PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments – Which Is Best for a WordPress Site

 This is a contribution by Shaun Quarton. 
These days, practically anyone can run an online business – all that you need, really, is a website.

And, with the rise of the user-friendly WordPress CMS and simple-but-powerful shopping cart functionality courtesy of WooCommerce, even non-technical individuals can put together an aesthetically pleasing, fully functional website. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either – the WooCommerce and WordPress core are free to use, and there’s plenty of affordable hosting and domain providers out there.

In other words, the barriers to entry are coming down constantly, making now as good a time as any to break free from your cubicle and brave it on your own.

Before you jump in, however, you have one other important consideration to make. Businesses need money to survive, but collecting money from your website doesn’t happen by magic. To collect customer payments directly via your website, you need to choose and install a payment gateway.

In this post, we’re going to be taking a closer look at payment gateways. This includes comparing the industry’s main players, plus we’ll be calculating the most cost-effective service. We’re finding out who the winner is between:  PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments .

Are you looking to make the correct payment gateway decision for your business? Then read on!


Table of Contents
What is a Payment Gateway?
PayPal Payments Standard
PayPal Payments Pro
Stripe
Authorize.net
Amazon Payments
Cost Comparisons
Which Payment Gateway Should You Choose?

What is a Payment Gateway?

So before we start the comparisons, what actually is a payment gateway?

Simply put, payment gateways are used by online businesses to authorize and process customer transactions. In other words, without a payment gateway, a business doesn’t get paid.

Now, even if you’ve never set up a payment gateway yourself, we’ve all used them before from a customer’s perspective – if you’ve ever bought anything online, that is, which should be everyone!

Every time you make a purchase with Amazon, your payment goes through Amazon’s payment gateway. PayPal is another instantly recognizable payment gateway that you’ve probably used before.

Today, we’re not looking at payment gateways from a customer’s perspective, though; we’re looking at it from the other side – from a business owner’s perspective, aka the merchant.

 Every business needs a payment gateway in order to handle payments from their website . Not all payment gateways are created equally, however. There are a few important things to weigh up when choosing a payment gateway, including:

Compatibility:
Does the payment gateway integrate with your chosen eCommerce platform?
Accessibility:
Is the payment gateway available in your country?
Usability:
What is the checkout process like for your customers?
Cost:
How much does the service cost?
Cash out duration:
How quickly can you access your funds?
These are all the factors we’ll be considering in today’s post. Now, though,  it’s time to introduce five of the most popular payment gateways available to WordPress users . Coincidentally, these are also the five most popular payment gateways for WooCommerce.

Let’s get on with it, here’s the comparison:

PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments


PayPal Payments Standard

We all have PayPal accounts, right? This is why PayPal Payments Standard is one of the most popular payment gateways of all.

A big reason for this: PayPal Standard is perhaps the easiest payment gateway to configure. Regular users will know that customers are redirected to the PayPal website to make their payment. As such, there are no processing, authorization, and security issues for you to worry about at your end – simply add a Pay with PayPal button on your website, and let PayPal handle the rest.

This checkout procedure is a downside, however, as many store owners dislike redirecting customers away to the external PayPal website – you’re effectively relinquishing control of the checkout experience. Handling all payments on-site is a far more streamlined checkout procedure, which, unfortunately, isn’t supported by PayPal Standard.

But with no setup costs or monthly fees to worry about, plus a free, seamless integration with WooCommerce, PayPal Standard is ideal for small business owners just starting out.

paypal-payments-standard
A few key points to consider:

  • PayPal Standard is available in 203 countries.
  • US fees are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
  • Micropayments (transactions under $10) are charged at 5% + $0.05 per transaction. (PayPal doesn’t give you the best rates for micropayments vs Stripe or other solutions)
  • No startup costs or monthly fees.
  • Checkout process is handled externally.
  • Customers can pay with any major credit card or their PayPal account.
  • PayPal is a well-known, trusted brand. (PayPal wins here vs Authorize.net or vs Sripe)
  • Funds transferred to your bank account in 3-4 days.

