8 Best Payment Gateways of 2022

Accept cards on your website with a payment gateway that meets your needs.
Jul 18, 2022

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Payment gateways are a necessity for online businesses. The best gateways help you become a sales powerhouse by minimizing fees and offering a simple experience — for you and your customers. Consider your sales volume, coding skills and overall payment needs to find the right fit for your business.

Here are our picks for the best payment gateway.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is where online shoppers securely enter their payment information. The gateway reads, encrypts and transmits data from credit cards, online wallets and other payment methods to authorize a transaction, meaning that it helps verify that the payment is legitimate.

Payment gateways also often provide payment processing services.

Which payment gateway is best?

  • Stripe: Best overall payment gateway.

  • Adyen: Best omnichannel option.

  • Helcim: Best interchange plus pricing for businesses of all sizes.

  • PayPal: Best for doing everything in one place.

  • Square: Best if you also have a storefront.

  • Braintree: Best to accept a variety of payment types.

  • Chase for Business: Best for a built-in banking partner.

  • Authorize.net: Best if your business has complex payment needs.

Photo courtesy of Stripe.

Stripe: Best overall payment gateway

Monthly cost: Free and up.

Payment processing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

Pros:

  • Customer-friendly design.

  • Checkout experience can be modified to fit your website’s brand.

Cons:

  • Stripe’s best features require a developer to implement fully.

Why we like it: It’s not so much what Stripe is that sets it apart — it’s what it can become. The company has built its product around maximum customizability, giving developers the tools to build a payment experience that meets the specific needs of a website, app or service. For those who want a low-tech option, Stripe Checkout has prebuilt checkout pages that don't require a high level of technical expertise to use.

Stripe

Stripe
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on Stripe's website

Adyen: Best omnichannel option

Monthly cost: No monthly cost.

Payment processing: Adyen uses interchange plus pricing, adding 12 cents to the interchange rate in most common payment circumstances plus an acquiring fee, which is 0.6% of the transaction amount but can decrease depending on payment volume.

Pros:

  • Low prices.

  • No monthly fees.

Cons:

  • Monthly minimums might exclude some small businesses. Minimums vary and require contacting Adyen to learn more.

Why we like it: Adyen offers low prices and doesn’t have any monthly fees. Adyen also offers support for in-person payments. If you’re an omnichannel merchant, Adyen has tools that connect your sales data, wherever you sell.

Helcim: Best interchange-plus pricing for businesses of all sizes

Monthly cost: Free.

Payment processing: Interchange plus. Helcim’s margin starts at 0.5% plus 25 cents on top of the interchange rate (typically from 1% to 3%) and goes down if you reach specific monthly sales volumes.

Pros:

  • Helcim’s payment page creator forgoes complex code and instead lets you select the payment elements you want.

  • No contract or monthly fee.

  • Helcim’s margin on each transaction goes down as you reach higher monthly sales, beginning at $25,000 per month.

Cons:

  • Interchange-plus pricing can benefit merchants, but it’s harder to predict.

  • You’ll need at least $25,000 in monthly card sales before you can take advantage of Helcim’s better rates.

Why we like it: Businesses with limited monthly volume benefit from Helcim’s no-minimum interchange plus pricing. Larger businesses can take advantage of Helcim’s pricing tiers, which get cheaper as you do more business, beginning at $25,000 per month.

Helcim

Helcim
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on Helcim's website

PayPal: Best for doing everything in one place

Monthly cost: Free and up.

Payment processing:

  • 2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 9 cents for manual entry card transactions.

  • 3.49% plus 49 cents for invoicing transactions.

Pros:

Cons:

  • PayPal’s offerings are vast and can be difficult to grasp quickly.

  • Payment processing can be expensive for small purchases. For example, a $10 purchase using PayPal might cost 74 cents, while the same transaction on Stripe would cost 59 cents.

Why we like it: There’s not much PayPal doesn’t do. It offers payment processing and payment gateway-only options. It’s a leader in developing and accepting payments in innovative ways, including through subsidiary Venmo, QR codes, payment links and buy-now-pay-later financing. It’s tough to find another company that does this much under one roof.

Square: Best if you also have a storefront

Monthly cost: Free and up.

Payment processing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. 2.6% plus 30 cents per transaction with Premium subscription ($72 per month).

Pros:

  • Ability to use Square to build a website from scratch, or use Square Checkout as the payment page for your existing site.

  • Transparent pricing structure with no contract or cancellation fees.

  • Square also supports in-person sales with its capable POS system.

Cons:

  • Limited options for international payments.

  • If you don’t use Square or other supported ecommerce sites to host your website, Square likely won’t work for you.

Why we like it: Square’s easy-to-use tools enable business owners to have a professional online presence without specialized tech skills. For example, Square’s Payments API lets you take payments on sites built using Wix, WooCommerce and similar services without the need to code, just by logging in to your Square account on your site’s settings page. If you’d like, you can build a site for free using Square as a host. (Some features, like a custom domain name, cost extra.)

