When considering the best payment processors for a blog it is important to understand some of the terms used. When you use your blog to sell products or services, you need a method of accepting payment. However, it is easy to get confused with terms such as payment processors, payment gateways and merchant accounts. Let’s deal with that first:
Merchant Account: This is an account that enables you to accept payments by credit card and debit card. You cannot do this with an ordinary bank account, but you can with a merchant account. Most banks will provide an online merchant account for you, but at a high price. You are looking at an upfront payment of $100 US and more, plus a monthly fee of $50 or more.
Payment Gateway: The payment gateway accepts requests for payment from merchants (e.g. your blog). This could take the visual form of a payment button and then a form your customers fill in with their payment details. It then forwards payment requests to the payment processor. (Gateway examples: Authorize, SecurePay, USAePay, Chase Orbital).
Payment Processor: The payment processor interfaces between the merchant account and the payment gateway. It takes payment requests from the gateway and sends card details first to the card network (e.g. Visa or MasterCard) which then sends the transaction to the issuing bank for authorization and payment to the merchant account. (Processor examples: WorldPay, TSYS, Elavon, Chase Paymentech).
In effect, however, the terms ‘payment gateway’ and ‘payment processor’ are often used for the same thing: a system that enables an online business to request and accept payments. Some, such as PayPal and Stripe, combine the merchant account, payment gateway and payment processor in one. This is known as an ‘aggregator’ and you are in effect using their own merchant account. Others combine the gateway and processor, but require a separate merchant account.
The Best Payment Processors for a Blog
There are many such payment systems to be found online, and it is important that you choose the one that suits your needs best. Those suggested here may not be available in your country. PayPal, for example, is not accepted in many countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan. Alternatives must be used by residents of these countries and anybody buying from or selling to them. We have omitted those available only in the USA, since that restricts you to selling only in that country.
If that is confusing, no wonder ordinary people have difficulty in choosing the best payment processors for a blog they are using to sell affiliate products or even their own eBook, videos or software! Hopefully, the list below will assist you with this. Unlike most other such lists, it points out which systems also require a separate merchant account and which do not. All charges detailed below are paid by the receiving body.
A. Combined Payment Processors and Merchant Accounts
Each of the credit card merchant services below function as aggregators and replace the above three elements of a payment system. You deal only with the one service.
PayPal is one of the most used aggregator online, though is often simply referred to as a payment processor. It is used in most countries in the world but by no means all. Combining all the above aspects of an online payment system, it is easy to set up an account and its payment system is fairly easy to use.
A PayPal balance can be used for purchases made using PayPal (This feature is available in few countries only) or transferred to your bank account. In some countries you can also apply for the PayPal Access card, a prepaid credit card that can be used to withdraw your cash balance at ATMs or be used at store points to make purchases.
You can place PayPal buttons on your blog that visitors can use to pay for specific products. The buttons are coded with the price of your product, and buyers can pay either using their own PayPal account or by credit/debit card. They do not need a PayPal account to pay you. Business Accounts are available, where you can set up a professional invoicing system complete with your own logo.
PayPal pays you immediately, less a transaction fee of 3.4% plus 20 cents – all US currency. Its dispute procedure is easy to follow but can take some time to complete. If you use PayPal to purchase goods, you are insured against non-receipt of an item, the item being not as described or for it arriving damaged.
One benefit of PayPal is that you can send money abroad to other PayPal members at the standard charge. In most cases this is significantly less than most banks would charge for international cash transfers.
Skrill, the new name for the UK firm Moneybookers, is a combined payment processing aggregator similar to PayPal. It operates in every country in the world except Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea and Sudan. You can request payment the same was as with PayPal: simply enter their email address and the amount required, and Skrill does the rest. The client need not be a member, just as with PayPal.
If your Skrill account has money in it, you can send that to anybody with an email address. They need not be a member. As with all of the processors on this page, Skrill-Moneybookers is very secure and your details are safe. Charges are 3.9% + 0.35 Euro for non-European countries and 2.9% + 0.25 Euro for Europeans (or £0.2 for UK accounts).
Stripe is another payment aggregator similar to PayPal. It has no set-up or monthly fees, but applies transaction fees of 2.4% + 20p UK. It is fundamentally a system for developers, offering clean, robust APIs that can build a beautiful payment processing system incorporating a merchant account that is totally secure.
Stripe accepts 139 different currencies for worldwide marketing, and you can set up membership accounts, flexible billing periods, special deals and coupons and even allow customers to try out your products before paying. The APIs offer full flexibility – and a lot more.
Google Wallet is not so much a payment processor/aggregator, as a means of allowing your customers to use the Google Wallet app to pay for goods on your blog. The app allows users to pay through an account connected to their Google profile. By registering and putting the ‘Buy With Google’ button on your site, customers can pay with one click. Google charges 2.9% + 30c for each transaction irrespective of size, though if your monthly sales volume is high enough, that charge reduces just as it does with PayPal.
