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Digital Marketing

Getting paid the right way. Choosing a payment processor.

Last Updated on July 15, 2022

Choosing a payment processor is an important decision.

You may think going to your bank would be a good place to start, but that almost never works out. The transaction rate may be low, but you will likely be working with a poorly supported API that will require a lot of developer time to build and support. It will likely have poor reporting as well.  

Skip your bank and use a platform that is built for taking online payments.

Factors to look at when making your decision:

  • Ease of integration into your CMS. You want a solid plugin or add-on for your CMS that is well supported and doesn’t require many extra steps.
  • Ability to have a sandbox account for testing. This is essential if you plan to deliver to clients in a professional manner. The ability to place test orders through your system while still in a test environment will allow you to work out any issues well before going live.
  • Reporting tools. You want robust reporting that will make integration into your accounting software painless.
  • Rate you will be paying (price per transaction + percent of price).
  • Size of transactions play a big part in comparing services.  
  • Larger transaction sizes should consider ACH payments instead of credit payments.
  • Know your audience and which you will cater to regularly.
  • Monthly fees you will pay
  • Customer Support
  • Discounted pricing offerings if you are a charity or nonprofit

Factors to Avoid:

  • Custom integrations that will become costly to build and support
  • Poor reporting capabilities
  • High price per-transaction fees if you are selling inexpensive items
  • Storing credit cards. Use one of the offerings from Stripe or Authorize.net instead. 

Top Platforms

Authorize.net

This payment processor offers an all-in-one option or a payment gateway, with transparent pricing at flat rates. It provides excellent reporting capabilities and plugin ecosystem. Authorize.net also offers the ability to store credit cards for customers, and 24/7 customer support.

Despite the add-ons and plugins, it does feature an outdated user interface. Users have cited experiences being forced to call in questions and receiving unsatisfying answers, when they wished they could find a simple solution online. Additionally, it might be on the expensive side if you sign up directly on the company site, rather than through a provider.

Stripe

PayPal’s biggest rival, Stripe offers competitive rates, well-built plugins and packages. It takes payments from all major card issuers, can handle recurring payments, and manages the checkout within the same site. It has extremely low fees and a simple fee structure. Developers seem to like working with Stripe more than any other option, possibly for its customizability and built-in creativity.

Stripe’s downsides include holding payment for about a week, as contrasted to the 3-5 business days of PayPal or Amazon Pay. Customer support only comes via email. Stripe also requires some coding knowledge for optimal use, so it’s best for advanced developers or at least those with some basic coding background.

Braintree

Ideal for small businesses, Braintree allows for a single integration that gives you access to multiple ways of receiving payments: PayPal, Venmo, credit and debit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc. It employs an extremely simple pay structure and no monthly fees, which is perfect for those with or without complicated client information. Braintree is also excellent for consolidating payment methods into one processor, according to reviews. It’s developer-focused, meaning setup can be specialized if a bit complicated. 

The pricing is a bit higher, however, for these seeming shortcuts. Braintree also receives many complaints about the strict fraud policy, which can lead to a delay of funds. Depending on how often you plan to have international exchanges, you might consider Braintree perfectly safe or TOO safe. Users have also said the setup can be confusing, making it difficult to switch over to Braintree from another processor while maintaining all data.

PayPal 

PayPal allows users to “pay with PayPal,” but you can also use PayPal to take credit card payments with their PayPal Payments Pro. PayPal has a well-established ethos and represents a foundational pillar in payment platforms. It’s a great starting point or even a backup if you decide to choose other platforms which clients are more hesitant to use. Most people already have an account so it’s easy access and certified internationally. PayPal also integrates into checkout with nearly any company seamlessly.

On the downside, PayPal does have high fees for small businesses with less volume of payments. It’s known for freezing fees for several days in the name of security, and the support hotline can also be slow and frustrating.

Dwolla

If you’re looking for quick payout time, Dwolla might be your best choice. With an annual contract, you can receive your funds the same day or within 24 hours. Dwolla is an ACH payment processor providing account-to-account payments. For donations or larger transactions such as real estate or wealth management, Dwolla may be an excellent choice. It offers integration with parties such as Slack and QuickBooks, and transaction fees are remarkably low. Customer service comes in the form of an online help center.

On the downside, Dwolla doesn’t offer credit transactions. It also has fairly high monthly fees if you are a regular user. Since it is less popular than other platforms, not everyone will accept payments from Dwolla, which can be frustrating. 

Amazon Pay 

This platform allows a user to pay using their trusted Amazon account, saving precious time registering for another account and remembering another password. Amazon also provides its loyal patrons with fraud protection and the security that comes with the name of such a well-established company.

Transfers can take 3-5 days, which is rather inconvenient for businesses, but rewarding if the funds aren’t needed immediately. Like PayPal, it has high fees for less volume of payments, which can be a downside for those just starting out or with less payments coming through.

Conclusion

There are many fantastic payment processors out there that will help you start taking payments online. Spending a little bit of time researching the different options will help you find the best fit for your needs.

Contact US Digital Partners if you’d like some friendly advice on finding the right payment platform. We’ll always prioritize presenting you to the world in a way that’s sure to drive business to your site!

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By: Ryan Whetstone

Ryan is a web developer who has side hustles ranging from a car wash to making corn hole bean bags.