Paya Review 2020: Pricing, Features, Top Alternatives

Updated on January 30, 2020
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In the merchant services industry, payment technology is constantly changing and evolving—and therefore, the companies that provide these services must adjust accordingly. Take Sage Payment Solutions, for example. Started in 1989, Sage Payment Solutions served U.S. merchants with their full-service payment system, working with 2,000 partners to market their platform. In 2017, however, Sage Payment Solutions was acquired by GTCR, a private equity group, and has since rebranded as Paya. 

Under this new name, Paya has narrowed their focus to promote “growth and success for [their] partners and their customers,” by providing a payments platform that allows small businesses to accept payments, get paid faster, and streamline operations. With such a big name behind their history, you may have come across Sage Payment Solutions—now Paya—as you search for the best payment service for your business. What can Paya offer? Is Paya payments right for you? We’re here to answer these questions, and more, with our Paya review. We’ll explore all of the details of the Paya payment solution including both features and pricing, so that you have all the information to determine if Paya can fulfill your business’s needs. 

What Is Paya?

As we mentioned above, Paya is a merchant service provider, formerly known as Sage Payment Solutions. On the whole, Paya offers a cloud-based payments platform that allows you to accept payments in the way that works best for your business—including online through your ecommerce store, in-person with a credit card terminal, and more. 

It’s important to note, however, that Paya is an ISO, or independent sales organization, meaning they sell their payment services independently, but work through their partnership with banks to obtain merchant accounts for their clients, helping you through the process of how you’ll accept payments from customers. Additionally, this means that Paya is also not a direct processor; instead, they work with third-party processors who actually run the credit card transactions that you accept.

Although this setup is not uncommon in the merchant services industry, it’s not the only option, and therefore, you’ll want to keep this information in mind as you explore different payment solutions. 

Paya Payments Solutions

With this background out of the way, let’s discuss the various payment solutions Paya provides within their service and what they can offer your business. First, we should mention that overall, Paya does not include in-depth information on their website and instead asks that you submit an inquiry form to learn more about their payment solutions by talking directly to their sales team. 

That said, here is what we do know about the Paya payments solution: 

Paya Accept

Paya breaks down their payment solutions into three different components: Paya Accept, Paya Connect, and Paya Enable. Paya Accept, as the name suggests, refers to the features of their service that allow you to accept credit card payments

With Paya, therefore, you can accept not only credit cards, but other payment methods as well, including debit cards, ACH payments, checks, and electronic invoices. Paya gives you the ability to accept these different payment methods in a number of ways, enabling you to choose the option that best suits your business. 

First, you can securely accept online payments using Paya’s virtual terminal, as well as their solutions for recurring payments, shopping carts, and online donations. With the virtual terminal, you can key in payments through your web browser without requiring a card reader. The virtual terminal also gives you the option to accept payments over the phone. 

Additionally, you can use Paya to take in-person payments with a compatible credit card terminal. Paya does not identify the specific credit card terminals you can use with their platform, but their support center article on the topic states you can talk to a Paya sales representative to find out this information.

Moreover, the Paya payments solution allows you to accept payments on the go by using the Paya mobile payment gateway. The Paya EMV mobile system pairs their iOS or Android mobile app (for smartphone or tablet) with compatible Bluetooth card readers to take in-person payments that are swiped, dipped, or contactless. 

Finally, Paya includes fraud prevention for all of their payment acceptance methods, protecting card-present and card-not-present transactions.

accepting credit cards in-person with paya payments

Paya Connect

Paya Connect refers to the online Paya payments platform that allows you to access and customize your solution, as well as integrate with other software, using their suite of APIs. With the Connect system and the Paya payment gateway, you can access the virtual terminal to take payments, create payment pages for your website, and securely integrate with ecommerce platforms like Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, 3DCart, and more. 

You can also use the Paya APIs to connect to ERP, accounting (including Sage and QuickBooks), and CRM software. All of the Paya API products include integrated tokenization and the respective payment applications are PA-DSS certified.

Additionally, Paya Connect gives you the ability to enable ACH, check, gift card, and loyalty card acceptance, as well as access electronic invoice capabilities that allow you to create customized email invoices with pay-by-text and click-to-pay options. 

Moreover, with the Paya Connect features you can set up recurring payments, scheduled payments, and stored accounts. Plus, with the account updater, you can automatically update store payment and account information. 

Paya Enable

Finally, the last part of the Paya payment service, called Paya Enable refers to the features of their service that help you get set up and grow your business using their system. 

The first aspect of the Paya Enable features is their onboarding process. With Paya’s onboarding application, you can apply and get approved for an account in minutes. Once you’ve been approved, you can quickly and easily sign the application and activate your account. According to the Paya website, their Simplified Boarding process usually takes 15 minutes for approval and offers an application that is easier to understand and requires fewer financial documents than typical applications. 

