Top 5 Payment Gateways for Virtual Businesses

Updated August 10, 2021

Your product or service is ready to launch!  Congrats, this is huge!  So, now it’s time to set up the purchase and payment process online.  This can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  You just need to select a Financial Services provider to set up your Payment Gateway.  This article will first walk you through the basics of what a Payment Gateway is.  Then the Top 5 Payment Gateways are reviewed here for businesses starting to sell online or looking to scale.

Virtual Office Address for setting up Payment gateway in US

What are Payment Gateways?

Online payment gateways are offered by a variety of Financial Services companies.  A Payment Gateway is an online merchant service software application where providers authorize credit card or direct payments.  This allows for seamless online transactions between a variety of different sellers and purchasers.  According to wikipedia, it facilitates a payment transaction by the transfer of information between a payment portal (such as a website, mobile phone or interactive voice response service) and the front end processor or acquiring bank.  Bottom line, if you have an online store, you need a payment gateway.

What Makes a Top Payment Gateway?

There are many different providers that have entered the payment gateway industry and it can be overwhelming.  Some have been in the merchant services, financial services, or even banking services for many years.  Others have entered specifically to bring the more flexible online processing software.  The difference between a good and a bad provider is a happy or frustrated customer. 

A ‘good’ provider, for the purposes of this article, is one that

  • Is able to process as many payment types as possible that your customers will be using
  • Can be integrated seamlessly into your business website, ecommerce platforms, and purchase portals, whether it’s computer, mobile, or in-store
  • Offers credibility and security against fraudulent transactions
  • Allows for easy merchant management of transactions, finances, and other ecommerce needs
  • Has accessible customer service in case you run into any issues.
  • Is flexible.  Ideally, month to month contracts, so you are not tied to the provider if you are unhappy with the service.

Top 5 Payment Gateway Providers

Here are the 5 Payment Gateway Providers we consider to be the best in terms of meeting the above criteria.  However, you should review each one to see which best meets your specific business and payment processing needs.  Here is an overview chart with details for each provider below.


Stripe was started in 2010.  It offers software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage businesses online through various other applications.  

While some other Payment Gateways have a one-size-fits-all approach to adding payment buttons to your site, Stripe is more customized.  It targets and appeals to large companies and developers who are looking for many different APIs and tools to customize solutions to payment needs. 

Stripe can process all major payment methods for online and in-person retailers, subscriptions businesses, software platforms and marketplaces.  Additional Stripe capabilities include sending invoices, issuing virtual and physical cards, getting financing, managing business spend, and much more.  Stripe also offers Radar to help detect and block fraud for any type of business, which is built into Stripe and requires no additional setup to get started.

Transaction & Other Fees – Pay-as-you-go pricing with 2.9% transaction fee and $0.30 per successful charge.  For larger volume of sales, it provides a tailored plan with discounts.  There is also a $15 chargeback fee, and month-to-month contracts. Plus, Stripe offers the option to purchase credit card terminals for in-person transactions (prices start at $59).

Bottom line, if you need customizable solutions for a variety of needs and have the technical know-how to use the tools, then Stripe is a great option.   If you are looking for easy non-technical one-size-fits-all payment solutions, Stripe is not your guy. 


PayPal is one of the more well-known names in payment processing.  It was founded in 1998 and went public in 2002.  But it was through its acquisition by EBay and its subsequent usage by 70% of EBay purchases, that it grew into a household name.  In 2015 PayPal was spun off into its own entity, valued at $46.6 billion.  It’s this familiarity amongst both businesses/vendors and customers, that makes it a great option for customers that want really easy, no-frills payment buttons that everyone feels comfortable with using. 

PayPal Standard

The free Standard option allows you to set up fairly basic payment options on your website through easy copy/paste code.  You can select from payment options including dropdown menus, subscription buttons, or simple BUY buttons for a single item.  Once you add the code to your site, it is up and running and PayPal takes care of all authorization and security. 

There are limitations, however. 

  •   For a simple BUY button, there is no customization.  It shows up on your site looking like PayPal Buy buttons with only options for paying by Credit Card, Debit, or PayPal Account.   
  •   For subscription options, you can add a single or multiple selection options in a dropdown menu.  However, the subscription is very basic with little to no bells or whistles to allow you to customize it. 
  •   For dropdown menu payments, it will also take you to the PayPal website for payment, so the customer does have to leave your account and have a PayPal account.

Transaction & Other Fees – There are no startup or on-going monthly fees. And the current rates are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.  You only pay when you get paid.

