Find the payment gateway provider that meets your needs
Ecommerce businesses need a simple and secure way of collecting payment to operate successfully. But there are so many different solutions available, it’s difficult to know which one is the best for you. Not all payment gateways are created equal, with various options for how they integrate with websites, require maintenance, and even how they are hosted.
Digital commerce continues to grow, and payment gateways are key to improved customer experiences and increased online security. In the United States, 55% of consumers use credit cards for online payment, and the payment gateway market is valued at more than $26 billion. As online sales continue to rise, ecommerce companies are looking for options that will give shoppers peace of mind that their transactions are secure while also protecting the business from fraudulent purchases.
Payment gateways can often be broken down into a series of components to help businesses make the right choices for them. Whether partnering with a bank or choosing from one of several dedicated vendors in the space, companies can evaluate providers on everything from price to customer-facing features.
In this article, we’ll review how payment gateways have become an integral part of conducting business and compare the top options to help you decide which provider is best for your company. Specifically, we’ll cover:
- What is a payment gateway?
- The top 11 payment gateway providers
- Amazon Pay
- How to choose the best payment gateway
What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway is a service that authorizes transactions via credit card or direct debit for ecommerce businesses. These interfaces are what consumers come into contact with during the payment process — taking in their account and contact information, encrypting the provided details, and passing information along for processing and approval.
After sending out the request for payment approval to the bank or credit card company at hand, the gateway eventually receives the approval (or denial) and passes that information back to the retailer and consumer. If approved, the gateway also passes the funds along to the seller to complete the transaction.
Payment gateways are different from payment processors. While they sound similar, the two systems handle particular steps of the payment submission process. A payment processor takes the information collected by the gateway, which is customer facing, and passes it to the issuing bank for review and approval. They work as a go-between for the ecommerce platform or retail vendor and the bank issuing the payment.
Another way to think about this is that the gateway is the opening through which a customer provides information and a retailer receives funds, while the processor is the mechanism that takes the information and processes the request for approval or denial with the bank itself.
The good news is that by contracting with a reliable payment gateway, ecommerce businesses may not need to worry about establishing or configuring separate payment processors. Many integrate the two so that all of the steps are handled for you.
That way, companies can focus on the user experience they want to provide to their customers through the gateway of their choice while also comparing feature sets and fees to help set them up for success in the long term.
The top 11 payment gateway providers
With a clear understanding of gateway providers and the services they offer, businesses can determine the best option for them and reap the benefits. Payment gateways simplify the payment process as a whole while also creating a secure environment for everyone involved.
As retail options for everything from credit cards to digital wallets have evolved, so too have payment gateways. Platforms now offer a variety of services and features, and the number of platforms in the industry has skyrocketed. Of all the payment options available to consumers, less than 20% opted for cash in 2022, leaving the rest to forms of payment requiring electronic processing and approvals. This has made payment gateways and their associated software programs and packages all the more important for businesses.
Below is a list of the top 11 payment gateway providers in no particular order. The following sections offer an in-depth look at these options and criteria for businesses to consider as they refine or roll out their operations.
Authorize.net is a payment gateway provider offered by Visa that allows for the acceptance of credit card and other electronic payment options. The platform, established in 1996, has supported more than 445,000 businesses and now processes over $149 billion in payments annually. It has received industry awards for API integration options and for the highest authorization rate, which reflects the number of prevented failures.
When it comes to pricing, monthly gateway costs are $25. Fees vary depending on the plan you choose, with options for All-in-One with 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction or a Payment Gateway Only option at $0.10 plus a daily batch fee of $0.10.
Plan features include options for invoicing, e-check, and recurring payments. Businesses can also take advantage of the integrated customer information manager (CIM) rather than spending more to license a separate CRM system. There are payment options for online and in-person retail kiosks, such as card readers. The platform also includes an Advanced Fraud Detection Suite that identifies and prevents fraudulent transactions from clearing.
Founded in 2011, Stripe is a well-known and powerful payment gateway that’s been used by companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Lyft. Its cloud-based infrastructure is designed to be flexible, reliable, secure, and scalable. Stripe specializes in API integration, which allows customers to work across more than 450 platforms for seamless business operations.
While pricing can vary depending on the package, integrated payment gateway access starts at 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. Companies with high payment volume can also take advantage of volume discounts. Stripe accepts a variety of payment types, including credit cards, debit cards, international cards, ACG direct debit and credit, and wire transfers.
While Stripe offers nearly a dozen solutions for managing payments and accounting, the Payments platform allows vendors to accept over 135 currencies and more than 25 different payment methods. This flexibility can be great for online retailers and those who do regular international business. This option also includes Adaptive Acceptance and 3D secure authentication to reduce fraud.
