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Looking For a PayPal Alternative? Try These 9 Online Payment Options For Small Business

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Setting aside its role as a nearly ubiquitous P2P consumer wallet, PayPal is a comprehensive and trusted payment solution for merchants all around the world. Read our PayPal review to get the full picture of the company’s expansive business offerings.

However, as you can tell from even the briefest of glances at any website featuring vendor reviews of PayPal, it’s far from universally loved. Countless merchants have found themselves on the wrong end of an account hold or termination for innocuous or even nonexistent irregularities. Other disgruntled business owners have found fault with PayPal’s transaction fees (which are higher than those of most traditional merchant accounts) or customer support. Suffice it to say, a significant number of merchants who start out using PayPal end up looking for a PayPal alternative.

Whether you’ve had trouble with your PayPal business account in the past or you prefer not to deal with them in the first place, you can breathe a sigh of relief: There’s no shortage of great PayPal alternatives. However, it’s important that we establish some expectations first.

All-in-one payment processing solutions such as PayPal are known as third-party processors (or payment service providers). Signing up for a business account with a third-party processor is meant to be as easy as possible and can be done very quickly. That’s because you’re not getting your own personal merchant account — every account gets aggregated into one huge merchant account.

Because of this, the vetting that would otherwise be applied to the merchant before signup is instead applied to each sales transaction. That’s why you see such a high volume of complaints from merchants who have had their PayPal business accounts held or terminated over the slightest (real or perceived) irregularities.

Unfortunately for merchants looking to ditch PayPal for a competing payment service provider (such as Stripe or Square), these same account instability issues are inherent to all third-party processors due to their fundamental structure. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to have these problems with PayPal or any other third-party processor. It just means it’s equally likely to happen regardless of which one you choose.

By contrast, a merchant account is different. When you sign up for an account with a merchant account provider, your business gets thoroughly vetted in a process referred to as underwriting. You’ll likely be able to contact an account representative at any point throughout. After the process is over, your business has already gone through the vetting gauntlet, so the merchant account doesn’t scrutinize your transactions nearly as stringently. Ergo, account holds/terminations are much less likely to happen.

However, merchant accounts have their downsides as well. Their pricing models often don’t match up well with the needs of online sellers. Check out our piece on payment service providers for more information about how PSPs such as PayPal differ from merchant accounts. Then, have a look at our article on online credit card processing with a payment gateway for a more detailed examination of how online payment processing works.

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Best for international sellers and merchants looking to implement sophisticated developer tools.

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Best for Amazon sellers and online merchants looking for a selling solution that allows customers to check out on your website.

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Best for Shopify vendors and high-volume merchants who stand to benefit from the discounted processing rates offered by Shopify's advanced subscription plans.

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Best for companies looking for PayPal-like pricing/features but with the advantages of having a dedicated merchant account.

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Other Featured Options:

  • PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk merchants and other eCommerce businesses.
  • CDGcommerce: Best for nonprofit enterprises and eCommerce businesses in general.
  • Authorize.Net: Best for merchants needing multi-currency support and a bundled gateway.
  • 2Checkout: Best for online merchants who sell internationally and require advanced features.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best 9 Alternatives To PayPal

We’ve looked at the major alternatives to PayPal and picked out the best options for you. We chose processors with predictable and transparent pricing, an appeal for a wide range of online businesses, a good mix of integrations, and PCI compliance. Let’s see which PayPal alternatives fit the bill.

1. Square

Square



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square

Best for the widest possible variety of both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

If you’ve heard of PayPal — especially if you dislike PayPal — the odds are pretty good you’ve heard of Square. What started as just an mPOS has branched out considerably over the years, becoming a full-fledged business ecosystem, as we discuss in our full Square review. And if you’re curious about costs, read the following article for a more detailed look at Square’s pricing.

