The 6 best online credit card processors for eCommerce in 2020

By Hannah Herman - Last updated October 24, 2019 -

You are reading: Chapter 8 of 8

In 2019, eCommerce purchases will likely grow to 17.5% of all global retail sales. But despite how popular online shopping continues to be, accepting payments online is still difficult for eCommerce businesses. For security reasons, you can't just send your customers' credit card numbers to your bank and go back to running your business. You need a service that can process payments, keep track of who paid what when, and let you settle any disputes.

Today, however, there's a wide range of services that can manage payments and charge subscriptions, while letting you focus on making the best products possible. All you need is to figure out which one fits your business needs.

Here are the six best online credit card processing apps. Click on any app to learn more about why we chose it, or keep reading to learn more about credit card payment processors.

The 6 best online credit card processing apps

  • PayPal for first-time users
  • Stripe for easy-to-understand analytics
  • Braintree for supporting Venmo payments
  • Square for businesses that also have a brick-and-mortar shop
  • Chargebee for handling recurring payments
  • Gumroad for selling individual items

What makes a good online credit card payment processing service?

There are three main things to consider when evaluating a payment processing service:

Does it support the payment methods you want to accept, in the way you want to accept them?
Do you want to accept only major credit cards directly? Or do you want to also accept account-based services, like Venmo, Apple Pay, or AliPay? All services on this list accept major credit cards, and some also accept additional forms of payment.

How much will you pay per month and per transaction?
Fees are perhaps the trickiest to figure out. Most payment systems charge a percentage (say 3%) plus a fixed fee (perhaps $0.50) per transaction. That means if you sell a $10 item, you'll pay $0.30 for the percentage fee, along with the $0.50 fixed fee, for a total of $0.80.

Some services don't include the fixed fee and charge a monthly fee (say $50) for using the app instead. Others—and most merchant accounts—will charge a much smaller fee, along with the interchange fee—the direct fee that the credit card company charges. This means your fees will vary per transaction. And almost all include extra fees for chargebacks, disputes, and other payment services, along with an extra percentage fee for international payments.

It's something you should be sure to check, especially if you're processing a high volume of payments. When you're just starting out, features that make payments simpler are likely more important than an extra 0.2% fee. Except for Gumroad and Chargebee—both of which charge monthly—we primarily looked at credit card processing services that have fairly competitive transaction fees.

Is the platform secure?
Security is also a concern whenever you're dealing with financial data and transactions. In the U.S., any good payment processing tool will be PCI-compliant, which means they abide by the rules for handling sensitive information like credit card data. All of the apps on this list meet this requirement, but if you're outside of the U.S., you may want to check your local rules.

To prevent fraud, payment processing tools also typically verify your identity and bank information before you can finish setting up an account. This usually involves providing the last four digits of your Social Security number (in the U.S.) and your bank account details, like the routing number.

Beyond these three criteria, you'll also want to consider whether there are any extra features you need in a payments tool, such as recurring billing or mobile payments. If you're selling custom art, for example, you might want a payment tool that incorporates some eCommerce features, like creating unique listings for each item. And if your product involves recurring payments, you'll definitely want a credit card payment processing service that can manage multiple types of subscriptions or billing schemes.

With that in mind, here are some of the best online credit card processing tools.

Best online credit card processing app for first-time users

PayPal (Web, iOS, Android)

PayPal buttons setup

If you've been around the internet at all in the past twenty years, you're probably already familiar with PayPal. But it's not just for buying collectibles on eBay. It can also be a powerful and secure tool for processing credit card payments online. Though it offers customers the option to pay with their PayPal accounts, you can easily use it to process all online credit and debit card payments.

If you're already using an eCommerce solution like Magento, you can embed PayPal using a pre-existing integration. But if you don't use an eCommerce platform, don't worry. You can copy and paste some short HTML code to add buttons like Add to Cart, Buy Now, or Subscribe to your website.

When it comes to security and dispute resolution, PayPal is legendary. Not only do buyers trust PayPal to keep their credit card information secure, but Paypal also offers several security features specifically for sellers. Between 24/7 transaction monitoring, merchant fraud prevention, and a Seller Protection program that guards your balance against chargebacks, PayPal makes online credit card payment processing a lot less scary.

PayPal price: From 2.9% + $0.30 per successful transaction

Automate PayPal with PayPal's Zapier Integrations.

Best online credit card processing app for easy-to-understand analytics

Stripe (Web, iOS, Android)

Stripe analytics dashboard

Because it's an API suite, Stripe offers a great deal of flexibility in how you incorporate it into your online store—though this may feel a little intimidating if you've never set up a payment processing platform before. It's not too complicated, though: With only a bit of JavaScript, you can add a simple, secure checkout form to your site. Or you can customize the full experience, using Stripe's APIs to power your payments deep inside your app.

Stripe is also one of two payment processing options that are compatible out-of-the-box with Squarespace (PayPal is the other), so it can be a great option if that's how you host your eCommerce site.

