This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
A payment gateway is a third-party service that allows merchants to securely accept credit card payments from customers online or in person. The best payment gateway delivers secure and reliable service, superior support, and competitive transaction processing fees without a long-term contract.
We evaluated 17 options to find the nine best payment gateways:
- Authorize.net: Best overall payment gateway
- Helcim: Best for large-volume retailers
- Stripe: Best for integrations and easy programmability
- Square: Best for stores and restaurants wanting POS software
- Payflow by PayPal: Best add-on for ecommerce
- 2Checkout (Verifone): Best for international sales
- Amazon Pay: Best add-on for voice commerce
- Chase Payment Solutions: Best for small businesses needing business banking
- PaymentCloud: Best for CBD, tobacco, firearms, and other high-risk merchants
Top Payment Gateways Compared
Card Present Fee
Card Not Present/Online Fee
2.9% + 30 cents or 10 cents per transaction and 10 cents batch fee
2.9% + 30 cents or 10 cents per transaction and 10 cents batch fee
Interchange plus 0.1% + 5 cents–0.3% + 8 cents
Interchange plus 0.2% + 10 cents–0.5% + 25 cents
2.7% + 5 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
2.6% + 10 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
2.29% + 9 cents
2.59% + 49 cents
3.5% + 35 cents–6% + 60 cents
3.5% + 35 cents
2.9% + 30 cents–3.9% + 30 cents
$15 (checking account)
2.6% + 10 cents
2.9% + 25 cents
Average $25–$30, plus $15 gateway fee
Depends on merchant
You may have noticed: Almost all of the payment gateways we list are actually payment processors. Many modern payment processors offer free or affordable payment gateway solutions with a merchant account. In other words, most small businesses will not need to purchase a payment gateway service separately from their merchant account. Learn more about merchant accounts, or explore our guide on the best merchant services—all of which offer payment gateways.
Authorize.net: Best (& Most Versatile) Payment Gateway
Authorize.net has two plans. It can be a pure payment gateway, letting you choose your own merchant service, or you can select the all-in-one plan, where it provides payment processing at a flat rate. Both have a monthly fee. It’s one of the most popular payment gateways, working with merchant services and POS systems to provide smooth payment processing.
Based on our criteria, Authorize.net takes the lead with 4.75 out of 5. It earned excellent scores in every area except pricing, where it took a hit for its monthly fees. There were a few complaints of held funds, which was typical of all the software we reviewed, although in some cases, those issues might have been with the merchant service and not Authorize.net.
Authorize.net’s gateway plan adds 10 cents per transaction to the merchant service’s rate. The all-in-one solution includes a merchant account and runs 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction across the board. Most providers have varying rates by whether you key in, swipe/chip/dip, or invoice. Square, for example, charges 2.6% + 10 cents for in-person, 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in, and 2.9% + 30 cents for online payments.
Regardless of the Authorize.net plan, you pay $25 a month. Most of the gateways on our list don’t have a monthly fee. PaymentCloud does, but it works with high-risk merchants (so higher rates are to be expected), and Chase’s monthly fee comes from its requirement that you have a business account. Authorize.net has the advantage of no chargeback fees. However, if you connect it to a separate merchant account, that account would likely have chargeback fees.
You’ll most likely purchase your POS hardware from a third party, but Authorize.net does have a credit card reader that works with its mobile app. This costs $65, which is on par for a chip and tap reader.
Robust payment toolkit
Authorize.net pretty much checks all the boxes: online and in-person payments, virtual terminals and subscription management, credit card and mobile wallets like Apple Pay, and even PayPal. It can serve high-risk businesses through its partners. It has PCI compliance and strong fraud protection. Plus, it had a user score of over 4 averaged across multiple user sites. It’s a full-featured, reliable payment processor.
Popular & easy to integrate
Authorize.net integrates into more than 140 certified solutions from sales to accounting, kiosks to shopping carts, and even other payment providers like PayPal. In addition, it has a list of about 160 authorized developers that can provide prebuilt or custom solutions. It has partnerships with business solutions for shipping, compliances, fraud prevention, and more. The software integrations are about par for the gateways on our list, but the additional developers and partnerships set it above the rest.