The second aspect of Paya Enable, on the other hand, includes the capabilities that Paya provides to help you effectively use their system and hopefully grow your business. In addition to the functionality we’ve already discussed, the Paya payments solution includes chargeback management, data tools, and real-time reporting. With the Paya reporting tools, you can access authorizations and transaction history, as well as summary reporting to gain insight from your business’s payment data. 

Moreover, Paya offers dedicated customer support, with their customer service team available 24/7/365 via phone. You also have the option to email a ticket to Paya customer support or search their knowledge base for answers to your questions. 

Paya Pricing

Unfortunately, Paya does not provide any pricing information on their main website. Therefore, this leads us to believe that Paya operates on a quote-based pricing structure, meaning they provide a customized price for your specific business according to your needs. This being said, the only way to determine the ultimate cost of using the Paya payment solution is to contact their sales team and work with them directly.

However, by searching the “Fees” section of the Paya knowledge base, you can gain some insight into some of the fees you might face when using Paya as your merchant account provider. First, according to an article on compliance and PCI-DSS fees, Paya charges an annual compliance fee of $99.80, as well as an annual PCI-DSS fee of $75. Additionally, although we do not know the specific amount, we know that Paya charges a PCI non-compliance fee if you do not complete the PCI certification process, and continues to charge this fee on a monthly basis until you gain compliance.

While Paya does break down the interchange rates associated with the different credit card networks—saying, “the fees are collected by Paya and passed through the card brand”—they do not further specify how they charge transaction fees overall. 

Therefore, once again, the only way to determine the cost of Paya’s payment solution is to talk to their sales team. However, as you can see from some of these knowledge base articles, there are a number of different kinds of fees you can expect to pay when using Paya, or any similar payment service provider.

Without a doubt, you’ll pay transaction fees for credit card processing, which are typically charged as a percentage or flat fee for each transaction you make. Additionally, you may have to pay a monthly or annual software fee for access to the Paya platform, as well as other flat fees—like the PCI-compliance fee we discussed above, statement fees, setup fees, cancellation fees, or minimum processing fees. Moreover, like the PCI non-compliance fee, Paya might charge incidental fees for certain occurrences, like in the case of chargebacks or batch processing. 

Finally, if you need to accept in-person payments, you’ll have to pay for any hardware you require, such as a mobile card reader to pair with your virtual terminal. 

All in all, since Paya does not make any of their standard pricing information available online, it’s all the more important to carefully review any contract or agreement you receive (if you decide to work with them) to ensure that you’re aware of what fees you can expect and how much the Paya payments service will actually cost your business. 

accepting credit cards online with paya payments

Paya Payments Pros

Considering everything we’ve discussed thus far, let’s explore both the advantages and the drawbacks of the Paya payments solution. Here are two of the most notable Paya benefits:

Variety of Payment Acceptance Options

Based on the available information, it seems that one of the most significant benefits of Paya is the number of different ways they allow you to accept payments. Using the Paya payments platform, you can accept in-person payments, mobile payments (connecting to readers with swipe, dip, and contactless capabilities), and online payments. Additionally, in terms of online payments, you can choose to utilize the Paya virtual terminal, create a customized payment page, or connect to an ecommerce platform

With all of these payment acceptance methods, Paya can appeal to businesses of all shapes and sizes, giving them the ability to choose the payment solution that works best for their organization. Moreover, on top of these standard payment options, Paya also offers invoicing and recurring billing capabilities, as well as additional tools to help facilitate payment processes—such as their account updater, accounting integration options, and ACH payment connections.

API Suite

Another top benefit of Paya is their API suite and the flexibility it offers for businesses to customize their payment solution. Within their suite, Paya offers four API options, allowing you to edit and adapt different parts of the payment process for what works best for you. On the whole, you (or a developer) can use the Paya APIs to customize specific payment features (EMV, recurring payments, ACH), ecommerce solutions and software plugins, as well as gift card and loyalty solutions. Moreover, all of Paya’s API tools offer integrated tokenization and are PA-DSS certified. Plus, the developer portal is easily accessible from Paya’s website.

Paya Payments Cons

With these advantages in mind, let’s take a look at the most notable drawbacks of the Paya payments platform. Here are two points to consider:

Lack of Transparency

Without a doubt, the biggest downside of the Paya is their overall lack of transparency. As we’ve discussed, Paya provides very limited information regarding their services on their website, making it difficult not only to understand exactly what they offer, but also to compare their solution to others on the market. Additionally, Paya doesn’t offer any pricing information online, leaving potential customers in the dark about costs until they go through the process of talking to the Paya sales team. 

On the whole, transparency has been a large issue within the merchant services industry, and with the transition from Sage Payment Solutions to Paya, it’s unfortunate that they have not expanded their available information in this process. 

Moreover, and along the same lines, much of Paya’s website is unclear and difficult to navigate, with the majority of detailed information being found in their knowledge base. Even so, the knowledge base seems to be outdated—with many pages containing dead links or linking out to Sage pages that don’t provide any insight into the topic at hand. 

Limited POS Payment Options

Although the extent of the services that Paya offers is unclear from the information available, it seems that the Paya payments solution is limited in terms of its capabilities for point of sale and in-person payments. 

