PayPal is practically a standard for accepting online payments, but it’s by far not the only method for sending money between businesses or peers. Other payment services provide similar functions, plus additional tools. Some have lower rates, while others offer greater fraud protection. We examined the most popular PayPal alternatives and came up with 10 of the best for different needs.
Best overall PayPal alternative
Peer-to-peer money transfers or SMBs wanting to take advantage of Venmo’s social media network for promotion
Individuals or businesses wanting a free method to send or receive money electronically
Ecommerce and online businesses
Merchants who specialize in B2B sales
Businesses wanting a comprehensive online payment system that includes PayPal
Online sellers needing a comprehensive shopping cart software
Businesses processing over $10,000 monthly looking for lower processing fees
International businesses needing a comprehensive payment solution
High-volume businesses needing invoicing, recurring billing, or virtual terminal solutions
Individuals and small businesses wanting bank-to-bank transfers
When to Use an Alternative to PayPal
PayPal is great for increasing conversion rates at online checkouts. It’s also a handy mobile payments app for occasional sales (like at a farmers market, for example) and an invoicing tool used by freelance service providers.
However, PayPal is not the best solution for brick-and-mortar businesses or anyone processing more than a few thousand dollars per month in-person. PayPal has limits for the POS app, and if you go over, your account is subject to holds—meaning funds from your sales may not be available when you need them. Account freezes and holds are the biggest reasons people search out a PayPal alternative. Plus, once you are processing $5,000–$10,000+ per month, you can find much lower rates with another provider.
Square: Best PayPal Alternative
Square is the best alternative payment system for PayPal because it’s extremely versatile. Whether you’re a hobbyist who sells at craft fairs or a brick-and-mortar business, Square can accommodate your needs. It works for online systems too.
Square works with physical or digital purchases, payment for services, invoicing, and recurring bills, such as for subscriptions. It can process credit cards and works with PayPal. It provides fraud alert and chargeback protection. Square offers a comprehensive POS system free for setting up your payment system or online store. Further, Square has business assistance in the form of loans, payroll, and cash-flow tools.
It offers a free magstripe reader you can plug into your phone to use with the mobile app. There’s no deduction for nonprofits, however.
Excellent POS system included free
No peer-to-peer transfers
Offers business assistance
No deductions for nonprofits
Pricing: Square charges 2.6% + 10 cents per in-person transaction for every tapped, dipped, and swiped payment and 3.5% + 15 cents per Card-on-File transaction.
Setup: Setting up is easy. Click “Get Started,” fill in the information, and agree to the terms. Square sends you a free magstripe reader immediately, and you can sign in and begin building your POS system.
Venmo: Best Peer-to-Peer Alternative for PayPal
Venmo is a peer-to-peer money transfer app that has some applicability to businesses. Users can transfer money to friends and family or make online purchases for free or 3% of the amount if using a credit card to fund the transfer.
Users can split payments, even doing it later. This can be an advantage for restaurants, who then don’t need to tally separate checks. Venmo also lets users pay in-app for online purchases through PayPal, and it tracks what they’ve bought. This can be an advantage to you in that your information is on hand if the customer wants to make another purchase.
Venmo has a unique advantage over PayPal and other payment alternatives we considered in that it offers social media interaction. Thus, accepting Venmo as a payment system increases the chance that people will talk about your products and services to friends and family who also use the app.
Though Venmo has traditionally operated as only a peer-to-peer payment platform, it has recently rolled out Venmo for Business, which allows businesses to create a profile and accept payments for a low 1.9% + 10 cents transaction fee. Businesses can also create QR codes through Venmo for easy contactless payments.
Social media promotion on Venmo app
Does not process other types of payments
Low transaction fees
100% app-based or online; no options for chip or swipe payments
Owned by PayPal
Pricing: It’s free to set up a Venmo for Business profile. Transaction fees are 1.9% + 10 cents.
Setup: To use Venmo, register on its website, then for online sales, activate Venmo in Braintree or PayPal.