In addition to its free mPOS and POS integrations, Square offers a free online store, free domain, shopping cart integrations, virtual terminal, card info storage vault, and invoicing. That’s not to mention the APIs or the monthly add-on services (including employee management, payroll, and appointment booking). Square’s free online store is somewhat limited compared to other options, but it is a breeze to set up. If you need something more complex, the API and eCommerce integrations allow for more advanced online stores.

Like PayPal, Square is a third-party aggregator. That means Square users face the same inherent account instability as PayPal users. But the sheer value of what you get for nothing beyond the cost of processing is astounding, which is a major reason why Square is easily the closest direct competitor to PayPal. It even has a consumer wallet, Square Cash. So if you’re looking for a PayPal alternative that closely approximates PayPal’s range of services, Square may have what you’re looking for. Our article, Square VS PayPal: Which Small Business Software & Payments Platform Is Best For You, digs even deeper into the comparison.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Affordable card readers
  • All-in-one payments system
  • Variety of POS apps, invoicing, and developer tools

Cons

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2. Stripe Payments

Stripe Payments



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stripe

Best for international sellers and merchants looking to implement sophisticated developer tools.

Stripe and PayPal have a lot of similarities. For one, they both target online and in-app payments. They both work on a global scale, displaying local currencies and handling currency exchanges for its merchants. They make it possible to power marketplaces and share information so that merchants can sell on others’ platforms. However, Stripe is built first and foremost for developers, and its API and documentation reflect that. Read our Stripe review to learn more, then read our article on Stripe pricing to get the details on how much it’ll cost you to get what you want.

Stripe has a couple of compelling tools in its arsenal. First, its Atlas program allows international entrepreneurs to get established in the US. Second, it has a tool that allows programmers to manage and organize their data through custom SQL database questions. Other Stripe tools include a prebuilt payments page, billing and invoicing, a toolset to help you send mass payouts to sellers and service providers, and even a corporate credit card.

If you’re considering Stripe as a PayPal alternative, just keep in mind that Stripe, like PayPal, is an aggregator. That is, it lumps all of its user accounts into communal merchant accounts. That means account stability can be an issue, just as it is with PayPal. Our piece, PayPal VS Stripe: How To Choose The Right Payment Processor For Your Online Business, continues this comparison.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Multicurrency support
  • Great marketplace and subscription tools
  • Excellent developer and reporting tools

Cons

  • Account stability issues inherent to all third-party processors
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • Takes some technical skill to implement

Read our in-depth review

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3. Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay



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amazon pay

Best for Amazon sellers and online merchants looking for a selling solution that allows customers to check out on your website.

Launched as a subsidiary of Amazon, Amazon Pay (formerly called Amazon Payments) is a third-party processor specializing in online payment processing (it does not support offline sales). Unlike PayPal, Amazon’s payment processing is conducted online, which means that customers won’t have to leave your website to complete their payment. This is known to increase the likelihood that a customer will complete a sale. What’s more, Amazon is a trusted name among consumers, thus allowing your customers to make payments with confidence.

Amazon Pay also integrates with 29 eCommerce providers — you’ll have no shortage of choices for online sales.

We like that Amazon Pay supports recurring payments and automatically renewing subscriptions. We also like Amazon’s Seller Central dashboard, as it allows you to manage your chargeback claims, view sales reports, and more, all from one central location. Amazon Pay even lets your customers make purchases through their Alexa devices! Hey, why not?

Check out our Amazon Pay review to learn more.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Wide range of eCommerce integration options
  • Convenient checkout system — easy to integrate into your business website
  • Universal brand recognition

Cons

  • Account stability issues inherent to all third-party processors
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • No offline payment processing capability

Read our in-depth review

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4. Shopify

Shopify



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shopify

Best for Shopify vendors and high-volume merchants who stand to benefit from the discounted processing rates offered by Shopify’s advanced subscription plans.