Some plugins you can use to integrate PayPal Standard with your WordPress site:


PayPal Payments Pro

PayPal Payments Pro is the premium, big brother of PayPal Payments Standard.

It uses the same well-respected PayPal name, but this time you’re able to handle card payments directly from your website. This gives you back control over the checkout experience, giving you the opportunity to customize and tailor your checkout to maximize conversions.

Another neat feature for PayPal Pro users is PayPal Virtual Terminal. The Virtual Terminal service lets your business accept customer payments over the phone, giving you an additional sales channel to target. This service is free, but slightly steeper transaction fees apply.

Like PayPal Standard, PayPal Pro comes with no setup fees. You will have to pay a $30 monthly fee, however, plus transaction fees. The official PayPal Pro extension for WooCommerce will set you back a further $79, too.

paypal-payments-pro
Here are the key points again:

  • PayPal Pro is only available in the US, UK, and Canada. (Doesn’t come near vs what PayPal Standard offers when it comes to coverage)
  • Fees are the same as PayPal Standard – 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, or 5% + $0.05 for microtransactions.
  • No startup costs, but a monthly fee of $30. (PayPal Standard vs PayPal Pro looks much cheaper)
  • Customers never leave your website, giving you full control of the checkout process.
  • Accept payments over the phone using Virtual Terminal (fees of 3.1% + $0.30 per transaction apply).
  • Add the PayPal trust symbol to your checkout.
  • Withdrawals must be manually requested, taking 3-4 days for the funds to hit your bank.

Some plugins you can use to integrate PayPal Pro with your WordPress site:


Stripe

Next up we have Stripe, arguably the most popular PayPal alternative available.

Why is Stripe so popular? Because it gives you the opportunity to take on-site payments without the monthly fee. If you’re a WooCommerce user wanting to integrate Stripe using the official extension, it will set you back $79, though.

Stripe is a slightly trickier proposition to configure, especially vs PayPal Standard – after all, Stripe is targeted at developers. If you know what you’re doing, though, or you’re willing to hire someone, then Stripe is one of the best payment gateways for the job.

Stripe also has an effective anti-fraud team on-hand to deal with any dubious transactions. It supports recurring payments out-the-box, too, and is one of the best solutions for international businesses – you can accept over 100 currencies, which are automatically converted to your default currency.

stripe
Here is a summary of the all-important key points:

  • Stripe is currently available in 21 countries, with more expected to be added. (Vs PayPal, it’s not a lot)
  • 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee – on par vs PayPal.
  • Transactions handled on-site giving you complete control of the checkout process.
  • No setup costs or monthly fees.
  • Customers can pay using any major credit card.
  • Money received is transferred into your bank on a two-day rolling basis – no manual withdrawals required.

Some plugins you can use to integrate Stripe with your WordPress site:


Authorize.net

Authorize.net is another well-known, well-respected payment gateway. Unlike the other gateways listed so far, Authorize.net charges a $49 setup cost and a $25 monthly fee – in addition to transaction fees. WooCommerce integration will cost you a further $79 with the official extension.

This gets you a high quality on-site payment gateway, though, allowing you to accept all major credit cards directly from your website (and also PayPal).

For the price, you also get an Advanced Fraud Detection Suite, an exceptional support team on-hand to help you out, and quick-sync with QuickBooks to make the accounting-side of your business a little easier. Authorize.net also supports recurring payments.

authorize
Here are Authorize.net’s key points for quick comparison:

  • Available in US, Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe. (Not a lot, even vs Stripe, not mentioning vs PayPal Standard)
  • 2.9% + $0.30 transaction costs.
  • $49 setup fee, plus $25 recurring monthly charge.
  • On-site checkout process.
  • Customers can pay using any major credit card and PayPal.