Square Payment Processing

Square
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on Square's website

Braintree: Best for accepting a variety of payment types

Monthly cost: Free.

Payment processing:

  • 2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.

  • 3.59% plus 49 cents for Venmo (U.S. only), transactions in non-U.S. currency or transactions outside the U.S.

  • 0.75% for ACH (maximum fee of $5). Discounts available for enterprise businesses.

Pros:

  • Accepts PayPal and Venmo in addition to credit and debit cards.

  • Simple checkout page that looks good on web and mobile.

  • You can get your own merchant account with Braintree, but you can use others, too.

Cons:

  • Requires web development.

Why we like it: Braintree, which is owned by PayPal, rivals Stripe from a customization standpoint. But unlike Stripe, Braintree allows customers to pay with PayPal and Venmo, another PayPal-owned entity — so you get those options plus the ones Stripe offers (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) all via one gateway.

Chase Payment Solutions: Best for a built-in banking partner

Monthly cost: Monthly fee in some instances.

Payment processing: 2.9% plus 25 cents per transaction.

Pros:

  • On the cheaper end of flat-rate prices available.

  • Next-day payouts available.

Cons:

  • Requires use of Chase checking for quickest deposits — not a bad thing, unless you’d prefer to bank elsewhere.

  • There can be a monthly fee.

Why we like it: This service from Chase uses Authorize.net and offers competitive flat-rate pricing. You’ll get your money the next business day, which is faster than the two-day norm with many other processors, provided you use a Chase business checking account.

Authorize.net: Best if your business has more complex payment needs

Monthly cost: $25 per month.

Payment processing pricing: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction if you choose the all-in-one plan that includes a merchant account. 10 cents per transaction if using another merchant account, plus 10-cent daily batch fee.

Pros:

  • You can use Authorize.net with a wide range of merchant account providers.

  • Pricing is transparent and doesn’t require a contract.

Cons:

  • You’ll pay a $25 monthly fee regardless of usage.

  • Authorize.net doesn’t have a robust point-of-sale system for in-person transactions.

Why we like it: Authorize.net, which is owned by Visa, gives flexibility to businesses that might be stymied elsewhere. For example, it lets you work with other merchant account providers, provides high-risk accounts, and, if you are a U.S.-based business, enables you to accept payments from anywhere in the world.

Frequently asked questions

The cost of using a payment gateway is generally broken down into two main components:

  • Monthly fees. This is like your Netflix subscription — you pay the same amount every month in exchange for access to the service. Not all gateways charge a monthly fee.

  • Transaction fees. You’re charged every time a customer buys something online.

Some companies have additional costs, like PCI compliance fees or setup fees. Our top picks generally don’t charge these additional fees.

You have many payment companies to choose from, but there are only two basic formulas these companies use to calculate the per-transaction fee: flat-fee pricing or interchange-plus pricing.

Flat-fee pricing. Open the hood to flat-fee pricing and you’ll see two things:

  • A percentage of the total transaction amount, like 2.9%. This percentage is the same for every transaction, which is the reason behind the “flat” in “flat fee.”

  • A fixed amount, like 30 cents per transaction.

In practice, a flat rate of 2.9% + 30 cents means a $10 transaction will cost you 59 cents in fees:

($10 × 0.029) + $0.30 = $0.59 

One upside to flat-fee pricing is its predictability. A downside is that it can potentially be more expensive than interchange plus.

Interchange-plus pricing. Like flat-fee pricing, interchange also has a percentage fee and flat fee, but these vary based on:

  • Interchange rates. Payment networks like Visa or Mastercard have dozens of interchange fees, which are specific rates for different combinations of variables, like whether a card is a rewards card or a corporate card.

  • Markups. Payment processors that use interchange-plus pricing add a margin, like 0.2%, to each transaction’s specific interchange rate.

Interchange plus can be cheaper than flat-fee pricing, especially for merchants with high sales volumes. However, there’s no guarantee; it all depends on the type of card your customers use.

If you’re using a payment gateway that offers payment processing services, you’ll have to choose between flat-rate pricing, which is consistent, and interchange-plus pricing, which is variable.

For businesses that process less than about $10,000 a month, flat-rate options like Square or PayPal make more sense. They might be a bit more expensive than interchange-plus pricing, but lower volumes minimize the overall difference in cost. Flat-rate pricing is usually found with payment service providers, which make setting up an account easy.

For those that process more than about $10,000 a month, an interchange-plus model like the one Adyen or Helcim use could be more cost-effective. You’ll need a merchant account, which takes a bit more effort to set up, but the savings can be worth the time and effort.

Other important questions to ask include:

  • Will you need technical expertise? Some gateways give a high level of customization but require coding skills.

  • Where else will you accept payments? Payment gateway providers might also offer point-of-sale systems for in-person transactions, multiple-location support and other related services. Unless you want to work with multiple payments companies, find a payment gateway that can address all of your current and future payments needs.

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