Okay, so you’ve created a kickass design, your site’s running in tip-top shape, and your visitors are more than ready to convert. What more could you ask for?
But then your soon-to-be-customers get to the payment gateway and don’t see their preferred provider listed. Or there’s a security warning that’s thrown them off-guard. Or, even worse, they change their minds, want to go back to the site to add another item to their cart, but they realize they’re no longer on your site and don’t know how to get back.
So, what can you do to ensure that UX issues like the ones mentioned above don’t keep your visitors from converting? There’s really only one thing you can do: choose a payment gateway provider (or providers) that will provide a reliable and secure experience.
In this post I’m going to:
- Explain what payment gateways are and how they work
- Show you some popular payment gateways, how much they cost and how to use them
- Talk about how you can integrate these payment gateways with WordPress
If you already know what a payment gateway is, feel free to skip ahead to the section on popular gateways and WordPress integration 🙂
What Is a Payment Gateway?
To briefly describe what a payment gateway is, it’s a third-party tool that evaluates and processes payments from your customers. So, rather than set up a basic contact form that requires customers to fill in their information to place an order—which you would then need to manually process on your end—the payment gateway handles it on your behalf.
There are a number of benefits to using a payment gateway. The time savings is obviously one of them. There’s also the matter of PCI compliance. And there’s the flexibility in payment types you can accept by using a payment processing tool.
Of course, like with any other third-party system you bring into your WordPress site, there are a number of things that must be taken into consideration. Here is what you will need to think about:
With most third-party integrations, there’s almost always an upfront cost associated with it. However, when it comes to payment processors, you also need to take a closer look at the fine print as there are fees you’ll need to pay for each transaction processed. There are some that also charge your customers a fee in order to use the payment gateway—and nothing screams “depart this transaction immediately” more than an unexpected cost.
Some payment gateways enable users to add the payment gateway directly onto their site through an API. This can be a good thing as it prevents that feeling of disruption as visitors are shuttled to a different website to enter their payment information. However, there are some payment gateway providers that are so well-known and trusted (think of PayPal) where the disruption might not matter that much if customers feel more confident submitting payment information through that site instead of your own.
That’s ultimately what you need to keep in mind here: what will your customers be more comfortable with. Do they want one seamless process that occurs entirely on your site or would they be more comfortable paying through a well-known provider? You can use A/B testing to see which option leads to higher conversions or you can solicit feedback from your customers and ask them directly what they prefer.
You may run into a number of payment processors who require you to have a separate merchant account into which funds are deposited, which means yet another step you have to take care of in order to get your online payment system up and running. However inconvenient that may seem right now, though, it’s important to note that payment gateways who don’t require merchant accounts and are willing to directly deposit funds into your account are more likely to charge you a higher processing fee.
Obviously, this point can’t be stressed enough as security shouldn’t stop even if the purchase experience is handed over to another party. Your payment gateway should be just as secure to use, if not more, than your own website. This means they need an SSL certificate, additional encryption, and must be PCI compliant.
The first thing to do before signing with any payment processor is to check your site’s analytics. This will tell you which countries your visitors are located in, so you can include country-compatible payment methods, currencies, and translations in your payment gateway.
If you’re collecting revenue through your site, you need an easy way to collect the appropriate amount of taxes. While there will, of course, be local taxes, you’ll also have to be aware of country or region-specific taxes, like the value-added tax (VAT) in the EU. So, if you know you’re going to sell goods out of state or country, your payment gateway should be equipped to calculate those taxes for you.
For product sales, this might not be something you need to worry about. However, for those of you offering a recurring service or something that customers will purchase frequently enough, automated payments are definitely worth thinking about. One way to do this is to create an option for recurring payments. You may also want to create an auto-pay method whereby payment information from previous transactions can be saved so customers don’t have to re-enter it every time.
If your site is making sales, then you most definitely have an eCommerce or shopping cart plugin at your disposal. Not every payment gateway will work with your plugin of choice, so confirm compatibility before signing up.
