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You have two options to accept credit card payments on your website.
Choose the best solution and start your comparison for the best credit card rates.
There are two ways to accept credit card payments on your website or online shop.
1. You could integrate your website with a Payment Service Provider ànd separately contract an online credit card processor.
2. or you could use the payment services of a 'one-stop-shop' card processor.
Both solutions have benefits and disadvantages.
Which card processors are available for your business and what are their costs?
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A Payment Service Provider (PSP) or Payment Gateway allows online merchants and businesses to accept payments online.
They provide a 'virtual' payment terminal that enables your shoppers to pay online with their preferred online payment methods like MasterCard, Visa, American Express, online bank transfers or PayPal.
Payment Service Providers differ when it comes to transaction costs and the number of payment methods supported. In principle they all support the acceptance of the major credit cards, however, it requires a separate contract to start processing credit cards.
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Payment Service Providers develop and maintain the technical connection to various banks and financial institutions. It are these banks that in fact process and settle online credit and debit card payments. They ensure that the money is transferred from the shopper into your bank account.
This requires you to separately contract with card processing banks or so-called merchant acquirers or acquiring banks. They settle credit card payments and allow your website to take card payments online.
We can help you to compare the best online credit card processors and to find the best way to accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards online.
Do realise that you would need a direct merchant agreement (or merchant account) with a card processor - next to the contract with and technical integration to the Payment Service Provider payment platform.
Payment Service Providers often have connections to several online credit card processors (you do not need to make this connection). In case you would like to compare MasterCard and Visa rates and fees, you should take this into account when seeking your Payment Service Provider or Payment Gateway.
There are both benefits and disadvantages when choosing this particular set-up to take online card payments. Click the button below for more information.
An One-Stop-Shop is the payment solution provider that allows you to accept credit and debit card payments with one single contract and one single integration.
Both the technical integration and the processing and settlement of card payments is taken care of by the same business.
These one-stop-shop card processors basically provide the virtual payment terminal which you can implement into your website and they pay out the credit card payments.
More on the benefits of One-Stop-Shops
Some of the one-stop-shops process only credit card payments and do not support the acceptance of alternative payment methods like iDEAL, Bancontact / MisterCash, GiroPay or Klarna.
Other one-stop-shops do offer more payment alternatives next to the major debit and credit cards, to allow more customers to use the payment method they prefer.
Please take this into account when selecting your online payments processor. First determine for your ecommerce shop which online payment options you would like to accept - now and in future - and select the matching one-stop-shop provider.
(we can definitely assist you).
More on the benefits of one-stop-shops
One-stop-shop card processors often simplify the integration of their payment module into your online shop.
If you are using one of the more common shopping cart software such as Magento, Prestashop, osCommerce, OpenCart en WooCommerce, you could use so-called 'plug-ins'. These plug-ins minimize integration hurdles and development time needed to accept payments online.
There are both benefits and disadvantages when choosing for one-stop-shops to take online card payments. Click the button below for more information.
More on the benefits of one-stop-shops
A Payment Service Provider provides the virtual payment terminal for online shops and ecommerce businesses.
Via one single integration they enable web shops to accept payments online.
Often they process several payment types like online bank transfers (iDEAL, eps e-payment), credit and debit card payments (Bancontact / MisterCash, MasterCard, Maestro) and pay-after-delivery solutions (Klarna).
What you should know when accepting credit cards via a Payment Service Provider...
Most of the Payment Service Providers enable websites to accept many online payment methods via one single integration. It is common that they provide plug-ins - packages of code that simplify payment integration - for the most popular shopping carts like Magento, PrestaShop and WooCommerce.
They make your life easier by taking care of the connections to the individual payment methods (processed and settled by banks and other financial institutions). Due to their extensive payment method portfolio you are able to select and expand your payment options for maximum conversion and payment convenience.
It is very difficult to build, manage and maintain technical connections yourself and it would definitely require more development costs from your business.
