of sale.
How Does the Authorize.Net Payment Gateway Work?
Although it all involves tons of nitty-gritty technological processes, the steps to how the AuthNet gateway does what it does are pretty straightforward.
The Authorize.Net gateway plays a crucial role in payment processing between customers and vendors. More specifically, the gateway is the link between the point of sale—whether it be online, over the phone, through the mail, or in person—and the credit card processor. And while we can’t exactly tell you how they do it, we can tell you that Authorize.Net guarantees the security of all credit card information that passes through the AuthNet gateway.
This being said, however, it’s important to note that Authorize.Net is a not a merchant account provider—meaning that although they pass on information to the payment processor, they don’t actually provide your business with the merchant account you need to receive funds. Therefore, to utilize the Authorize.Net gateway, you’ll need to find a merchant account provider or use one you already have. Many merchant services companies, like Fattmerchant, for example, will provide you with a merchant account as part of their platform and then give you the ability to integrate with various gateway providers, like AuthNet.
If you don’t already work with a merchant account provider, you can choose Authorize.Net’s all-in-one plan, in which they will set you up with an account from one of their resellers like TSYS or Dharma Merchant Services. Once again though, this is not an Authorize.Net merchant account, but rather a merchant account from a third-party that Authorize.Net acquires on your behalf as part of their service.
Authorize.Net Payment Gateway: The Details
With the basics like “What is Authorize.Net?” and “How does it work?” covered, it’s time we move on to the details that will be necessary for any small business owner who wants to decide whether or not the AuthNet gateway is the right choice for their business’s payment processing needs.
Let’s take a look at the details that really affect you—like Authorize.Net fees, capabilities, and reviews:
The first detail you probably want info on for Authorize.Net? How much it will cost your business.
Authorize.Net fees will include transaction-based fees and monthly fees. But the specific Authorize.Net pricing will depend on which of their offerings you choose.
If you choose the “all-in-one” option, which includes a merchant account and a payment gateway, then you’ll pay a $25 monthly fee, and 2.9% of each transaction’s value, plus $0.30 per transaction.
If you already have a merchant account and you simply need a payment gateway from Authorize.Net, then you’ll pay $0.10 per transaction and a $0.10 daily batch fee, as well as the monthly $25 fee.
Additionally, if your process more than $500,000 per year, you can reach out to AuthNet directly for an enterprise solution. For this enterprise offering, Authorize.net pricing will be tailored to your business and include interchange plus options for credit card processing fees. Furthermore, Authorize.Net does not charge setup or early termination fees for any of their options.
However, if you want to add eCheck processing or the AuthNet Account Updater to your plan, you will have to pay additional fees. eCheck processing will cost $0.75 per transaction, requires a $10 monthly minimum, and is subject to a fee of $25 for chargebacks and a $3 fee for returned items. As for the Account Updater, you’ll only have to pay per update, but these Authorize.net fees are not specifically listed on their website.
Finally, it’s important to note that in addition to the fees you incur from AuthNet, you will also have to pay any associated fees from the merchant account provider you use. These fees will vary depending on the provider.
Through using the Authorize.Net gateway, your business will be able to access the following included perks:
- Advanced Fraud Detection Suite: This service will use 13 configurable fraud filters to identify, manage, and prevent fraudulent transactions.
- Customer Information Manager: The Customer Information Manager (CIM) will give your customers the ability to securely save their billing, payment, and shipping methods on file for any future orders they make. With this tool, you’ll be able to manage your customer profiles and issue transactions manually from the merchant interface or integrate your website using Authorize.Net API.
- Automated Recurring Billing: For subscription businesses or those with repeat customers, Automated Recurring Billing (ARB) allows you to accept and submit recurring payments based on your schedule. You can give customers a flexible way to pay—with a credit card or directly from their bank account. Automated Recurring Billing can be set up directly from your AuthNet merchant interface or you can use ARB API to integrate this feature into your website.
- Accounting Sync with Commerce Sync: Although Authorize.Net used to include a QuickBooks sync tool as part of their platform, they discontinued this service as of March 31, 2019. Instead, they now offer an accounting sync option from their partner Commerce Sync. With Commerce Sync, you can connect your accounting from QuickBooks Online or Desktop, as well as Xero. However, to add this feature to your AuthNet account, you’ll have to pay a $15 per month fee to Commerce Sync directly.
