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- Date Established
- American Fork, Utah
- Broad support for multiple currencies
- Robust security and anti-fraud features
- Month-to-month billing
- No long-term contracts
- The all-in-one option may confuse customers
- High flat-rate pricing for an optional merchant account
- It may be cheaper to use Authorize.Net when bundled with another service
Authorize.Net is one of the oldest and most popular payment gateway providers for eCommerce. The company, which was established in 1996, is headquartered in American Fork, Utah. CyberSource acquired Authorize.Net in 2007, and CyberSource was, in turn, acquired by Visa in 2010. The company has provided payment gateway services to over 400,000 merchants since its inception.
Before we delve into all of Authorize.Net’s services, let’s clear up a common misconception: Authorize.Net is not a merchant account provider. It provides a payment gateway and several ancillary products and services that integrate with it. While it can set you up with a merchant account if you don’t already have one, a third-party processor provides that account.
You can get a payment gateway from Authorize.Net in one of two ways. First, you can sign up directly with Authorize.Net. This works best if you already have a merchant account through a provider that doesn’t have a partnership with Authorize.Net. Second, you can get a merchant account through one of the many merchant account providers that partner with Authorize.Net. There are a lot of them, including Payment Depot and CDGcommerce (read our review), two of our most highly-rated providers. Which option is best for you will depend on the nature and size of your business as well as whatever existing merchant account services you’re already using. For many merchants, getting an Authorize.Net gateway through their existing merchant account provider will be less expensive, as many providers will waive the gateway setup fee and offer lower monthly gateway fees.
Regardless of how you get your payment gateway, Authorize.Net provides a reliable service. In addition to a basic payment gateway, you’ll get a fraud detection feature, simplified checkout system, support for automated recurring billing, a customer information manager, and QuickBooks support — all for free. eCheck processing is also available for a low additional fee.
You can also turn your computer into a virtual terminal with Authorize.Net’s free Virtual Point of Sale (VPOS) software and a USB-connected card reader. Card reader options now include an EMV-compatible model. While it’s a little pricey, it can be a worthwhile investment if you’re selling both online and through a retail location. Virtual terminals allow you to process credit cards without the need for a terminal or dedicated POS system while still qualifying for card-present processing rates.
Overall, Authorize.Net rates a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. Its service performs well and offers several additional features that make its gateway more than just a way to accept credit cards over the internet. It also backs up its service with excellent customer service and support.
If you’d like to consider several highly-rated alternatives, check out our article, The Best Payment Gateways For Online Payment Processing.
Table of Contents
Authorize.Net is available to merchants in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia.
Products & Services
Here are all the standard and optional features that Authorize.Net offers:
- Payment Gateway: Naturally, every account with Authorize.Net includes access to its payment gateway. For more information on how gateways work, see our Complete Guide To Online Credit Card Processing With A Payment Gateway.
- Merchant Account: While Authorize.Net is designed to work with your existing merchant account, it can also set you up with a merchant account if you don’t already have one. You’ll get flat-rate pricing through Authorize.Net, which might work in your favor but often isn’t the best rate for higher-volume businesses.
- Virtual Point Of Sale (VPOS): The browser-based VPOS software acts as a virtual terminal, allowing you to manually key-in transactions on your computer. The new version of VPOS uses the BBPOS Chipper card reader, which can accept both magstripe and EMV cards. While the software is free as part of your service plan, the card reader will run you $85. Also, note that the VPOS software is currently Windows-only.
- Authorize.Net mPOS Mobile Payments: Like just about everyone these days, Authorize.Net has an app that can accept mobile payments in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet and a plug-in card reader. The app is available for both iOS and Android. While the app is free, and this feature is included with your account, you’ll have to purchase a card reader. Choices include the IDTech Shuttle Two-Track Secure Magstripe Reader, which is magstripe-only and costs $42.88 or the BBPOS Chipper card reader mentioned above. Both readers plug into the headphone jack, but the Chipper also comes with a Bluetooth variant, which is what we generally recommend merchants get with any card reader.
