If you operate an online store, you must have a Payment Gateway. A Payment Gateway enables the processing of card-not-present transactions online. It is one of the many payment providers you’ll use to accept credit cards.
Just as no two Payment Facilitators or Merchant Service Providers are quite alike, you’ll want to do your due diligence to identify strong Payment Gateway providers and evaluate how each candidate can meet your needs.
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Payment Gateway Providers: What To Compare
As a rule, you need a Payment Gateway and a online merchant account to accept online transactions. One helpful way to streamline your many payment providers and business partners is with an all-in-one Merchant Account Provider and Payment Gateway. This will eliminate a bill you receive every month, make it easier to understand your effective processing rate and streamline your support services.
If you operate an in-person retail location, this is even more crucial. You can theoretically have one provider for both in-person and e-commerce transactions by selecting an all-in-one service.
Integrated Shopping Carts
You may want a shopping cart for your e-commerce sales. This can help you put your customers through a comfortable checkout experience that reduces shopping cart abandonment. There are numerous shopping carts that are easy to set up. Each is integrated with different Payment Gateway providers.
When shopping for a gateway, consider one that has a lot of integrated shopping cart options. This will ensure you aren’t limited to a small array of choices. If you already have a shopping cart but haven’t chosen a gateway provider, see if any of the partnered gateways offer all-in-one service.
It can be frustrating for customers to realize that their credit card brand or preferred payment method isn’t accepted. This can lead to shopping cart abandonment and lost sales for your business.
When you’re evaluating Payment Gateway providers, see which payment types they accept. With the rise of mobile payments, a provider that is able to accept everything can positively impact your in-person as well as online sales.
As with any service, Payment Gateway Providers come with costs. These can range from setup fees, cancellation fees, monthly usage fees, per-transaction fees and chargeback fees. Most stand-alone Payment Gateway providers charge a Payment Gateway fee to use their services. Another perk of all-in-one providers is that they typically waive this fee given the other features you’re taking advantage of.
Because your business is always evolving, we recommend choosing Merchant Account and Payment Gateway providers that offer a month-to-month service. You may not think this is possible, but they do exist. This means you can use their services for however long they meet your needs and expectations. Businesses that lack a month-to-month contract tend to provide better service because their customers could leave at any moment.
It’s important to note that while rates are important, they shouldn’t be the primary deciding factor. After all, some providers advertise low rates and gradually increase them on their customers. Others, may charge very little but lack the security you’ll want to have (more on that next).
A data breach could spell the end of your business. Protect your customer data with a provider that is PCI Level 1 compliant. This means that your provider adheres to the highest tier of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. Take your evaluation a step further by partnering with a provider that can boast long-term, consistent PCI Level 1 compliance. This means the provider is proactive in taking steps when needed to raise its security standards to meet new requirements.
Hosted vs. Integrated
You can opt for a hosted Payment Gateway experience or an integrated one. With hosted payments, your website visitors are redirected to your provider’s site to complete payment. With integrated solutions, the payment occurs on your site. To limit your vulnerability and liability in the event of a data hack, we recommend opting for hosted payments from a provider that’s rated PCI Level 1 compliant.
Are you taking your first steps toward accepting online payments? What questions do you have? We’d love to hear from you!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.