If you run an eCommerce business, you need a payment gateway.
And it’s really important that you choose the right one.
According to a study by the Baymard Institute in 2018, 26% of customers who abandoned checkouts did so because the checkout process was too long or complicated.
A good payment gateway will make the checkout process really simple for your customers. The simpler it is, the less likely they are to abandon their cart.
So it’s really important that you find the right payment gateway for your eCommerce business.
In fact, improving checkout processes can increase conversion rates by 35.26% (Baymard, 2018)
Interested in finding out more?
Let’s check out some of the best payment gateways out there.
Best Payment Gateways – an Overview
|Service||Price From||Our Rating||Next Steps|
|3.5% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction||4/5||Sign Up|
|2.9% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction||4/5||Sign Up|
|2.9% + $0.30 per transaction||4/5||Sign Up|
|$25 per month + $0.10 per transaction||3/5||Sign Up|
|2.9% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction||3/5||Sign Up|
|Associated fees + $0.12 per transaction||3/5||Sign Up|
|2.9% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction||2/5||Sign Up|
Things to Look for When Choosing a Payment Gateway
First of all, an important question:
Why do you need a payment gateway?
Simply put, the payment gateway is the middleman that you can’t do without.
In an eCommerce business, the storefront is the customer-facing part: the item you’re selling, the description, the images or videos you’re using to sell it.
The payment processor is the system that processes that payment – retrieving the money from your customer.
In the middle of that is the payment gateway. It sends the data from your customer, securely and safely, to your payment processor. You can’t run an eCommerce business without one.
How does a payment gateway work?
Once a customer inputs their payment information, the payment gateway encrypts it, then sends it to the payment processor.
The customer is then redirected to the payment processor and finalizes the transaction. Once the payment processor has verified the payment, it directs the customer back to your website.
Note that the payment gateway only has a small role here – it simply allows the payment information to travel from customer to payment processor. It’s a vital role, however.
So, what do you need in a payment gateway?
There are a few key things to look out for:
- Security: the main thing is that your payment gateway is safe, not only for you, but for your customers. You should be able to see their safety credentials on their website. Remember, customers are far more likely to shop with you if they feel your checkout process is secure.
- Payment methods: you want to offer your customers as many payment methods as possible. Most payment gateways accept payments from major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal.
- Ease of use for customers: the more complicated the checkout process, the more likely you are to lose the customer. A good payment gateway will make it really simple for your customers.
- Transfer Fees: Some payment gateways have higher fees than others, especially if your customers are making payments from around the world. Make sure you check for hidden fees before you sign up.
7 of the Best eCommerce Payment Gateways to Consider
We’ve picked 7 of the best, most popular eCommerce payment gateways for you to look at. All our choices are safe and secure for you and your customers. They’ve also got great credentials, including high-profile users in some cases.
We’ve tried to choose from a wide price range to suit different budgets. They also vary in complexity, so whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you should be able to find something to suit you here.
2Checkout was launched in 2006. As well as offering a payment platform, they also have a shopping cart that is designed for maximum conversion rates – so it has more to offer than some of the others on this list.
It’s also built to integrate with other eCommerce platforms – 120 of them, in fact, including 3Dcart, Shopify, and Wix.
2Checkout accepts all major credit cards (like Visa, Mastercard and American Express), as well as PayPal.
Although it seems like a pricier choice than some of the others on this list, it does have a lot of great features on some of the plans, including a smart ordering interface, and built-in A/B testing.
The 2Subscription Plan is designed to help you organise and manage subscriptions – great if you have a subscription-based business.
2Checkout is Best for …
Subscription-based ecommerce businesses that require help maintaining and organising their subscriptions.
Starting Price – 3.5% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction
That’s for the 2Sell Plan.
2Subscribe plan is 4.5% transaction fee + $0.40 per transaction, and;
the 2Monetize Plan is 6% transaction fee + $0.50 per transaction.
What We Like About 2Checkout
- Extra features – some of the extra features, like the A/B testing, are great
- Subscriptions – having an option for subscription management is great
- Shopping cart – comes with its own secure shopping cart
What We Don’t Like About 2Checkout
- The price – especially if you don’t want any of the extra features
You can sign up for 2Checkout for free here.
