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Best for digital wallets
- Free business account.
- Secure transactions.
- Customers can pay using popular digital wallets.
- No free hardware.
- Potential for account freezing.
- Fund transfers can take up to five days.
PayPal is one of the oldest and most well-established online payment processing companies on the market. The company that would eventually become PayPal was founded in 1998 by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek as Field Link. It was originally created as a security solution for hand-held devices. When that proved less successful than anticipated, the founders renamed the company Confinity and launched PayPal as a digital payment system.
In addition to credit card processing services, PayPal offers other small business tools and resources including:
- Small business loans: Its business loans lend up to $100,000 to first-time borrowers and over $150,000 to repeat borrowers.
- Working capital: PayPal’s working capital loans are paid back by taking a share of every PayPal sale you make.
- Business reporting: PayPal’s reporting allows you to track sales and customer activities, then create customized reports to surface the insights you need to make informed decisions.
- Shipping, returns and exchanges: PayPal offers tools to manage your shipping needs, from sending products to customers to handling returns and exchanges. For example, it offers discounted labels, customer notifications capabilities and package tracking in addition to automating returns and exchanges.
- Invoicing: Using PayPal’s invoicing tools, you can send invoices to customers from your phone or computer. You can also send estimates that can be updated in real-time within the invoice.
PayPal has a 1.3 out of five-star rating on Trustpilot after 25,684 user reviews. Positive reviews mention Paypal’s ease of use and the benefits of its secure transactions. Negative reviews center on frustration with the PayPal dispute process, various fees PayPal charges and difficulty working with PayPal’s customer support.
How much does PayPal cost?
PayPal credit card processing
PayPal’s credit card processing service allows customers to make a payment with their PayPal account, credit card or a plethora of digital-wallet payment methods. Its accepted payment methods include:
- Google Pay.
- Apple Pay.
- Samsung Pay.
- American Express.
PayPal offers several convenient options for your customers to pay you, including a “Pay Now” button you can add to your website, a QR code customers can scan to pay in person, invoices and a physical point-of-sale (POS) system available for purchase from PayPal.
PayPal doesn’t have account setup or monthly subscription fees. Businesses can also close accounts without penalty. Instead of a subscription-based model, you pay a fee per transaction when you make a sale.
Fees are determined by how the customer makes a purchase, where the customer is located and the transaction amount. Payments made online through the PayPal online checkout are subject to a fee of 3.49% + 49¢, while online credit or debit card payments have a fee of 2.59% + 49¢. In-person payments made through a QR code have a fee of 1.9% + 10¢ for purchases totaling more than $10. And manual entry or keyed-in card charges are 3.49% + 9¢.
PayPal is also one of the few credit card processing services that offers international purchasing. This benefit comes with an additional transaction fee of 1.5%, plus a fixed fee, depending on the currency received. For example, the fixed fee for the Australian dollar is $0.30 AUD.
Another fee to be aware of is Paypal’s chargeback fee. When a customer disputes a transaction, the company charges the seller a non-refundable fee of $20. Chargeback fees also vary by country. However, if the merchant qualifies for the seller protection program, the fee can be waived. To avoid this charge, Paypal also offers a chargeback protection program that costs 0.4% to 0.6% per transaction.
PayPal offers free bank transfers that can take anywhere from one to three days. There is an instant transfer option, but it comes with a 1.75% fee (maximum $25). Instant transfers usually appear in the respective bank account within minutes, but the transfer process can take up to 30 minutes.
In addition to credit card processing, PayPal offers add-ons you can use to streamline your business processes. They include:
- The ability to receive nonprofit donations, a service that comes with a 2.89% to 2.99% plus 10¢ transaction fee.
- Advanced fraud protection for a monthly fee of $10, plus 5¢ per transaction.
- Buyer authentication services for $10 per month, plus 10¢ per transaction.
- Payflow — for designing a branded online checkout — for 10¢ per transaction received through the branded checkout.
- Payflow Link transaction — a pre-built checkout template to embed in your website — for 10¢ per transaction processed through the embedded checkout.
- Recurring billing services for $25 per month when implemented through a Payflow checkout.
- Advanced reporting that must be inquired about with PayPal’s sales team to learn pricing.
Who Paypal is best for
PayPal is best for companies that wish to take some non-traditional digital payment methods and tools, such as Apple Pay, cryptocurrency and QR codes. Businesses that need a physical POS system may prefer a company like Square that provides a free card reader. PayPal also prohibits or requires additional approval for merchants in certain high-risk industries to use its credit card processing services. High-risk merchants may need to find another service provider if they are not approved by PayPal.
