Choosing an Online Credit Card Provider
As more and more marketing occurs online, small
businesses need to find ways to affordably garner those online sales. One question we get quite often is what credit card solution works best online. The answer however isn’t that simple because it really depends on the following factors:
1). Urgency – how fast do you need an online payment provider set up?
2). Monthly Sales – what are your estimated monthly sales? At higher volumes, certain providers can save you a substantial amount in processing fees.
3). Adaptability – do you need a provider that easily works with your existing shopping cart, accounting systems, online forms, etc.
Keeping this criteria in mind, let’s look at some possible solutions to help get those online sales rolling.
Urgency – PayPal is great if you’re in need of a quick turnaround to be able to start accepting payments. You simply need to create an account with PayPal and you’re good to go. This process will usually only take you 10 – 15 minutes.
Monthly Sales – There is no cost to set up PayPal and no monthly fees until you get into advanced or pro features. PayPal however does have an above average transaction fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. This makes it a better solution for infrequent sales or low monthly sales.
Adaptability – PayPal is a very common way for people to pay and as a result easily syncs with many other website applications. Customers are comfortable with familiarity and most (if not all) online consumers know the PayPal name.
Some other considerations
PayPal takes on all the security risk meaning your sales go through a secure site so you are not required to purchase a secure site (commonly called an SSL Certificate) for your site to take payments. However because the sale takes place on their site, buyers have to leave your site temporarily to complete the payment. This means an extra step in the sales process which could negatively affect your sales conversion. You always want to minimize the steps and time taken in the sales process. Another small issue you will run into is that money received via PayPal, goes into your PayPal account, NOT your bank account. This requires more bookkeeping as you will need to reconcile your PayPal account and bank account.
Urgency – Faster and easier than PayPal, Stripe can be set up in a few minutes. However, Stripe also wants you to have an SSL certificate for your site, this takes longer depending upon your knowledge of SSL certificates and how to add this to your site.
Average Monthly Sales – There is no cost to set it up, and no monthly fees unlike PayPal’s more advanced services. It does have the same higher transaction fees like PayPal, but once your volume goes up to $3000 per month you become eligible for price discounts. As mentioned earlier, they want you to have an SSL Certificate which usually costs $150 - $200 for a decent one.
This makes Stripe a good solution for infrequent sales as there are no monthly fees. It is also good for simple sales as they can be set up directly through the merchant account, and therefore don’t require a shopping cart function. Stripe is better than PayPal for higher volume sales due to discounted rates provided at various points up to around the $10,000 per month mark.
Popularity – Stripe is easily becoming as popular as PayPal, and therefore syncs with most other popular website applications.
Some Other Considerations
Stripe uses a token system to send credit card information online making it a highly secure way to capture and process credit card information. Because you have your own SSL Certificate customers don’t need to leave your site during the payment process. This means less steps in the sales process which could help with conversion rates.
Stripe also has great data reporting on the backend so you can analyze sales more effectively. Furthermore payments received through Stripe are deposited directly into your back account which requires more bookkeeping.
On the downside, Stripe is a little slow in terms of actually processing payments. Payments outside the US take 7 days to get deposited into your account, and US customers still have to wait 2 working days to see their money.
Your Own Merchant Account
Merchants such as Moneris are another option and good for high volume customers and for customers that need access to the funds in the quickest fashion.
Urgency – Having your own merchant account definitely takes time. It is the slowest of the 3 options to set up. You have to apply and abide by the merchant’s online policies before your account can go live. They offer plans that require you to have an SSL certificate and others that do not. How long it takes you to get set up will depend on if you choose to buy an SSL certificate or have payments go through a hosted service.
Cost – There are set up fees, and monthly fees, but their transaction fees are highly competitive, with average charges coming in at 2% with only 5 cents per transaction. This means after you start averaging $3000/month, they become competitive with PayPal’s monthly fees. After
$10,000/month, they become competitive with Stripe. Remember, you also have to purchase the SSL Certificate which usually costs $150 - $200 per year for a decent one if you don’t go with their hosted option.
Popularity –If you looking to go with a merchant account, consider your online shopping cart and your accounting software. They list which credit card providers work well with them, which can help in your decision making process. Moneris, for example is very popular online and works with most popular website applications.
Amount of Sales – As they have the lowest per transaction fee, merchant accounts are great for high volume purchases.
Merchant accounts also allow a token system for sending information much like Stripe, making them great for secure transactions. If you don’t choose the hosted option, customers will also stay on your site during the entire payment process again helping with conversion.
Unlike Stripe funds are deposited directly into your bank account typically within 1 business day.
As you can see choosing the right credit card provider really comes down to what’s most important to you.
But you might also want to consider which option will
I’ve only chosen a few different providers here mostly because of their popularity, so I’d love to hear your successes and thoughts on various credit card providers as well.