Did you know that PayPal have over 295 million active accounts? That’s a huge amount of people that already have a PayPal account ready to go.
PayPal Checkout accepts PayPal, Venmo, PayPal Credit, and most major debit and credit cards – which is super helpful for your customers. In fact, PayPal have made the shopping experience as easy as possible, using the Smart Payment button which you can install on your website.
This could make a big difference to your checkout abandonment levels, as customers are less likely to ditch their cart if it’s really easy to checkout.
They’ve also made things convenient for sellers, too: built-in invoicing means you can easily send an invoice to your customers with little to no effort on your part (always a bonus!).
There are three plans:
- PayPal Payments Standard
- The PayPal Express Checkout
- PayPal Payments Pro
Which one you pick will depend on what you want – if you want to control every step of the payment process, you might want to look at Payments Pro.
PayPal offer advanced fraud protection, which will protect both you and your customers.
PayPal is Best for …
Any company looking to make the payment process as quick and easy as possible for their customers.
Starting Price – 2.9% transaction fee + $0.30 per transaction
You could be eligible for volume discounts if you make a lot of sales.
PayPal Express Checkout charges a 2.9% transaction fee and $0.30 per transaction.
PayPal Payments Pro charges $30 per month, plus a 2.9% transaction fee and $0.30 per transaction.
What We Like About PayPal
- Customers are ready to go - millions of potential customers already have PayPal accounts
- Reduce cart abandonment – as payment is so easy
- Simple to use – and easy to set up
- Cuts out the work – with invoicing built-in
What We Don’t Like About PayPal
- Chargeback fees – these can be an unpleasant shock
- Customer services – they don’t always respond quickly according to reviewers
You can sign up to PayPal here.
Braintree is an all-in-one payment service that allows you to accept payments. In partnership with PayPal, Braintree is known for its secure payments, offering excellent tools to protect against fraud. It also offers a smooth payment experience for customers, which is great.
Braintree offers four products:
- Braintree Direct - for merchants
- The Braintree Extend - for businesses wanting to improve their order management system
- Braintree Auth - for merchant service providers wanting to take authorized payments on their behalf
- Marketplace - for marketplace sellers who want to offer multiple payment options to their customers
The payment process is customizable, and the partnership with PayPal will allow your customers to pay easily. You can also accept payments from Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, and most credit and debit cards.
Braintree is Best for ...
Any business that would like to offer safe and secure methods of payment for their customers.
Starting Price - 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction
You will need to contact the Sales team to find out more.
What We Like About Braintree Payments
- Very secure
- Offers many payment options for customers
What We Don’t Like About Braintree Payments
- Can take a little longer to set up than others on this list - you have to contact the sales team to begin the process
You can sign up for Braintree Payments here.
Authorize.net is one of the oldest payment gateways online – it’s been going since 1996, with many business owners using the platform. It’s considered one of the best, most trusted payment gateways. It is, however, just a payment gateway – it won’t provide you with a merchant account.
It supports all the major credit cards – including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express – and it’s compatible with Apple Pay, PayPal, and Visa Checkout.
There are three plans to choose from:
- Payment Gateway Only
- Enterprise Solutions (for businesses processing more than $500k per year)
Authorize.net will issue invoices for you (depending on the plan you choose) and also offers advanced fraud protection. It’s also got good integration with QuickBooks, so if you use that, you might be tempted to go for this one.
It should be worth pointing out, however, that your business needs to be registered in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, or Australia if you want to use it.
Authorize.net is Best for …
Any eCommerce business that is looking for a safe, secure shopping experience for their customers.
Starting Price - $25 per month and $0.10 per transaction
That’s for the Payment Gateway Only option.
The All-in-One option costs $25 per month and 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
What We Like About Authorize.net
- Very safe
- Integration with QuickBooks – great if you already use it
- Trustworthy – it’s a reliable, long-standing platform
What We Don’t Like About Authorize.net
- Not a merchant account provider – so you’ll have to go elsewhere for your actual merchant account
- Not available worldwide
- On the pricier side
You can sign up for Authorize.net here.
Stripe is another great payment platform, handling billions of dollars of transactions each year. It is, however, a little different than the others on this list.