Focused on mobile and ecommerce solutions, Braintree is a payment gateway platform acquired by PayPal in 2013. The company processes payment options from a variety of different digital wallet and peer-to-peer platforms, such as Venmo. Braintree processes more than $1 billion in transactions quarterly and reached $50 billion in authorized payment volume in 2015. Its solutions are designed to bring efficiency to business operations while driving conversions to reduce payment friction and abandoned carts.
Gateway pricing varies depending on the integration and method of payment. For standard transactions like credit cards and digital wallets, expect to pay 2.59% plus $0.49 per transaction. Fees for Venmo and PayPal transactions tend to be higher.
Braintree distinguishes itself with a singular integration required to get up and running that includes everything needed to process payments. The platform also supports buy now, pay later (BNPL) options. Security measures are taken seriously, with Braintree having been awarded Level 1 PCI compliance service provider credentials. There are also features available for recurring billing, automatic card detail updating, and transaction reporting.
4. Amazon Pay
Amazon Pay is an attractive payment gateway for additional flexibility. The payment processing service allows existing Amazon customers to pay for their expenses on third-party websites with their Amazon account. Shoppers have the advantage of using their existing account without the need for additional sign-ins during the payment process, which removes several steps and barriers to sale and provides for a more seamless checkout experience.
Gateway fees for using Amazon Pay are comparable to others in the industry at 2.9% plus a $0.30 fee per transaction. Note that fees are higher for processing non-domestic transactions and can reach closer to 3.9% plus $0.39 per purchase.
Amazon offers a number of options for both consumers and businesses, including immediate, deferred, split, and recurring payments. Customers can even check out using the virtual assistant Alexa, giving them greater access and flexibility for making purchases.
PayPal has long served as an online payment gateway to offer ecommerce companies a solution for accepting nontraditional payments. Now a large financial services company, PayPal’s Checkout option reflects its roots as a payment gateway for companies to collect payments, process debit and credit cards, and provide versatile options for global business. The brand also touts a 28% increase in checkout conversions for businesses that implement their payment solutions.
Payment gateway fees can get complicated — take a look at these charts — but vendors can generally expect to pay 3.49% per transaction plus a fixed fee depending on the currency received. Costs are lower for transactions processed through QR codes.
Fraud protection is integrated into every PayPal solution, leveraging machine learning (ML) and analytics to bolster its risk management offerings. There are also seller protections when it comes to chargebacks and reversals, depending on the situation, which can help small businesses avoid hefty fees in instances where transactions are not authorized.
Now owned and operated by Verifone, 2Checkout has a long history of providing trusted payment gateways for businesses with a focus on security. Originally started by the founders of RAV Antivirus, its payment solutions are augmented with features to prevent and mitigate fraud across everything from checks to digital wallets. The company now supports transactions across 180 different countries and 20,000 clients.
When it comes to costs, there are three tiers for businesses to choose from. The base plan, which includes access to recurring billing and international support, is priced at 3.5% plus $0.35 per successful transaction. Plans covering features like subscriptions, renewals, and invoice management cost more.
2Checkout touts its global flexibility, allowing shoppers to enter their payment details in their own language and see prices in local currencies automatically. The platform also integrates with more than 120 shopping cart options, including Shopify and Wix. Offerings are mobile optimized and include support for both merchants and shoppers.
A European-based organization, Adyen provides options for online payment gateways and point-of-sale solutions. Its approach mirrors one of a software company, where features are rolled out quickly, efficiently, and iteratively to allow for faster growth. Adyen’s payment platform works across channels and includes options for fully customized, component, or drop-in integration. Vendors also have the advantage of connecting in-person and online sales data when it comes to reporting and user management.
Per transaction pricing varies depending on the payment method, with most averaging 3.95% plus a $0.12 fee. Costs are higher for offerings like Afterpay. Adyen does not charge monthly fees or extra costs for setting up its payment gateway.
Adyen allows businesses to be as customized as they want with their payment flows, layouts, and advertising. Integration with one-click payment, discounts, and rewards is also simplified through vendor-facing tools. Artificial intelligence (AI) powers its fraud attack detection system and uses a rules-based risk system.
Payline, powered by Pineapple Payments, has a variety of online and in-person payment solutions that are flexible for business owners with multiple physical and virtual storefronts. Product offerings cover everything from online shopping cart integration and payment pages to virtual and point-of-sale terminals.