Google Pay: Best PayPal Alternative for Digital Wallets
Think of Google Pay (or G Pay) like Apple Wallet or Apple Pay. It’s an easy alternative to PayPal for making payments and worth enrolling in to offer your customers as an option, but alone, it is not sufficient for a payment platform except for solopreneurs or very small businesses.
Google Pay goes beyond payment plans, however. With the Google Pay API for Passes, it can manage and promote your loyalty programs, gift cards, offers, tickets, and more. You can send location-based notifications, real-time updates, and messages to engage customers beyond the sale.
Google Pay integrates with most payment platforms and ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce. It also integrates with eight POS systems, including Clover and Verifone, for tap payments.
Google Pay Strengths
Google Pay Weaknesses
Does not process credit cards
Manages loyalty and other programs for you
Does not offer gateway, POS
Setup: Get a Google Pay account and set up your API. Documentation is on the website.
Stripe: Best PayPal Alternative for Online Payments
Stripe processes payments for online and mobile transactions. It can be added to any website or online store and customized as needed. If you need in-store payment processing, then Stripe Terminal can integrate with your POS system.
Stripe works for indie users and small- and medium-sized businesses. It processes payment for physical and digital goods, plus allows for invoices and recurring payments. You can even schedule reminders for your customers.
Stripe Checkout supports 25 languages and 135 currencies, and it shows you the payment methods most likely to improve your conversion rates, which helps you increase profits. Further, it can update saved card information when a customer gets a new card, a great help for recurring payments.
Handles recurring payments
No POS system
Updates credit card information for saved cards
Does not process PayPal payments
Pricing: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction
Setup: Sign up, use Stripe’s hosted payment page, then embed a payment page, or use their API to integrate into your existing POS or shopping cart system. Stripe integrates with most ecommerce platforms.
Dharma: Best PayPal Alternative for B2B Sales
Dharma offers a payment alternative to PayPal that handles credit card and other transactions but is better for SMBs rather than solopreneurs. It stands out from others in that it actively looks for ways to help you reduce your interchange fees if you are a B2B business or process over $100,000 per month.
All accounts include access to MC Merchant, which contains a virtual terminal and mobile app.
Dharma also sells Clover POS system hardware; and with it, you can handle tip adjustments and chip + PIN transactions, making it a good choice for services and restaurants. It partners with Kabbage for small business loans, offers tax prep help, and can set up a loyalty program for you.
Dharma charges a $20 per month fee, plus a very low add-on rate to the interchange fee. It claims to reduce costs for merchants. B2B merchants can get the B2B App for $20 a month, which automatically seeks the best interchange rates for individual transactions.
May get you lower interchange rates, reducing your overall cost of processing
Not for peer-to-peer or solopreneurs
Has a B2B program
Add on-charges for some features
- Storefront payments: $20 per month, plus 0.15% + 7 cents + interchange per transaction
- Virtual payments: $20 per month, plus 0.20% + 10 cents + interchange per transaction
- ACH payments: $25 per month, plus 40 cents per transaction
Some extra features require monthly fees:
- Invoice and recurring payments app: $10 per month.
- Business insights: $10 per month
- Automatic account updating: $25 per month
- Online ordering: $49 per month
Setup: Go to Dharma’s website to apply for an account. Dharma primarily works with established, low-risk businesses that process over $10,000 monthly.
Learn more about Dharma in our review.
Braintree: Best PayPal Alternative for Comprehensive Payment System
Braintree is a PayPal service that goes beyond PayPal and thus earns a spot on our list as a PayPal alternative for accepting payments. Braintree accepts PayPal, Venmo (US only), Apple Pay, Google Pay, ACH, EPS, Giropay, and more, plus credit cards.
Braintree handles online and mobile payments, plus recurring payments and invoicing. It does not offer hardware but integrates with most enterprise platforms, plus analytics services, billing applications, and other merchant tools. It uses 3D Secure 2.0 for fraud prevention (an industry standard) and can integrate with Kount Custom and Fraud Protection for chargeback management. Like only a few services on our list, it can automatically update changes to card details.
Braintree offers additional services to help you grow your business, streamline operations, and increase conversions. It has international reach, although some services may be limited to the US and Canada.
