If your business accepts credit cards, you’ll need merchant services (the technology that allows you to take and process payments). And regardless of the specific solution you choose, you’ll need some type of payment gateway.
In exploring your payment gateway options, you may come across one of the oldest payment gateway providers in the industry — USAePay. Our USAePay review explains everything you need to know about this product to determine if it's right for your business.
What is the USAePay gateway?
The first question to address in our USAePay review is: What exactly is the USAePay gateway? With the complexities involved in the merchant services industry as a whole, it’s important to explain how the USAePay gateway works and how this type of service differs from many others available on the market.
To begin, USAePay is first and foremost a payment gateway provider, providing merchants the ability to pass on the customer information that makes it possible to accept and authorize payments. Although the USAePay gateway serves as the middleman between the merchant and payment processor, USAePay does not actually process payments or offer the merchant account that is necessary to receive payments.
Therefore, in order to use the USAePay gateway, you would need to work with a third-party payment processing company (like PayPal, Worldpay, etc.) who is authorized to process credit card transactions between buyers and sellers. You would connect your USAePay gateway to this processor and then would be able to accept, process and receive payments from your customers. Additionally, you can use the USAePay gateway to accept ACH payments — however, you’ll also have to work with a third-party ACH processor to be able to do so.
With all of this in mind, it’s also important to note that many merchant service providers (like Stripe or Square) offer payment gateway functionality as part of their solutions — meaning the service will take care of the entire payment process — from receiving customer information to depositing the payment into your business bank account.
However, it’s also worth keeping in mind that your business might not need all of the features involved with a merchant service provider — say if you just need to connect a payment gateway to your ecommerce software to accept credit cards through that platform — and therefore, you would only need a solution like USAePay.
When it comes to USAePay, you’re only dealing with the actual payment gateway part of the process (connecting you and the payment processor) making its service most comparable to a provider like Authorize.Net.
Moreover, whereas some payment gateway providers (including Authorize.Net) allow you to purchase their software directly, USAePay does not. Instead, it partners with payment processors (in this case, referred to as resellers) who offer the USAePay gateway as part of their solutions.
Considering these significant distinctions between USAePay and other merchant service providers, as a payment gateway provider, USAePay offers a variety of different solutions — including payment gateway software for EMV processing, ecommerce stores, mobile payments and more.
USAePay review: Solutions
Now that your understand the type of service USAePay offers and how it differs from other payment services, let’s break down the unique options that USAePay provides and the features associated with each of its solutions.
Typically, payment gateways are viewed as a tool directly related to ecommerce. In fact, USAePay even writes on its website: “We started this company to provide ecommerce solutions.” Therefore, its ecommerce solution is the product this payment gateway provider is most well-known for.
With the USAePay payment gateway for ecommerce, you can accept major credit cards and debit cards through your website. The USAePay gateway integrates with over 70 online shopping cart platforms including top providers like Volusion, Woocommerce, Magento, PrestaShop and BigCommerce.
In addition to the basic payment gateway functionality, the USAePay gateway for ecommerce also includes:
Fraud tools: USAePay allows you to view and change the settings of each transaction source key to adjust security preferences and prevent fraud.
Recurring billing: You can use USAePay to set up recurring payments for your customers.
Developer tools: USAePay offers developer tools and API to allow you to truly customize your payment solution.
Free tokenization: The USAePay gateway includes a PCI-compliant tokenization process to protect customer data.
PCI compliance: USAePay is a Level 1 PCI-compliant provider.
Customer support: Even though you need to access the USAePay gateway through a third-party processor, USAePay provides 24/7 phone support for customers.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar store owner, USAePay gives you the option to connect its payment gateway to your POS software. By integrating with your POS system, you can use the USAePay gateway to accept in-person credit and debit card payments.
USAePay is compatible with over 20 POS providers, including Lavu POS, Talech and Revel Systems. Additionally, USAePay is EMV-certified, meaning you can use EMV hardware to accept in-person chip and contactless payments. Moreover, if you use the USAePay retail solution, you’ll have access to:
Inventory and customer management tools: USAePay provides inventory, sales and customer information capabilities for retail merchants within its dashboard.
Recurring billing: Just like its ecommerce solution, you can also set up recurring billing for customers with the retail option.
Card account updater: USAePay allows you to automatically update credit card information on selected platforms.
PCI compliance: The retail solution is also Level 1 PCI compliant.
Customer support: You can call the customer support line to talk to a USAePay representative at any time.
To accept credit card payments on the go, you can use USAePay’s mobile solution. With this service, USAePay allows you to take payments by using its mobile app and connecting it to your merchant account and compatible readers.