Shopify started in 2006 as an eCommerce platform. In the years since, the Shopify ecosystem has grown to include an iPad-based POS system as well as payment processing in the form of Shopify Payments, which it provides through a partnership with Stripe.

You can use Shopify as an eCommerce store without using Shopify Payments as your payment processor. However, Shopify will take a transaction fee of 0.5%-2% out of each sale if you use another payment processor (this is in addition to your payment processing fees). If you use Shopify Payments as your processor, Shopify waives the transaction fees. However, you’ll still have to pay the processing fees as well as a monthly fee to use Shopify’s eCommerce platform.

Shopify has a lot to offer online vendors looking for a PayPal alternative. You’ll get loads of handy features, such as abandoned cart recovery, a Facebook store, reporting features, order management, and plenty of third-party integrations. You’ll also get to choose from some decent card readers for in-person sales.

However, pricing can get confusing due to the fact that you can pay a discounted per-transaction rate with the more advanced subscription plans. That must be weighed against the fact that the advanced plans cost an additional $79-$299/month, meaning you’ll only be saving money on processing fees with these plans if you’re a fairly high-volume seller. Read our complete guide to Shopify’s plans and pricing for a closer look at costs. What’s more, if you do over $500K a year in sales, Shopify has a payments solution called Shopify Plus for you. Read our Shopify Plus review if your business falls into this category.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Using Shopify Payments is advantageous for Shopify sellers
  • Convenient checkout system
  • Numerous eCommerce integrations

Cons

  • Account stability issues inherent to all third-party processors
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • The pricing system is more complex than that of PayPal, and there are monthly fees

Get Started with Shopify

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5. Braintree Payment Solutions

Braintree Payment Solutions



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braintree

Best for companies looking for PayPal-like pricing/features but with the advantages of having a dedicated merchant account.

Throwing Braintree in here as an alternative to PayPal seems like a bit of a cheat, given that PayPal owns Braintree. However, despite this (and a seamless PayPal integration), Braintree does operate mostly independently of its parent company. Instead of aggregating accounts the way PayPal does, Braintree offers individual bank-sponsored merchant accounts. Braintree is developer-friendly with extensive documentation and a powerful API that you can integrate into all kinds of mobile and online payment applications. It also handles currency conversion, so you can sell globally and display items in local currencies.

Braintree offers marketplace tools along with APIs for sharing information, so merchants can sell directly on their sites or through someone else’s website or app, which is all pretty cool. Plus, Braintree’s simple flat-rate pricing is just as easy to figure out as a third-party processor’s pricing structure.

Read our full Braintree review to get the whole story on this PayPal-owned merchant account provider.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Excellent developer tools and integrations
  • Multicurrency options
  • Excellent marketplace and subscription tools

Cons

  • Some reports of held funds and closed accounts
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

6. PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud



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Best for high-risk merchants and other eCommerce businesses.

Most of the payment processors on this list have one thing in common: They do not serve merchants in high-risk industries. That’s not the case with PaymentCloud. PaymentCloud is a merchant account provider that caters to (among other businesses) those in high-risk industries. Read our piece on high-risk merchants for more on what business categories this term encompasses.

One unfortunate thing about PaymentCloud is that the company provides no pricing information on its website. However, we’ve looked into the matter and found that PaymentCloud offers both tiered and interchange-plus pricing models. Here’s a tip: obtain an interchange-plus quote if at all possible. We here at Merchant Maverick vastly prefer the interchange-plus pricing model to tiered pricing.

Along with support for high-risk merchants, PaymentCloud offers such features as a virtual terminal, integration with a wide variety of online shopping carts, data migration, and more. Check out our PaymentCloud review for a more in-depth look.

Pros

  • Support for high-risk industries
  • Free credit card terminal
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Pricing is not transparent
  • High-risk merchants may be required to enter into a long-term contract

Get Started with PaymentCloud

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7. CDGcommerce

CDGcommerce



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cdgcommerce

Best for nonprofit enterprises and eCommerce businesses in general.

