Financial security is crucial for online store owners. So, while choosing a payment gateway, you definitely think about the security of transactions and your customers’ data. What payment gateway will be the best one in your case? What will be the safest and more profitable solution? 

It is important for beginners in ecommerce to figure out how online payments work, what payment gateways exist, and what a payment gateway exactly is.

So, let’s start from the beginning. 

How does a payment gateway work?

A payment gateway works like a link between an online store and a payment processor that actually accepts payments. It securely sends customers’ payment details to the payment processor after they have filled relevant fields on your site.

A payment gateway deals with payment authorization and checks the entered information: is that enough for a transaction?

The payment gateway encrypts confidential credit card information, which protects data while transferring to the payment processor, and returns transaction details to the website.

So, the payment gateway is crucial for ecommerce. If you are planning to accept online payments, you should connect a payment gateway to your online store. 

What does the “payment gateway magic” look like?

Let’s consider how the payment gateway works to better understand where the riskiest moments are.

  1. Customers make an order via your online store. At the stage of order processing, customers fill their payment details.
  2. A payment gateway receives this data, encrypts it, and sends it to the payment processor through a secure channel.
  3. The system redirects customers to the payment processor.
  4. Customers complete the payment with the help of the payment processor.
  5. The payment processor checks information about payments and shows these results to customers. 
  6. Customers can return to the online store if they want to continue shopping.

A payment gateway works like a mediator between online customers and the payment processor; it is the “courier” that undertakes to deliver the payment data in the safest way. 

We come close to the global question: what payment gateway should we choose?

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Top-10 questions to answer before choosing the payment gateway

We made a list of the questions that will help you to determine the appropriate payment gateway and connect it to your online store.

#1. Does your ecommerce platform work with this payment gateway?

Your ecommerce platform can support a certain number of payment gateways, so you should be sure that your payment gateway is included on this list.

As a rule, the most popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, work with PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon Pay, and Authorize.Net.

You can find the listing with acceptable payment gateways in the Payments section on the official website of the platform or in the official documentation. So, you can choose something from this listing and face no problem. 

Also, if you are a Shopify store owner you can automatically use Shopify Payments as a payment gateway without additional configuration.

#2. Where do you prefer your customers to enter payment details?

There are three ways of how the customer can fill the needed information.

Fill the payment form on your website (payment details pass through your server).

This is the most convenient way for your customers but the least secure for you. Customers fill the information in a simple form on your site, and you should take care of its security and meeting PCI DSS. PCI DSS is the acronym for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that is binding for online payments. Implementation of your security solution on the website requires a lot of money.

Use iFrame or redirect.

This is the most secure, yet not very user-friendly solution. Your checkout form is included in a secure iFrame on your site, or your customers are redirected away from your website to fill the checkout information. This payment form can differ from your website design, but the customers’ data will be safe.

Send payment details via a payment gateway.

Customers fill the payment form on your website, and payment details go from the browser to a secure payment gateway. This is the most popular solution, as customers don’t have to go to any other pages, and their data isn’t stored on your server.

#3. Is it important to use the same payment gateway and payment processor?

Payment gateways and payment processors have different functions but are equally crucial for your online store work. As a beginner in ecommerce or a midsize business, you should configure both the payment gateway and the payment processor. Owners of large companies can open a merchant account and process credit card payments directly.

PayPal, Stripe, and some other payment service providers allow businesses to both get the gateway and process payments. PayPal and Stripe combine all their clients in one large merchant account, instead of giving individual merchant accounts. This means a lower entry barrier for your business to start accepting payments (if compared to getting a proprietary merchant account). Yet, there is a drawback: despite a monthly fee, you should pay a commission per every transaction. 

SagePay and PayPoint provide only a payment gateway, so you should have a separate merchant account.

#4. How many payment gateways do you need?

Yes, you can use several payment gateways in your online store for the convenience of your customers. If they don’t see their favorite kind of payment gateway, they won’t buy your goods. Obviously, you should set up the most popular payment gateways and add several alternatives.

PayPal is well-known and available almost all over the world, so you can get international payments. PayPal offers its customers to create an account and automatically get their data inserted for every next purchase.

#5. What about fees?

You can face different fees: monthly fees, fixed fees for a transaction, fees based on the payment amount, chargebacks, international payment, etc.

You should explore the fees of your payment gateway and understand how and for what you will pay before signing a contract.

The payment about 2.9% with $0.30 per transaction is a standard one. If you pay less, you are lucky.

#6. What is an optimal commitment period?