The major problem with Google Wallet at the moment is that few Google users are registering, partially due to the relative small number of merchants offering it as a payment option on their site. It won’t hurt to join and add a Google payment button to your site. You may capture those having difficulty finding it on other blogs!
At one time, 2-Checkout offered affiliate products to sell, but is now focusing more on its function as an eCommerce payment system. You can create your own products then sell them on your blog using 2CO buttons. You must state on each page that 2-Checkout is your payment processor. It is a free service to set up and, like those above, does not require a separate merchant account. It is not as convenient to use as PayPal, and you get paid once each month once your income reaches a release level.
It is fundamentally a method of selling products to others, rather than using it to send money. You cannot use it send to cash to another person. You first set up a product, get the product code to place behind a button on your website or blog and then your customer clicks on that button to pay. They can pay using as card or PayPal. It is claimed to be available to use in every country.
For US sellers 2Checkout has a 2.99% charge plus $0.430 transaction fee. Fees for international sellers are 5.5% with a $0.45 transaction fee.
B. Mobile Payment Systems
Though not strictly suitable for your blog, there might be readers who are interested in an offline payment system they can use to accept payments on the road, in clients’ homes, a restaurant or anywhere else that would benefit from a portable payment system.
PayAnywhere is a payment system for mobile devices. It is easy to integrate this system into your mobile apps, and there is no monthly fee or minimum. You get the system free and it comes with a device to fit to your mobile. This enables you to swipe a customer’s card. It is used to make or accept payments on the fly, so is not strictly an online system. It may be free, but you pay a charge of 2.9% per swipe.
Square is just like PayAnywhere, again with no payments to make to get started. Square charges 2.75% per swipe or 3.5% + 15 cents for manually entered transactions. Buyers simply swipe their card on the swiping device provided or manually enter their card details. The money is in your account the next day.
C. eCommerce WordPress Plugin for Your Blog: WP eCommerce
If you want to turn your blog into proper eCommerce store, then WP eCommerce is more than a payment processor. It is a complete eCommerce system for WordPress users that integrates with your current WordPress blog. You can use it with PayPal, Stripe and many other integrated payment systems.
If you have a blog and want to use it to sell goods, then WP eCommerce is ideal for you. You can create product listings in an online store that is highly customisable in style and design. You can streamline the checkout system in as few steps as possible to maximize sales, and it also integrates with a range of shippers so you get real-time shipping rates.
WP eCommerce is free with payable add-ons such as payment gateway plugins, a membership plugin and a FedEx shipping plugin. There are many more costing just a few dollars to make your eCommerce blog site truly professional.
Authorize.net started up in 1996, and is now the biggest payment gateway online with over $88 billion in transactions every year. It is included here in its own section because it is often misrepresented as a total payment system. It is actually a payment gateway, but one that is easily integrated into an eCommerce platform.
If your turnover warrants the $99 setup fee, $20 monthly fee and a transaction fee of $0.10, then you will like this better than PayPal. Many of the popular shopping cart systems and eCommerce platforms (e.g. Volusion, Magento and X-cart) are set up to use Authorize. It also has a strong API to enable it to be integrated into custom platforms.
However, Authorize is not a merchant account, and you will require a merchant account to work along with Authorize. While this is a good, professional way to set up an eCommerce site, it is not an equivalent to PayPal or 2-Checkout. Many payment processor lists include Authorize.net, and we include it here to enable you to avoid confusion as to its capabilities. It is good, but it is only part of the overall payment system.
Payment Processors for a Blog – Summary
The bulk of the processors included her are total payment systems or aggregators, combining the gateway, processor and merchant account. If you have a high enough monthly cash turnover then it might make sense to go for one of the more professional systems that includes a separate bank merchant account.
However, ordinary bloggers need not go to such expense if all they want is a method for their readers to buy an occasional eBook or software package. Affiliate marketers get paid directly through their affiliate system (ClickBank, Commission Junction and the like) and have no need for a separate merchant account.
The mobile payment systems incorporating a card swiper offer a useful means of accepting payments if you provide offline services away from your home. Many bloggers use their blog to advertise services such as their restaurant, hairdressing and auto repair business. A portable card scanning payment system such as Square and PayAnywhere could very useful to them.
Just as with banks, there will be people that are dissatisfied with at least one of the systems in our list. Many people have used PayPal for countless years without a problem, and there are others that have suffered badly through using it. This likely applies to all payment processors, so we shall not omit any just because there are some bad reviews online.
Keep in mind that people tend to complain when things go wrong, but do not compliment when things run as they should. Check every one of these online and you are sure to find more complaints than compliments. Ultimately, it your personal choice which you use, so check it out to make sure that your choice is the best payment processor for your blog.