10 Excellent Online Payment Systems

May 15 2012 by Rosston Meyer | 33 Comments

In this article, we’ll be reviewing my top 10 online payment systems for accepting payments on the Web. While many of the companies on this list have been available to online merchants for years, many are also now getting into new areas of online payments such as social commerce and in-store online card reader systems.

A Quick Primer on Online Payment Systems

Before getting started, here are just a few things to know about online payment systems.

  • ACH payments are electronic credit and debit transfers, allowing customers to make payments from their bank accounts for utilities, mortgage loans, and other types of bills. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House and most payment processors offer ACH payment options to their customers, especially for monthly- and subscription-based transactions. Most payment solutions use ACH to send money (minus fees) to their customers.
  • A merchant account is a bank account that allows a customer to receive payments through credit or debit cards. Merchant providers are required to obey regulations established by card associations. Many processors (such as the ones listed below) act as both the merchant account as well as the payment gateway.
  • A payment gateway allows merchants to securely pass credit card information between the customer and the merchant and also between merchant and the payment processor. The payment gateway is the middleman between the merchant and their sponsoring bank.
  • A payment processor is the company that a merchant uses to handle credit card transactions. Payment processors implement anti-fraud measures to ensure that both the front-facing customer and the merchant are protected.
  • PCI compliance is when a merchant or payment gateway sets their payment environment up in a way that meets the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI DSS standard was created by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to increase security of cardholder data and to reduce fraud.

What follows are 10 excellent online payment systems.

1. Authorize.Net


Authorize.Net is the Internet’s most widely used payment gateway. With a user base of over 300,000 merchants, Authorize.Net has been the go-to method for e-commerce sites that need a gateway to accepting payments. Widely used e-commerce platforms such as Magento, Volusion and X-Cart are designed to accept payments using Authorize.Net easier.

Pricing: Authorize.Net has a $99 setup fee, costs $20 per month and takes a $0.10 per-transaction fee. Source: Authorize.Net pricing

2. PayPal


PayPal is the world’s most widely used payment acquirer, processing over $4 billion in payments in 2011. PayPal payments are made using a user’s existing account or with a credit card. Money can be sent directly to an email address, thus prompting the users to sign up for a new PayPal account. In addition to taking payments, PayPal also allows its users to send money through the service, which is a feature that only a few payment solutions provide.

Pricing: PayPal takes 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction and has no setup or monthly fees. Source: PayPal merchant fees

3. Google Checkout

Google Checkout

Google Checkout is Google’s answer to PayPal. Google Checkout allows users to pay for goods and services through an account connected to their Google profile. The major benefit that Google Checkout has over the competition is that millions of Internet users use Google for other services, making a purchase through Checkout a simpler process.

Pricing: Google Checkout fees start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for sales less than $3,000. The percentage they take goes down depending on monthly sales volume. Source: Google Checkout fees

4. Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments allows its users to receive money using its API (and to send money out via ACH). Popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments.

Pricing: Amazon Payments fees start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for payments over $10 (the percentage they take is less for larger transactions). For payments under $10, the fee is 5.0% + $0.05 per transaction. Source: Amazon Payments fees

5. Dwolla


Dwolla is a direct competitor to PayPal. One of the newcomers in the third-party payments space, the company is processing over $1 million per day. Setting up Dwolla payments is similar to PayPal, although Dwolla doesn’t have the same name recognition as their competition.

Pricing: There are no fees for transactions less than $10. For transactions over $10, Dwolla charges $0.25 per transaction. Source: Dwolla fees

6. Stripe


Stripe provides an excellent payment solution for web developers who would like to integrate a payment system into their projects using Stripe’s robust API. By bypassing the traditional sign up process, Stripe acts as a merchant account for its providers, handling all PCI compliance and merchant approvals.

Pricing: Stripe charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction with no setup or monthly fees. Source: Stripe: pricing

7. Braintree


Braintree is an online payment gateway and merchant account solution known for working with popular tech startups such as Airbnb and LivingSocial.

