When it comes to online payments, there’s PayPal and there’s everyone else. Introduced to much of America when it paired with eBay at the beginning of the age of eCommerce, PayPal quickly became the go-to middleman for online transactions – but it’s not the only one.

In recent years, several competitors have made gains in the market and are close on PayPal’s heels.

Intuit Merchant Service

Intuit Merchant Services provides your business with an online terminal that allows you to accept all major credit cards from any browser. The $12.95 monthly fee (compared to PayPal’s $30) is waived for the first two months.

The user can set up recurring payments, allow multiple users to view and accept transactions, track deposits, and make reports. Intuit also provides the user with a card reader that plugs into your smartphone’s 1/8-inch jack for face-to-face transactions.


Dwolla claims to have the lowest fees in the nation. It works online or in a physical store, and it takes no percentages. Transactions $10 and under are free, and all other transactions are only 25 cents.

Dwolla’s MassPay feature allows you to pay thousands of clients simultaneously and has a recurring payments option. Your customers don’t need a Dwolla account to pay. The system’s plug-in is compatible with most existing shopping cart tools and the Hub Page feature offers universal access for your customers. Dwolla promises that there are no hidden fees.


Provided by American Express, Serve comes with a reloadable card backed by the American Express name. The card can be linked to alternate accounts or funded with direct deposit. Since it is not a credit card, it has no fees or minimum balances.

The mobile app allows you to send and receive money from your smartphone, as long as the person on the other end also has a Serve account.

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments brings one of the biggest, oldest, and most reputable names in online commerce to your business. The program allows Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers to pay you on your site with the information that’s already entered into their Amazon account. Mobile payment allows customers to pay on their phone or tablet without any extra cost or setup on your end.

Price is volume based, at 2.9 percent plus 30 cents – or less – per transaction so you know what you’ll pay upfront. There are no hidden fees.


Braintree touts the fact that they’re smaller than PayPal. Their customer service, unlike PayPal’s tiered plans, is VIP for every customer. They have the same transaction fee, but unlike PayPal there is no monthly fee. They boast one-click checkout, unlike PayPal, which they say increases drop-off rate by forcing customers to log into their account first. Integration and approval is nearly instant, and Braintree accepts infinitely more forms of currency.


Paymate sellers in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand can register online and start selling in three minutes without needing a merchant facility or a payment gateway to process credit cards.

Sellers get paid directly into their bank account, and unlike with PayPal, there are no stored value accounts that can be frozen, delays, or costs. Unlike with PayPal’s notorious waiting period for transfers, most transactions with Paymate are completed overnight. If you don’t like the free shopping cart they offer, their system can integrate with most existing carts. They tout their comprehensive risk fraud system and customer service as lightyears ahead of PayPal’s.


Obopay was designed with mobile in mind – and the world is going mobile. They specialize in mobile-to-mobile payment across all platforms.

Merchant Inc.

With Merchant Inc., you can apply in five minutes and be up and running, accepting all major credit cards, in 24 hours. Not only will you be able to accept credit cards online, but also as emailed invoicing. The invoice has a “Pay Now” button that leads the customer to a secure checkout page. Funds are direct deposited within three business days.

Check software is included, and customer support is available through an 800 number that is given to every merchant. You can cancel any time without a penalty, there’s no contract, and the monthly fee of $7.99 is nearly a quarter of PayPal’s.

Digital River

Digital River prides itself on customizing an online payment system that is tailored to the needs of your operation. Their standard account processes Visa and Mastercard in the U.S. and Canada and provides access to their payment gateway, supporting transactions for many other credit cards. They process global transactions, with room for 150 currencies in more than 200 countries.

The merchant gets a shopping cart and storefront, as well as access to their advanced member site, which has account controls, full-featured transaction controls, and advanced analytics and reporting.

PayPal has been the top dog in the payment gateway game for more than a decade. Since the dawn of Internet commerce, their name has been synonymous with security and ease of use. Recently, however, many customers and sellers alike have complained about arbitrary, confusing, and seemingly irrational security measures that cause monumental headaches over seemingly trivial transgressions.

Another big gripe is their waiting period. Money transfers automatically when you pay your cable bill or sit down for dinner at a restaurant. Why should it take three days or more for your money to travel PayPal to your bank account?

Until recently, there were few solid options. Those days are over. Shop around before you go on name recognition alone.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about web-based commerce and how to accept credit cards online.

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