Different payment gateways offer different contract terms. It can be a commitment for a month or for two years. As a rule, small payment gateways offer their customers long-term contracts. Such a long contract is not very convenient, as you can’t change it after a while. Also, there are some payment gateway providers that offer their services without contracting.

You should always check the contract and understand the terms of use of your payment gateway to avoid problems and losses.

#7. What is the provider’s reputation?

Check the reputation of payment gateway providers and pick a provider that is known for some time on the market. You should be ready that all payment gateways have negative reviews online. It doesn’t mean that all of them are bad. It is in human nature to write about negative experiences and take the positive ones for granted. 

Payment gateways deal with a large number of payments all over the world, so it is normal that sometimes something goes wrong. Some of them had outage errors; others could block merchant’s money without notification. So, you should be careful when choosing your payment gateway.

#8. What additional features do you require?

Some payment gateways offer different additional features for your customers’ convenience. For example, if some of your products are sold based on subscription, the ability to charge recurrent fees will be helpful. If you have a marketplace, you should be able to accept payments on behalf of sellers that use your platform. So, check the features of the payment gateway before picking it.

#9. What payment methods does your target market use?

As a rule, every payment gateway works with different ways of payment. So, you should figure out what kind of payment your target market prefers. It can be a well-known payment technology, like Visa and MasterCard, or something special that is used only in several countries. You can monitor your competitor websites to know what kinds of payment they offer to customers and support them as well. 

#10. Is your business risky?

If your kind of business is included in the risky group, your list of possible payment gateways gets narrower. Only several payment gateway providers work with high-risk payment processing. Check this list of risky businesses:

  • travel
  • gambling
  • adult content
  • tobacco
  • electronic cigarettes
  • debt collection
  • credit repair
  • multi-level marketing

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What are the most popular payment gateways?

Let’s consider the most popular payment gateways that match all the parameters specified above. You can pick one or several of them.

Shopify Payments

If you are a happy owner of a Shopify store and your country is on this list, you automatically get access to Shopify Payments. You should just activate this feature from the Payment providers page, and then you can accept all the most popular payment methods on your online store (Visa, Mastercard, American Express debit and credit cards, etc.). Another brilliant information is that you can receive payouts in a currency that differs from the currency of your store.

To set up Shopify Payments, you need to fill in such kind of information:

  • your EIN (Employer Identification Number);
  • your banking information;
  • the standard price of your orders;
  • the standard shipping time of your orders. 

You should remember that if you don’t set up your Shopify Payments account with all business and bank details within 21 days from the start of sales on your store, all payments will automatically go back to customers.

Price of Shopify Payments depends on your Shopify plan, and if you upgrade your Shopify subscription, your Shopify Payments costs get lower. 

There are no monthly, hidden, and setup fees when you use Shopify Payments, just subscription fees for your Shopify plan and a credit card rate. When you use Shopify Payments as a payment processor, you don’t pay any transaction fees. If you move to another payment processor, you should pay Shopify the subscription transaction fees, and its cost will be higher than fees for your new third-party processor.  

Benefits of Shopify Payments:

  • You already have it, if you are a Shopify store owner;
  • You can accept all popular kinds of payments;
  • You can accept different types of currency;
  • Clear pricing without additional fees.


The first thing that springs to mind when we speak about accepting payments is PayPal. PayPal is a well-known payment system that combines features of a payment processor, a payment gateway, and a payment solution.

It is popular not only among business owners but also among simple customers. They have PayPal accounts and use it for online payments processing and splitting bills with their friends.

Everyone heard about PayPal, so you will hit the nail on the head if you choose it.

PayPal has several plans with different options for business owners:

  • PayPal Payments Standard (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction; if you process a lot of payments, you will have a volume discount);
  • PayPal Express Checkout (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction);
  • PayPal Payments Pro (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction plus $30 per month for the service).

Let’s take a deeper look at these plans.

The key difference between PayPal Payments Standard and Express Checkout is where customers finish their orders. If you have a PayPal Payments Standard, your customers place an order on your website and then are redirected to PayPal to make a payment.

In the case of PayPal Express Checkout, customers should sign in to PayPal and, after that, can turn back to your website, fill the information about the order, and the payment will be finished in the background.

When you have PayPal Payments Pro, all the checkout process takes place on your website for all customers. This plan works only in several countries.

Benefits of PayPal:

  • No need for a separate merchant account;
  • Serious fraud protection;
  • Ability to issue invoices;
  • Quick money withdrawal to your bank account in local currency.