And, of course, you’ve got to think about the design of the payment gateway. Will it allow for branding personalization so that it matches your site? Is it mobile responsive? How intuitive is it in terms of layout, numbers of steps or pages, etc.? Again, this is still part of your customers’ experience and you don’t want bad design to ruin that.
Best Payment Gateways for WordPress
Alright, so now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s narrow down that search and compare the best payment gateway providers for WordPress.
If you need a little extra out of PayPal, their Pro option is worth consideration:
- Cost: There’s a $30 monthly fee to use this service, in addition to the per-transaction fee assessed.
- Payment Location: You won’t have to send customers to PayPal. They’ll see the recognizable and trusted logo on your site, but they can stay right where they are to make a payment.
- Merchant Account: There’s no need for one with PayPal, but you do have the option if you want a quick and easy way to deposit funds into your bank account.
- Security: PayPal provides you with options to keep transactions on your site PCI compliant.
- Global Friendliness: PayPal accepts only six currencies from credit card providers. If customers make PayPal payments, though, they’ll take over 25 currencies from 200+ markets.
- Payment Methods Accepted: Because this is PayPal, a good portion of the payment types available come from them, including: PayPal standard payments, PayPal credit, as well as PayPal special financing. You can also accept credit cards, bank transfers, and even phone-based credit card payments.
- Automated Payments: I don’t believe this is an option.
- Plugin Compatibility: PayPal Pro supports most major shopping carts.
- Design: The UI is fully customizable. It also works across all devices, so you won’t have to worry about the mobile payment experience.
Stripe is definitely not lacking in features:
- Cost: There are no setup or monthly fees. Aside from the usual per-transaction charges, the only costs you have to worry about are from customer chargebacks.
- Payment Location: You can create a totally custom checkout for your site or you can use their pre-built Checkout.
- Merchant Account: No need for a merchant account.
- Security: If you’re keeping customers on your site to process payments, Stripe offers developers the option to use client-side tokenization to ensure PCI compliance.
- Global Friendliness: Strips works in over 100 countries (for your and your customers’ base of operations) and accepts over 135 currencies. There’s no change for currency conversion either.
- Payment Methods Accepted: Stripe accepts all major credit cards, bank and debit payments, Bitcoin, and digital payments from Apple Pay and Android Pay. Their API tools also enable developers to set up alternative payment processing options like selling products from a tweet.
- Automated Payments: Stripe is set up to help all e-commerce business types: basic stores, on-demand marketplaces, subscription services, and even crowdfunding.
- Design: This tool was built with the developer in mind, so its capabilities can be extended with simple APIs.
Here are just a few of 2CheckOut’s features:
- Cost: In addition to the standard fees per transaction, they also charge for international transactions and currency conversion.
- Payment Location: You can either use the API to put the checkout on your site or you can use “inline” checkout which moves the process to their site while making it still look like it’s on yours.
- Merchant Account: You need a merchant account in order to accept payments.
- Security: They are Level 1 PCI compliant.
- Global Friendliness: Their payment gateway is offered in 15 languages, includes 87 currency options, and they’ll process payments in over 200 markets.
- Payment Methods Accepted: They accept credit card, debit card, and PayPal payments, among others.
- Automated Payments: You can create pricing plans, flexible billing schedules, automated payments, and more.
- Plugin Compatibility: Works with WooCommerce, WP e-commerce, Zoho, Shopify, osCommerce, and more.
- Design: You can brand the gateway to match your site. The checkout page is also mobile-friendly.
Authorize.net is another widely accepted gateway that might offer precisely what you need:
- Cost: There’s an initial $49 setup fee, a $25 monthly fee, as well as per-transaction fee.
- Payment Location: It’s up to you: this can go on your site or on Authorize.net’s.
- Merchant Account: You’ll need a merchant bank account to collect your payments.