More complex interface; not the best for casual users
Reduced rates for nonprofits
Owned by PayPal
Pricing: Below is the pricing for transactions. There are additional charges for fraud protection and account updates. It also has reduced rates for nonprofits.
- 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction for credit cards and Venmo
- PayPal is free
- 0.75% per ACH transaction with a maximum of $5
- 15 cents per transaction for American Express if you have an American Express account
- + 0.1% per transaction for international payments
Setup: You’ll need to integrate your merchant account or get one from Braintree. Braintree will then act as your payment gateway. It offers several other products to make payment processing easier.
Shopify: Best PayPal Alternative for Ecommerce
Shopify is a leading ecommerce and shopping cart software that also offers a POS version for in-store setups. It provides an excellent alternative to PayPal if you need ecommerce software specifically for online sales but also has a POS system for in-store sales and a chip reader for collecting payments via a mobile app. The chip reader is good in the US and Canada only.
Shopify can also process credit cards, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, and Google Pay, making it a versatile payment system. It offers fraud protection via 3D Secure checkouts and reimburses US and Canadian customers for fraudulent chargebacks. However, it only works on Shopify itself, which limits those who use other systems or don’t need such a complex shopping cart.
Set up your store and activate Shopify Pay with a click
Recurring payments require an add-on
Robust online shopping cart and POS system
No peer-to-peer transfers
Pricing: Depends on the plan you have. There’s a 14-day free trial. Fraud protection is extra.
- Shopify Lite: Add products to a website and accept credit card payments for $9 per month
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month for the software, with 2.9% + 30 cents per online transaction, 2.7% per in-person transaction, 2% additional fee for other providers
- Shopify: $79 per month for the software, with 2.6% + 30 cents per online transaction, 2.5% per in-person transaction, 1% additional fee for other providers
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month for the software, with 2.4% + 30 cents per online transaction, 2.4% per in-person transaction, 0.5% additional fee for other providers
- Shopify POS Lite: Included in plans above
- Shopify POS Pro: $89 per month per location, with 2.6% + 30 cents per online transaction, 2.5% per in-person transaction, 1% additional fee for other providers
Setup: Shopify Payments comes with every plan; you just need to turn it on. Pick the plan that best fits you and sign up for the free trial. If you already have Shopify, then log in to set up Shopify Payments.
Payment Depot: Best PayPal Alternative for Cheaper Rates
Payment Depot offers a wholesale subscription pricing model that is one of the cheapest credit card processing options for growing businesses. Unlike Square and a few other options on this list, Payment Depot does have an application and approval process. The company generally works with established businesses processing over $5,000 monthly, but we find you get the best value once you cross the $10,000 per month threshold.
Payment Depot is a great value for most businesses because the transaction fees are very low, and one membership includes online, mobile, virtual terminal, and POS processing. By contrast, many other processing companies charge higher or additional fees for online transactions.
Payment Depot Strengths
Payment Depot Weaknesses
Wholesale pricing model
Not a good fit for individuals or occasional sellers
Pricing: Payment Depot offers four membership options depending on the size of your business.
- Basic: $49 per month, 15 cents plus interchange fees per transaction. Process up to $25,000 monthly with this plan.
- Popular: $79 per month, 10 cents plus interchange fees per transaction. Includes a free terminal. Process up to $75,000 monthly with this plan.
- Premier: $99 per month, 7 cents plus interchange fees per transaction. Includes a free smart terminal or premium payment gateway and breach protection. Process up to $150,000 monthly with this plan.
- Unlimited: $199 per month, 5 cents plus interchange fees per transaction. Includes a free Clover Mini, premium gateway, breach protection, and a dedicated account manager. There are no processing limits with this plan.
Setup: Payment Depot requires an application and approval process, though if approved, the whole process should not take longer than a few days. Payment Depot is best for established, low-risk businesses.
2Checkout: Best PayPal Alternative for Global Sales
2Checkout handles transactions in over 200 countries and over 45 payment methods, with over 30 languages and 100 currency displays. Thus, it’s a great PayPal alternative for international businesses.
