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8 Best Payment Gateways of July 2024

A payment gateway securely transfers customers’ payment information to a payment processor for authorization.
By Kurt Woock, Karrin Sehmbi, Hillary Crawford
Last updated on July 10, 2024
Edited byChristine Aebischer
Fact checked and reviewed

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Payment gateways are just one of the merchant services that are necessary for businesses to verify whether an electronic payment is legitimate.
For in-person sales, your point-of-sale (POS) system’s card reader acts as the payment gateway. To support online transactions, e-commerce platforms often have built-in payment gateways or integrate with third-party solutions. This roundup focuses on online payment gateways.
Here are our picks for the best payment gateways.

Best Payment Gateways

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Estimates assume an average interchange fee of 1.81% + $0.10, based on our latest available data. Estimates provided reflect online and in-person transactions, but exclude any keyed transactions. Estimates are based on the lowest monthly plan and processing fees for each provider.

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Payment processing fees
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Square

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on Square's secure website

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
5.0/5

Best for If you also have a storefront

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Get an estimated monthly cost for your business.
Learn more

on Square's secure website

Helcim

Learn more

on Helcim's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Interchange-plus pricing for businesses of all sizes

In-person: 0.4% + $0.08

Online: 0.5% + $0.25

Plus interchange

$0.00

Learn more

on Helcim's secure website

Stripe

Learn more

on Stripe Payments' secure website

5.0/5

Best for Overall payment gateway

In-person: 2.7% + $0.05

Online: 2.9% + $0.30

$0.00

Learn more

on Stripe Payments' secure website

Chase Payment Solutions℠

Learn more

on Chase Payment Solutions℠'s secure website

4.5/5

Best for A built-in banking partner

In-person: 2.6% + $0.10

Online: 2.9% + $0.25

$0.00

Monthly fee in some instances.

Learn more

on Chase Payment Solutions℠'s secure website

PayPal Payflow

Best for Payment processor integrations

In-person: 2.29% + $0.09

Online: 2.89% + $0.49

$0.00

for Payflow Link; $25 Payflow Pro.

Adyen

4.0/5

Best for Omnichannel option

0.6% + $0.13

Plus interchange for Visa and Mastercard; 3.3% + $0.23 for AmEx.

$0.00

Authorize.net

Best for More complex payment needs

2.9% + $0.30

for All-in-One option.

$25.00

PayPal Braintree

4.0/5

Best for Accepting a variety of payment types

2.59% + $0.49

credit & debit cards and digital wallets; 3.49% + 49¢ Venmo (U.S. only).

$0.00

Our pick for

If you also have a storefront

Square is known for its in-store POS systems, but it can help businesses accept online transactions, too. Plans come with a free online store that automatically syncs e-commerce sales up with your POS system. And if your business has its own app, you can integrate Square’s payment gateway into it to securely accept transactions.

Learn more

on Square's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

Our pick for

Interchange-plus pricing for businesses of all sizes

Lots of the options here use flat-rate pricing, which is easy to understand but not the most cost-effective option. Helcim’s interchange-plus model directly passes interchange rates to the merchant, along with a consistent margin. That way, you can save when customers pay with cards that have lower interchange rates.

Learn more

on Helcim's secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our pick for

Overall payment gateway

Stripe offers online checkout options for business owners with developer experience as well as those who want an out-of-the-box, no-coding-needed solution. Since it specializes in processing online transactions, it’s straightforward and accommodates a variety of currencies, too.

Learn more

on Stripe Payments' secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our pick for

A built-in banking partner

Chase Payment Solutions lets businesses accept online transactions on their websites through Authorize.net or via payment links. But the real plus is the fact that you can open a business checking account through the provider and simplify the deposit process.

Chase Payment Solutions℠

Learn more

on Chase Payment Solutions℠'s secure website

Monthly fee
$0.00

Monthly fee in some instances.

Our pick for

Payment processor integrations

The Payflow payment gateway can be integrated into a variety of payment processing platforms and shopping carts and allows your business to accept PayPal payments, in addition to major credit and debit cards.

PayPal Payflow

Monthly fee
$0.00

for Payflow Link; $25 Payflow Pro.

