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The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways

Payment gateways allow both brick-and-mortar sellers and online sellers to offer their customers secure ways to pay via credit card or digital wallet.

 As technology opens up new payment options and markets, payment gateways are essential to helping businesses grow.

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our selections. 

With the spread of digital payment systems such as PayPal , customers are driven by the demand for safe and hassle-free purchasing.

In 2018, millennials had $350 billion in purchasing power.

We looked at more than a dozen payment gateways for this review, based on payment types, cost, ease of use, integration, support, and more. Here are our best sites.

Authorize.Net portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Founded in 1996, Authorize.Net is one of the oldest payment gateway providers. Today this portal serves more than 430.000 merchants and manages more than a billion transactions every year. We picked it as the best overall because it's easy to set up and use, works with almost any merchant account, and accepts transactions from customers all over the world.

Due to its longevity, Authorize.Net has partnerships with most merchant account providers, allowing its users to accept payments from major credit cards, debit cards, and digital payments, as well as e-checks and foreign payments from most countries. 

The Authorize.Net platform is straightforward and easy to use, making it a great choice for new sellers and users alike.

In addition to accepting more payment types than most other payment gateways, it is also one of the very few that accept PayPal.  

Authorize.Net makes it easy for its customers to use their existing merchant account with its payment gateway. However, the company also offers an all-in-one package that includes both a merchant account and payment gateway.

 Both options provide users with a range of other features, including recurring payments, invoicing, fraud prevention filters, customer information management, mobile payments, and a virtual point of sale (POS) system.

In addition to the features listed below, both Authorize.Net plans offer the option to add an account updater for recurring payments and the ability to accept e-checks for additional costs. There are no setup fees for either plan.

Payment gateway only

  • $25 per month
  • $0.10 per transaction
  • $0.10 daily payment fee 
  • Prevent fraud
  • Customer Information Manager
  • Recurring payments
  • Invoices

All-in-one option

  • $25 per month
  • 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction
  • All payment gateway features only

Open an account now.

Stripe portal 

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

 The company has more than 4000 employees in 14 countries and claims that 90% of US online shoppers have purchased from companies that use Stripe. We chose it as our runner-up because it offers customizable payment solutions at competitive prices.

Stripe's strong focus on developer-led, custom payment solutions allows its products to grow and scale with businesses of all sizes and adapt to their needs.

Launched in 2011, Stripe is a payment gateway provider with a strong focus on technology and development.

Customers can build the platform they like or take advantage of Stripe's native integration with existing ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and BigCommerce. 

Stripe offers many of the features one would expect from a global payment gateway provider, including support for over 135 currencies and payment types, mobile payments, subscription billing, one-click checkout, and a user dashboard with robust transaction tracking and reporting.

Although Stripe really shines as an e-commerce payment gateway, it offers a virtual point of sale that makes it easy for users to unify their online and offline channels.

 Stripe Terminal works on mobile devices and computers as well as pre-approved card readers that support chip cards and contactless payments.   

Unlike Authorize.Net, Stripe has no monthly gateway fees. It also provides 24/7 support via email, phone, and chat as well as access to a comprehensive online support center. In addition to the plan listed below, customers can contact Stripe for pricing on custom solutions.

Open an account now.

Integrated plan

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Recurring subscriptions and billing
  • Local payment methods
  • Real-time reports
  • QuickBooks and NetSuite support
  • iOS and Android applications
  • Over 450 platforms and accessories  
  • Payments to platforms and marketplaces
  • Fraud prevention in machine learning

PayPal portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

PayPal was created as a digital wallet in 1999, popularized by eBay in 2002 and has become one of the most versatile and recognized online payment processors.

We chose it as the best for online businesses because it gives customers the option to pay with PayPal as well as almost any other payment type, all at competitive prices.

Given its trusted name and widespread use, PayPal claims that offering its service as a payment option to customers can increase payment conversions by 44%. Adding PayPal as a payment option is also very simple. Users just create an account and add a “Pay by PayPal” button on their website.

Users who want to use PayPal's advanced payments and checkout features will need to register for PayPal Payments Pro. 

This plan allows users to accept payments from American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and PayPal Credit; Integrates with major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce; It offers credit card payments via phone, online billing and in-person payments.

  • $30 per month
  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Accept credit and debit cards including multi-currency payment processing in six currencies
  • Accept PayPal payments in 26 currencies from over 200 markets
  • Accept PayPal Credit payments (US only)
  • E-commerce payment gateway
  • Options to simplify PCI compliance
  • Virtual Terminal for accepting payments over the phone

Open an account now.

Square portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Created in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square opened the door for retailers by providing an online payment solution that could be used on smart devices instead of bulky and expensive point-of-sale devices. We chose it as best for brick-and-mortar businesses because it allows users to accept both in-person and online payments without setup and startup costs and includes a free mobile card reader.

Although Square accepts all major credit cards as well as other payment types like Apple Pay and Google Pay, it does not support PayPal, one of its main competitors. However, it can process ACH or e-check payments and allows users to accept payments by website, invoice, or by phone.

One of Square's best features is its easy setup. Users can download the software for free on any iOS or Android device and take payments using a mobile credit card reader plug-in, Square offers it for free.

Merchants can accept credit card payments using just a smartphone or tablet, making it an ideal choice for food trucks, farmers markets, craft booths, and other mobile merchants.

  • Free POS app
  • Free magstripe reader
  • 2.6% + $0.10 USD (or local currency equivalent) in-person or e-commerce transaction
  • 2.9% + $0.30 invoice transactions
  • 3.5% + $0.15 Manual entry or card entry on file

Open an account now.