The USAePay gateway mobile app is available for both tablets and smartphones on iOS and Android. You can connect the app to EMV card readers, Bluetooth contactless card readers and printer add-ons. Additionally, the USAePay app will provide you with inventory and customer management tools, as well as the same PCI compliance, fraud protection and customer support features the retail and ecommerce solutions provide.
Moreover, USAePay offers a middleware library for developers with tools to implement payment gateway software integration with EMV terminals to enable them to work with USAePay’s mobile and web-based applications.
USAePay also offers its payment gateway in the form of a virtual terminal (which it calls its merchant console) allowing you to use your laptop or desktop to accept payments. With the USAePay merchant console, you can key-in customer payment information for card-present transactions; connect to a wireless card reader for EMV, swipe and contactless payments; and even take card-not-present payment via mail order or phone.
Additionally, the USAePay merchant console gives you the ability to create and add custom payment forms to your website to accept payments this way as well. Moreover, this virtual terminal also provides invoicing capabilities — allowing you to customize invoices to send to your customers and accept payments for those invoices online.
Plus, the USAePay merchant console offers additional tools such as:
Batch management: Using the merchant console, you can manage your batches on a daily basis — every 24 hours — to receive your funds.
Recurring billing: Like all of the other USAePay solutions, you can set up recurring billing using the virtual terminal.
Product database: The USAePay merchant console allows you to add, edit, track and manage your products through its customizable database.
Fraud modules manager: The fraud modules manager gives you the ability to view and edit your fraud settings and credit card block list.
Reports: You can use the merchant console to view a number of reports related to the transactions you’ve processed through your account.
User manager: You can add an unlimited number of users to your merchant console and use the manager tool to designate their permissions.
Customer management tools: With the merchant console’s customer management tools, you can add, edit and store customer data. You can use this database to set up recurring payments as well as generate customer-based reports.
API keys: With the API Keys Settings page of the merchant console, you can see all of the sources (POS, shopping cart, payment forms) that are connected to your platform, as well as their status, pin and transaction result.
Finally, the USAePay merchant console provides the same level of PCI compliance and customer support assistance as all of the other USAePay gateway solutions.
USAePay review: Pricing
As a payment gateway that is sold by third-party processors, USAePay does not provide any pricing information on its website. Essentially, the price it will cost your business to use the USAePay gateway will depend on the reseller and how it prices its services. According to the USAePay website, some of its registered resellers include: eMerchant, Axia Payments, PaySimple, iPayment, Talech, Gravity Payments and UMS Banking.
Therefore, if you’re interested in using the USAePay gateway for your business, you’ll have to work through one of these resellers to determine specific pricing. This being said, it’s important to note that payment processing costs often vary based on the type of transaction — with online payments costing more than in-person payments due to the greater associated risk of fraud with payments accepted online.
Additionally, it’s worth considering how industry processors typically price these kinds of services, to have an idea of what to expect when working with a reseller. Generally, a merchant service provider will charge a combination of transaction fees, flat fees and incidental fees. With a payment gateway like USAePay, you’ll certainly pay transaction fees, which are charged at a certain percentage rate or flat fee for each transaction you process. For online processing, this fee is typically 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. With Paysimple, for example, the credit card processing fees you’ll pay will depend on your business; however, standard rates are as low as 2.49% per transaction.
In terms of flat fees, your processor may charge a monthly fee for access to its software, one for access to the USAePay system, as well as other monthly fees like PCI-compliance fees, statement fees or even one-time fees, like an account setup. Depending on the specific provider, these kinds of fees will vary — but generally, can be as small as $5 or $10 and as high as $100. To use Paysimple as an example again, Paysimple charges $24.95 or $54.95 for its software plans.
Finally, your processor may charge incidental fees, for actions like chargebacks or batch processing. These are charged when they occur and typically fall on the lower end of the price spectrum — Paysimple charges $25 for chargebacks and $0.29 per daily batch of transactions.
With all of this in mind, however, the ultimate price of using the USAePay will still depend on the reseller you work with and how it prices its service and each of these different types of fees. Therefore, because you have no standard to refer to for USAePay gateway pricing, it’s all the more important to thoroughly review any contract or agreement from a third-party provider to determine what kind of fees it charges and how much the service will cost your business.
USAePay review: Pros
Taking into consideration the USAePay solutions, respective features and pricing information discussed thus far, let’s continue our USAePay review by highlighting the most notable benefits and drawbacks of this payment gateway provider — keeping in mind, of course, that it is more difficult to evaluate USAePay compared to some other products given that it is distributed by resellers.
Payment gateway options
It seems that the greatest advantage that USAePay offers is its core payment gateway software. As a payment gateway provider, USAePay doesn’t simply provide you with the ability to accept payments online, but in a variety of different ways. You can use the USAePay gateway by integrating with your online shopping cart, creating payment pages for your website, using its virtual terminal, integrating with POS software and connecting a card reader to your mobile device.
