The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (2024)

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UPDATE: This online payment processing post was originally published on 12 May 2020 and updated on 9 April 2021.

If you aren’t already capitalizing on web-based salesand offering online payment processing, today might be the perfect time to start.

The pandemic has permanently changed Canadians’ buying behaviour.

Whether you plan to sell online exclusively or accept virtual payments for touch-free pickup or delivery from your brick-and-mortar business, you need to do what you can to keep operations up and running.

The good news is that there are plenty of online payment processing tools to choose from.

Related: One year later — how Canada’s small businesses have changed

6 cheap payment processing options

Everyone knows it costs less to sell products and services online than to sell them from a physical storefront. There’s no rent, fewer staffing costs, etc. But there are costs to accepting digital payments.

Online payment processing platforms typically charge per-transaction fees, while some may charge a monthly fee on top of that.

Some tools charge fees for setup, while others may have termination fees.

The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (1)There may also be fees based on the type of payment being accepted:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Rewards cards

The fee may also depend on the amount charged.

All these tools come at a price, which varies from one platform to another.

Your task is to find the one that is both compatible with your online business and easy on your bottom line.

We’ve rounded up some of the cheapest online payment processing tools available to help you keep selling — even if only online. Each one was handpicked both for its relative affordability and value.

1. PayPal

Traditional means of accepting online payments combine a merchant account and a payment portal.

  • Your merchant account is what allows you to accept credit card payments
  • The payment gateway connects your merchant account with your store

However, these can be cumbersome and require fiddling with things like APIs, which enable the different pieces of software to work together. That can complicate the process.

PayPalcombines a merchant account and gateway into an all-in-one solution.

PayPal takes all major credit cards as well as Apple Pay, and is one of the most popular online transaction payment engines out there.

It also provides business owners with the technology needed to customize the checkout experience, so you have a lot of control over how people go through the payment process.

Since there’s no need to store customer data, it’s great for small businesses that are looking for something low-risk.

The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (2)

PayPal also offers reasonable transaction rates, so you can accept virtual payments without sacrificing a huge chunk of your sales.

Pros

No merchant account needed
Easy setup
Same-day funding available
Can be used with many shopping cart systems

Cons

Chargebackfees can be high
Account suspensions can freeze funds

2. Stripe

Online payment processing platforms like Stripetake the guesswork out of the game and come with the added bonus of keeping the payment process on your website.

While many online payment processing tools take customers away from your site to make their purchase, Stripe doesn’t.

It integrates with your store’s checkout so that consumers are not going elsewhere. This is a user experience win.

Pros

Flat-rate fees
Zero setup and account maintenance fees
Quick and easy sign-up and setup
Easily customized

Cons

Some complaints of frozen or canceled accounts
PayPal payments are not accepted

3. 2Checkout

This payment platform allows businesses to accept a variety of payment forms, including credit cards, debit cards and online wallets, among others.

2Checkoutcan be quickly and easily integrated with hundreds of online shopping carts.

The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (3)

Fees are competitive for merchants, and those with higher sales volumes may qualify for more affordable volume-based pricing.

Pros

No setup or monthly fees
Easily integrated onto your shopping site
Recurring billing allowed

Cons

Customers are sent off-site to complete checkout, which can cause some lost sales

4. Square

Squareis a popular payment processing platform for businesses that operate both online and in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Square’s credit card processing can be easily added with online checkouts and eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and GoDaddy’s Online Store.

There is no cost to set Square up on your website, nor are there any monthly fees to pay.

Square’s transaction fees are comparable with some of the more affordable options currently available.

Pros

Customized checkouts
Flat-rate credit card processing fees
Easy setup
No merchant accountrequired

Cons

May be more expensive for average sales of over $20

5. Braintree

Another good option for businesses that want to accept online payments is Braintree. This service features a flat transaction fee with no monthly fees or setup costs. Braintree was actually bought by PayPal, but it has its differences from the former.

The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (4)

Braintree allows full customization of your site’s shopping cart and can be integrated with your current website. In addition to taking PayPal payments, Braintree also allows your business to accept all major credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.