Braintree portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Originally launched as an online payment platform in 2010, Braintree was acquired by PayPal in 2013 and now supports in-store as well as online payments. We chose it as the best for startups because it is an easy-to-use and affordable platform that accepts all major payment types.

What Braintree lacks in new and exciting features it makes up for in simplicity. It features a sleek interface that creates a seamless checkout experience on any website and integrates with most major e-commerce platforms, invoicing software, analytics apps, and more.

As a subsidiary of PayPal, Braintree offers a merchant service account and accepts all major credit cards, digital wallets, and ACH, Venmo, and PayPal deposits in over 130 currencies. Additional features include recurring billing, a customer information manager, automatic account updaters, reporting tools, data encryption, and fraud prevention tools.

Braintree also offers in-store payments with the PayPal Here mobile app and card reader, customizable checkout flows, customer loyalty and rewards, and the ability to securely share sensitive customer and payment data with trusted partners using Braintree Vault.   

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Merchant account and payment gateway
  • Advanced fraud protection
  • Data encryption via Braintree Vault
  • Phone and email support
  • Assistance with data migration
  • All regional payment methods available
  • Reporting
  • Recurring invoices
  • Third party integration
  • Integration support
  • Exchange plus options pricing

Open an account now.

WePay portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Originally created in 2008 as a peer-to-peer crowdsourced payment platform, WePay offers an integrated merchant account through Chase Merchant Services with a payment gateway. We chose it as best for omnichannel because it makes it easier for merchants to handle complex payment requests across a variety of online platforms.

As with most payment gateways, WePay accepts payments from all major credit cards, Chase Pay, and ACH payments and can handle complex payment requests, including multiple payers and crowdfunding campaigns. Merchants can set it up with just an email address and start accepting payments right away.

What makes WePay particularly useful for multichannel marketing is its customization features. Merchants can create customizable checkout flows that support online and in-person payments and refunds. Developers can use WePay's APIs to create anything from simple payment links to leveraging Chase Merchant Services features for depositing and reporting transactions.

Although WePay does not offer rates on its site, third-party research shows that the company offers competitive rates of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction and processes ACH payments for 1% plus $0.30 per transaction.

Open an account now.

2Checkout portal

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

2Checkout was created in 2006 to allow businesses to accept online and mobile payments from buyers around the world, and currently serves more than 20000 customers worldwide. We chose it as our best seller internationally because it offers local purchasing experiences for customers in more than 200 countries and regions and supports nearly 100 currencies.

2Checkout offers a payment gateway called 2Sell which accepts all major credit cards and payments, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, JCB, and PayPal. It also supports payments in about 30 languages ​​and 100 different currencies. Users can host their own checkout page, set recurring transactions, compile payment history reports, and integrate the platform with many different e-commerce platforms, shopping carts, and billing systems. 

2Checkout also allows merchants to sell services, digital products, physical products, and subscriptions and features an account updater to keep customer information up to date. It also offers global customers local purchasing experiences, mobile-friendly coupons and discounts, and comes with shopping cart templates and widgets to help boost conversions. 2Checkout also provides users with a commerce dashboard with real-time insights into sales and other customer metrics.

  • 3.5% + $0.35 per transaction
  • Sell ​​instantly in 200 countries/regions
  • Quickly integrate with any of 120+ carts
  • Increase global growth
  • Sell ​​any type of product
  • Access recurring invoices

Open an account now.

What is a payment gateway?

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

At its core, a payment gateway is software that encrypts a customer's credit card information and sends it to the issuing bank for approval when they make a purchase online or in a store. This transaction determines whether the customer's purchase is approved or declined.

However, the payment gateway is not a merchant account. A merchant account is what a business or merchant needs to be able to accept credit cards or digital wallet payments (such as PayPal). Although some payment gateway providers also offer a merchant account as part of their services, most payment gateways are standalone products.

How does the payment gateway work?

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

A payment gateway can be added to a website or point-of-sale (POS) system to process credit card or digital wallet payments. When a customer swipes their card or enters their payment online, the payment gateway encrypts their information and sends it to the bank that issued the card. If the transaction is approved, the merchant will fulfill the order. The process usually takes only seconds.

Security is key to payment gateways. If customers don't feel they can trust the merchant taking their payment information, they may decide not to make a purchase.

How much do payment gateways cost?

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Most payment gateways offer purchase-based pricing, with 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction being a typical industry rate. Some also require a monthly portal subscription fee of between $25 and $30 per month.

In addition to providing secure information transfer, payment gateways also tend to offer sales reporting, account updating, and fraud protection features as well as integration with third-party e-commerce platforms.

Are payment gateways worth the cost?

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

Any business that wants to accept credit card or digital wallet payments (other than PayPal) needs a payment gateway. Since transaction rates can vary, it's important for sellers to choose both a merchant account and payment gateway that offer rates that don't reduce their profit margins.

How do we choose the best payment gateways?

The best online payment gateways - 7 free gateways STUDYSHOOT

We looked at more than a dozen payment gateways for this review. At the top of our list were providers that offer support for most payment types. We balanced these features with cost as not every company needs to offer every type of payment option to its customers.

Integrations were also important in our review, and we made sure to choose software that works easily with major e-commerce and point-of-sale systems. Finally, because the benefits a payment gateway provides to a merchant can be negated if a customer does not feel secure sharing their payment information, we made sure to choose gateways with a strong reputation and security features. As customers look for easier ways to pay and businesses look for easier ways to sell, payment gateways will provide the security and opportunities they both need.