With this flexibility, USAePay does not limit you in its payment acceptance abilities, allowing you to take payments at any time, in any location, in whichever way works best for you. Additionally, with API tools available for the majority of its solutions, USAePay further extends your capabilities, providing you with the opportunity to create a unique and customized payment solution if you so desire.
Moreover, with each of the different solution types, USAePay offers more than just its payment gateway software, including a number of additional tools — and most importantly, PCI compliance, fraud protection and robust customer support with all of its service options.
USAePay review: Cons
Although there’s no doubt that USAePay offers businesses a solid payment gateway with many payment acceptance options, there are also downsides of this solution to consider as well — here are two:
Unfortunately, as a payment solution sold by third-party resellers, there is no standard for USAePay pricing. Although this isn’t to say that a reseller won’t offer the USAePay gateway at a fair price, it certainly makes it more difficult to know what to expect, as well as compare the overall cost against other options on the market.
Additionally, with all of the payment gateway providers, like Authorize.Net and Braintree, as well as payment and merchant service providers out there who offer transparent, accessible pricing, it’s difficult to recommend an option with so many cost-related unknowns.
Although in certain situations, age can be beneficial, it seems that as one of the oldest payment gateway providers, USAePay has not been able to keep up with some of its more technologically sophisticated competitors.
As you can see by looking through the USAePay website and support pages, the USAePay interface is not as intuitive, clear and appealing as competitors like Square and Stripe. Additionally, based on the information in these pages, USAePay is limited in terms of the POS software, EMV devices and additional tools that it can integrate with.
When comparing USAePay to a payment gateway like Braintree, you’ll find that Braintree simply has more to offer and is more up-to-date. For example, Braintree can integrate not only with ecommerce platforms, but also invoicing software, analytics tools and accounting systems. It can also accept more modern payment methods, like Venmo and PayPal.
USAePay review: Top alternatives
Before deciding to work with a USAePay reseller, it’s worth considering alternative options on the market. Overall, with the lack of clarity involved in the USAePay gateway pricing, as a product sold by third-party resellers, we’d recommend looking into competitors that provide a payment gateway as part of their service packages. This being said, here are two solutions you might consider:
If your business doesn’t require a dedicated merchant account, Stripe is certainly a USAePay alternative to explore further. As a payment service provider, Stripe not only provides you with the software you need to accept payments, but also includes the actual credit card processing as well. With Stripe, therefore, you won’t have to worry about connecting a payment gateway to your merchant account — the entire process is handled by Stripe.
Additionally, as a payment service provider, Stripe allows you to accept the majority of payment types, including credit cards, debit cards and mobile wallets — and can process over 100 different foreign currencies. Like USAePay, Stripe gives you the option to accept payments in the way that works best for your business, including using an embeddable checkout, in-person card readers, invoicing software and connecting to hundreds of platforms and tools. Plus, known for its customization and development technology, Stripe allows you to create any type of solution using API tools.
Furthermore, Stripe does not charge a monthly fee for the use of its software — on the whole, it only charges you per transaction, with competitive rates for online and in-person payments.
All of this being said, then, Stripe provides much the same capabilities as the USAePay gateway, but is more up-to-date, includes credit card processing and offers transparent pricing — making it a USAePay alternative worth considering.
On the other hand, if your business does need a dedicated merchant account, you might look into Braintree as a USAePay alternative. As a PayPal company, the Braintree payment solution includes both a merchant account and the payment gateway you need to accept payments online.
With Braintree, you can accept major credit and debit cards, Venmo, digital wallets, ACH payments and of course, PayPal. Additionally, Braintree gives you the ability to accept payments in a variety of ways — integrating with your app or website as well as connecting to ecommerce platforms, accounting and invoicing software and more.
It’s important to note that Braintree does not directly offer in-person payment processing, but you can connect your Braintree account to PayPal Here to be able to accept in-person payments. Moreover, the Braintree payment gateway also includes fraud tools, data encryption, reporting, recurring billing capabilities, as well as phone and email support.
In terms of cost, Braintree offers a simple and transparent pricing model. On the whole, you’ll pay a 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee with no extra fees, other than the $15 chargeback fee. If, however, you choose to integrate Braintree with a merchant account you already have, you’ll have to pay a $49 monthly gateway fee, as well as an additional $0.10 per transaction.
Since Braintree is backed by one of the biggest names in payments, there’s no doubt that it's a USAePay alternative worth considering. With a number of online payment acceptance options, a dedicated merchant account and clear and transparent pricing, Braintree can certainly accommodate businesses in some of the areas where the USAePay gateway is lacking. Plus, although Braintree doesn’t provide capabilities for in-person payments, you can easily work with PayPal to receive this functionality.
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A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet