If you own a small business, setting up your website or online store to accept credit cards online is a crucial step in growing your sales and customer bases. In the second quarter of 2020, ecommerce sales made up 16.1% of all retail sales, and that number is only expected to increase.
The first step in accepting credit card payments online is choosing a payment processor. Look for competitive processing fees and a solution that is compatible with your website or ecommerce platform.
Here are our top user-friendly choices for accepting credit cards online:
6 Payment Processors to Accept Credit Cards Online
Online Payment Processor
New or new-to-online businesses needing an easy and affordable solution
Those wanting a user-friendly checkout that can be added to any site
Online startups and anyone wanting a custom online checkout
Growing and established businesses looking for the cheapest option
High-volume businesses wanting recurring billing, virtual terminal, and invoicing tools
New ecommerce or online retail businesses
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How to Accept Credit Cards Payments Online
To accept credit card payments online, you need a tool to collect customer data and a way to process the payments. Most ecommerce businesses do this through a website. Depending on your hosting service and platform, you will have different payment options available. For example, if you have a WordPress site, you can use a shopping cart plug-in with PayPal and/or Stripe to accept credit card payments. If you don’t yet have an ecommerce website, you can build one with Square Online or Shopify.
Businesses that want online credit card processing generally need the following:
- A website or ecommerce platform for customers to go to when making purchases
- A secure payment gateway to accept credit cards and encrypt the payment
- A merchant account to process online payments
All of the solutions on our list include at least merchant services and a payment gateway. For example, Payment Depot, PayPal, and Stax by Fattmerchant all offer payment gateways in addition to merchant services.
Many also offer tools to build a website. For example, Square has tools to build an online store or checkout page. Meanwhile, Shopify lets businesses create a full ecommerce site.
A few of the providers, like PayPal, Square, and Stax by Fattmerchant, also offer user-friendly invoicing tools to accept payments through email invoices. Others, including PayPal and Shopify, let you add “Buy” buttons to any site.
Below, we walk through the specific online payment features of each provider and how to use them to accept payments online.
Square: Accepts Credit Cards Online Immediately
Square is great for businesses that want to accept credit cards online because it is free and fast to set up. Plus, Square has affordable processing fees for new businesses and a free point-of-sale (POS) system for accepting in-person payments. Square is the best fit for small and startup businesses that want a solution that has no monthly fee, minimum transaction requirements, or an application process.
Square Online Payment Pros
Square Online Payment Cons
Instant sign up
Not as easy to add to non-Square websites
Transparent, flat-rate pricing
Limited customer support
Free online store, checkout, and invoicing
How to Accept Credit Cards Online With Square
Square makes it easy for small businesses to accept payments online by offering a few different solutions, all with no contract. Businesses can create a free website through Square, connect Square payments to one of their ecommerce partners like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Wix, or use Square application programming interfaces (APIs) to add Square Checkout to your custom website.
To accept credit cards online with Square, follow these steps:
- Sign up for Square Payments: It’s free to create an account, which includes a basic POS system for in-store and mobile sales, and businesses only pay a payment processing fee. There are no software fees or monthly minimums.
- Create a Square Online Store: You can create a basic ecommerce site for free with Square Online or invest in a paid plan for a more customizable site. Square also has options for checkout pages and selling on social media channels. Learn how to create a Square Online with our step-by-step guide.
- Integrate with an ecommerce site: Square Payments also integrate directly with popular ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, Wix, BigCommerce, and Magento. This is a good option if you sell in-store with Square and also want to grow a sizable ecommerce store. Square can also be added to any custom website through Square’s open API.
- Load your products and start selling: If you’re creating a new site through Square or an ecommerce platform, load the products you want to sell on your site, including product photos, product descriptions, and pricing. If you’re setting up to take payments with Square’s API, drop the code in your existing site to set up a payment.
Square Online Payment Features
Square is a top-rated all-in-one payment processing and point-of-sale system for many reasons. Square gives businesses a variety of transaction options and a suite of business management features.
Square Payments features include:
- Flat-rate payment processing (see our Square pricing guide for more information)
- No long-term contracts, setup fees, monthly fees, or cancellation fees
- Next-day deposits or same-day for a 1% fee
- Real-time sales and inventory updates
- Start selling right away―no visits with banks or approval processes
- Free chargeback management services
- Two-way inventory; if you sell in-store, Square will manage sales and inventory data together
Square can also be used to send and process online invoices and recurring payments, as well as phone or mail orders through its virtual terminal.
Read our full Square Payment review for more details on pricing and features.
Visit Square to create a free account and start accepting payments in just a few minutes.
PayPal: Customer-Friendly One-Touch Online Payments
PayPal offers a processing solution for businesses to accept credit cards online, in-store, and via mobile. PayPal is great for online sellers because, in addition to traditional credit card payments, it also allows businesses to accept PayPal payments, which can increase overall sales by giving your business a higher conversion rate.
PayPal is the best way to accept credit cards online for businesses that want to increase conversions by accepting PayPal payments with a one-click button at checkout.
Easy for customers to use
Not suitable for high-risk businesses
Flexible checkout options
Larger businesses may find more stability and lower prices with an alternative
Can be added to any site
How to Accept Credit Cards Online With PayPal
With PayPal, you can set up a hosted checkout, add PayPal to your existing site, integrate with most ecommerce platforms, or stick “Buy” buttons on any blog or webpage—making it a flexible solution. PayPal is unique because it can be combined with other payment processing solutions if you want to accept PayPal payments but want to use another credit card processing service.
Here are the three ways businesses can use PayPal to accept credit cards online:
- With a PayPal ecommerce partner: PayPal works with Shopify, Big Commerce, and Magento. PayPal customers that build ecommerce sites through one of these platforms can receive a discount and connect a PayPal checkout seamlessly.
- On a custom website: PayPal Payments Pro offers a fully customizable checkout solution for accepting all major credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and Venmo online payments. This is a full online checkout solution that can be added to any website.
- With a PayPal button: Businesses can add a PayPal button to check out to provide a simplified checkout solution.
PayPal Online Payment Features
PayPal is a great way to accept credit card payments online because shoppers who opt for PayPal checkout, which makes up 22% of all ecommerce activity, don’t have to enter credit card or shipping information manually, as it’s populated automatically by PayPal. Online shopping has high cart abandonment rates, and eliminating the steps customers need to take during checkout can help decrease abandoned carts and increase sales.
Additional PayPal features include:
- Flat-rate payment processing
- No long-term contracts, setup fees, or withdrawal or cancellation fees
- Funds from customer purchases are transferred to your PayPal business account in minutes
- Venmo payments; Venmo is owned by PayPal so, by using PayPal checkouts, you can also offer Venmo online payments
- Free PayPal marketing solutions and customer insights
Like Square, PayPal can also be used to create and send online invoices and collect phone and mail order payments through a virtual terminal.
Visit PayPal to create a free account and start accepting payments online.
Stripe: Create Custom Online Checkouts
Stripe is a payment processing system that allows businesses to accept credit card payments online and is designed to handle more complex payment situations like subscriptions, recurring fees, and storing card data. Stripe is a great, secure way to accept credit cards online for businesses that want to create a custom solution.
Additionally, Stripe is an international company, operating in 39 countries and accepting over 135 currencies, making it a good fit for any business looking to cater to international customers. Apart from small businesses, Stripe powers ecommerce giants like Amazon and online brands like Glossier.
Requires a separate website
Speedy, mobile-optimized checkout built for conversions
Harder to set up than Square or PayPal
For pricing information and additional features, read our full Stripe review.
How to Accept Credit Cards Online With Stripe
Stripe has a suite of APIs that allow businesses to choose how they want to accept credit card payments online. There are essentially three ways that businesses can accept credit cards online with Stripe: 1) by integrating Stripe’s checkout, 2) by creating a custom form, or 3) by using one of their partner integrations.
Here are three ways on how to accept credit cards online with Stripe:
- With a pre-built, hosted checkout page: Stripe Checkout can be used with any site and customized to match your brand’s settings. This checkout page includes address auto-complete powered by Google, real-time card validation, third-party autofill, plus Google Pay and Apple Pay checkout.
- Use a partner integration: There are dozens of platforms that have extensions or plug-ins for creating Stripe checkouts to accept credit cards on your website. Stripe’s partners include WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify. Stripe also has plug-ins for PrestaShop and WooCommerce, to name a couple.
Stripe Online Payment Features
Stripe is a flexible tool for creating embedded online checkout solutions. It accepts many credit cards and payment methods, including all major credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, automated clearing house (ACH) payments, Alipay, and some cryptocurrencies. In total, Stripe accepts over 135 currencies (including local payments options) in over 25 languages.
Additional Stripe features include:
- Flat-rate payment processing
- No monthly, startup, or cancellation fees
- Flexible solution with open code
- Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant
- Ability to set up recurring payments
- Many ecommerce and website integrations
- Mobile-friendly payment platforms (iOS app, Android app, and mobile website)
- 24/7 support specialists via email, chat, or phone
To get started, visit Stripe to create a free account.