PayPal Standard is great for simple payment needs where you do not mind customers being taken from your site to complete the transaction process.  It’s easy to set up, gives you a detailed dashboard to monitor transactions, customers, and manage funds.  And they accept all major credit cards and currencies from over 200+ countries.

PayPal Payments Pro

There are two primary advantages of going Pro with PayPal.  First, you are able to customize the payment and checkout process to fit your website design and brand/product needs.  Second, you can keep the your customer on your website.  Of course, with these benefits, comes a monthly fee of $30 on top of the transaction fees (same as with the Standard plan).  With a Pro account, customers can also pay via phone and you can set up financing options (ex. Buy now and pay through installments later)

Authorize.Net is the next on our list of Payment Gateways.  It was founded in 1996 and after a series of acquisitions, Authorize.Net and its parent company, CyberSource, were acquired in 2010 by Visa, Inc.

The biggest difference between Authorize.Net and Strip or PayPal is that it does not have a free basic option for its vendors.  Instead, it is a $25/month to use its Payment Gateway.  However, it does have a lower transaction fee, of only $0.10.  That makes it a good option for vendors with a large volume of transactions, where you have the potential to save greatly on transaction fees.

As with the other providers, it has an online customer information manager, automated recurring billing, invoicing.  There is also advanced fraud detection.

But where it shines, is with its versatility and customization.  It has a developer API and several integrations.  It allows for maximum customization to fit with your website design and payment needs. Using Authorize.Net, you can accept all major credit cards, debit cards, and digital payment methods.  It also accepts e-checks and foreign payments from most countries.  It supports digital payment services such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Visa Checkout.

The most notable limitation with Authorize.Net is that your business must be registered in the US, UK, Canada, Europe or Australia to use their payment gateway services.

Transaction & Other Fees – There is a $25/month subscription fee plus  $0.10 per transaction, plus a daily transaction batching fee of $0.10.

Amazon Pay

Amazon launched Amazon Pay in 2007.  As of 2019, it was available in 19 countries around the world, including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, France, among others.  The way it works is very simple.  If a consumer already has an Amazon account, they can click on the Amazon Pay button on a vendor’s site.  It will then allow them to use their Amazon account credentials and already saved credit card information.  For vendors, this is a great option to offer your customers that use and trust Amazon.

Amazon Pay offers an API so that it can be customized and integrated into your website design, brand, and product needs.  But it also provides a library of standardized payment buttons for a basic and easy integration into your website.  It also has proven fraud protection services in place.

Transaction & Other Fees – It is free to set up and there are no monthly fees.  The transaction fees are the same as Strip and PayPal Standard, with 2.9% + $0.30 on all domestic transactions. For international transactions, that number jumps to 3.9%.

The biggest limitation with Amazon Pay is that customers are required to have an Amazon account.  If not, they cannot use Amazon Pay without opening one up.  But is this really a limitation these days given how many people use Amazon??


Last, but not least, on our top 5 list is 2Checkout, which was started in 2006.  Its biggest advantage over other providers is its global availability – available in over 200 countries.   

As with other providers, it allows you to integrate check out pages on your website.  You can also set recurring transactions and access a detailed dashboard for customers and transactions.  It also has advanced fraud protection.

2Checkout offers an API for customization to your website and based on your needs.  They also have tools available for helping to increase purchase conversion rate, and managing subscriptions.

Transaction & Other Fees – There are different pricing plans starting at the same as other providers, at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. There are no setup, termination, or monthly fees 

What You Need To Apply To Payment Gateways

The requirements for a payment gateway application are not complicated, but definitely needed before you go down that road. You will need to have the following:  Physical US Address, Employer Identification Number (EIN), and a Bank Account.  To find out all about these requirements, be sure to read the article, What are Requirements to Start an Online Payment Gateway in the US?

A Virtual Office Can Help Your Business Meet Requirements for Payment Gateways!

If you’re just starting your business, consolidating, or expanding to sell online, then a Virtual Office can help.  It can provide you with a physical address.  The physical address is needed to get all other activities going for a Payment Gateway.

At Starthub, we offer comprehensive virtual office solutions. We’ll even give you your first month FREE. Just click here to get started.  You’ll receive a prestigious mailing address in downtown Miami, dedicated mail handling services from a talented team, and an innovative digital platform to receive and direct your mail. Plus, 24/7 customer support.

What comes next?

After you choose your payment gateway provider, make sure you have an online store ready to go.  Optimize for SEO so that customers can find you online, and put in a plan for other customer acquisition tactics.  Finally, make sure that you have customer service ready on the front and back end!


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