When you have decided to accept MasterCard and Visa card payments via a Payment Service Provider, you would still need to close a separate contract with the card processor or merchant acquirer. It is not your Payment Service Provider, but the card processor who processes and settles the shoppers' payment to your bank account.
Either way, you would need to sign up with two entities: 1. the Payment Service Provider and 2. The Acquiring Bank. This will definitely request more paper work and it could take more time before you actually could start processing card payments.
Many Payment Service Providers have multiple connections to MasterCard and Visa credit card processors. That allows you to compare credit card rates and fees and select the one that best fits your ecommerce business.
A comparison of merchant acquirers - like Elavon, Barclaycard, SIX Payments, Wirecard and EVO Payments - could save hundreds to thousands of euro's in credit card fees. Here you can start your free comparison >>>.
From a technical integration point of view, there is no impact when using a Payment Service Provider. There is only the requirement of integrating with the Payment Gateway. You can simply select the appropriate card processor in your Payment Service Provider back-office during your account set-up.
Please note that some Payment Gateways have only one connection to a card acquirer. Bare this in mind when you compare payment service providers and gateways. Whether you are a start-up or looking to switch Payment Service Provider.
Equally important - and to emphasise the importance of choice - is the fact that an application for the acceptance of credit cards can also be declined by the acquiring bank. Some acquirers have strict acceptance policies which impose risk of your credit card application being denied. Not every card processor contracts start-ups or websites within specific segments like gambling, gaming, pharmacy, financial products, alcohol, tobacco, etcetera). Be aware, especially when you opt for a Payment Service Provider with only one merchant acquirer connection.
Because you would be using the services of two payment companies instead of one, you could face extra charges.
You would have to pay your Payment Service Provider for the connection to their platform (often monthly fees) and a processing cost per transaction. On top of that you can add the processing costs of the card acquirer. Sometimes they charge you a monthly subscription fee and processing costs in addition to the merchant service charge (percentage of the transaction amount) per credit card payment. Sometimes you only pay a credit card commission fee (= merchant service charge).
In formula: Processing Costs Payment Service Provider + Processing Costs Card Processor + Merchant Service Charge Card Processor.
Would you be using the payment services of a one-stop-shop card processor, you would only be paying the processing costs plus the merchant service charge. Important to recognize however, is the fact that most of your cost savings can be found in lower merchant service charges or credit card fees.
An one-stop-shop charges you 25 eurocent + 2.95% per transaction, whereas a card processor would charge you only 2.00%. Assuming an average transaction value of 75 euro, then your savings per credit card payment would be 96 eurocent (2,46 euro via the one-stop-shop versus 1,50 euro). Even with the fixed processing costs of your Payment Service Provider (normally between 0,10 - 0,40 euro) this would mean a cost saving.
That's why the total costs and your potential cost savings depend largely on your expected number of credit card payments ànd average MasterCard and Visa transaction value.
Payment Service Providers often provide additional value added services and tools that smoothen your payment checkout process, protect your online sales and helps you to manage your online payments effectively.
For example, they provide payment pages which can have your company's look and feel, and which can be presented within your website (no pop-ups redirecting customers away from your website).
They often offer fraud prevention tools which allows you to determine which payments should be blocked - when expecting fraud - or passed on for processing. Almost all of them support MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa - or 3D-Secure transaction processing - which minimizes the risk of fraud or chargebacks. In addition, they provide reporting and analytics tools that helps you to gain better insights in conversion rates and to further optimize your online checkout.
Thus, Payment Service Providers help you to create a seamless shopping and payment experience and to secure your online sales. At the same time, you remain in control over your settings and get supporting data to improve your checkout and reconciliation.
Card processors or merchant acquirers traditionally settle MasterCard and Visa payments directly to your bank account, and not via the Payment Service Provider.
Other payment methods can be aggregated and settled by the Payment Service Provider (e.g. iDEAL and online bank transfers).
As you might accept more than just one payment method, it is good to know upfront that - in principle - every payment method is paid out separately. Every payment method might have its own settlement timeframe (daily, weekly) and being settled gross or nett. Especially in the beginning, this could take you quite some time for your financial administration.