- Security: You’ll have free access to Authorize.net’s fraud protection tools if you integrate gateway on your site. Otherwise, Authorize.net is PCI DSS certified.
- Global Friendliness: While you’re free to accept payments from around the world, you must reside in the U.S., Canada, UK, Europe, or Australia in order to use this service.
- Payment Methods Accepted: Payment types include credit card, Authorize.net e-checks, as well as digital payments like Apple Pay, PayPal, and VisaCheckout.
- Automated Payments: There are a number of options available. You can store customer information for future transactions, set up subscriptions, or create dynamic recurring billing schedules.
- Plugin Compatibility: Works with e-commerce and banking plugins like BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, Moolah, QuickBooks, and Wells Fargo.
- Design: You’re free to personalize the look of your checkout page to match your brand.
Braintree offers another way to accept payments on your WordPress site. Check out some of its features:
- Cost: There are no monthly fees to use Braintree, just the standard per-transaction fee. Note that the fee depends on which country you’re processing payments from.
- Payment Location: You can use Braintree’s hosted service or you can use their drop-UI to put it directly on your site.
- Merchant Account: Since this is a PayPal service, you don’t need a merchant account.
- Security: Advanced fraud protection is included with this service.
- Global Friendliness: Braintree’s service will process payments in over 130 currencies and for customers in 44 countries.
- Payment Methods Accepted: You can accept payments from PayPal, credit cards, Apple Pay, Venmo, Masterpass, and more. In addition, you can split payments with other partners or providers.
- Automated Payments: There are recurring billing options for repeat customers, subscription-based services, as well as donations.
- Plugin Compatibility: This tool will integrate with a huge range of e-commerce and sales tools like Salesforce, Magento, Freshbooks, BigCommerce, and 3dcart.
- Design: You can customize the design of the checkout or use their ready-made interface.
Square also lets you accept payments online easily. Check out Square’s features:
- Cost: No monthly fee and 2.2% per transaction.
- Payment Location: Although Square provides its own online store building platform, you can use Square’s APIs to accept payments directly on a WordPress website that you build yourself, or use plugins like a WooCommerce extension to integrate Square’s payment processing and other tools with your online store.
- Merchant Account: You need a transactional bank account in case of refunds or disputed payments.
- Security: They are Level 1 PCI compliant and offer layered security with fraud prevention methods.
- Global Friendliness: At this time, WooCommerce Square is currently only available for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and the UK.
- Payment Methods Accepted: All major credit and debit cards are accepted. Payments are deposited into your linked bank account next business day with their standard schedule, or you can create a custom payment schedule to suit odd business hours.
- Automated Payments: You can receive automated payments for single and recurring transactions.
- Plugin Compatibility: Works with WooCommerce, WP EasyCart, Ecwid.
- Design: You can customize the gateway to match your site. The checkout page is also mobile-friendly.
Integrating Payment Gateways with WordPress
Here’s the thing about payment gateways: you might not be responsible for designing them or developing the code that processes payments in the first place, but that doesn’t mean you can wipe your hands clean of what happens once your visitors land on them. If you’re including a payment gateway on your site, then it’s a part of your visitors’ experience and needs to be accounted for as you shape that experience for them, so it’s important to integrate your payment gateway correctly not just with WordPress, but also any plugins used to enhance or extend your site’s functionality.
For example, our Forminator plugin not only lets you add forms, quizzes, polls, and calculators to your site, but also take payments, donations, down payments, and sell merchandise with built-in Stripe and PayPal integrations. The video below shows you how to build order forms with payments for free in WordPress using the plugin’s payment integration features:
Different types of applications like Learning Management Systems (LMS), membership sites, and listing directories have built-in payment integrations with WordPress.
Below are some plugins that help to make integrating payment gateways and WordPress easier:
WooCommerce Square is a free plugin that lets you integrate the Square payment gateway on WordPress to sync inventory and product data between WooCommerce and Square POS.