2Checkout offers three plans, which integrate with over 120 shopping carts. 2Sell works for any product and includes features for recurring billing. 2Subscribe has extra tools to manage subscription renewals and upgrades and provides analytics. 2Monetize is a full commerce solution for digital goods and includes 2Subscribe’s functions.
2Checkout has fraud protection. It also acts as the merchant of record and takes care of global payment processing, sales tax management, invoicing, compliance, local entities, and more, allowing you to concentrate on your products and marketing. It offers additional programs for improving conversion rates, complex subscription management, renewals, channel distribution, and premium technical support.
No peer-to-peer transfers
Handles tax management, local compliances
More expensive than most options on our list
Pricing: Pricing varies by program:
- 2Sell: 3.5% + 35 cents per transaction (in-person)
- 2Subscribe: 4.5% + 45 cents per transaction (subscriptions)
- 2Monetize: 6.0% + 0.60 cents per transaction (online)
Setup: Click the plan you’re interested in to sign up for free. You are charged when you make your first sale.
Stax by Fattmerchant: Best PayPal Alternative for High Volume Invoicing and Virtual Terminal
If your business does heavy credit card sales or online sales or has predominantly high-ticket items, then you may find some of the services on our list expensive. Stax by Fattmerchant takes a different approach to payment processing. Rather than charging a high percentage per transaction, like PayPal, Stax by Fattmerchant’s pricing model is similar to Payment Depot.
It charges a monthly fee and a small flat amount per transaction, plus the direct interchange fee imposed by credit cards. It claims that merchants switching to their program see an average of $513 in savings per month.
Stax by Fattmerchant connects to shopping carts, payment gateways, and other programs like QuickBooks. It accepts mobile payments with Android and iOS. In addition, it has a simple pre-designed shopping cart tool you can put onto your website. This tool can handle subscriptions and recurring payments, as well as one-time sale of goods. It sells hardware as well, if you need an in-person solution.
Stax by Fattmerchant has fraud and chargeback protection and business analytics. If you need more than one account, it offers multi-account discounts. Though Stax by Fattmerchant has a high monthly fee, its proprietary software for invoicing, shopping cart, customer management, and more make it a good value for high-volume sellers.
Stax by Fattmerchant Strengths
Stax by Fattmerchant Weaknesses
Integration with POS, CRM, QuickBooks, and other systems
No peer-to-peer payments
Chat, email, and phone support
Must process over $10,000 per month
Pricing: Fattmerhcant has two plan options:
- $99 per month, 8 cents plus interchange fees per transaction
- $199 per month, 6 cents plus interchange fees per transaction. This plan is for if you have over $500,000 in transactions annually.
If you need virtual or keyed payments, that may require a separate or additional membership fee.
Setup: You can start with a free assessment of how much you might be able to save. Then, the sales team will lead you through signing up and implementing the program.
Zelle: Best PayPal Alternative for ACH Transfers
Like Venmo, Zelle is a peer-to-peer payment alternative to PayPal, but it only works for bank-to-bank transfers. Thus, it’s quickly replacing checks, ACH payments, and wire transfers. Both users must have a Zelle account; so alone, it is not enough for a business to use for accepting payments, except for solopreneurs or hobbyists.
Zelle is still very basic, and while it may be worth exploring as an alternative to PayPal, it is not a replacement for more robust options that encompass other types of payments.
Free to use
Does not handle credit card payments
Easy to get bank-to-bank payments
Pricing: Completely free
Setup: Both you and your customer must sign up for Zelle accounts through your individual banks.
Although PayPal is a global leader for online payments, it’s not the only option, either for peer-to-peer transactions, solopreneurs, or businesses. Many payment processors are excellent alternatives. Even if you want the flexibility of accepting PayPal payments, many alternative processors offer that option in addition to other payment types. Some also offer additional services, from POS systems to business services.
Square ranks as the best overall PayPal alternative because of its versatility. Solopreneurs can use the free magstripe reader and mobile app, while physical stores can use the complete POS system for in-store and online sales. Visit Square to create your free account.