Pays within 24 hours
Most payment processors take a day or two to pay out, except 2Checkout, which pays out each week. Some, like Square, charge extra for same-day payouts.
Authorize.net’s POS app lets you ring up purchases with sales tax and simple notes and accept credit card payments. Users, especially recently, say they’ve had problems with logins and glitching. Square provides a more feature-rich and reliable mobile POS system.
- Monthly fees: Authorize.net charges $25 per month no matter how much you use the service. If you only sell on occasion, consider Square for in-person sales or Amazon Pay as an addition to your online store.
- Limited worldwide reach: Authorize.net works for merchants in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. If you are based elsewhere, look at 2Checkout.
Helcim: Best for Large-volume Storefronts
Helcim is our all-in-one payment platform of choice for retailers with large-volume sales or inventories. It offers a payment gateway API feature, which allows real-time card payment authorization, data capture, voids and refunds management, and recurring payments among others. It is easy to set up, so you can add this gateway to any existing website, shopping cart, or accounting system and start accepting payment in no time.
Its volume-based pricing model offers lower rates and automatic discounts as you grow, which is why it’s a great value for businesses processing over $25,000 monthly. Plus, free tools like a POS, a customer portal, and ecommerce make it ideal for storefronts needing those features.
With an overall score of 4.7 out of 5 in our evaluation, Helcim lands right behind Authorize.net, earning perfect marks for its software reliability and customer support. Zero monthly fees, low chargeback cost, and inclusive features also helped Helcim boost its scores. On the other hand, incompatibility with high-risk merchants and limited business integrations prevented Helcim from ranking higher in our roundup.
Like most of the providers in our list, Helcim does not charge a monthly processing fee. It also does not charge for application or account set up. Merchants are not tied to a long-term contract, so there’s no early termination fee—allowing users to cancel for free at any time. Helcim’s chargeback fee is $15, which can be reimbursed upon winning the dispute.
As for processing fees, it adapts a volume-based interchange plus pricing model, which means you don’t need to keep negotiating for better processing rates. Its in-person transaction fee ranges from interchange plus 0.1% + 5 cents to 0.3% + 8 cents, and its online processing fee runs from interchange plus 0.2% + 10 cents to 0.5% + 25 cents per transaction.
According to Helcim, the average in-person transaction fee is 1.92% + 8 cents, while the average online transaction fee is 2.38% + 25 cents. You can use the detailed pricing table and calculator on Helcim’s website to compute your actual cost per transaction.
Helcim charges a volume-based service fee on top of the actual interchange and card network costs. This pricing model makes it possible to get the lowest rates possible every month automatically, depending on your monthly sales, without having to constantly negotiate for fees.
Like Stripe and 2Checkout, Helcim can also process overseas credit card payments. There are no additional fees for currency conversion as the transactions are subject to your customer’s card network rates.
Helcim’s full payment gateway API allows you to securely manage your business data all in one place. There are over 80 API actions available, including accessing and updating product catalogs and retrieving credit card and bank information.
Helcim’s recent update includes a dispute management dashboard. It lists chargeback details, statuses of claims, and a link for uploading supporting documents. You can also filter the view depending on dispute status, response due date, and more.
- Not compatible with high-risk merchants: Helcim does not work with high-risk merchants; PaymentCloud is a more suitable solution for that.
- Expensive for smaller businesses: While Helcim’s $0 monthly maintenance fee is an attractive feature for small retailers, its volume-based interchange plus pricing can be expensive if your sales are below $5,000 a month. We recommend Stripe and Authorize.net as alternatives.
Stripe: Best for Integrations & Programmability
Stripe is a terrific payment gateway for businesses from startups to Fortune 500 firms. Its vast number of integrations (660+) make it a great choice for online, international, and B2B payment processing. However, it made our list because of its programmability. Stripe’s API and SDK tools are some of the best on the market, making it a great choice for a business wanting to incorporate Stripe payments into its software or mobile app.