Payment Depot: Affordable Way to Accept Credit Cards Online
Payment Depot is a merchant service provider with a membership pricing model that provides payment processing at extremely competitive rates for businesses that process more than $10,000 per month. Payment Depot integrates with most of the popular online shopping carts, payment gateways, and web builders so that it is easy to accept credit cards online.
Most online payment processors for small businesses charge a flat 2.9% + 30 cents transaction fee. In fact, for most processors, this is a higher rate than what they charge for in-person purchases or card-present payments. Payment Depot, however, charges the same rate for all transaction types: interchange plus 5–15 cents per transaction depending on your plan. This makes Payment Depot one of the cheapest credit card processors for small businesses.
Payment Depot Pros
Payment Depot Cons
Flexible, all-in-one membership
Low transaction fees
Not suitable for new or high-risk businesses
Using Payment Depot to Accept Credit Cards Online
Businesses can use Payment Depot to accept credit card payments online through shopping carts, invoices, or registration forms. Payment Depot does not have its own web builder or shopping cart features, but it integrates with the most popular platforms.
Here’s how to accept credit card payments online with Payment Depot in three steps:
- Apply for a Payment Depot account: The first step in accepting credit cards online with Payment Depot is signing up for an account. Fill out a form on its website or just call to get a free quote and submit an application.
- Set up your website: Once you have your Payment Depot account, you’ll need to set up your customer-facing website. Payment Depot works with popular ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce and WooCommerce, for example. If you already have a site, Payment Depot integrates with Authorize.Net, which is a fairly universal payment gateway that can connect to most websites.
- Connect Payment Depot to your website: Connect your website to Payment Depot credit card processing through Payment Depot’s seamless integration. As long as you choose one of Payment Depot’s platforms or gateway platforms, like Authorize.Net or BigCommerce, this step will be simple.
Payment Depot Online Payment Features
Payment Depot is an easy and affordable option for growing small businesses and even established ones that want to save money on credit card processing fees. In addition to online payments, Payment Depot can be used to accept credit cards in-person, via mobile and POS, and through a virtual terminal.
Payment Depot features include:
- Membership model interchange-plus pricing
- Free payment gateway
- Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant
- No contracts or cancellation fees
- Next-day funding
- 24/7 customer support with certain plans
- Lots of third-party gateway, ecommerce platform, and POS integrations
- Free virtual terminal and payment gateway
For information on Payment Depot pricing, and to learn more about its features, read our full Payment Depot review. Or, Visit Payment Depot to apply for a merchant account.
Stax by Fattmerchant: Flexible Online Payments for High-Volume Businesses
Stax by Fattmerchant is a traditional merchant services provider that charges a few cents per transaction over interchange but with a higher flat monthly fee. Like Payment Depot, Stax by Fattmerchant’s unique pricing structure makes it a good fit for growing businesses that have a higher transaction volume and average sales amount because they would benefit from the lower per-transaction cost.
A Stax by Fattmerchant membership also includes its Omni software, which has a shopping cart functionality, customer management, and online review management. This, plus invoicing software, a user-friendly virtual terminal, and financial reporting tools, makes Stax by Fattmerchant a great solution for online payment processing of high-volume businesses.
Stax by Fattmerchant Pros
Stax by Fattmerchant Cons
Expensive monthly fee
Shopping cart and online customer management tools
Not a good fit for new or high-risk businesses
How to Accept Credit Cards Online With Stax by Fattmerchant
With Stax by Fattmerchant, businesses can accept credit cards online through a virtual terminal for invoicing and billing or an ecommerce shopping cart for retail purchases.
Here’s how to accept credit cards online with Stax by Fattmerchant in four steps:
- Sign up for a merchant account: Before you can start accepting cards online, you need to apply for an account with Stax by Fattmerchant. It only works with United States-based companies and doesn’t work with many high-risk businesses.
- Set up your Authorize.Net gateway: Stax by Fattmerchant works directly with a few payment gateway options, but the most popular is Authorize.Net. This entire setup process is done through Stax by Fattmerchant, so you don’t have to contact a separate company to set up your payment gateway.
- Create a custom shopping cart: Stax by Fattmerchant lets you create a custom, branded shopping cart right on your website, so customers never leave your site during checkout.
- Connect with your website: Authorize.Net has integrations with many popular ecommerce platforms and web hosting services like WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento.
- Integrate Stax by Fattmerchant with your online store: Stax by Fattmerchant has pre-set integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, 3dcart, Magento, and others. If you’re using one of these platforms, you can skip the step of setting up a separate gateway.