- Simple Checkout: Although Authorize.Net’s ability to integrate with a vast number of third-party online shopping carts is one of its stronger features, many merchants don’t need something that powerful. Simple Checkout lets you generate HTML code snippets for “Buy Now” and “Donate” buttons to add to your website.
- Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS): Included for free with your account, AFDS consists of a set of thirteen filters that you can customize to your own needs to help flag and block potentially fraudulent transactions. This feature helps to prevent inventory loss due to fraud and lowers your liability for chargebacks.
- Automated Recurring Billing (ARB): Subscription-based billing is more popular than ever, and ARB allows you to customize not only pricing but also features such as free trial periods and installment payments.
- eCheck.Net: This is an optional feature. You can add echeck processing to your existing merchant account or sign up for the eCheck Only Pricing Plan. Pricing is 0.75% per echeck, a much lower rate than you’ll pay for credit or debit card transactions.
- Customer Information Manager (CIM): The CIM, one of Authorize.Net’s most powerful standard features, allows you to securely store customer information, such as billing address, shipping address, and payment method information. Because this includes your customers’ sensitive credit card information, the data is securely encrypted. As we’ve noted, however, this security comes at the expense of data portability (see Negative Reviews & Complaints).
- Sync For QuickBooks: While a QuickBooks integration is fairly standard these days, it’s still nice to have and will keep your accountant happy, especially if that accountant is you.
- Phone Payments: You can accept payments over the phone using the aforementioned Virtual Terminal.
Fees & Rates
Before we dig into what you’ll pay for an Authorize.Net gateway, let’s clarify one important thing: The rates quoted below are only applicable if you sign up directly with Authorize.Net. Many merchant account providers not only offer access to the Authorize.Net payment gateway, but they’re also able to waive some fees and negotiate lower rates and fees than what you’d pay if you signed up directly with Authorize.Net. In other words, the pricing below represents the full retail price for Authorize.Net’s services. If your merchant account provider wants to charge you higher rates than those listed below, don’t do it.
Authorize.Net features two pricing options on its website: a gateway-only plan and a gateway + merchant account plan. If you already have a merchant account, you’ll want the gateway-only option. Be aware, however, that it might be more cost-effective to get an Authorize.Net gateway through your existing merchant account provider if they offer it.
If you also need a merchant account, Authorize.Net can set you up with a flat-rate pricing plan. However, it might be more affordable to find one of Authorize.Net’s partner resellers rather than having Authorize.Net set up your merchant account, especially if you’re already doing a reasonable volume of sales. However, new and low-volume businesses might find going directly through Authorize.Net for a merchant account is a competitive option for online payment processing. Also, corporations processing more than $500K per year can negotiate terms with Authorize.Net.
Interestingly, Authorize.Net no longer charges a setup fee (it used to be $49).
Here are the listed prices for both options:
Payment Gateway Only
- $25 per month gateway fee
- $0.10 per transaction processing fee (this is in addition to any fee charged by your merchant account provider)
- $0.10 daily batch fee
Payment Gateway + Merchant Account
- $25 per month gateway fee
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction processing fee
The single flat processing rate for the payment gateway + merchant account option can be either a good or bad deal, depending on how you take payments and your average ticket size. It’s not the most competitive rate for card-present virtual terminal transactions but very competitive for eCommerce processors. That said, the $0.30 per transaction fee will also add up very quickly if you process a lot of small transactions (less than $20 in particular). You’ll want to carefully compare these rates against what your current merchant account provider is charging you before choosing either of these pricing plan options.
There is also a $25 per occurrence fee for chargebacks. International transactions will pay an additional 1.5% assessment. Finally, a small footnote points out that “partner merchant account fees may vary,” meaning that you might have even more fees to pay, depending on which one of its resellers is providing your merchant account.
Every account through Authorize.Net includes the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite, Automated Recurring Billing, Customer Information Manager, and QuickBooks integration features for free. eCheck processing, if you need it, is 0.75% per transaction.