One-stop-shops on the contrary often provide aggregated pay outs which means you get all payment methods settled in one batch - simplifying your reconciliation and administration.
An One-Stop-Shop card processor provides the virtual payment terminal for websites
ànd processes and settles credit card payments.
Some one-stop-shops also process alternative payment methods next to the major credit cards.
What you should know when accepting credit cards via an One-Stop-Shop...
Almost every one-stop-shop card processor offers simple integration options to accept credit card payments. They support so-called 'plug-ins' that simplify the technical embedding of the payment page within your website.
These plug-ins could be seen as 'plug-and-pay' software (lines of code) and are often developed for the major shopping carts like Magento, Prestashop, osCommerce and WooCommerce and the leading commerce platforms (Shopify, Wix).
One of the best-known one-stop-shop card processors is PayPal. However, there are more one-stop-shops gaining ground - and supporting even more payment methods than PayPal. Braintree, Stripe and Paymill - all known for their 'one line of code' payment integration - are among the fastest growing credit card processors. The other thing they have in common is that their payment pages are developed from a 'mobile-first' approach: their checkout page is optimised for the best possible user experience on smartphones and tablets.
The 'pure' one-stop-shops (including PayPal, Braintree and Stripe) are mainly supporting card processing. They always offer the acceptance of the major credit card brands including MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover and Diners Club.
Sometimes they also allow for direct debits or online bank transfers to be accepted, and in case of PayPal, also to accept payments from the shopper's preloaded PayPal balance. Other, more local, alternative payment methods like iDEAL in the Netherlands and Bancontact / MisterCash are most often not supported.
Please do realise this when choosing one-stop-shop payment processors. In case you would need these other alternative payment methods - because it is the preferred payment method for your targeted audience - you would have to integrate these methods separately (if the method itself allow for direct integration) or start accepting that particular online payment method through a Payment Service Provider. This would mean you would still need to build and maintain multiple integrations which could be very costly and time-consuming.
Please note that there are 'full' one-stop-shops processors that support a broad mix of online payment methods - including the major card and alternative payment methods. Examples of these one-stop-shops are Worldline, Adyen and Wirecard: they are all acting as a full-service Payment Service Provider ànd credit card processor.
The 'pure' one-stop-shops like PayPal, Braintree, Stripe and Click-and-Buy are known for their straight-forward pricing: a fixed transaction processing cost (0,20 - 0,35 euro) plus a standard commission rate (with tiered pricing).
They do not charge different service fees for MasterCard or Visa, for domestic or foreign transactions nor for card payments processed with or without extra security controls like MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa. This makes your transactions costs somewhat predictable.
As the card processing one-stop-shops use standard pricing, this could also mean that you might be charged to much. Despite the fact that these one-stop-shops have often tiered pricing (the more volume you process, the less commission you pay) - it often entails you have relatively high default charges.
This can be different when teaming with a stand-alone card processor or merchant acquirer (in combination with a Payment Service Provider). These specialised card acquirers can prepare custom-made pricing proposals for the acceptance of credit cards. By comparison of one-stop-shops' and acquirers' credit card fees, you at least are able to determine - for your specific situation - which solution would be cheapest.
One-Stop-Shops have often invested heavily in clean and swift merchant boarding procedures in order to contract and set-up online merchants within 24 of 48 hours. Many shops often realise somewhat too late that they need to ensure acceptance of online payments. For these websites and ecommerce shops eager to start accepting credit cards, the short application process and merchant activation is a huge benefit.
When using an one-stop-shop you are often depending on the banks and acquirers they are connected with. As they provide aggregated payment services and pricing, it is hard - if not impossible - to connect with other card processors and negotiate pricing.
The simplicity of integration and pricing tends to compromise your flexibility and ability to get the best possible credit card fees for your online business.
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A comparison of merchant acquirers
- like Elavon, Barclaycard, SIX Payments, Wirecard and EVO Payments -
could save you hundreds to thousands of euro's in credit card fees.