- Simple Checkout: With Simple Checkout, you can easily add a “buy now” or “donate” button to your website. These buttons are customizable and the HTML code is automatically generated for you to paste into your website. The Simple Checkout buttons will take customers to a PCI-compliant AuthNet payment form to complete their purchase.
- Invoicing: The AuthNet invoicing feature will give you the ability to send customized email invoices to customers. You’ll also be able to send automatic reminders and search your invoice history using the invoicing dashboard. Customers will be able to pay their invoice online or on their mobile device using a variety of different payment methods.
- Developer APIs: To define your own payment experience, you have the ability to utilize the Authorize.Net API. The AuthNet API is PCI-compliant, mobile-optimized, and can be integrated into any application including mobile apps.
As we mentioned earlier, for additional Authorize.Net fees, your business will be able to access these optional features:
- Account Updater: The AuthNet Account Updater will automatically update card data stored in your CIM profiles and from your ARB subscriptions to help you avoid payment declines and interruptions. When monthly updates are made, this tool will provide reports detailing which cards were updated and why.
- eCheck.Net: With the AuthNet eCheck service, you can accept electronic checks in addition to credit cards and other digital payment methods.
Other Authorize.Net Payment Products
Although AuthNet’s main product is their web-based gateway, they also offer a few additional payment products to expand how and where you can accept payments.
- Mobile Credit Card Readers: If you need to accept credit cards in person, you can use Authorize.Net’s mobile POS app with your account. With this free app, you can turn your phone or tablet into a point of sale system—all you need to do is purchase an AuthNet-supported mobile card reader. With the AuthNet POS app, you can not only accept payments but also perform voids and refunds, view your transaction history, and customize tax rates, shipping information, and receipt settings.
- Mobile Payments: In addition to enabling customers to pay online, you can use AuthNet to accept customer payments from mobile devices. As we mentioned earlier, with the Authorize.Net API you can customize a mobile payment solution that meets your needs.
- Virtual Point of Sale: Another way you can accept credit cards in person is to use the AuthNet virtual point of sale (VPOS). You can turn your computer into a point of sale by downloading the Authorize.Net VPOS software and pairing it with a supported card reader. Once you’ve done this, you can accept credit cards payments in person and authorize transactions right from your computer. With the AuthNet VPOS, you’ll also be able to email or print receipts as well as manage authorized devices from your merchant interface. It’s important to note, however, that this VPOS is only compatible with Windows devices.
Authorize.Net Reviews From Customers
If you check out the company’s BBB profile, you’ll see that Authorize.Net reviews from customers aren’t exactly stellar. In fact, Authorize.Net reviews on BBB tend to be mostly negative. Primarily, these negative reviews revolve around complaints about customer service and delays in processing. Though good customer service is certainly crucial for a tech-based business like Authorize.Net, the complaints that prove to be the most discouraging are those regarding delays in processing. Many reviews from customers claim that the gateway has seriously delayed both their payments and their customer data transfers.
If you look at other Authorize.Net reviews across the internet, however, you’ll find that there are many customers who rate the AuthNet service highly. These customers feel that the Authorize.Net makes accepting payments simple, can easily integrate with a variety of platforms, and is generally user-friendly. Altogether though, if you’re looking for a payment gateway with pristine customer satisfaction, then the AuthNet gateway might not be your go-to option.
Authorize.Net: The Advantages
Now that we’ve combed through all of the pertinent details you’ll need to consider while deciding whether or not AuthNet is the right payment gateway for your business, it’s time to take a step back.
Zoomed out, what do all of these details mean for your business?
Let’s take a moment to consider the processor’s positive, standout features:
No Long-Term Commitment Required
Because you’ll be paying for access to the AuthNet gateway on a month-by-month basis, there will be no need to make a long-term commitment to this payment gateway option.
Authorize.Net’s payment structure will only require that your business pays for access to the AuthNet gateway on a monthly basis, so you’ll simply have to wait out a month at a time should you decide to switch to another payment gateway.
To be sure, switching from gateway to gateway frequently won’t be ideal for your business—it will involve data transfers and delays. That said, if you do decide you want to make a change, you won’t be locked in with Authorize.Net because of yearly payments.
Pairs Well With Many Third-Party Resellers
Additionally, Authorize.Net pairs well with many third-party merchant services through their reseller program.
Essentially, through their reseller program, Authorize.Net lends their services to merchant service companies so that they can resell them to businesses and bundle them with their own merchant services.
