The Top 20 Payment Gateway Providers
- Amazon Pay
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Ecommerce merchant services are a completely different animal than brick-and-mortar merchant services. While you don’t have to invest in point of sale hardware, there are other important factors to consider. Arguably the most important item you’ll need to invest in is your payment gateway. This important software application is what makes it possible to accept payments online.
Choose a good payment gateway provider and you’ll be able to accept nearly any payment type, integrate with any ecommerce platform, and manage all transactions with ease. On the flip side, a bad payment gateway provider will create numerous roadblocks (and headaches) when it comes to processing payments online.
In this guide, we’re going to help you pick the right payment gateway provider for your ecommerce business by providing you with our top 20 payment gateway provider options. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the importance of payment gateways.
What Is a Payment Gateway?
A payment gateway is an application that plugs into your ecommerce platform to authorize online payments. It’s useful to think of a payment gateway as the middleman between your bank and the issuing bank (the bank that provided the customer their credit card).
When a customer purchases something on your website, the payment gateway transfers their credit card information to your merchant account provider’s payment processing system and communicates back to the customer if the transaction is approved or denied. Payment gateways exist because it is prohibited to send information directly from a website to a payment processor, per PCI compliance standards.
To get a payment gateway, you will have to fill out an application and provide financial background information. Most payment gateway providers will charge a per-transaction fee and a monthly fee. Once you choose a payment gateway provider, you will have to integrate it into your ecommerce platform.
How Do Payment Gateways Work
Payment gateways are sort of an ambiguous subject. To help you better understand what they are and why you need one, let’s see what a payment gateway looks like in action:
- Step 1: Once a customer completes a purchase on an ecommerce website, the ecommerce platform passes it along to the payment gateway via an encrypted connection.
- Step 2: The payment gateway takes the credit card information and forwards it to the business owner’s merchant account. More specifically, the payment gateway passes the credit card information to the merchant account bank’s payment processor. The payment processor is authorized to process credit and debit card transactions between buyers and sellers.
- Step 3: Next, the payment processor contacts the customer’s credit card network (Visa, MasterCard, etc.). The card network routes the transaction to the bank that issued the credit card (the customer’s bank).
- Step 4: The issuing bank checks to ensure the funds are available and the transaction isn’t fraudulent. Based on the bank’s findings, it will either approve or decline the transaction. Either way, it will relay it’s decision back to the credit card network.
- Step 5: The sale is either processed or denied. If the transaction is approved, the credit card network will inform the payment processor of the merchant account, at which point the funds will be released into the merchant account. The information is also relayed back through the payment gateway to the ecommerce platform to inform the customer the sale has been processed (or, if there was an issue, denied).
This entire process happens within a matter of seconds, and is all possible thanks to the payment gateway.
What to Look for in a Payment Gateway Provider
Payment gateways are important—but not all payment gateway providers are the same. Here are some distinguishing factors to look out for when shopping for a payment gateway provider:
- Security: Ecommerce transactions are more likely to be fraudulent than in-person transactions because there is no way to confirm the customer’s identity. Because of this, you need a payment gateway with top-of-the-line security features. In particular, your payment gateway should offer point-to-point encryption (P2PE), fraud detection, and data breach insurance.
- Cost: To use a merchant account, you’ll typically pay a per-transaction fee and a monthly subscription fee. However, there can be other costs, such as account maintenance, statement, setup, chargeback, or PCI compliance fees. Your per-transaction fee will likely only be a few cents, while subscription fees can range from $10 to $30 per month. When evaluating cost, we recommend looking at the overall value the payment gateway provider offers, rather than just going with the cheapest option.
- Contract: Aim to use a payment gateway provider that offers a month-to-month contract, so that you are not locked into something that might not work for your business long-term. If you do sign a longer-term contract, be aware of early termination fees.
- Accepted payment methods: You wouldn’t want to miss out on a sale because you don’t accept the customer’s preferred method of payment. Therefore, you want a payment gateway provider that can accept as many payment methods as possible. Ideally, your payment gateway provider will accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, along with digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. If you sell internationally, you’ll also want a payment gateway provider that can accept foreign currencies and credit card networks.
- Compatibility: If you use a specific merchant account or ecommerce platform, you’ll want to find a payment gateway provider that integrates with it. It also helps to have an API in case you need to customize the integration. Ideally, your payment gateway provider will work with most major merchant acquirers and ecommerce platforms (Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.) and marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, etc.).