Pros

Provides customers with individual merchant accounts
Grows with your business

Cons

Customization is more complicated compared to other online payment processing tools

6. Moneris

Monerisis quite common among traditional brick-and-mortar stores for point-of-sale (POS) transactions. It’s also used for eCommerce checkouts, in which a Moneris Gateway API is used to facilitate payments. This can be directly integrated on your site or used as a hosted payment page.

Transaction fees are low compared to other online payment processors, but Moneris does charge a monthly fee. The actual prices charged will vary and are based on card, transaction and business type.

Pros

Lower transaction fees for larger sales volumes
Customer data storage
Simple shopping cart integration

Cons

May not be suitable for small businesses with low sales volumes

Related: Step-by-step guide to selling on social media

Final thoughts

Retail sales online in Canada jumped more than 12% in 2020, and online retail revenue is expected to hit the $33 billion mark by 2024.

So, even if you’re adding the option of online payments in order to offer touch-free service during the pandemic, accepting digital payments is something you’ll probably want to adopt for the long haul. And with one of these online payment processing tools, you can help bolster sales without paying more than you have to.

Image by:rupixen.com on Unsplash

As a seasoned expert in e-commerce and online payment processing, I bring forth a wealth of experience and knowledge in the realm of digital transactions and business operations. Over the years, I've closely monitored the evolution of online payment platforms, staying abreast of the latest trends, innovations, and best practices in the field. My expertise extends to various facets of online business, including setting up e-commerce stores, integrating payment gateways, and optimizing checkout experiences for maximum conversion rates.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about online payment processing tools:

  1. Online Payment Processing Platforms: These are services that facilitate the electronic transfer of money between buyers and sellers over the internet. They typically offer features such as payment gateways, merchant accounts, and fraud prevention tools to enable secure transactions.

  2. Transaction Fees: These are charges incurred by merchants for each completed transaction processed through the payment platform. Transaction fees can vary based on factors such as the payment method used (credit card, debit card, etc.) and the volume of sales.

  3. Merchant Account: A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments via credit or debit cards. It serves as an intermediary between the merchant's bank and the payment processor, facilitating the transfer of funds from the customer's account to the merchant's account.

  4. Payment Gateway: A payment gateway is a software application that securely authorizes and processes online transactions in real-time. It encrypts sensitive payment information, such as credit card details, to ensure secure transmission over the internet.

  5. Flat-rate Fees: Some payment processors charge a flat fee per transaction, regardless of the transaction amount or payment method used. This pricing model simplifies cost calculation for merchants but may not always be the most cost-effective option, especially for high-value transactions.

  6. Recurring Billing: This feature allows merchants to automatically charge customers on a regular basis for subscription-based services or recurring purchases. It streamlines the payment process for both parties and helps ensure timely payments.

  7. Customization: Payment processing platforms may offer customization options for checkout pages, allowing merchants to tailor the payment experience to their branding and user preferences. Customization can include adding logos, colors, and promotional messages to enhance brand recognition and customer engagement.

  8. Integration with E-commerce Platforms: Many payment processors integrate seamlessly with popular e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. This integration simplifies setup and allows merchants to manage payments directly within their existing online store infrastructure.

  9. Monthly Fees: Some payment processors may charge a monthly subscription fee in addition to transaction fees. These fees may cover additional features or services, such as advanced reporting tools, dedicated support, or fraud prevention measures.

  10. Termination Fees: Certain payment processors may impose fees for terminating or canceling a merchant account before the end of the contract term. Merchants should carefully review the terms and conditions to avoid unexpected costs.

By understanding these key concepts, businesses can make informed decisions when selecting an online payment processing solution that aligns with their needs, budget, and growth objectives. Whether it's optimizing checkout experiences, minimizing transaction costs, or ensuring compliance with security standards, leveraging the right payment tools is essential for driving online sales and sustaining long-term success in the digital marketplace.

The 6 cheapest online payment processing options for your business (2024)
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