Payline specializes mostly in credit card processing. So, if you generally plan to work with them, Payline is your solution. Payline offers definite fees and a suitable interchange-plus model.

With Payline, you should pay an operator’s fee and a fee for every card transaction.

The customization process of Payline is not as simple as in PayPal, and you should have a merchant account.

You can configure regular payments or other kinds of payments, choosing the solution that is right in your case.

As for pricing, Payline supports the interchange-plus model, so you should pay a fee for credit card and 0.3% of the transaction amount. If you plan to process a lot of payments, you can get a discount and pay 0.2% of the transaction amount.

Also, you will be charged $10 for your account every month.

Benefits of Payline:

  • Flexible pricing;
  • The ability of in-store credit card processing;
  • Providing mobile payments;
  • Low-cost offline transactions.


Stripe is rightly seen as one of the most popular payment gateways all over the world. It offers clear payment processes and a user-friendly interface and can integrate with all serious ecommerce systems.

If you have programming experience, you can customize your Stripe settings to meet your business requirements in the most suitable way.

With the help of Stripe, you can process one-off payments, handle in-person payments, form regular bills, and customize a marketplace.

Stripe offers its customers secure transactions and stores all data about credit cards and transactions with the usage of good-working encryption keys AES-256.

Benefits of Stripe:

  • Availability of PCI DSS Level 1 certification; 
  • Availability of SSAE18/SOC 1 type 1 and 2 reports;
  • Availability of money transfer licenses: Money Transmitter Licenses across the US, AFSL in Australia, E-Money License in Europe, registered MSB in Canada;
  • Compliance with PSD2 and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) in the EU;
  • Acceptance of more than 135 currencies;
  • Presence in more than 30 countries;
  • Compatibility with all well-known ecommerce platforms;
  • 24/7 customer support by emails, chats, and phone calls.

You should pay 2.9% plus $0.30 per credit card transaction in the US and plus 1% in case you accept international cards.


It is one of the oldest ecommerce payment gateways. It is known from the 1996 year and offers companies to accept online and in-person payments. It works with credit cards, e-checks, and contactless payments.

Authorize.Net offers companies a powerful system of fraud detection that saves your business from unauthorized payments. It secures your customers’ data and marks all confidential information.

Business owners can use Authorize.Net to issue invoices and customize periodical payments, and your customers get a user-friendly and simple checkout process.

Benefits of Authorize.Net:

  • A high level of security;
  • Free 24/7 customer support;
  • Free setup of merchant account and payment gateway;
  • Free mobile application.

As for pricing, there are several Authorize.Net plans:

  • Companies that don’t have a merchant account: the option costs $25 per month and 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
  • Companies that already have a merchant account: the option costs $25 per month and plus $0.10 per transaction.
  • Corporate solutions for companies that process more than $500K per year.


2Checkout is known from the 2006 year and is available in more than 180 countries. It offers you an all-in-one solution for online payment processing and managing the finances of your business.

You can integrate your payment gateway with any well-known ecommerce platform and use a hosted shopping cart for a maximal conversion. It is useful if your company doesn’t have an external ecommerce solution.

Benefits of 2Checkout:

  • It works with 100 currencies and is available in 29 languages.
  • It has a localized checkout for countries in which it works.
  • 2Checkout can integrate with more than 120 ecommerce tools.
  • It supports all famous credit cards and PayPal payments.
  • It provides advanced tax and VAT processing and checking for meeting requirements.

2Checout offers companies to choose one of several plans. Its price can seem more expensive than other examples of payment gateways, but it includes a lot of additional features for your business.

“2Sell” implies 3.5% plus $0.30 per-transaction fees to sell all over the world.

“2Subscribe” suits subscription businesses and costs 4.5% plus $0.40 per transaction.

“2Monetize” is a solution for selling digital goods all over the world. In this case, you should pay 6% plus $0.50 per transaction.

Additional solution if you want to work with different currencies

In case you need to work with different currencies, you should update your payment gateway with TransferWise for Business. It will help you to avoid the problem of overpayment for conversion when you withdraw money or process payments. 

TransferWise provides its customers with local bank details for the countries of the Eurozone, Australia, the UK, and the US. In this case, you don’t require a local physical address. You set up payments as a local and then withdraw them with low transaction fees. So, you can reduce your conversion costs. Also, with its help, you can pay bills and send payments to your supplies from different countries.

Now you are ready to choose the right payment gateway for your online store, but if you have questions, you can ask them below. We will help you to pick and customize a payment gateway and integrate it into your website.