- Integrated vs. non-integrated: Some payment gateway providers come with an integrated merchant account, while others come separately and integrate with a range of different third-party merchant accounts. Integrated payment gateway providers usually offer flat-rate pricing and additional features like POS software. Non-integrated payment gateways provide you with greater flexibility to find the merchant account that best caters to your business. Which one to choose depends on your specific payment needs.
- Customer service: If something goes wrong with your payment gateway and you’re unable to take payment for a period of time, that could have huge consequences for your business. Therefore, it helps to work with a payment gateway provider that offers 24/7 customer support, preferably via phone.
The 20 Best Payment Gateway Providers
There isn’t one payment gateway provider that is considered the best—a lot of it depends on your specific business needs. That’s why there are so many different payment gateway providers on the market. We feel that within the following list there will likely be a payment gateway provider that works for your business.
Authorize.Net works with nearly any merchant account, making it one of the most versatile payment gateway providers on the market. Using Authorize.Net, you can accept all major credit cards, debit cards, digital payment methods, as well as e-checks and foreign payments from most countries. Features include a customer information manager, automated recurring billing, invoicing, a developer API, and integrations with Xero and QuickBooks. What’s more, there is also an advanced fraud detection suite.
The cost to use Authorize.Net as your payment gateway is $0.10 per transaction and a $25 monthly subscription fee. You can also sign up for an all-in-one plan, featuring an integrated merchant account from TSYS or Dharma Merchant Services. Authorize.Net also offers month-to-month contracts, and no setup or early-termination fees.
Stripe is a payment service provider, meaning it provides a payment gateway attached to an aggregated merchant account (a merchant account shared by multiple merchants). You can accept all major payment methods with Stripe, plus several foreign credit card networks, and payments via PayPal. Stripe is best known for their developer tools, which allow merchants to do anything from build a branded payments page to code their own customizable transaction reports. There is also a machine-learning fraud detection system and 24/7 customer support.
Stripe charges a flat 2.9% + $0.30 fee on online credit card transactions. There is also a $15 chargeback fee, and month-to-month contracts. Plus, Stripe offers the option to purchase credit card terminals for in-person transactions (prices start at $59).
There are two payment gateway options offered by PayPal: Payflow Link and Payflow Pro. Both work with all major credit card networks, digital wallets, and ecommerce platforms. Other features include the ability to process 25 different foregin currencies, arrange recurring billing, and track your transactions via an account management dashboard.
You’ll pay a $0.10 transaction fee for both Payflow Link and Payflow Pro. PayFlow Pro also comes with a $99 setup fee and a $25 monthly fee. However, you get an array of additional features with PayFlow Pro, such as the ability to create a fully customizable checkout page.
Payment gateway provider Braintree is a PayPal company. However, unlike PayPal, you get a dedicated merchant account when you sign up for the Braintree payment gateway. While not as robust as Authorize.net, Braintree can still integrate with a large network of ecommerce platforms, invoicing software, analytics apps, and plugins.
Once equipped, Braintree allows you to accept all major credit cards, as well as digital wallets, ACH deposits, Venmo, and PayPal. Braintree can also accept payments in over 130 currencies. Additional features include recurring billing, a customer information manager, reporting tools, and developer APIs.
Braintree also provides data encryption, payment authentication, session management, and activity monitoring on all payments. To use Braintree you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, as well as a 0.75% ACH deposit fee, a 1% fee for transactions involving foreign currency, and a $15 fee on chargebacks.
5. Amazon Pay
If you already sell your products on Amazon, Amazon Pay may be a good payment gateway provider for you. With Amazon Pay, users can complete their transaction using their Amazon credentials, eliminating the need to punch in their credit card information. Amazon Pay also offers an API, meaning it can be customized to fit the look and feel of your website.
There are no setup fees, but Amazon Pay does take a 2.9% + $0.30 cut on all domestic transactions. For international transactions, that number jumps to 3.9%. Contracts are month-to-month.
Like Stripe, Square is a payment service provider, meaning your payment gateway is integrated into your merchant account. Square is also extremely versatile, working with most ecommerce platforms, as well as an array of additional third-party software. You can also customize your integration with the Square API. What’s more, working with Square you’ll get a free mobile credit card reader and access to free POS software. All Square payments also feature end-to-end encryption.