Some plugins you can use to integrate Authorize.net with your WordPress site:


Amazon Payments

Using trusted names is one of the best ways to boost conversions – and few names come with more trust than Amazon. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that Amazon Payments is quickly growing in popularity.

During the checkout process, your customers will have the option to Pay with Amazon. After logging into their Amazon account, the customer’s Amazon details – including address and payment information – will be passed through to your website for a quick checkout. This simplifies the checkout process from a customer’s perspective, and the Amazon name gives them peace of mind.

Amazon Payments effectively gives your customers the opportunity to make all their online payments using one account – just like PayPal – but allows you to process payments on-site for a more streamlined checkout experience (a good alternative vs PayPal). The order is processed by Amazon, which also gives you access to their highly regarded fraud protection service.

With no setup costs or monthly fees, plus affordable transaction costs, Amazon Payments is one of the best value payment gateways of all. The official WooCommerce Pay with Amazon extension is completely free, too.

amazon
As always, here are those key points:

  • Available in the US, UK, and Germany.
  • Charge of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
  • No setup, monthly, or WooCommerce costs. (Great, vs Stripe, PayPal, or Authorize.net)
  • Customers never leave your website during the checkout process.
  • Customers can pay using any method supported by Amazon.
  • Amazon is one of the world’s most trusted names.

Some plugins you can use to integrate Amazon Payments with your WordPress site:


Cost Comparisons

Now that we’ve explored five of the most popular services, let’s take a closer look at the primary consideration when choosing a payment gateway: price. After all, you don’t want your fees eating into your margins too much.

So who wins this part of the PayPal vs Stripe vs Authorize.net vs Amazon Payments battle?

All good payment gateway services are transparent with their fees, listing them clearly on their websites. With this information on hand, you can easily calculate your approximate monthly cost and select the most affordable option.

Fortunately, I’m here to do some of the hard work for you: I’ve calculated an example monthly cost for each service to give you an idea of which payment gateway is the most cost-effective.

Such calculations are fraught with difficulties due to the need for several assumptions. It’s unavoidable, however, and for my calculation I’ll be assuming 50 transactions per month at $100 each ($5,000/month total).

I’ll also be calculating the cost from a US perspective. Prices vary from country to country, so be sure to confirm the cost in your country before committing.

With the disclaimers out the way, I’ve put together a pricing table comparing the costs of our five payment gateways.

PayPal StandardPayPal ProStripeAuthorize.netAmazon Payments
ppppstripe-lauthaz
Setup CostXXX$49X
WooCommerce Extension CostX$79$79$79X
Monthly CostX$30X$25X
Transaction Fees2.9% + $0.302.9% + $0.302.9% + $0.302.9% + $0.302.9% + $0.30
Transaction Fees per Month (Based on 50 Transactions at $100 each)$160$160$160$160$160
Total Monthly Cost$160$190$160$185$160
Total Annual Cost (Including Setup and WooCommerce Extension)$1,920$2,359$1,999$2,348$1,920
As you can see, the transaction costs are identical for US users – they do vary from each other in other countries, and different services offer bulk discounts at different levels, too.

The only differences in prices between these five services are the setup, extension, and monthly costs.

Which Payment Gateway Should You Choose?

This brings us on to the all-important question: which payment gateway is best for WordPress users?

Of course, this answer is subjective.

What I will say, however, is that payment gateways aren’t mutually exclusive – you can use more than one if you want.

In fact, a restrictive checkout is one of the main reasons for cart abandonment. By giving your customers lots of payment options, you’re more likely to get them over the line.

With this in mind, I recommend choosing multiple payment options for your customers.

Most customers prefer to pay in one place, so I strongly recommend one of the on-site payment gateways, a choice from  PayPal Pro vs Stripe vs Authorize.net (you select)  – you only need one of these as they all provide essentially the same service. On-site payment gateways are harder to set up but make the payment process far more straightforward, so the pros easily outweigh the cons.