As we’ve mentioned, Paya allows you to accept in-person payments using EMV terminal devices, as well as their virtual terminal. However, Paya doesn’t specify what kind of terminals you can use, if they offer POS software integration, or if they can accommodate countertop terminals. Their virtual terminal and mobile Paya payment gateway may serve some merchants in terms of in-person payment processing—however, for brick-and-mortar retail stores or restaurants, these solutions more than likely will not be sufficient. 

That said, if Paya can serve these types of business owners and does provide more in terms of point of sale payments, it would be helpful to find this information on their website.

accepting credit cards in-person with paya payments

Paya Alternatives

As you go through the search process for the right payment solution for your business—whether considering Paya or another provider—it’s always worth looking into other top alternatives and comparing all of your options. Therefore, keeping in mind everything we know about the Paya payments platform, here are two alternative solutions that you might consider:

Square

As a leader in the payment space, Square can offer your business a variety of different solutions; flat-rate, transparent pricing; and the opportunity to integrate with hundreds of third-party tools. Square, unlike Paya, is a payment service provider, meaning they don’t provide dedicated merchant accounts—instead, they aggregate all merchant funds into one account and then distribute them to the respective business bank accounts. 

This being said though, as a payment service provider, Square provides in-house credit card processing and offers flat-rate pricing based on the way you accept a transaction. Additionally, Square offers solutions for in-person payments via their free iOS-based POS software and corresponding card readers and online with payment pages, ecommerce integrations, invoicing, virtual terminal access, and more. 

Therefore, whether you need payment processing for your restaurant or online store, Square has a payment solution that can accommodate your business. Moreover, Square gives you the ability to connect to hundreds of third-party applications and utilize their other services for payroll, marketing, and loyalty programs, as well as use their API tools. 

Plus, all of Square’s product, pricing, and support information is easily accessible on their website—and regardless of the solution you choose, Square doesn’t charge startup, authorization, statement, refund, PCI-compliance, or other fees. 

Considering all of this information—with impressive flexibility, features, and options, as well as the transparency Paya is lacking—Square is certainly a worthy alternative, as long as your business doesn’t require a unique merchant account

Payment Depot

On the other hand, if your business does need a dedicated merchant account, you might consider a more traditional merchant service provider as a Paya alternative, like Payment Depot. In fact, in many ways Payment Depot is similar to Paya payments. Like Paya, Payment Depot is not an actual processor, instead working with First Data and TSYS for merchant accounts and back-end processing. 

Additionally, with Payment Depot, you can choose from a variety of payment processing solutions, including in-person payments with credit card terminals and Clover POS, online payments using the Authorize.Net payment gateway, and keyed-in payments with their virtual terminal. With many of the same capabilities, the biggest difference, therefore, between Paya and Payment Depot is pricing. Whereas Paya requires you to work with their sales team and provides no pricing information online, Payment Depot is extremely transparent about their costs.

Payment Depot offers their services on a monthly subscription basis, with subscriptions ranging from $49 to $199 per month, depending on the plan you choose. However, all of their plans include a free payment gateway, free reprogramming of any existing equipment you have, as well as wholesale interchange pricing. With this pricing model, Payment Depot only charges a small transaction fee plus what is owed to the credit card network, and doesn’t add their own markup onto your per-transaction costs. This pricing model, then, is one of the most affordable on the market. 

Unlike Paya, you can find all of the details about subscriptions, payment options, and credit card processing fees on Payment Depot’s website, and moreover, they offer a 90-day money back guarantee with all of their memberships. All of this being said, with a very similar service package to Paya, as well as the transparency, clarity, and accessibility that Paya lacks, Payment Depot is a notable alternative for payment solutions. 

Paya: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, choosing the right payment service provider for your business is an important decision—and one only you can make. As you know what your business needs, what your budget looks like, and how you want to grow, you’re in the best position to determine which payment solution will be able to meet your requirements. 

With this in mind, considering the limited information available regarding Paya payments, it’s difficult to make a substantial conclusion about the quality of their service. Without detailed information about their capabilities and pricing, you can’t appropriately determine if Paya can fulfill your needs or compare their credit card processing solution to others on the market. Therefore, if you want to learn more about Paya to see if it’s right for you, you’ll have to contact their sales team directly. 

Since Paya doesn’t offer the transparency we see with other merchant service providers, it’s important to thoroughly review any agreement or contract that you receive from working with their sales team. This being said, if you’d prefer to look into providers with more accessible information and overall transparency before talking to Paya, there are numerous solutions—from Square to Payment Depot and beyond—that you can explore.

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Randa Kriss

Randa Kriss is a staff writer at Fundera, where she specializes in reviewing small business products, software, and services. Randa has written hundreds of reviews across a wide swath of business topics including ecommerce, merchant services, accounting, credit cards, bank accounts, loan products, and payroll and human resources solutions. She has also written for PeopleKeep, Zoho, KNF&T Staffing, and Planted. Randa has a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Iona College. Email: randa@fundera.com.
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