Payline charges a $20 monthly fee to operate its payment gateway system. On top of this, you can expect to pay a fee that varies depending on the credit card provider and the agreed-upon interchange rate, plus $0.20 per transaction. Keyed credit cards average a cost of 1.90%, making this one of the more affordable options available.
New customers also get their first month free via a trial offered for testing out the application. Businesses benefit from a dedicated account manager and 24/7 support services. Payline also includes invoicing and integration with QuickBooks in its products.
WePay is a payment gateway provider offered by Chase Bank. Its robust solutions are designed for integration with top independent software vendor (ISV) and software as a service (SaaS) platforms, allowing companies to simplify their payment processes. Businesses have the option to white label their payment gateway experiences for consumers while taking advantage of offerings from Chase like QuickAccept, which allows for same-day deposits.
The starter payment gateway product, WePay Link, charges merchants 2.9% plus $0.30 for each transaction. The options for white labeling and deeper integration with Chase banking systems require a quote for service from its sales team.
WePay Link includes a number of useful features, including instant onboarding and multiple payment capture methods. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliance is included, as are card vault and tokenization. Reporting solutions can also help entrepreneurs with anything from account history to earnings and performance monitoring.
For businesses seeking a different approach to payment gateways, there’s Skrill. With fast checkout and instant bank transfer solutions, Skrill operates on a single contract and API integration. Customers are able to make payments quickly and easily without having to create a Skrill account.
Skrill charges a 2.99% service fee for its digital wallet processing. Uniquely, Skrill also allows for cryptocurrency transfers from peer to peer, charging 0.50% per transaction.
Skrill supports more than 100 local payment methods, including credit card, digital wallets, and bank transfers. It offers features like repeat payments, PCI compliance, and support for over 40 currencies.
Supporting more than 1 million merchants globally, Worldpay processes over 110 million payments on a daily basis. Offerings include checkouts, payouts, and mobile wallets that use some of the most advanced technologies available. Worldpay also works directly with businesses to build out the solutions that best fit their needs, with customized payment gateway options that streamline the customer experience.
Notably, Worldpay does not charge for processing international currencies. Transaction fees for Mastercard and Visa card purchases come in at just 1.50%, but be aware there are online payment gateway fees of around $20 per month. There are also different transaction fees for other cards like American Express and Discover. Companies processing a higher payment volume may be eligible for discounts.
The Worldpay platform includes fraud and risk management, including PCI-DSS compliance and 24/7 customer support. There are also no sign-up fees to establish an account.
How to choose the best payment gateway
The best payment gateways offer a balance of affordability and flexibility while prioritizing security for everyone involved. When evaluating providers, balance fees with features instead of just choosing the cheapest option available. Depending on your unique business situation, the most affordable option could be missing critical features that you or your customers need.
Here are some of the most important considerations when evaluating payment gateways:
- Payment methods. Be sure the gateway supports multiple payment methods, especially those likely to be more important to your particular customer base.
- Checkout process length. Ensure the gateway isn’t adding extra steps to your existing process. Longer checkouts can lead to lost customers and abandoned carts, especially when users are asked to take too many steps.
- Fraud detection. Check whether fraud detection tools are provided as part of the cost of doing business. Some companies may charge extra for PCI-DSS compliance.
- Currency support. Not all gateway solutions support payments in multiple currencies, and some charge extra for this service.
- Per transaction charges. These can vary by bank or payment option, so make sure you understand the applicable charges on the payment methods you accept.
- Contract length. Some vendors allow month-to-month contracts while others may require you to commit to a solution in the longer term.
- Platform compatibility. With so many different shopping carts and ecommerce platforms available, be certain the payment gateway you choose is fully compatible with your planned or existing website configuration.
Easily integrate your payment gateway with existing business systems
When comparing payment gateways, no two will be the same. But you’re bound to find one that suits your needs once you evaluate your customer base and do a bit of research into the available options. It’s important the platform you choose provides a seamless customer experience while making as little of a dent in your finances as possible. Still, the cheapest solution is not always the best answer as critical features may be missing or accounted for in hidden fees.
Adobe Commerce, formerly Magento, is the world’s leading digital commerce solution for merchants and brands. It’s an all-in-one solution that uses a robust library of APIs and extensions, including options for punch-out purchasing and enterprise marketplaces. Users can process payments, view analytics, and accept a wide variety of payment methods and currencies. Data is kept safe with PCI-DSS, 3D Secure Transactions, and encryption technologies at no added cost.
Adobe Commerce is also completely scalable and extensible, with a modular core and headless capabilities that allow you to quickly incorporate new technologies — even ones yet to be invented — so you can reach customers across an ever-expanding network of touchpoints.
Take a product tour or watch the overview video to learn more.