With an overall of 4.54 out of 5 in our rubric, it earned perfect marks in pricing and a high score for ease of use and value. (This is keeping in mind the technical nature of programming APIs.) Like Square, it took hits for reports of held funds and not working with high-risk industries. It also lacks a native POS app for the smartphone. However, its features make up for these deficiencies.
Stripe’s pricing is similar to Square’s and highly competitive. It also offers custom pricing, including interchange-plus and volume discounts for qualified customers. Unlike the other payment processors in this guide, it has a separate fee for international credit cards taken in person. The chargeback fee of $15 is cheaper than most for those who charge. (Square, however, waives up to $250 a month in chargeback fees.)
Stripe offers limited hardware, mostly card readers. However, its new card reader terminal and POS system are coming soon, with prices similar to Square’s.
Stripe Payment Gateway Features
Billing and subscriptions
Stripe has a free invoice function for up to 25 payment requests per month. However, it also makes it easy to design a billing system for one-time or recurring payments. You can set up flat rates, multiple pricing, usage rates (such as for electricity), and more. It integrates with websites, mobile apps, and CRM systems.
Stripe was designed to be easily integrated and has over 660 partners and interfaces in accounting and finance, marketing and sales, operations, payments, and ecommerce. In addition, it has excellent SDK and API functions for creating your own integrations. In fact, Stripe processes over 250 million API requests per day.
While we like 2Checkout best for international sales, Stripe is no slouch. With Stripe, you can accept payments in over 135 currencies. It charges extra for processing international credit cards in person, however.
- Requires technical expertise: Stripe was initially developed for programming and special use cases. While it does have some simple plug-and-play options for payment buttons and hosted payments, the other payment gateways on our list are more straightforward.
- No mobile POS: Like PaymentCloud, Stripe does not have an app that lets you accept payments on the smartphone. It does have third-party apps, like Stripe Payments by FacilePay, which has 4.5 stars but charges an additional transaction fee. If you want to conduct transactions on your smartphone or tablet, Square is your best choice.
Square: Best for Point of Sale
Square is a favorite among reviewers at Fit Small Business because it can do so much so well. As a payment gateway, it offers its online payment tools at no extra cost. It supports easy-to-use shareable links and “Buy Now” buttons, and its virtual terminal comes with all the features you would expect from more sophisticated solutions like Stripe. Square’s mobile card reader can also be connected to your computer with a Square dock so you can accept keyed-in, tap, and chip payments.
This easy-to-use system makes our lists of the best POS systems for small businesses, top-recommended POS for restaurants, leading credit card readers, best salon POS, and more. It’s a top-ranking merchant service, as well, so it makes sense that it scores high for payment gateways. It works for mobile, desktop, tablet, and POS systems.
However, Square has received many complaints of frozen funds and canceled accounts, which hurt it on this list. In our evaluation, it got the lowest score in the support category—yet it overcame that deficiency by scoring high in price, features, and overall customer satisfaction. All told, it earned 4.53 out of 5.
Square’s per-transaction fees run 2.6% + 10 cents to 3.5% + 15 cents. These are among the lowest on our list, partially because there are no separate or add-on gateway fees. However, Authorize.net can offer interchange-plus through a merchant account (which can be cheaper, particularly for established companies with a high transaction volume), and Chase has the same rates as Square, although Square offers discounts for businesses doing over $250,000 a year in credit card processing.
Square does not charge monthly fees and offers free POS software and a virtual terminal. Many other systems in this guide charge for these or rely on a third-party application, which you’ll pay for. In addition, Square waives chargeback fees up to $250 a month.
You can use Square on an iPad or purchase POS systems starting at $299. Card readers start at $49, although it offers a magstripe reader for free. These are among the cheapest we found, although most of the gateways on our list offer more variety. A subscription also comes with a free online store, website, and hosted checkout page.
Square Payment Gateway Features
Priced for solopreneurs and hobbyists
If you are only an occasional seller, such as a hobbyist, the free software and lack of monthly fees make it among the most affordable. Compare it to Authorize.net, which has a monthly fee, or 2Checkout, which does not have a mobile app.