Supported Payment Types & Currency
Authorize.Net supports Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, JCB, PayPal, Visa Checkout, Apple Pay, Chase Pay, and echeck payment types.
Authorize.Net can handle transactions in American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand dollars; Swiss francs; Danish and Norwegian krone; Swedish krona; euros; British pounds; and Polish zloty. Just be aware that supported currencies may vary depending on your business location. For example, a US-based business would have currency support for US and Canadian dollars.
Ease Of Use
Once again, this applies to services purchased directly from Authorize.Net; your third-party interface and experience may differ.
Authorize.Net provides a Merchant Interface website for accessing your payment gateway account, managing transactions, viewing reports, etc., that you can access from any computer with an internet connection and browser. Once you activate your account through this portal, things become a little more complicated. Your account will be placed in “Test Mode,” which allows you to submit test transactions to see if your connection works.
Depending on whether you’re using a prefab shopping cart, software integration, or your website, you may or may not need a developer to help test your connection. (Authorize.Net will point you in the direction of a developer if you need one.) In either case, you’ll want to factor those costs into your calculations.
Authorize.Net provides a pretty detailed walkthrough of how to get and use your API Login ID and relevant keys, but there are quite a few steps involved.
Once you’re up and running, however, Authorize.Net should be fairly straightforward to use.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
As a tech-focused company, it should come as no surprise that Authorize.Net has an excellent website. The design is clean, and the layout makes it easy to navigate. There’s even a site map and a search function if you’re having trouble finding information on a topic. Best of all, it doesn’t come off as “salesy” the way so many other websites in this industry often do. In other words, there are no flashy sales gimmicks and no picture-perfect stock photos of perpetually happy customers.
One possible point of confusion that still occasionally comes up in complaints is that Authorize.Net is a gateway provider only, not a merchant account provider. To the company’s credit, it takes pains to explain the difference between a merchant account and a payment gateway on its website. If you need a merchant account, it will set you up with one of its resellers to provide this service. While the company does point this out on its website, it probably could be a little clearer about explaining this. It also doesn’t disclose which particular reseller/ merchant account provider it will set you up with. While there are valid reasons for this, be aware that there is a lot of variability in the quality of service among its numerous resellers (and the industry in general).
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Authorize.Net advertises “no long-term contracts” and “no cancellation fees” on its website, and for the most part, this is true. Use of the Authorize.Net gateway is on a month-to-month basis, and you can cancel at any time without penalty. If you also go through Authorize.Net for your merchant account, be aware that things might be different. While many of its resellers (especially Dharma Merchant Services and Merchant Focus) will honor these guarantees, others are free to set additional terms and conditions, and some of them might impose a standard three-year contract with an early termination fee. Once again, you’re probably better off going directly through your merchant account provider to get an Authorize.Net gateway and not the other way around. You’ll have more room to negotiate, and you can probably get a better deal than the standard fixed-price 2.9% + $0.30 processing rate. In any event, be sure to review your contract thoroughly before signing it.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Authorize.Net provides numerous avenues of support to customers, including:
- Phone Support: Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except major holidays).
- Support Center: Authorize.Net maintains an excellent knowledgebase on its website as well as numerous articles, white papers, and video tutorials.
- Ticketing System: Users can submit an online support case through the integrated ticketing system.
- Social Media: Authorize.Net has an active social media presence, with accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The latter includes network status updates, so you’ll want to follow them to keep up with any outages. It also has a YouTube channel, which features both tutorials and customer testimonials.
Authorize.Net has a great reputation for excellent customer support, so you should have no problems getting your issues resolved. One thing to be aware of, however, is that Authorize.Net’s customer support is for its payment gateway only. If you’re having a problem with your merchant account, you’ll have to go through your merchant account provider. And as I’ve said, the quality of service can vary.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Authorize.Net has been accredited by the BBB since 2009 and has an A+ rating. It currently has 81 complaints filed within the last three years. If this sounds like a lot, remember that it’s the most popular payment gateway provider in the country. With such a large customer base, it’s bound to have some unhappy campers, and this number is actually quite reasonable under the circumstances. It’s also a lower complaint volume than we found at the time of our last review update.