There is no cost to sign up for Square. You’ll pay a 2.9% + $0.30 fee on all online transactions, and 2.75% on in-person transactions. Square does not charge fees for setup or PCI compliance.
BlueSnap is another payment gateway provider that also offers an integrated merchant account. With BlueSnap you can accept all major credit cards as well as Diners Club and JCB. BlueSnap can also facilitate ACH transfers and payments from all major digital wallets, including Skrill and PayPal. They also offer high-tech features like intelligent payment routing, a failover mechanism, plus the ability to retry failed recurring charges and update your account when customers use new payment methods. Security features include global fraud prevention and a chargeback-management platform.
Pricing on U.S. transactions is 2.9% + $0.30. For foreign transactions it’s 3.9% + $0.30. There’s also no monthly fees, no setup fees, and no early termination fee.
Another payment gateway provider that also offers an integrated merchant account is WePay. With WePay you get your merchant account through Chase Merchant Services. WePay is designed to support omnichannel merchants, meaning merchants that sell across a variety of different online platforms. They support all major credit cards as well as Chase Pay and ACH payments. Other features include instant onboarding (just provide an email and go), the ability to create a custom payments page, and risk and compliance tools. Pricing is quote-based.
The 2Checkout payment gateway, known as 2Sell, works with all major payment methods and integrates with over 120 ecommerce platforms. It can accept payments in 100 different currencies, and provides you with the ability to host your own checkout page, set recurring transactions, compile reports on your payment history, and customize your integrations with an API. There are also add-ons for increasing conversion rate, managing subscriptions, and receiving enhanced customer support.
To use 2Sell, you must sign up for one of 2Checkout’s three product plans which range in price from 3.5% + $0.35 per transaction to 6% + $0.60 per transaction.
Dwolla is a unique payment gateway provider in that they’re designed specifically for ACH payments. Using Dwolla, merchants can create a white-label payment service for their business. Use cases include real estate investors who want a way to electronically receive rent payments from tenants, utility providers, wealth management businesses, and reimbursement services.
Along with the ability to send, receive, and facilitate ACH payments, Dwolla also gives users a digital wallet where they can store payments, plus the ability to arrange for scheduled and recurring payments. In terms of security, Dwolla requires all customers to verify their account information before sending or receiving payment. Dwolla also encrypts all information being sent over their network.
Dwolla pricing is quote-based, although there is a free plan. Dwolla’s two paid plans feature additional levels of functionality.
Skrill is a bit like the European version of PayPal. With Skrill, you can request payments from customers and only be charged a 1% transaction fee—much lower than your typical payment gateway. To pay, users must have a Skrill account with a linked credit or debit card. Skrill can also process international payments at a rate of 1.9% per transaction. Currently, 30 different currencies are accepted by Skrill
The money can be stored in your Skrill digital wallet, or sent directly to your business bank account. Skrill also allows you to add a buy button to a website. Security features include an anti-fraud screening tool.
The payment gateway provider Payoneer integrates with the top ecommerce platforms and directs all sales into a consolidated merchant account. Currently, Payoneer can process payments in over 150 different currencies. Payoneer features include a dashboard where you can manage your transactions, and a tool designed specifically for managing an Amazon store from the Payoneer platform.
The best part is, Payoneer does not charge fees for accepting payment from other Payoneer customers. If you want to accept payments directly from non-Payoneer customers, they will charge you 3% for credit card transactions and 1% for e-check payments.
Worldpay, one of the largest merchant services providers in the U.S., offers a payment gateway that provides merchants with the ability to accept 300 different global payment types. The Worldpay payment gateway also comes with fraud, risk management, and analytics tools. Furthermore, Worldpay integrates with hundreds of shopping carts, POS systems, booking systems, and travel systems. Note that you have to use a Worldpay merchant account with the Worldpay payment gateway.
Worldpay charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. However, higher-volume merchants may qualify for a lower rate of 2.7% + $0.30 per transaction.
For merchants that deal in cryptocurrency, there’s BitPay—a payment gateway for accepting Bitcoin payments. BitPay allows you to receive and send Bitcoin payments on a website, via email, or via a digital wallet. BitPay can also operate anywhere in the world, and only charges a 1% fee on all transactions. All processed funds will arrive in your wallet within 48 hours. BitPay also provides their customers with a payment dispute management system, and chargeback and identity theft tools.