The ease of use and great mobile app means you can use it in-store or on the go. It has a virtual terminal for phone orders, a free website/online store, and invoicing for freelancers and B2B. (Others on this list charge for one or both of these features.) It even has specialized POS systems for restaurants and salons.
Free POS with inventory management
While many of the payment gateways on this list offer POS systems, Square’s is among the most complete with inventory, reports, and some customer management functions.
Mobile App and Card Readers
Square tops our list of the best iPhone credit card readers. Users praise the ease of use and functions. Most complaints are about held funds or frozen accounts rather than the app.
- No high-risk services: Square does not provide services to high-risk industries. If your business falls under this category, check out PaymentCloud.
- No interchange-plus pricing: Square has a flat rate. With Authorize.net, you have the choice of flat rates or interchange-plus transaction fees (with a different merchant account). Stripe and Chase offer interchange-plus to qualified customers.
- Frozen accounts: While none of the payment processors in this guide guarantee they won’t hold funds or freeze accounts, Square was the worst offender to make the list (PayPal, which we discuss later, is another frequent offender). PaymentCloud scored best for this, but 2Checkout and Chase Merchant Services are also reliable.
Payflow by PayPal: Best Add-on for Ecommerce
It’s almost impossible to talk about online payments without PayPal, a household name. In fact, PayPal is highly trusted by shoppers, so much so that adding a PayPal checkout option to your site can help reduce shopping cart abandonment. Its standalone payment gateway, Payflow, can accept 25 currencies in more than 200 countries, so it’s also a good option for international businesses. However, 2Checkout and Stripe can work with more currencies and countries.
Overall, PayPal is an excellent choice as a customer-facing add-on payment option on your site, earning an impressive 4.48 out of 5 in our evaluation. It scored well for monthly fees and payment processing because it consistently offers competitive rates. That said, add-on fees, including the use of payment gateways, can become expensive. PayPal also lost points due to negative user reviews and numerous reports of frozen funds.
Payflow by PayPal Pricing
PayPal’s payment gateway is a popular add-on service but an add-on nevertheless. There are no monthly fees for using the prebuilt checkout template, but fully customized checkouts will cost $25 per month. One-time payments are at 10 cents per transaction, while accepting payments for PayPal’s recurring billing service is another $10 per month. Advanced fraud protection is also available for $10 monthly.
Payflow by PayPal Features
International payments processing
PayPal accepts 24 currencies through its payment gateway.
PayPal is one of the most trusted online payment processors that provides hosted prebuilt and highly customized checkout pages. It’s easy to set up and integrate, allowing you to start accepting payments in minutes.
Social media selling
Basic chargeback protection is included with PayPal’s payment gateway, but you can also add advanced fraud protection and seller protection.
Recurring billing payments
PayPal’s invoicing app allows you to automate recurring invoice management. You can create and send invoices and accept card payments, e-checks, and PayPal-exclusive payment methods.
Payflow by PayPal Drawbacks
- B2B payment processing: PayPal does not offer discounted rates and special features for accepting B2B payments. It also charges a monthly fee for processing e-check payments. If you need this, then consider Stripe, which offers a free account and better payment processing rates for B2B businesses.
- Additional payment gateway fees: The use of Payflow may become expensive if you require advanced payment gateway functions such as customization, branding, and advanced fraud protection. Stripe is a better option as it does not charge an additional monthly fee for advanced payment gateway features.
2Checkout (Verifone): Best for Global Sales
2Checkout (Verifone) made our list of payment gateways because of its international scope (200+ countries and 100 currencies). What makes it especially good for global sales, however, is that it can act as the merchant of record, taking care of not only payment processing but also sales tax management and compliance. It’s also highly integratable, with over 120 ecommerce integrations.
In the News:
Verifone acquired 2Checkout in August 2020. According to the 2Checkout website, it continues to provide services and will be incorporating Verifone functionality into its own.
The solution earned a 4.46 out of 5 in our evaluation. It got full points for pricing and did excellent on support and reliability. The lack of a mobile app hurt its score some, and it also lost points for its chargeback fee and not working with high-risk businesses.
