Why you need a payment provider
If you’d like to get paid for your online bookings (and I’m guessing you do) you’ll need two things: a payment gateway and a merchant account. Some payment providers can offer you both, while others sell them separately. Let’s quickly take a look at how these two things work.
What is a payment gateway?
When an online transaction is made, the payment gateway receives a transaction request. Then, it connects to the credit card company to see if the guest has sufficient funds in their account.
If the guest is approved, the transaction is authorized and the payment is put into a holding account until being deposited into your business bank account.
It’s worth noting that many people refer to payment service providers simply as payment gateways.
What about merchant accounts?
A merchant account is the holding account we discussed earlier.
In payment industry terms, a merchant is a person, or company, that is being paid out. Which means you are the merchant. Here’s why you need a merchant account.
When your guest makes a credit card payment online, the money immediately leaves their account, but it isn’t sent directly to your business bank account. Instead, it’s held in a merchant account and transferred out to your bank account later depending on your provider’s settlement terms.
Some payment providers offer an aggregate holding account for all of their customers. This is called a PSP (payment service provider) account. With a PSP you share a merchant account with a pool of other businesses.
But depending on the payment provider, and your volume of transactions, you might have to sign up for your own merchant account. These are called ISO (independent sales organization) accounts. This means only your money is held in the account.
Choosing a payment provider for your business
Here at Checkfront, we work with the top payment providers. That way, if you have a provider, you don’t have to change a thing. But if you’re choosing a gateway for the first time, all the options can get overwhelming.
To help you with your decision, we’ve done a breakdown of the three providers used most by Checkfront customers: Square, Stripe, and Paypal.
Square is an all in one solution for small to medium-sized businesses. Square provides you with both a payment gateway and point of sale hardware so you can process online and in-person payments. It’s free to sign up, there are no long-term commitments or surprise fees. Plus, Square uses an aggregate merchant account so you don’t have to sign up for your own.
When you sign up you will receive a free Square Reader so you can take payments anywhere. You can also purchase the Square Reader for contactless and chip so you can accept dip and tap payments.
Square offers re-billing so you can save your customers’ credit cards when they make a deposit, and charge them for the full amount later. Settlements are performed daily and your funds will be deposited as soon as the next business day.
Square is currently available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. To set up Square, click here.
Stripe is a payment provider that handles online transactions only. They are an excellent choice for businesses of all sizes. Stripe uses an aggregate merchant account so you don’t have to sign up for your own.
Stripe has no setup fees, no minimum term, and a hassle-free signup process. Settlements are performed weekly and the service is very competitively priced. There are also no monthly fees or additional fees for refunds. And like Square, they offer re-billing and everything is PCI compliant.
Click here to set up Stripe in your Checkfront account.
Paypal is a popular multi-currency payment gateway that is commonly used by small to medium businesses. They have two plan levels: Paypal Standard, and Paypal Pro. For both Paypal uses an aggregate merchant account.
Paypal Standard for business has no setup fees, no subscription fees, and no lengthy approval process. It does, however, require that users process transactions through the Paypal payment interface. That means your guests are taken to paypal.com to complete the transaction.
If you’d like guests to stay on your website for the entire transaction, you can use Paypal Pro. But there is a monthly fee and you are on the hook for PCI compliance.
Paypal standard is available 25 countries while Paypal Pro is only available in the US, Canada, and the UK.
To learn how to set up Paypal in your Checkfront account click here.
Comparing Square, Stripe, and Paypal
|Monthly Rate||$0 USD||$0 USD||$0 USD||$35 USD|
|Transaction Rate (USD)||3.4% + $0.15 (keyed or online)|
$0.10 interac flash
2.65% (credit POS)
|2.9% +$0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.2- 2.9% + $0.30|
|Accepted cards||Visa, MC, AMEX||Visa, MC, AMEX||Visa, MC, AMEX||Visa, MC, AMEX|
|Debit||Yes- with tap machine||yes- with virtual terminal|
|Other||INTERAC flash, apple & android pay||ACH and bitcoin, apple & android pay||Paypal payments||Paypal payments|
|PCI compliance||simplified||simplified||simplified||options but security falls on the merchant|
|International Card Rate||0%||1%||1%||1%|
|Exchange rate||?||1%||rates vary based on country||rates vary based on country|
|Deposit||next day||rolling 2-7 days||same day||same day|
|Chargeback protection||yes, up to $250 a month||no||no||no|
|Charge back rates||free||$15||$20||$20|
|Point of Sale||yes||no, but integration options||no||no|
|Re-billing||yes||yes||yes, but goes through your server||yes, but goes through your server|
Here’s a quick comparison of Square, Stripe, and Paypal to help you make your decision.
And that’s it. The world of payments can get a bit confusing. To better understand the items listed above we recommend you read our definitive guide to payment gateways. Each of these providers is excellent choices. Whichever you choose, you can feel confident that your transactions will be secure.