Next up is BluePay, a payment gateway provider that has received numerous awards. The BluePay payment gateway is capable of accepting all major credit cards as well as ACH payments. BluePay also integrates with all major ecommerce platforms, POS systems, and payment plugins. Plus, there are advanced management functions including reports, batching, recurring payments, returns and voids, and user permissions.
BluePay does not list specific pricing information on their website. Instead, they say “costs are determined by several different factors, including the types of cards you accept, how you process payments, and what data you transmit on the transactions.” BluePay does offer tailored subscriptions for small, midsize, and enterprise businesses.
Payeezy is a payment gateway provider that is owned by First Data—the largest merchant services company in the world. The Payeezy Gateway integrates with over 70 ecommerce platforms and can process a variety of different credit card types as well as PayPal payments and electronic checks. It can also convert most foreign currencies, allowing you to accommodate customers all over the world. With Payeezy, your merchant account is provided through First Data.
Note that First Data does not provide any specific pricing information on the Payeezy payment gateway. Instead, pricing is determined by the services you need, your industry, and your business’s transaction volume, among other factors.
SecurionPay brands themselves as one of the highest-converting payment gateways on the market. Their all-in-one integrated Checkout solution can accept all major payment methods, and can operate in 160 countries and 24 different languages. With just a few lines of code, you can integrate SecurionPay into a variety of different platforms—and for more complex integrations, SecurionPay offers an API. SecurionPay also allows you to create your own custom payments page, feature cross-sales after a transaction is complete, and manage subscriptions with recurring payments. Security features include tools to minimize chargebacks, detect fraud, and blacklist suspicious accounts.
Since SecurionPay is based in Europe, their fees default to euros. Roughly translated to USD, their fees amount to a flat 2.95% + $0.28 to use their service. There are no fees for setup, although there is a $28 chargeback fee.
18. Payline Data
Payline Data provides a payment gateway that integrates directly with their merchant accounts and is compatible with 175 different ecommerce platforms and shopping carts. You can use it to accept credit, debit, and electronic payments; process invoices; and arrange recurring payments. The Payline Data gateway can also be used with multiple merchant accounts.
Other perks include the ability to save customer payment information, process large batches of transactions at once (5,000 transactions in as little as 90 minutes), and manage inventory. You’ll pay a per transaction fee of 0.3% + $0.20 using the Payline Data gateway. Additionally, there is a $20 monthly fee and a $25 monthly minimum on transaction fees. You’ll pay a $25 fee on chargebacks. There is no fee for PCI compliance.
CardStream is a UK-based payment gateway provider that offers an open API and can be added to your website with just a few lines of code. Once installed, you’ll receive access to all payment modes including credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, and alternative payment methods. What really makes CardStream unique is that they’re a white-label solution, meaning you can use them in such a way as to offer a payment experience that appears to be self-hosted.
While the CardStream payment gateway is non-integrated, you are offered the option to integrate with a variety of leading merchant acquirers, including WorldPay, Elavon, and First Data. The CardStream payment network is protected by DDoS mitigation tools. Within the gateway, built-in security settings include AVS, CV2 checks, 3D Secure, and velocity check rules.
CardStream can accept all major credit cards and can facilitate recurring payments, as well as send e-receipts. Pricing on CardStream is quote-based.
Finally there’s AlliedWallet, another plug-and-play payment gateway provider. With AlliedWallet, you simply embed a few lines of code into your ecommerce website to create a sleek hosted payment window for your customers. Supported payment methods include all major credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, GiroPay, and more. AlliedWallet also works with most any ecommmerce website, and boasts 24/7 support. Security tools include end-to-end encryption and chargeback support.
There are no setup fees with AlliedWallet. Per transaction fees start at 1%.
Which Payment Gateway Provider Is Right for Your Business?
As you can see, there’s no lack of options available for small business owners when it comes to payment gateway providers. The best way to go about choosing one is to consider exactly what payment services your business needs. If you operate a subscription service, you’ll probably prioritize a service that makes recurring payments easy. If you sell internationally, on the other hand, you’ll be looking for a payment gateway that can accept as many different types of currency as possible. Find the right one for your business and get selling!
Matthew Speiser is a former staff writer at Fundera.
He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Prior to Fundera, Matthew was an editorial lead at Google and an intern reporter at Business Insider. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world.