Some of the benefits and features of using this plugin for payment integration with WordPress include:
- PCI compliant payment processing option that meets SAQ A levels of compliance.
- Support for WooCommerce Subscriptions
- Support for WooCommerce Pre-Orders
- Allow customers to save payment methods and use them at checkout
- Use an enhanced payment form with automatic formatting, mobile-friendly inputs, and retina card icons
- Sync product data automatically between WooCommerce and Square.
See the plugin documentation for setup instructions.
WP Easy Pay – Square for WordPress is another free plugin you can use to integrate WordPress with the Square payment gateway and accept simple payments and donations if you are not using WooCommerce or don’t need to add a shopping cart to your store.
Some of the highlights of using this plugin for payment integration with WordPress include:
- SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) support.
- Sandbox support allows you to see test transactions in Square Dashboard.
- Use a single button to collect donations and simple payments.
- Users can enter custom amounts to make payments for donations.
The plugin also has a premium version with additional features like support for digital wallets, email notifications, and reports.
WooCommerce Stripe Payment Gateway is a free plugin that lets you accept Stripe payments through WooCommerce and add payment request buttons like Apple Pay and Google Pay and other payment methods on your website. It also supports recurring payments like subscriptions.
The Stripe Payments plugin lets you integrate your WordPress site with the Stripe payment gateway to accept credit card payments.
Once installed and configured, you can add ‘Buy Now’ buttons anywhere on your site using a simple shortcode and accept donations. After users purchase online with one-click payments, they are redirected to a “Checkout Result” page showing details of the transaction. Payment and order information can then be accessed from your WordPress dashboard.
WP Simple Pay is a free standalone Stripe Checkout plugin that lets you accept credit card payments with Stripe Checkout on your WordPress site with no complex shopping cart, form builder or membership site plugin required.
The free version comes with many built-in features, including unlimited payment forms, mobile responsive Stripe Checkout pages, product images display in Stripe Checkout page, optional verification and capture of user details, and the ability to specify payment success & failure pages. The paid version offers additional features including support for subscription payments and options.
If you’re using WooCommerce, you can add this free plugin to integrate your site with a PayPal in-context checkout payment gateway, which remains hosted on PayPal’s servers, allowing your site to meet security requirements without affecting your theme.
Refer to the documentation to learn how to integrate this plugin using PayPal’s easy setup method.
WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart is a free plugin that lets you insert an ‘Add to Cart’ button on any post or page using shortcodes and display the shopping cart on your pages or sidebar. The plugin also has an option to use smart PayPal payment buttons and various additional features.
See the plugin’s documentation section and video tutorials for setup and integration information.
If you want to process payments online using 2Checkout (2CO), this plugin integrates with your WooCommerce store to provide itemized checkout and pass all billing and shipping data to the 2CO purchase page.
Getting Paid Is The Easy Part
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what you want your payment gateway to do and have a few providers you’re thinking of using:
- Square offers relatively low processing fees and lets small businesses and independent sellers accept most consumer credit cards and facilitate cashless transactions.
- Stripe is the most developer-friendly platform, so if you really want to get into personalizing your checkout page, this is a good option to have.
- PayPal is a great choice if you want to leverage the trusted name of a payment processor that over 184 million people already use.
- 2Checkout seems to be the most global-friendly of the options, so if you’re hoping to cast a wider net, that may be the one you want to turn to.
Probably the easiest way to integrate payment processing gateways with WordPress is to use an eCommerce plugin that already has an extensive list of payment options built-in. Many eCommerce plugins not only give you this option, most will even provide links, wizards, and helpful tooltips to facilitate this process, so all you have to do is sign up for an account with the merchant, enter a registration code or special key into a settings field, and boom diggity… you’ve saved a whole lot of time!
One last thing to think about when researching payment gateways is how you’re going to deliver customers their goods after collecting their money, especially if you plan to sell physical goods. That’s why we’ve written a companion piece on the top eCommerce plugins for shipping products.
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