CDGcommerce presents itself as a merchant account provider specializing in eCommerce, which I don’t see very often. However, for merchants seeking a PayPal alternative, it does offer a solid mix of online and in-person transaction features as well as an interchange-plus pricing plan and nonprofit discount to boot.

The most obviously lacking feature is an API for custom integrations and other developer features. CDG’s gateway, Quantum, is compatible with most shopping carts and has an Authorize.Net emulation mode to ensure compatibility with anything else. CDG also offers the choice of using Authorize.Net as its primary gateway at no additional charge. Every account also gets virtual terminal access at no extra cost.

If you want in-person payments, you can get a POS app or an mPOS app in addition to all the eCommerce features. For the full picture, you guessed it — read our CDGcommerce review!

Pros

  • Competitive interchange-plus pricing
  • Free payment gateway and virtual terminal
  • Month-to-month billing
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Only available to US-based merchants
  • The mobile card reader is not EMV-compatible

Get Started with CDGcommerce

Read our in-depth review

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8. Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net



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authorize.net

Best for merchants needing multi-currency support and a bundled gateway.

Authorize.Net started strictly as a gateway, but these days, it has started bundling its own processing service. It’s a reseller relationship — meaning the company sets you up with a merchant account through a partner, though Authorize.Net doesn’t disclose which one upfront. You can also opt for the gateway separately. However, in many cases, it’s less expensive to get the Authorize.Net gateway through a merchant account that has a partnership. Often, the company waives the setup fee and sometimes lowers the monthly fees.

Authorize.Net is still one of the most trusted names in gateways, and one of the most widely compatible options. That’s no small thing. Not only that, but Authorize.Net has an API for you to integrate into all sorts of solutions, including in-app payments. There are even basic mPOS app buy/donate buttons.

See our Authorize.Net review for more details.

Pros

  • Support for multiple currencies
  • Month-to-month billing
  • eCheck processing
  • Advanced fraud detection

Cons

  • High flat-rate pricing for a merchant account
  • It may be cheaper to use Authorize.Net when bundled with another service

Get Started with Authorize.Net

Read our in-depth review

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9. 2Checkout

2Checkout



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Best for online merchants who sell internationally and require advanced features.

2Checkout is a unique payment processor. For one thing, the company only processes card-not-present transactions. Brick-and-mortar retailers needing a credit card processor will have to look elsewhere. For another thing, 2Checkout has more features on offer (such as recurring billing and an online store builder) than your average online payment processor. Unfortunately, this means that 2Checkout is pricier than its more basic competitors. Read our 2Checkout review for the full story.

For sellers who do business exclusively online, require advanced subscription management features, or operate from a country without a lot of payment processing options, 2Checkout may be worth the extra cost. With three payment setup options and compatibility with nearly every shopping cart under the sun, 2Checkout is quite a formidable package for the right kind of merchant.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Month-to-month agreement
  • Ideal for international merchants

Cons

  • Not for card-present merchants
  • Some reports of held funds

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

Looking For One Of These PayPal Alternatives?

Plenty of companies offering payment services get mentioned in the same breath as PayPal. However, not all of these companies provide services that compare with the other companies on this list. Here are a few options that didn’t make the cut in terms of being a suitable PayPal alternative.

Dwolla

Dwolla first gained public recognition for being a P2P bank transfer platform that also catered to businesses, putting it in direct competition with PayPal in that arena. While the company shifted its focus and now only offers pay-as-you-go ACH processing for businesses, it’s important to note that Dwolla does not provide credit or debit card processing. Therefore, it doesn’t merit inclusion in our list of PayPal alternatives.

Skrill

Skrill is another company that gets mentioned alongside PayPal in discussions of payment service providers. However, it’s not a service we’re recommending at this time. Our Skrill review found numerous problems with the service, including poor customer support, high transfer fees, and limited pricing disclosure. Recent reports indicate that while Skrill’s services may have improved somewhat, it still doesn’t quite meet our standards, so we’re not recommending it as a PayPal alternative.