2Checkout’s pricing is simple but more expensive than the others in this guide. It does not distinguish between online and in-person sales and has no monthly fee, setting it apart from Authorize.net and PaymentCloud. Unlike Stripe, it does not charge extra for international cards.
Its chargeback fees vary depending on your history. The more chargebacks you have and the higher the dispute, the higher your charges. Find 2Checkout’s formula on its website.
Unlike Square, which sells full POS systems, and the other payment processors here that sell at least a card reader terminal, 2Checkout does not sell hardware.
2Checkout has a unique tool, myAccount, for your customers. It lets them see all the items they’ve purchased using 2Checkout (i.e., from your store and others that use this payment gateway). They can make changes to personal information and payment methods and contact support. It is similar to PayPal’s consumer-facing account pages but not something we’ve seen in the other providers on our list.
You can process sales for 200+ countries and 45 different payment methods in 100 currencies. This includes recurring billing and individual sales. The highest plan has global VAT and sales tax collecting and handling—something you won’t find with the other payment gateways in this guide.
2Checkout has won multiple awards for its platform and programming, including awards from review sites like G2. It was also a finalist in the 2021 CODiE Awards and 2021 Cloud Awards.
Like Square, 2Checkout offers several add-ons to upgrade your plan. However, these are more focused on payment processing than POS. You can get tools for increasing conversion rates and A/B testing, complex subscription management, renewal recovery like updating expired cards, networking with over 50,000 affiliates, and dedicated customer support.
- Weekly payout: While most payment processors on our list pay out in a day or two, and some, like Square or Chase can pay on the same day, 2Checkout pays on a weekly basis.
- Non-transparent chargeback fee: 2Checkout determines your chargeback fee based on your previous and current chargeback history. If you prefer straightforward fees, consider the other processors on our list. Square, incidentally, waives chargeback fees up to $250.
- No high-risk services: 2Checkout does not work with certain products. Check PaymentCloud for a dedicated gateway for high-risk merchants.
- No mobile: We did not find a 2Checkout app on Google Play and App Store. Verifone, however, has apps, but not for payment processing. If you want a mobile payment processing system, check Square.
Amazon Pay: Best for Voice Commerce
We found Amazon Pay to be one of the easiest and most popular ecommerce credit card processing options. It’s an excellent add-on if you want voice commerce options for your customers, with its order with Alexa function making it stand out from competitors. Like PayPal, Amazon Pay accepts international payments, and its streamlined checkout can reduce cart abandonment while improving customer checkout experience.
It earned 4.46 out of 5 on our rubric. It scored perfectly in value and price and high in our other categories. It took slight hits for its long application process, complaints of account holds (though fewer than Square and Stripe), not supporting high-risk industries, and chargeback fee.
Amazon Pay Pricing
Amazon does not have in-person transactions but has two different rates—one for online processing and another for Alexa devices. The online rate is the same as the ecommerce rates for both Square and Stripe. The Alexa rate is among the highest, which is understandable for such a novel venue. It also has a refund and chargeback fee of $20, which is competitive.
Amazon Pay Features
Easy for customers
Amazon is one of the most visited online stores in the world, and people who shop there often have an account. Using Amazon Pay as your payment provider makes it easy for these customers to pay for purchases from your store. In fact, it can reduce abandoned carts because it allows shoppers to pay without having to put in all their credit card and personal information because Amazon already has it.
“Alexa, let’s go shopping”
Amazon Pay works with voice search. By adding an Alexa skill to your sales tools, you make it easy for shoppers not only to find your store but also place orders. It’s especially useful for groceries and consumables that need to be reordered.
Amazon offers your customers its A-to-z guarantee on qualified purchases, primarily physical items. This builds customer confidence in your store and provides a buffer where you can dispute claims to Amazon before being charged a chargeback fee.
Amazon Pay Drawbacks
- No mobile payments: Like Stripe, Amazon payments does not have its own app, but you can integrate it with an SDK. If you want a ready-made POS system for your smartphone or tablet, try Square.
- No POS: Amazon is meant for online sales. You may be able to integrate, but if you want an out-of-the-box POS with a payment gateway, check Square.