Stripe really shines when it comes to making your payment analytics easy to understand. When you log in to the app, you'll see an analytics dashboard that displays your gross volume, average revenue per customer, volume of high-risk payments, and more. Simply click to see these metrics over several different timeframes—from one day to quarterly or even over the entire lifetime of your Stripe usage. This makes the dashboard a great way to monitor your payments, even if you're not a data whiz.

Stripe price: From 2.9% + $0.30 per successful transaction

Automate Stripe with Stripe's Zapier Integrations.

Best online credit card processing app if you also run a brick-and-mortar shop

Square (Web, iOS, Android)

Square Virtual Terminal

If you've ever looked into accepting payments right on your phone, you've likely seen Square, the tiny white credit card reader that connects to your phone's headphone jack. But did you know that with the Square eCommerce API, you can build its payment processing platform into your website and use the same service to process all of your sales?

This feature makes it a great choice if you sell both in-person and online because you can manage all of your transactions from one place, instead of working with multiple payment processing tools. Square will provide you with a physical credit card reader for free, but you can also use their Virtual Terminal feature to key in a payment from your laptop or tablet—a huge plus if you're primarily an eCommerce business that wants to run the occasional pop-up shop or in-person event.

It can also manage inventory and employees, so you can tie your site into Square's mobile apps.This makes the omnichannel retail experience more accessible for smaller sellers.

Square also gives you a choice on how quickly you want to receive funds. For an additional 1% fee, you can have all funds deposited by the end of the day on the day the transaction processes. Otherwise, the default is a fee-free, next-day deposit.

Square price: From 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, with rates as low as 2.6% + $0.30 available on paid plans

Automate Square with Square's Zapier Integrations.

Best online credit card processing app for supporting new payment types

Braintree (Web, iOS)

Braintree dashboard

Want to accept PayPal payments, but still build your own payment forms and accept credit cards directly? Braintree is a tool to make that possible. It lets you build your own checkout process with its API, or you can use its hosted fields to securely accept payment info right inside your own forms.

With that one payment form, you can accept credit card and mobile payment options (like Apple Pay and Google Pay), along with account-based payments (like PayPal), and payments from personal payment apps (like Venmo). You can also receive international payments directly in their local currency to get your own bank's exchange rate or to offer store payments in multiple currencies (if your bank allows).

Braintree price: From 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Automate Braintree with Braintree's Zapier Integrations.

Best online credit card processing app for subscriptions or recurring payments

Chargebee (Web)

Chargebee dashboard

If you run a business that involves recurring payments, memberships, or subscription plans, your payment processing needs are a little different. You don't want customers to have to re-enter their information every month; you want it to just happen. Chargebee is a credit card processing app that specializes in these types of payments.

Chargebee makes setting up different subscription options fairly easy. From the sidebar, click Product Catalogue and select Plans. When you click Add a New Plan, the app will ask you to enter plan information like the plan's name, how often you'd like to bill customers for it, and even what pricing model you want to use. You can collect payments for a wide range of customized subscriptions, whether you charge customers a flat monthly fee or use a more complex pricing structure like tiered pricing.

It's also straightforward to manage customers' subscriptions from the app's dashboard. Each customer has handy color-coded status tags attached to their summary, so you can see at-a-glance who is an active subscriber, has canceled, is on a free trial, and more. These features make it easy for businesses that have a physical presence but need to collect payments online—like gyms—to manage both payments and accounts at once.

Chargebee price: From $249/month for a plan with 10 users, unlimited payment gateways, and up to $600,000/year in revenue

Automate Chargebee with Chargebee's Zapier Integrations.

Best online credit card processing app for selling individual items

Gumroad (Web, iOS, Android)

Gumroad add product setup

What if you sell a product that is one-of-a-kind, like custom-made art?
Gumroad is a credit card processing app that helps you create one-page product listings for digital products, subscriptions, or physical goods—and then processes the payments, too. You can even make a pre-order page for upcoming items to start making sales before your item is ready to launch.

All you'll need is an image and description of your product, and Gumroad does the rest. If your customers already have a Gumroad account, they can pay with a click—otherwise, they'll just have to enter their payment info, and you'll be notified that it's time to ship your product. Gumroad also offers audience-building tools, so you can promote new projects or products before you launch them to boost sales.

Gumroad price: From $10/month for a professional plan with unlimited bandwidth, plus fees of 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction

Automate Gumroad with Gumroad's Zapier Integrations.

Accepting payments shouldn't be the hardest part of starting your business—and with these tools, it won't be. Just choose how much of the process you want to manage, pick a payment processing service that fits your needs, and then turn your focus to building the next great online store.

For that, you'll need some extra tools and integrations to make sure your store runs smoothly. That's what we'll explore in this book's final chapter.

Go to Chapter 9!

Hannah Herman is a tech writer and native New Yorker. She’s written extensively on automation, digital innovation, and the ethics of AI. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading; her favorite book is Anna Karenina.


Take the Work out of Workflow

Zapier is the easiest way to automate powerful workflows with more than 3,000 apps.