Stax by Fattmerchant Online Payment Features
Stax by Fattmerchant is a great traditional merchant services option for growing businesses. It provides options for accepting countertop payments, mobile payments, invoicing, and ecommerce, all of which are PCI compliant and integrate with many popular POS programs.
Stax by Fattmerchant features include:
- Subscription pricing model with rates above interchange
- Accepts all major credit cards
- No cancellation or statement fees
- Month-to-month billing
- Ability to pause payment processing services with no monthly fees
- Free app for accepting mobile payments included with a merchant account
- 24/7 technical support included
- Two-way QuickBooks integration included
- Integrated analytics reports available, included with $199 per month fee, extra $20 per month for other merchant accounts
- Several payment gateway options
For information on Stax by Fattmerchant pricing and additional features, read our full Stax by Fattmerchant review. To get started, visit Stax by Fattmerchant to apply for an account.
Shopify: Accept Credit Cards Online With an Ecommerce Store
Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform that has built-in payment processing to accept credit cards online. Shopify accepts all major credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Shop Pay—which has one-click checkouts. Businesses can also set up gift cards and subscriptions. Shopify is a terrific way for ecommerce businesses to accept credit cards online because it combines payment processing with ecommerce tools like a drag-and-drop store builder, shipping solutions, and inventory management. It works well for new ecommerce or online retail businesses.
Best ecommerce platform for small businesses
Only ideal for retail businesses
Easy to use
Requires a monthly subscription
How to Accept Credit Cards Online With Shopify
Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform that makes it easy for small, medium, and large businesses to sell products and accept credit card payments all-in-one platform with no outside service providers required.
Businesses can accept credit cards online with Shopify in three simple steps:
- Create a Shopify store: Shopify has a step-by-step and checklist to get you started. Shopify also has a 14-day free trial so that you can create and test your store before committing to a plan.
- Activate Shopify payments: In your store settings, there is a section called Payment providers. Click that section to setup Shopify payments.
- Use a third-party payment gateway: If you do not want to use Shopify’s built-in credit card processing, you can also accept credit cards online using one of Shopify’s third-party payment processors, including Authorize.Net, Chase, Vantiv, PayPal, and Cayan. However, note that Shopify does charge an additional transaction fee if you use a third-party payment provider.
Shopify Online Payment Features
In addition to accepting credit cards online, Shopify has all of the features that a business owner would need to create a smooth and efficient ecommerce operation.
All of Shopify’s plans include:
- Flat-rate payment processing
- Accept all major credit and debit cards, plus digital wallets and Shop Pay
- No additional fee for American Express transactions
- 24/7 customer support
- Customizable online store with SSL certificate
- Shipping labels and discounts
- Subscriptions and recurring billing options
To get started, visit Shopify for a free trial.
Accept Credit Cards Online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Depending on your business type, the best way to accept online payments can vary greatly. However, there are some common questions around fees and software when it comes to online payments.
What is the cheapest way to accept credit cards?
For micro businesses and occasional payments, services like Venmo for Business and Chase QuickPay have options to send and receive funds for free. However, most businesses will need a merchant account. For businesses processing under $5,000 monthly, Square typically offers the best value. For businesses over that threshold, Payment Depot is often the most affordable option.
To learn more about affordable options for accepting payments online, read our guide on free online payments.
Is there an app to accept credit card payments?
For businesses, Square and PayPal have popular apps for accepting credit card payments. For individuals, Venmo and CashApp are common. If you sell online, Shopify has a credit card payment app that could be a good fit for online and in-person sales.
Can I accept credit cards online without a merchant account?
Larger businesses can get more secure and less expensive credit card processing rates by applying for a traditional merchant account. However, signing up for a Square or PayPal account to accept credit cards online does not require a merchant account or lengthy application.
Do online card payments have higher fees than in-person card payments?
There is a higher risk associated with online payments because the card is not physically present for the purchase. There’s also a greater risk of fraud. So, banks and credit card companies charge higher processing fees to cover the risks associated with processing online payments.
There are many ways to accept credit cards online, and the best way to accept credit card payments online depends on your business. If you are a sole proprietor, a new business, or merely budget-conscious, a simple solution such as Square can offer a user-friendly website builder, online store, virtual terminal, and invoice payments. Visit Square to create a free account.
You May Also Like…
- If you want to accept online payments for in-store pick up, learn how to implement buy online, pick up in-store orders for your business.
- Learn about security considerations for accepting online payments.
- Did you know? 43% of U.S. consumers shop online at least once a month.
- If you have a high-risk business, you may need a specialized payment processor.