Our pick for

Omnichannel option

Lots of payment gateway providers accommodate both in-person and online transactions, but Adyen takes it a step further by giving your business’s customers the option to buy online and return in-store or vice versa. Ultimately, this can help you build a seamless shopping experience across platforms.

Payment processing fees
0.6% + $0.13

Plus interchange for Visa and Mastercard; 3.3% + $0.23 for AmEx.

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our pick for

More complex payment needs

Larger, more complex businesses might already have their own individual merchant account or want to apply for one, as opposed to subscribing to a payment service provider, like Square or Stripe, that use aggregated merchant accounts. Unlike many of its competitors, Authorize.net integrates with third-party merchant account providers so that your business can accept online payments.

Authorize.net

Payment processing fees
2.9% + $0.30

for All-in-One option.

Monthly fee
$25.00

Our pick for

Accepting a variety of payment types

Similarly to PayPal Payflow, PayPal Braintree’s payment gateway lets businesses accept PayPal, Venmo and Apple Pay payments in addition to the standard credit and debit cards. The platform can integrate with outside merchant account providers, but it costs extra.

PayPal Braintree

Payment processing fees
2.59% + $0.49

credit & debit cards and digital wallets; 3.49% + 49¢ Venmo (U.S. only).

Monthly fee
$0.00

Our picks for the best payment gateways

Stripe

Best overall payment gateway
Why we like it: Stripe has built its payments product around maximum customizability: Its open API and advanced developer tools allow your business to build a payment experience that meets your specific needs — as long as you or someone on your team knows how to use them. 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. Read our full Stripe Payments review.

Adyen

Best omnichannel option
Why we like it: Adyen offers low prices and doesn’t have any monthly fees. It also offers support for in-person payments. If you’re an omnichannel merchant, Adyen has tools that connect your sales data, wherever you sell — including online, in person and via app or marketplace. Read our full Adyen review.

Helcim

Best interchange-plus pricing for businesses of all sizes
Why we like it: Helcim's payment gateway API can integrate with a shopping cart, billing system or compatible third-party software. Businesses with limited monthly volume benefit from Helcim’s no-minimum, interchange-plus pricing, while larger businesses can take advantage of the pricing tiers Helcim offers, which get cheaper the more you process. Read our full Helcim review.

PayPal Payflow

Best for payment processor integrations
Why we like it: PayPal offers in-house payment processing and payment gateway-only options that integrate with third-party shopping carts and payment processors. 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. Read our full PayPal review.

Square

Best if you also have a storefront
Why we like it: Square’s easy-to-use tools enable business owners to have a professional online presence without specialized tech skills. Square’s Payments API lets you take payments on third-party sites, or you can build a site for free using Square as a host. Its robust POS hardware options make it a strong option for in-person sellers as well. Read our full Square review.

Braintree

Best for accepting a variety of payment types
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. Read our full Braintree review.

Chase Payment Solutions

Best for a built-in banking partner
Why we like it: Chase Payment Solutions uses Authorize.net as its payment gateway 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. Read our full Chase Payment Solutions review.

Authorize.net

Best for more complex payment needs
Why we like it: Authorize.net, which is owned by Visa, gives flexibility to businesses that might otherwise have difficulty finding a payment gateway. 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. Read our full Authorize.net review.

How do payment gateways work?

To kick off the payment process, a customer either taps, dips or swipes their card using the business’s POS hardware in person or manually enters their card information in an online checkout portal. The payment gateway captures that card data, encrypts it and electronically delivers it to the business’s payment processor. From there, information gets passed between the processor, the issuing and acquiring banks and the card network. Here’s a closer look at the process:
Hand holding a credit card.
AuthorizationAfter the card information travels through the payment gateway, the payment processor communicates a payment authorization request to the customer’s card network and, ultimately, the issuing bank to make sure the customer has enough funds to cover their purchase.
Paper documents wrapped with a ribbon that has a checkmark on it.
AuthenticationThe issuing bank makes sure the transaction isn’t fraudulent and that the cardholder is being truthful about their identity. Some authentication processes may also require the customer to input their zip code or card verification value (CVV). Once the issuing bank approves or denies the transaction, the payment processor passes the decision to the payment gateway, which notifies the customer and/or business.
A green bank that has a coin slot at the top where a hand is depositing a coin.
Settlement This last step involves the transfer of funds from the issuing bank to the acquiring bank and, finally, to the business’s account after the transaction is approved. Unlike the earlier steps, the transfer of funds doesn’t happen immediately. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for that money to be available for the business to use.

