Choose How to Get Paid

Choose How to Get Paid

Choose How to Get Paid

After you’ve decided on a shopping cart, you’ll need to choose a payment gateway (sometimes called a payment provider) that securely authorizes and charges customers’ payment cards, temporarily holds the funds in a merchant account that’s part of the service, and sends you the payments less transaction fees.

Examples of payment gateways include PayPal,, Chase Paymentech, and Sage Pay.

Choosing a Payment Gateway

Your choice of payment gateway is critical to your business because:

  • Different services charge very different transaction fees (bases on percentages of funds collected and sometimes the payment cards used), plus possibly recurring fees that could be charged each month, regardless of how much you sell. These differences can amount to a great deal of money once your business starts to grow.
  • It’s important to choose a payment gateway service that resolves your issues promptly, consistently, and fairly. We call our payment provider about customer issues and technical support at most around once per month, but since many of those calls are urgent as far as customers are concerned, we depend on prompt and reliable phone support.
  • Your payment gateway must communicate securely with your shopping cart to protect both customer data and your money. Just as importantly, the service should have processes to resolve (hopefully rare) cases of customer fraud as painlessly as possible, along with controls to prevent criminals from accessing your account online. We’ll discuss the controls used by our payment provider in the next article.

Choose Your Payment Gateway with Care

As with the other key parts of your online store, you should compare and choose your payment gateway carefully since the choice will have a big impact on your business and could be difficult to change as you grow.

Beware of the add-on fees charged by some services that advertise low transaction costs. These fees can include surcharges on some types of payment cards, monthly reporting surcharges, and even termination fees.

As always, treat online review sites with suspicion, as many of the comparisons I’ve read on these sites don’t seem to give an accurate picture.

I’ve personally tested only the PayPal Standard* service that our store used for the first few years, the PayPal Payments Pro gateway that we use now, and the (now defunct) Google Checkout service. Therefore I can’t give first-hand advice about other services.

Our experiences with PayPal have been very positive, but we’ve learned some secrets in dealing with PayPal that were important for our business.

Next: PayPal Secrets


* This is not a paid endorsement.

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