Personally, I like to give customers lots of choice. I recommend combining your on-site gateway with at least one of the other two options,  PayPal Standard vs Amazon Payments (seems like a good selection) . (Note: if you decide to use PayPal Pro, you don’t need PayPal Standard). Both these services are free to setup and integrate, plus they add a well-respected trust symbol to your checkout in the form of two big-name brands.

Give your customers the option to pay by card or using their PayPal/Amazon account and you’re likely to get more conversions. This makes it more than worth the extra effort of setting up two gateways.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Which is your favorite payment gateway and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


About the author: Shaun Quarton is an avid WordPress user and writer for hire. If you’re looking for content about WordPress, general content marketing, or online entrepreneurship, get in touch with him via his website.
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Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Hi Shaun,

    Very informative post. Good comparative post.

    Though its a bit confusing thing to select a suitable one

    Your answer to this is really the apt one:
    “With this in mind, I recommend choosing multiple payment options for your customers.”

    That is the wonderful option
    Thanks for sharing this informative piece
    I curated this in AhaNOW ABC Community.
    I am sure this will be a good post for the readers there
    May you have a great weekend
    Keep sharing
    Best Regards
    ~ Philip

  • Thanks, Shaun. Love the chart on Gateway comparisons. A quick note that the client’s bank may offer them a discount on the Authorize.net if they already have a merchant services account for their brick-and-mortar store. The last two ecommerce sites I set up got it for $10/month instead of $25.

  • Farmer Margie

    You haven’t addressed the new chipcard reader requirements coming up, which shifts fraud responsibility to the merchant if they can’t accept the new technology. How do these companies address ONLINE purchases?

  • Viljami Räisä

    Why you did not mention Bitcoin? Total annual cost is 0$ and you can accept payments from all over the world

    • First, because it’s a digital currency, not a gateway. And even if it was, most of the users aren’t educated about Bitcoints, and most of them aren’t using it. These gateways allow you to pay via debit/credit cards, and I will presume that there are way too many card users than bitcoin users. Plus, all country aren’t in the favor of bitcoins. In short, Bitcoin, at least at this point, is not a viable solution. 🙂

  • Hi Shaun,

    Indeed, I have my own PayPal account. But, I had no idea that PayPal has these kind of the features. Maybe because I didn’t build a business that requires a payment gateway I guess.

    As far as I know, I only know about PayPal related to online payments. This is the first time I heard about Stripe or Authorize. It is good reading. I gain new knowledge today. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Thanks for contributing in my learning curve as well.

    ~Nanda

  • Ali

    Nice comparison, iam from Sweden and use Stripe, the fees compared to Paypal for using Stripe in EU is much lower compared to USA, i pay 1.4% + 0,25€, saves lot of money on sales compared to when i used to have Paypal on my websites.

    • Yup, that’s the great thing about Stripe. 🙂

  • Paul Wintergerst

    great comparison ty very much!

  • uponrequest

    Stripe is now a free extension – probably to compete with Amazon Payments.

  • “(PayPal doesn’t give you the best rates for micropayments vs Stripe or other solutions)” Why do you say this without any explanation to back up this claim? You didn’t even mention micropayments for the other solutions. In fact, according to Stripe’s web site, “we’ll probably add micropayment-specific pricing in the future. However, we don’t have any plans in place right now.” So your statement about PayPal’s rates compared to Stripe sound bogus.

    • Bingo

      PayPal is unreliable and not to be trusted. They are more trouble than they are worth.

  • David A. Perry

    Now that PayPal has aligned themselves with leftmost elements of the LGBT political tyranny (and decided to not open in Charlotte, NC due to our legislature’s passage of a commonsense HB2 bill) I really don’t want to have anything else to do with them. Pretty much hypocritical that they are exercising their right to do business according to their “moral conscience” when all HB2 does is allow other businesses to do business according to their “moral conscience.” Can anyone recommend a good consumer service that is readily accepted at most websites / ecommerce sites?