Stripe gives you a series of tools which will allow you to create your own, customized payment processes. It’s designed for bigger companies, who want something highly specialized. It has a range of APIs which, if you have the technical knowledge, will give you tons of options for payment plans or payment methods.
Stripe uses Ruby, Python, PHP and Java. Obviously, you’ll need to have some specialist knowledge to make this work.
It also supports over a hundred currencies, and can offer one-click checkout, making the payment process simple for your customers.
It does have a very simple basic plan, as well as a customized plan that offers volume discounts for companies making a lot of sales.
Stripe is Best for …
Larger companies that have the capacity to design and create their own payment gateway.
Starting Price – 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction
There’s also the option of a customized plan for larger businesses
What We Like About Stripe
- Easy Price Plan – no hidden costs
- Highly Customizable – create the exact payment gateway you need for your customers
What We Don’t Like About Stripe
- Not good for beginners – so not accessible to everyone
You can sign up for Stripe here.
Adyen has some big clients, including Uber, Microsoft, eBay, and Spotify. Although it does offer a payment gateway, it also has a whole bunch of extra features.
Using Adyen, you can identify buyer behaviour. This is a huge bonus, as it will allow you to make small changes within your business to better suit your buyers – hopefully landing you more sales. It does this by analysing transaction data, which is a smart feature.
It also has a risk management tool, which automatically locates and fights cases of fraud.
It offers all digital payment types, including web, in-app, pay-by-link, and subscriptions.
The only downside to Adyen is that it has a steeper learning curve than, say, PayPal. It also has a complicated pricing structure which can make it difficult to tell how much it will cost. It also doesn’t provide a merchant account, so you’ll need to do this separately.
Still, it’s an interesting platform, and with so many high-profile clients, they’re obviously doing something right.
Adyen is Best for …
Bigger companies who want to monitor customer behaviour to improve sales.
Starting Price – Associated fees + $0.12 per transaction
The fees vary by card used.
What We Like About Adyen
- Identify Buyer Behaviour – being able to track and analyse customer behaviour is a powerful tool
- Risk management tool – helps to keep your business safe
- Lots of payment options – including subscriptions and in-app payments
What We Don’t Like About Adyen
- Steep learning curve – not great for newer or smaller businesses
- Complicated pricing plan – so it’s difficult to compare the costs
Adyen requires you to send some information about your business before you can sign up. You can do that by clicking here.
If you’re an Amazon merchant, Amazon Pay is a great choice. It’s easy to use and reliable, and even claims it can boost conversion rates as the checkout process is so fast.
With Amazon being such a huge company with a lot of credibility, customers may feel at ease shopping using Amazon Pay.
Customers can pay through their Amazon account, which makes the process (at least on their end) really simple.
They downside is the signup process: it takes a long time, and can be quite tedious and time-consuming, which might put some people off.
It’s also not as readily available as some of the others on this list: it’s available in 16 countries at the time of writing. On top of that, the pricing scheme can be pretty complex.
Amazon Pay is Best for …
Amazon merchants, or business owners who want the brand recognition and kudos that comes from Amazon.
Amazon charge a cross-border processing fee for orders from other countries. This can rack up the price quite quickly (from 3.9% per transaction).
What We Like About Amazon Pay
- Brand recognition – customers feel safe shopping with Amazon
- Ease for customers – customers can check out using their Amazon accounts
What We Don’t Like About Amazon Pay
- The setup process – complicated and time consuming
- Extra fees – like the cross-border processing fee
You can sign up for Amazon Pay here.
The Bottom Line Is …
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your business. If you’re an Amazon merchant, it makes sense to pick Amazon Pay (and half of the legwork will already be done by the time you’ve signed up for a merchant account).
If you’re a big business and you need a complex, personalized payment system, Stripe is probably the best in terms of the amount of tools it provides for you.
If you’re looking for an overall choice, however, you can’t really go wrong with 2Checkout for all the extra features or PayPal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a few of the most commonly asked questions about payment gateways:
How much do payment gateways charge?
That depends on which gateway you pick, but you can expect to pay a small percentage per transaction.
How do payment gateways work?
Payment gateways work as a middleman, securely encrypting customer details (like credit card numbers) and sending it onto the payment processor.
Do I need a merchant account?
Yes. Some payment gateways (like PayPal) offer a merchant account as part of the price, but others require you to set up an account separately.