WePay

WePay was launched as an alternative to PayPal and currently operates as a third-party processor. While we’ve noted in our WePay review that there’s plenty to like about the service, WePay is a platform partner that operates on the backend for companies such as Ecwid and GoFundMe. It’s not a service you can directly sign up for the way you can with PayPal, Stripe, etc. Therefore, we have not included it on our list.

Payza

Payza initially gained recognition as one of the main alternatives to PayPal, offering similar services. However, for anybody unaware, we must point out the fact that Payza has been indicted by a federal grand jury “on charges alleging they operated an Internet-based unlicensed money service business that processed more than $250 million in transactions.” Suffice it to say that I wouldn’t go near Payza with a 30-foot pole, even on the off-chance that the company somehow resumes operation in the US.

How To Compare & Find The Best Alternatives To PayPal

Not every PayPal alternative is going to be ideal in every respect. Nonetheless, when considering a payment service provider, you’ll want to choose an option that fulfills a majority of the following criteria:

  • Predictable, transparent pricing
  • No long-term agreements
  • Few, if any, monthly fees
  • Features serving a range of online businesses
  • Mobile POS app and/or invoicing features
  • A good mix of integrations
  • Simple PCI compliance

For the most part, PayPal exhibits these qualities, so when compiling our list of worthy options, we considered that any alternative to PayPal we recommend should hit many of these same points as well. We also took into consideration the opinions of our expert payments writers and the processors that have achieved the highest scores in our review rankings. Finally, we considered the fact that not every merchant is similarly situated, so not every merchant will be looking for the same qualities. Some may require a more niche provider, in fact.

What’s The Best PayPal Alternative For My Business?

We hope this article has given you a solid overview of some of the leading payment processing alternatives to PayPal. Read our article on our favorite online payment processors for another detailed look at the best merchant account and payment processor options out there.

Naturally, the processor that is the best PayPal alternative for you is going to depend on the particulars of your business, but in broad terms, Square has our general recommendation. It’s overflowing with features for small businesses, comes with a free website, and its online processing rates are similar to those of PayPal. Just keep in mind that using Square, just like using PayPal, Stripe, and any other third-party aggregator, entails the risk of encountering account holds and/or terminations due to the strict scrutiny aggregators apply to your transactions. That said, there are other points of differentiation between these outfits. Merchant accounts, of course, present their own array of benefits and drawbacks.

And if, after all this, you decide that PayPal might be a fitting choice after all, then have a look at our guide to setting up a PayPal business account.

Whichever way you go, it’s our mission to give you the facts about these services and empower you to make the choice that suits your own unique business needs.

In Summary: The Best 9 Alternatives To PayPal

  1. Square: Best for the widest possible variety of both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
  2. Stripe Payments: Best for international sellers and merchants looking to implement sophisticated developer tools.
  3. Amazon Pay: Best for Amazon sellers and online merchants looking for a selling solution that allows customers to check out on your website.
  4. Shopify: Best for Shopify vendors and high-volume merchants who stand to benefit from the discounted processing rates offered by Shopify's advanced subscription plans.
  5. Braintree Payment Solutions: Best for companies looking for PayPal-like pricing/features but with the advantages of having a dedicated merchant account.
  6. PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk merchants and other eCommerce businesses.
  7. CDGcommerce: Best for nonprofit enterprises and eCommerce businesses in general.
  8. Authorize.Net: Best for merchants needing multi-currency support and a bundled gateway.
  9. 2Checkout: Best for online merchants who sell internationally and require advanced features.
Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer and cereal chef from San Diego. He graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001. He's been writing about website builders, crowdfunding sites, online lenders, and credit cards for Merchant Maverick since 2015. Additionally, Jason can't eat raisins.
Jason Vissers
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