How we choose the best payment gateways

NerdWallet selects the best payment gateways by evaluating their scores in more than 10 categories, including the following:
  • Payment processing rates. 
  • Pricing transparency.
  • POS features. 
  • Deposit timing. 
  • Contract length. 
  • Integrations. 
The majority of our picks receive a 4-star rating or higher and offer additional merchant services, like payment processing.

What’s the difference between a payment gateway and payment processor?

Processing transactions involves a handful of parties including a payment gateway, payment processor, payment networks, the customer’s card-issuing bank and the business’s acquiring bank. Though they’re both involved in the process and often bundled under the same provider, payment gateways and payment processors play different roles.
After a customer taps their credit card to a reader or manually enters their card information online, the payment gateway encrypts and communicates that payment information to the payment processor. From there, the processor verifies that the transaction is legitimate and that there’s enough money in the customer’s bank account to make the purchase. After communicating the approval to the payment gateway, the payment processor then facilitates the transfer of funds from the customer’s issuing bank to the business’s acquiring bank.

Learn more about payment gateways vs. payment processors

Payment gateways kick off the card authentication process and processing companies take it from there.

Does your business need a payment gateway?

All businesses accepting card transactions need some sort of payment gateway, but they aren’t always advertised as stand-alone products. For businesses accepting in-person transactions, the credit card terminal or reader acts as the payment gateway. It’s what the customer interacts with to pass along their credit card information and complete their purchase.
For businesses accepting online transactions, payment gateways are often built right into e-commerce sites and shopping carts as part of a bundled payments service. If you built your website from scratch, however, you may need to integrate it with a stand-alone payment gateway that you can customize to match your brand.

Determining the best payment gateway for your small business

The best payment gateway depends on the specific needs of your business. You’ll want to take into account the payment gateway’s total cost, which will include the monthly fee, transaction fees and any additional fees. Also important to consider are factors such as your business’ transaction volume, whether you require a full POS system and how much coding knowledge is needed to integrate and customize the gateway.

Payment gateway costs

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. If you're trying to keep costs down, see NerdWallet's selections for cheapest payment gateways for more options.

Pricing models

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.
  • Flat-rate: For new or seasonal businesses or for those that process less than about $5,000 a month, a flat-rate pricing model, like Square or PayPal uses, may make more sense. Flat-rate pricing is more expensive per transaction than interchange-plus pricing, but providers that use this pricing model often don’t charge a monthly fee. This pricing model also makes it easier to predict and forecast transaction costs because the fees are less variable over time than with interchange-plus pricing. Flat-rate pricing is usually found with payment service providers, which make setting up an account easy.
  • Interchange-plus: If you process more than about $5,000 a month and particularly if you value having more transparency into your processing fees, then an interchange-plus model like the one Adyen or Helcim uses could be a better fit for your business. 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.

Technical expertise

Some gateways, like PayPal Payflow, allow for a high level of customization but require coding skills to make the most of the customizable features. Other gateways, like those from Stripe and Adyen, offer a simple copy/paste coding option or options with no coding at all for those who are less tech-savvy in addition to a more code-heavy option that requires development skills.
If you want to take advantage of a more advanced and customizable payment gateway option but don’t have the necessary coding expertise within your team, it’s possible to hire freelance development help to get up and running. Stripe, for example, partners with several agencies that offer this service.

Payment processing needs

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.
Last updated on July 10, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s ratings of payment processing providers rewards companies whose products and services are priced well and work in a variety of payment scenarios, among other criteria. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including overall cost, hardware and software options, system capabilities, customer service, contract requirements and integrations. Learn more about how we rate payment processing providers.
These ratings are a guide, but fees, hardware, software and contract requirements can vary widely from business to business and provider to provider. We encourage you to shop around and compare several providers.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
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