As such, you’ll be able to access a whole package—the Authorize.Net payment gateway, plus whatever merchant services the reseller offers—through this program.
Authorize.Net: The Disadvantages
As you might have gathered from the summary of the Authorize.Net reviews from customers, the processor is far from perfect.
Though the AuthNet gateway provides the valuable service of keeping your customers’ payment information safe, it doesn’t necessarily do so seamlessly.
What are the most notable downsides to choosing the AuthNet gateway as your business’s payment gateway?
No Actual Merchant Services
Despite costly Authorize.Net fees, this company won’t actually offer any actual merchant services for your business—Authorize.Net will simply integrate well with other merchant service offerings through its reselling program.
As a result, you’re going to end up paying even more in order to access Authorize.Net and the merchant services that are necessary to take advantage of the AuthNet gateway.
These merchant services will include the hardware necessary to make physical card transactions as well. So, if you’re working in retail, the additional costs for a merchant service provider that you’ll need to get in addition to the AuthNet gateway can really add up.
Pricing Can Get Costly
Authorize.Net’s per-transaction fees are relatively standard industry-wise, but you’ll also have to pay a $25 monthly gateway cost. Not all processors will charge a monthly fee, so that’s certainly something to keep in mind if you’re looking for the most cost-effective provider out there.
Finally, one of the main complaints from Authorize.Net reviews from customers is that it’s generally pretty slow-going.
Whether you’re waiting on the Authorize.Net gateway to process a payment or you’re waiting for the company to transfer your customer’s data, it’s likely that you’ll be doing just that: waiting.
So, although you won’t be forced to commit to AuthNet for more than a month at a time, should you decide to transition away from them, the resulting data transfer process would more than likely consume a good amount of time and energy.
The Top Alternatives to the Authorize.Net Gateway
Whether you like what you’ve learned about the AuthNet gateway or you’re not so sure, it’s important to take a look at your top alternatives to get a frame of reference for your search.
So, what are your top two alternatives to Authorize.Net?
Though there are very few options that will offer only an online payment gateway without merchant services, there are two top options that can provide all of the above—and for much more reasonable prices.
Let’s see what these two Authorize.Net alternatives have to offer:
If you’re looking for an alternative to Authorize.Net for your business, and you don’t need any physical payment processing, we suggest you look to PayPal for business.
PayPal won’t charge your business a monthly access fee—they’ll simply charge you a transaction-based fee of 2.7% for each mobile or in-store payment, and 3.5% plus $0.15 for every keyed-in payment.
Plus, through PayPal, you can make online payments and invoice any other business you work with, and this will only cost your business 2.9% of the payment value plus $0.30. Additionally, PayPal can work with a variety of different processors, merchant account providers, and shopping carts.
All in, PayPal’s transparent fee structure is a breath of fresh air when compared to the complicated Authorize.Net fees you would have to deal with should you opt for the AuthNet gateway.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a payment processing system that can offer you the whole package—hardware and all—then you should consider Square.
Square is one of the most intuitive, transparent, and user-friendly payment processing systems on the market. Plus, if your business already has free reign of a smart device—whether it be a smartphone or tablet—the cost of choosing Square as your business’s payment processing system will be minimal.
How is this the case?
Well, with Square, you’ll have the option to process payments through both hardware—the magstripe reader—and software—the Square Point of Sale app. If you opt for the free hardware and software, the only cost you’ll incur as you run payments through Square will be the payment processing fees of 2.75% of each transaction. Additionally, if you need payment processing on your website or mobile app, you can utilize the Square Payments platform for a flat fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Certainly, the fees that you’ll incur through Square will be much more transparent than Authorize.Net fees. Plus, with no monthly fee involved for the free versions of Square hardware and software, your business will be doing some serious saving as it runs transactions.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, this will be for you—as the person who’s most intimately aware of the intricacies of your business’s finances—to decide.
The way we see it? From Authorize.Net’s monthly fees to the reviews from customers, this payment gateway isn’t the most competitive of offerings on the market. Certainly, there are other payment providers who can provide the same capabilities, if not more, than AuthNet, at a more affordable cost. So, even if at first Authorize.Net might seem like the perfect option for your business, we highly recommend you take some time to explore more fairly priced and well-reviewed alternatives.
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current contributing writer for Fundera.
Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. She has reviewed and analyzed dozens of financial tools and providers, helping business owners make better financial decisions.