- Long approval time: Amazon says it can take 20 to 30 days to approve merchant applications. If you need something for online sales now, consider Stripe, Square, and Authorize.net.
Chase Payment Solutions: Best for SMBs Needing Banking & Payment Processing
Associated with one of the largest banks in the world, Chase Payment Solutions (formerly Chase Merchant Services) offers merchant services to SMBs with a checking account. As such, it’s a great choice for new businesses needing a checking account, a business credit card, and more. It serves companies in the US, Canada, and Europe (but can handle international sales) and has a large number of integrations and partnerships.
In our rubric, it received a 4.36 out of 5. It aced the value and features score but took hits for the monthly subscription (for the checking account) and because its approval process is three or more days. Most others in this guide offer faster approval, although Amazon and PaymentCloud can take weeks.
Chase Payment Solutions Pricing
Chase has a monthly fee of $15, for which you get a business banking account with extra benefits. If you maintain a minimum balance in the bank account and meet minimum transactions, this fee is waived.
Its processing rates are the same as Square’s, one of the lowest on our list (after Payflow by PayPal), although Authorize.net can get you interchange-plus pricing. Like Stripe, Chase offers discounts and interchange-plus for qualifying merchants. Chargeback fees vary, and reports run as low as $5.
Chase offers custom pricing on its card processors and has several models to choose from. This is typical of most providers, although a few—like Square and Stripe—have terminals for as low as $299.
Chase Payment Solutions Gateway Features
Same-day deposit free
With the Chase QuickAccept app, you can have transactions sent to your Chase bank account the same day at no extra charge. Most of the payment gateways here take one day or longer, while Square charges 1% per transaction for same-day deposits.
You need a Chase Business Complete account to use its merchant services. This package includes a checking account, a credit card, quick check deposit services, Zelle, and more. Some features are subject to extra fees and conditions. Chase is on our lists of the best checking accounts for small businesses and leading checking accounts for LLCs. It’s also a top pick for best banks for small businesses.
Chase’s mobile checkout includes a simple POS system, which features inventory and reports. The biggest complaint concerned problems logging in. If you need a better mobile application, see if one of our top mobile POS apps integrates with Chase.
Chase Payment Solutions Drawbacks
- Monthly fee: Chase charges you for a business bank account to use its service. If you are a small business and either don’t have or need a business bank account, then consider Square and Stripe, which don’t charge a monthly fee.
- No high-risk services: Like most of the payment gateways on our list, Chase does not serve high-risk accounts. We recommend PaymentCloud if your business is high risk.
PaymentCloud: Best for Tobacco, Liquor & Other High-risk Merchants
Not every payment gateway will work with high-risk merchants, and those that do often have higher rates and more problematic service. PaymentCloud offers great service and a true focus on this subset of the retail world. It does not disclose rates, which is common for high-risk processors, as the specific fees will vary for each business and the level of risk involved. However, the provider offers competitive setups, especially for its client type.
While other payment gateways scored higher than PaymentCloud in our rubric, we selected it for this list because of its good reputation of working with high-risk industries. In fact, it ranked No. 1 on our list of the best high-risk merchant accounts. Many of the reasons it scored low here—contracts and a longer approval process, for example—are typical of any high-risk payment processor. It earned 4.75 out of 5 for our features criterion.
Like most payment processors that work with high-risk clients, PaymentCloud does not reveal its pricing and says it charges on a case-by-case basis. However, we reached out to PaymentCloud and were informed that while it offers custom pricing, transaction fees usually range from 2.69%–3.29% for medium-risk and 2.95%–4.25% for high-risk merchants.
PaymentCloud does not charge setup, annual, and cancellation fees—which is a plus. It may also offer to lease you equipment; this often comes with contractual obligations. Be sure to read your contract carefully to ensure you understand exactly what you will be paying for.
High-risk industry coverage
PaymentCloud stands out because it specializes in medium- and high-risk industries that other payment processors are less likely to service. On our list, only Authorize.net may work with high-risk merchants—through a separate merchant account.