Pricing: There are no set-up or monthly fees. Transaction fees are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for qualified cards. Source: Pricing – Braintree

8. Samurai by FeeFighters

Samurai by FeeFighters

Samurai is a payment gateway and merchant account solution. The company’s main product, FeeFighters, is a tool to help merchants compare rates for merchant accounts. Samurai was developed as a direct competitor to Braintree and other gateway/merchant solutions and offers customers a payment gateway or a gateway/merchant account package.

Pricing: For their gateway/merchant solution, Samurai takes 2.3% of all sales volume, costs $25 per month and charges a $0.30 fee per transaction. Source: Samurai by FeeFighters pricing

9. WePay


WePay is a payment processor that allows Internet merchants to accept credit cards and bank account payments online. WePay seems to be focused on the individual user, and has recently added e-store pages to their service to help their customers conveniently take in payments (e.g. event tickets, products, donations and so forth) through their service.

Pricing: WePay charges a 3.5% transaction fee (with a $0.50 minimum) for credit card transactions and $0.50 for bank payments, with no setup or monthly costs. Source: WePay fees

10. 2Checkout


2Checkout is another payment processor that combines a merchant account and payment gateway into one, allowing customers to receive credit card payments as well as PayPal payments. The company offers international payments, shopping cart stores as well as a recurring billing feature.

Pricing: 3.99% (if you apply by May 1, 2012), a $0.45 transaction fee and $10.99 monthly service fee. Pricing and fees – 2Checkout

Other Noteworthy Payment Systems

Here are other online payment systems I think you should also check out:

What about Payments through Mobile Devices?

These two payment services allow merchants to accept credit card payments directly through their mobile devices, making it possible for devices such as the iPhone, the iPad and Android smartphones to act as a mobile point of sale (POS) checkout system.


There are plenty of online payment systems out there that you can use to conduct e-commerce activities. Choose one that’s in line with your business objectives.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of online payment systems. If your favorite online payment system isn’t on the list, please share it with us in the comments and discuss why you choose it over other online payment systems.

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About the Author

Rosston Meyer is the founder of Sponsorist.com, a marketplace where advertisers, non-profits and people in need of sponsorships come together to make deals. Rosston has a strong background in Web marketing, design and development having worked as a freelance developer for the past four years. Follow Rosston on Twitter: @rosstamicah


Ferik Ramadhan

May 15th, 2012

thanks alot, very usefull :D

Jim Paone

May 15th, 2012

Great article! You saved me a ton of time researching these companies. I wonder how Dwolla can charge so little comapred to the others….

Dave Sparks

May 16th, 2012

A rather timely post for me, however I’m looking for a gateway that will allow a website to automate crediting cash back to a user or account as well – does anyone know of any systems out there that can do that? I believe it’s possible with some paypal APIs


May 16th, 2012

For UK people, there is a cool new project called gocardless.com
It’s not a Credit Card payment system, but direct debit transfers

Amr ElGarhy

May 16th, 2012

This service http://www.fastspring.com/ looks very nice as well, and I am going to use it.


May 16th, 2012

Although PayPal is expensive that is the only option which we have left (referring to Indian webmasters).. hope we will get more options in near future.. Wish Google Checkout makes it way to India..


May 16th, 2012

What about Saasy.com for subscription payments?


May 17th, 2012

Shopify.com is also probably worth a mention.

As for mobile payments – there are some amazing things being done by Barclays’s new Pingit technology. Also worth checking out.

Shahzad Anjum

May 17th, 2012

Thanks for providing a list of online payment solutions
this solve my problem

Jacob Gube

May 17th, 2012

We’re super glad to help those who felt this was a timely article and helped them save some time with researching the perfect online payment system!

@Dave Sparks: Interesting question – would love to know the answer to that as well.

@Andy: Shopify is a great e-commerce solution, and we’ve covered them plenty of times in the past, in the appropriate articles. However, this article lists online payment systems, and so Shopify would be out-of-scope in this particular instance (along with other hosted e-store solutions like SolidShops, Shopifree, Big Cartel and so forth).

Rosston Meyer

May 17th, 2012

Glad to hear that the article has been helpful. I did also research some mobile payments in more detail and it didn’t make the article, but will work on something for the near future. Will try and include all of the services included here.