    • Bingo

      I should have known that PayPal was run by a BUNCH of BITCHES. I can tell by the attitude and wicked demeanor of PayPal actions. I HATE PAYPAL!!!

    • MauryMc

      Unfortunately, “moral conscience” seems to be code for legally acting like bigots. Good on PayPal for not supporting such discriminatory rules.

      My biz runs on PayPal and it works fantastic… Something else people don’t point out is you can ship from the PayPal interface as well. Huge time saver.

  • Jared Smith

    The thing about all these companies is that they do not provide seller protection! You will get screwed by charge backs. Buyers can easily file a charge back, and get their money back and keep your product, while none of these companies have anything in place to verify the item was returned in a “item not as described case” Square, Stripe, Flint offer 0 customer service. At least paypal and amazon answers their phones, but if you’re paying them thousands in seller fees a month, they will do nothing for you, because you’re replaceable.

    Everyone is all up and joy about their fees, but look at their return, refund, charge back policies and your head will spin

    • Grace Eunyoung Lee

      Did you have any experience of chargebacks or disputes that made you pay high charge at the end? and what ‘replaceable’ mean for us, does it mean that the payment processors are able to dismiss their users easily?

    • Philly Ciz

      This is one of the main reasons I am leaving Paypal. They show little regard for merchants in disputes. We sent them extensive documentation as we sell services and online products. We received a response about shipping smh.

  • Helen H

    Because of this article I thought I would integrate Amazon Payments on our ecommerce website. What a frustrating mistake! I’m sure if you are already paying tax as a sole trader or are registered as a partnership/limited company you might be OK. But as a growing start-up (and despite sailing through verification with PayPal, Wordpay Zinc and SumUp at various times) we hit a brick wall. We don’t pay tax yet so don’t have a UTR number (which is the only way to prove to Amazon you are a sole trader) – so we were basically told to go away and grow before we came back. Their way of administrating cases is seriously flawed. There is no phone number and the link to a ‘personalised’ form referring to your case actually opens a new case each time which they scurry around trying to join up together. The link on that page to review the comms trail leads to an ‘forbidden – insufficient privileges’ page so you can never check what info they have received. I was promised phone calls that didn’t arrive too. I’ve just given up on this now. Imagine if I treated my customers this way!

    And during my research, I found some real horror stories of accounts being summarily suspended when trying to change from being a sole trader to a limited company and loads of anguished cries that ID documents accepted by banks etc (eg a UK driving license!) were not accepted by Amazon but their system was so inflexible that, say, a passport could not be substituted. Loads of people were making the point that Amazon demands perfection from traders dealing withcustomers but Amazon will not apply the same standards to itself.

    I really wanted to use this (great name recognition, customers completing purchases on site…) but they have blown it now.

  • Jeff Mcneill

    The fees are not complete, as there are cross-border fees, as well as currency conversion fees as well. Cross-border effectively adds 1% (for the receiver), and currency conversion is 2.5% (for the sender), for Paypal. Unclear about the others, but this is important if you are working outside of the US, or at least have customers in different countries than where your account is located.

  • Great read. Could anyone please tell me which one is the best payment gateway for a small Software company which sells softwares and receive recurring payments on monthly basis? Which payment solution would be best for this scenario?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Sam

    Thank you for a great post! This is exactly what I was looking for. Much respect for putting this together.

  • Olivia Sandberg

    Absolutely agree, Cardinity is worth sellers’ attention. Very good payment solution for recurring payments and selling software.

  • channonh

    With Authorize and PayPal, don’t you also need a merchant account and the fees that come with that? I thought that was Stripe’s selling point: for the same cost as just a gateway, you can skip the merchant account and not have those fees.

  • Atri.US

    It is also noteworthy that with Stripe like Paypal you can accumulate each currency in a vault and but unlike Paypal you can then transfer it to a bank account of that currency, therefore avoiding any currency conversion fee. In other words you can have multiple accounts supporting multiple currencies