Because chargebacks are a big concern with high-risk industries, PaymentCloud provides strong dispute resolution support and partners with Chargeback Gurus. This service specializes in detecting, tracking, and resolving disputes on behalf of merchants and claims to have prevented 70% of chargebacks for over $1 billion in lost revenue recovered. Chargeback Gurus is also used by Authorize.net, Stripe, and Chase.
Reliable, supportive service
Given the industries it works with, there are surprisingly few complaints about PaymentCloud freezing an account or holding funds; this may be in part because it is diligent in its approval process. Its average user score is a healthy 4.6, putting it just below Square for user approval.
- Nontransparent pricing: PaymentCloud does its pricing on a case-by-case basis and does not divulge even approximate rates. If you prefer the security of known flat-rate pricing, look at the others on this list.
- For medium- and high-risk: If you’re a low-risk merchant, you may find better deals and more features with other payment gateways on our list.
- No native POS system: While PaymentCloud integrates with a multitude of POS and ecommerce software, it does not have its own. This is typical of the payment gateways on our list, but if you want a payment gateway that comes with a free POS system, consider Square.
- No Mobile: Like with 2Checkout, we did not find a PaymentCloud solution in either Google Play or the App Store. When PaymentCloud says you can process payments via mobile, it seems to mean through a third-party app with a card reader PaymentCloud can sell you. If you are a high-risk merchant needing mobile POS, see if PaymentCloud integrates with one of our top-recommended mobile POS apps.
How We Evaluated the Best Payment Gateways
We examined the extensive lists of merchant services, payment processors, and payment gateways that we’ve researched over the years and narrowed them down to those that provide small businesses reliable and popular gateways at reasonable prices. Then, we evaluated the providers based on quality of features, reputation, and ease of use.
We chose Authorize.net as the best payment gateway. It’s also the only pure payment gateway, meaning it works with a multitude of payment providers and integrations. It’s often mentioned in conjunction with the best credit card readers, virtual terminals, and other software as it is compatible with most other payment solutions. It has been on our previous lists of best payment gateways, this time earning the top spot.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
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The best payment gateways have a quick application process and small chargeback fees and don’t lock you into a contract. Authorize.net got a perfect score, followed by Square. PaymentCloud was last, but this is expected considering it works with high-risk industries.
20% of Overall Score
The more places a gateway lets you take payments, the better. We looked for in-person and ecommerce, stored card information (for recurring payments), and the ability to serve high-risk businesses. We also looked for the strength of security and fraud protection. Every provider did extremely well here, with 2Checkout scoring the lowest.
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What Is a Payment Gateway?
A payment gateway is a type of payment service that provides a bridge between your payment processor, your merchant account provider, and your customer to complete credit card transactions. It is used for online shops and on credit card terminals for brick-and-mortar stores.
How does a payment gateway differ from a virtual terminal?
A virtual terminal is a user interface for manually processing credit card transactions. A payment gateway, on the other hand, is a dedicated URL found in a computer program developed to receive your incoming transactions.
How do payment gateways work?
Once a credit card transaction is initiated, your payment gateway communicates with your customer’s issuing bank to ensure that funds are available before authorizing or voiding the transaction. It is also responsible for moving the funds from your customer’s bank to your merchant account. Finally, it alerts you and your customer of the status of the transaction.
How much do payment gateways cost?
Based on all the providers we have considered for this guide, monthly fees for maintaining a payment gateway can be anywhere from $0 to $25. Transaction fees vary depending on the pricing model used but range from 1.92% to 3.5% + 35 cents.
Very few merchants, even the hobbyist or solopreneur, can get by without taking credit card payments. Fortunately, there is a wide range of payment gateways that work well with small businesses. Those that made our list are among the best for price, service, and POS or virtual terminals that help make it easy to take credit card payments.
Authorize.net earned top billing in this guide for its popularity, versatility, and integrations. It offers a full-service payment processing plan or can work as a gateway with the merchant provider of your choice. It charges a monthly fee, but if you need a reliable payment gateway, it’s worth considering. Sign up for an Authorize.net subscription today.