Rosston Meyer

May 17th, 2012

@Dave Sparks as far as sending money to users through these systems, that is something I am interested in finding out more about too. I have that issue with Sponsorist.com and am using checks at the moment. Options seem to be listed to ACH payments or systems like Paypal/Dwolla, but I will be looking into this more.

Jeremey Z

May 18th, 2012

I’m not really sure if PayPal is still relevant. They have had a lot of issues over the past month and are pretty difficult to deal with. Forget expenses, the customer service is horrible.

Bharat Chowdary

May 18th, 2012

Paypal is just good and frankly I never tried remaining ones…

Ankit J

May 20th, 2012

Thanks for the article. I was using PayPal for online purchases fro Ebay now I know more sites.


May 20th, 2012

Very good list. Thanks for sharing.

Robin Jennings

June 15th, 2012

I’ve been looking for something similar to Stripe for a while now- thanks for putting me onto them.


June 15th, 2012

Thanks for sharing all of these interesting tools, I hadn’t even heard of a lot of them.


September 2nd, 2012

How about 1st Data? It provides gateway and merchant service, can it be considered as a payment system provider?

riyaj sayyed

September 3rd, 2012

It’s really too good list, for those ppl who wnt to kno abt d online payment gateway company n there transaction cost


October 6th, 2012

My favorite ones are Paypal and Google Checkout. However, Paypal sometimes sucks when it held my transaction for no obvious reason :(


March 4th, 2013


Does anybody know which company has a gateway also for credit card terminal automatic reader payments?


March 4th, 2013

Great list! I’m not sure about some online payment systems discussed in this post. But I’m certain that PayPal, Google Checkout, and Authorize.net are some of the most secure, easy to use, and very reasonable payment systems out there. I’m interested in square but it’s not available yet in my country.


March 5th, 2013

I own an online ordering software company for restaurants and I have noticed alot of our competitors (for example grubhub.com or just-eat.ca) are accepting payments on behalf of the restaurants the customers are ordering from. I contacted PayPal to find out how that works and they informed me that collecting money for a product that I do not have control over would mean we would be subjecting ourselves to chargebacks from the customers and it violates Visa and Mastercards policies.

So I am curious if any other merchants out there have any idea how these major online ordering providers are getting away with violating these ‘policies’. Of course everyone knows that a customer can dispute a credit card charge at anytime and the policy made sense when PayPal explained it to me.


March 12th, 2013

My parents own a restaurant and they use Regal Payment Systems(http://regalpaymentsystems.com). They have been very happy with the customer service and support.

@Amy that is strange. I’m not sure how they would get away with that and if they are experiencing a large amount of chargebacks they would either by paying high risk fees or loose they’re ability to accept payments period. At least that’s what I’ve learned.


May 31st, 2013

After reading, I’d like to know if you can use any of these services to process monthly payments on a website. I operate a WP-based website and currently working on adding an online pricing segment. However, this is my first time of trying this and information on the net is overwhelming. Could anybody kindly suggest the best option(s) for me to use for my monthly subscription.
I thought of using a membership plugin but that may complicate things.
I’ll appreciate any advice.

Jessica Moore

June 11th, 2013

I’d like to mention Alertpay if I can. I’m not sure what their stance is on things, but I do know they support subscription based services/websites. http://www.alertpay.com/ is the URL.
Good luck :)

Stephen Honeybone

June 13th, 2013

Wow what a list, and I have only just started searching for a solution. We are looking for a system that can be used through our website for clients to pay their bills. PayPal comes to mind but have they become to big for their own good, loosing their customer serevice edge? Go cardless looks good (Thanks Tom) for setting up Direct debits but which is best for one off payments?


June 24th, 2013

Does anyone use Dwolla? Is it any good?

Siraj Wahid

August 19th, 2013

Woah! Dwolla charge so little amount. Btw what about Skrill? it’s better too.

Lorie Miller

August 27th, 2013

Looks like Dwolla doesn’t allow the use of credit cards at all so they can do lower fees. They are just moving money between accounts.

David Lader

September 18th, 2013

Shopify.com is great and should be included on this list. Thanks for the post.

Alex Mazella

December 26th, 2013

A good resource to compare is http://paydemand.com which allows you to get competitive bids from multiple credit card processors.

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