You’ll find an additional 98 complaints on Ripoff Report. On both sites, a common thread was merchants misunderstanding that Authorize.Net only provides a payment gateway, not a merchant account. Many of these complaints raise issues relating to the customer’s merchant account and should have been directed there instead of against Authorize.Net. Ripoff Report, in particular, includes many complaints that are actually directed against merchant account providers and even merchants using Authorize.Net on their websites.
Despite this, the company is very thorough in offering detailed explanations of what went wrong and tries to correct the situation whenever possible. So let’s be clear: If you have an issue that doesn’t involve the payment gateway itself (e.g., account holds or terminations), you need to address those complaints to your actual merchant account provider, not Authorize.Net. They can’t help you, and misdirecting the complaint against them lets the real offender (i.e., the merchant account provider) off the hook.
With that said, here are some common complaints against Authorize.Net:
- Billing Issues: Many of the complaints revolve around the timing of monthly payments and cancellations, with customers feeling like they were wrongfully billed for services they didn’t subscribe to. Like most subscription-based services, you’ll want to double-check and make sure the service has been terminated when/if you’re ready to quit.
- Monthly Fees Are Generally Non-Refundable: This isn’t so much a valid complaint as a general policy. Authorize.Net usually won’t issue a refund unless there was a genuine mistake on the company’s part. Again, the issues that lead to a customer wanting a refund in the first place are usually the fault of the merchant account provider, not Authorize.Net. Merchants also seem to be unaware that if they register for an account on Authorize.Net’s website, they’ll be issued a gateway account automatically and charged the first month’s gateway fee. The company is generally pretty good about closing these accounts and issuing a refund when requested. However, it could also do a better job of warning merchants in advance of the commitment they’re undertaking by signing up for an account online.
- Data Portability: Authorize.Net had developed a reputation for being difficult to migrate from. It looks like it has simplified the process, and I have not seen that many complaints about it post-2018, but be aware that it has been an issue in the past.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Customers who are very satisfied with the quality of service they receive from a provider rarely take the time to leave positive feedback on their own initiative. So it’s often left to the providers themselves to “blow their own horn” by posting testimonials from satisfied merchants on their websites. Often, these testimonials are less than convincing.
That’s not the case with Authorize.Net. It has put together a very compelling series of video testimonials and case studies (both videos and articles) from customers around the country and posted it on its website and YouTube channel. While some of the videos come across as overly scripted, the case studies really shine by tying specific features of Authorize.Net’s service to the needs of the merchant providing the testimonial.
Some common themes emerge about Authorize.Net’s strengths:
- Customer Service: While there are always exceptions, most customers seem to be satisfied with Authorize.Net’s customer service.
- Recurring Billing Support: Several users found Authorize.Net’s recurring billing to be easy to set up and use.
- User-Friendly API: A number of users found the API relatively easy to work with and versatile.
Authorize.Net follows the maxim of doing one thing and doing it well. It provides a payment gateway and numerous ancillary services to support that gateway — and that’s it. While you may or may not need options such as echeck processing and mobile payments, it’s nice to know they’re available and perform well for merchants who require them. Basic features of its gateway service, such as the fraud prevention filters, will be useful to everyone using its service.
Since we last checked in, Authorize.Net has done away with its setup fees and appears to have at least partially addressed some of the data migration issues. While it’s still possible that you’ll get a better monthly fee deal with Authorize.Net through one of its resellers, the removal of the setup fee does make directly signing up with the service a more reasonable option than it was in the past. The flat processing fee for the gateway + merchant account combo is still high, however, so you’ll want to shop around if you’re also in the market for a merchant account. There are a lot of resellers out there, so shop around! We recommend starting your search with two of our favorite merchant account providers, Payment Depot and CDGcommerce (read our review).