Recently, one of our clients came to us with a dilemma and asked, “Are we using the best online payment provider for our business?”
There’s a lot of speculation over the web about what online payment provider is best, so we did some investigating.
After researching several different providers including, Authorize.Net, Stripe, PayPal and PayPal Pro, we’ve evaluated each service based on customization, security, cost, customer service, and user interface.
Customization: Authorize allows you to modify your payment form on your website to fit your site’s appearance.
Security: Authorize uses a 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for secure IP transitions. They also renew their Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) Compliance annually.
The entire payment process is handled directly on Authorize.Net instead of your website. You even have the option to include a free fraud prevention filter. The only problem we saw with Authorize.Net, was a lack of data portability. If you ever needed to switch providers from Authorize.Net to another online payment system, you will lose all of your customers billing and payment information and have to start from scratch.
Cost: The cost for each transaction in Authorize.Net is standard at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction with no cancellation fee. They also require a set-up fee of $99.00 on top of a monthly service fee of $25.00. They also have a chargeback fee of $25.00 per dispute.
Customer Service: Authorize.Net has an extensive knowledge base for common problems a customer might have – so you are generally able to look up questions with ease. If you do find yourself with a more advanced issue, they also offer email, phone, and chat support.
User Interface: The interface for Authorize.Net may seem complicated at first, but is relatively easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it. You’re able to look up transactions individually through customer name, customer ID, transaction number or date. Authorize.Net also allows you the ability to generate transaction reports for any specific date.
Customization: Stripe has an extensive documentation library. They make it very simple to build your custom payment form so you can have your form up and running quickly. However, it does require some coding knowledge.
Security: Stripe takes their security very seriously. Their Stripe.js feature prevents any customer’s credit card data from being sent to your server. Instead it goes right to Stripe, so you never handle any sensitive credit card information on your servers. This helps to make your company Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.
With Stripe, if you decide to change online payment providers, you’re able to take your customers’ information with you so your members don’t need to sign up again. They help transfer your credit card data in a safe and PCI compliant way, so you’re not locked in forever – a huge bonus.
Cost: Stripe has the most straightforward pricing out of the providers researched. They had a typical cost of 2.9% +$0.30 per transaction, (as long as you’re not processing more than $80k in sales per month.) The only other fee was a $15.00 chargeback fee.
Customer Service: There is no phone support with Stripe, which would make it difficult to get a hold of them. They do offer a responsive email service along with a number of public social media outlets. In addition, they also publish a very well documented knowledge base.
User Interface: Their user interface is straightforward and easy to understand. You’ll be able to visualize your sales with their analytic charts as each sale happens. Also, it is easy to see the total amount transferring into your bank account. You can track your customers, transactions, coupons, and transfers in Stripe.
Customization: This is PayPal’s true downfall; you don’t have the ability to make a custom form on your own website. Instead, you send customers to the PayPal website to make their payment. This is not ideal. You especially don’t want your customers to leave your website at the time of transaction.
Security: Since your customers are being sent directly to the PayPal website, you’re completely reliant on them. PayPal’s servers are heavily guarded behind an electronic firewall that isn’t directly linked to the Internet. In that sense, your information is only accessible to their official computers.
Cost: PayPal accounts have a chargeback fee of $20.00 and an American Express transaction fee of 3.5%. Their rate is variable depending on how many monthly transactions your business makes. If you make less than three thousand transactions in a month, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
If you are making between three and ten thousand transactions, your rate changes to 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction.
For those accounts making ten thousand sales per month or more, the rate is 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction.
Customer Service: PayPal’s email support is slow and unreliable in our experience. It can be hard to get a real person on the phone that can actually help you with the problem you’re having. PayPal has also been known to freeze funds for no reason – Yikes!
User Interface: PayPal’s UX is confusing. They provide you with a lot of data, but their interface needs work.
PayPal Pro & Micropayment Discount
Customization: Upgrading your account to PayPal Pro allows you to place PayPal checkout directly on your website. This ensures that the customer never leaves your website.
The only downside is you can’t combine any additional application questions with your payment form- they have to be on separate pages. This is a minor inconvenience but if that is your only drawback, it shouldn’t deter you.
Security: PayPal takes their security very seriously. However unlike Stripe.js the credit card data still has to go through your server, which can put quite the burden on your software developer. Before using PayPal Pro on your website you should make sure you are completely PCI compliant.
Cost: The cost for both PayPal Pro and PayPal Pro Micropayment Discount accounts are relatively the same and only differ slightly. Each have a monthly recurring fee of $30.00, have a chargeback fee of $20.00, and American Express cards have a 3.5% transaction fee.
PayPal Pro accounts work similarly to the standard PayPal accounts in that the rates differ according to the number of monthly transactions. For less than three thousand transactions in a month, you’ll pay the industry standard of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. If you are making between three and ten thousand transactions, your rate changes to 2.5% + $0.30 per transaction. For the accounts making ten thousand sales per month or more, the rate is 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction.
The PayPal Pro Micropayment Discount account is for those who charge less than $10.00 per transaction. That account rate is 5% + $0.05 per transaction.
Both accounts come with an optional account-monitoring fee, which costs $29.95 to setup along with a monthly fee of $30 per month.
Customer Service: Same type of complaints as Regular PayPal.
User Interface: Same interface as Regular PayPal.
Online Payment Provider Cost
There are many payment providers out there along with opinions on which is best. It all depends on your business and your needs. If your company only takes $3.00 transactions, maybe PayPal Pro’s Micropayment plan is best for you. If your main concern is data portability, then Stripe may be your answer.
If you find yourself searching for a new online payment provider, you shouldn’t focus on which payment provider is the best out there. The only question you should ask yourself is: “Which provider best fits my business?”