PayPal customer support and experience
The bulk of PayPal’s customer support is housed on its website. Using its help center, users can report problems, find answers to specific questions and access the PayPal community forum. A bot-based chat feature is available 24/7 and can help with small questions. The website is easy to navigate, and information about transaction fees and other costs are clearly laid out.
To speak to a customer support agent, you can ask for a live representative using PayPal’s chat feature and leave a message. You can also call the company between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time and ask to speak to a live representative.
Because PayPal doesn’t offer 24/7 human support, it can take time to address complex issues, such as transaction disputes. Resolving a dispute generally takes 14 days, but it can take more than 30 days.
PayPal has earned a 1.3 out of five star rating on Trustpilot with over 25,000 reviews. Slow response times and difficulty working with customer support are common complaints on PayPal’s TrustPilot profile. However, the PayPal app has an average rating of 4.7 in the Apple App Store and 4.2 in the Google Play Store. Between the two platforms, the app has more than 1.5 million reviews.
PayPal vs. Stripe
PayPal and Stripe both offer subscription-free, cancel-anytime, pay-as-you-go credit card processing services. They both offer international transaction services, although Stripe is compatible with more than 100 additional global currencies than Paypal is.
Their fee pricing is similar, with the major difference being PayPal’s fees fluctuate more depending on payment type, currency and customer location. Still, Paypal offers lower per-transaction fees for online and in-person payments.
The prime selling point of PayPal is its ease of use and its variety of digital payment options. A merchant doesn’t need to have significant web development knowledge to use PayPal’s major features. Businesses also have the option to accept credit or debit cards, cryptocurrency, Venmo, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay or to have customers pay through a QR code. This flexibility makes PayPal a leader in digital and contactless transactions.
Stripe, on the other hand, has numerous customization options, which is why it’s our top choice for APIs and integrations. With Stripe, merchants can use integrations and APIs to create an advanced system that can track customers, manage subscriptions and customer relationships, send invoices and more.
To learn more about Stripe, read our Stripe credit card processing review.
PayPal vs. Square
Square stands out by offering no monthly fees and a free mobile card reader. Businesses can set up and begin processing credit card payments in-store with no upfront costs. It also offers competitive per-transaction fees but no volume discounts, making it a great option for small, one-location brick-and-mortar businesses that don’t have high monthly transaction volumes.
Where Square excels is in the versatility and customizability of its physical point-of-sale equipment. Square offers multiple equipment options, from a handheld card reader to an all-in-one register that integrates with specific software for retail, restaurants and appointment scheduling. For example, the Square restaurant register prints notes for the kitchen, allowing waiting staff to better relay customers’ orders to the cook.
In contrast, PayPal only offers two hardware options, a card reader and an all-in-one terminal, that serve as a one-size-fits-all solution and to which accessories, such as cash drawers, can be added.
The downside to the Square equipment is that it can only be used in the country of purchase and payment processing is currently only available in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Spain. While PayPal does charge an international transaction fee, it offers many more options for international commerce.
Square is a great option for in-person businesses, particularly restaurants, retail stores and appointment-based services. Because of its versatility regarding both in-person and online payments and its no-upfront-costs setup, Square is our overall best credit card processor pick.
With lower per-transaction fees and no free hardware, PayPal is a better fit for large-volume ecommerce companies. Its ability to receive an array of digital payment methods, including cryptocurrency and global currencies, also lends to this use case.
To learn more about Square, read our Square credit card processing review.
Is PayPal right for your business?
As an industry staple for more than 20 years, PayPal understands the needs of ecommerce merchants. With the ability to integrate PayPal with your ecommerce store, no startup costs and multiple ways to accept payments, PayPal is a great choice for small businesses looking for a straightforward and effective credit card processing solution for customers who use digital wallets. Pricing for accepting a variety of digital payment methods is transparent and laid out in detail on the PayPal website.
PayPal is a safe and effective choice for low-volume businesses with some international and in-person transactions. Businesses with a larger international customer base and the ability to handle advanced integrations would probably be better suited using Stripe, and companies that rely heavily on in-person sales would get more use out of the many POS options offered by Square.
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We extensively research the key competitors within an industry to determine the best products and services for your business. Our experts identify the factors that matter most to business owners, including pricing, features and customer support, to ensure that our recommendations offer well-rounded products that will meet the needs of various small businesses.
We collect extensive data to narrow our best list to reputable, intuitive products with stand-out features at a reasonable price point. And we look at user reviews to ensure that business owners like you are satisfied with our top picks’ services. We use the same rubric to assess companies within a particular space so you can confidently follow our blueprint to the Best credit card processing of 2023.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
To set up a seller account, visit PayPal.com and follow these steps:
- Select “Get Started” under the “Business” tab in the header menu.
- Create a free account by choosing a username and password.
- Confirm your tax, banking and business information.
- Link your PayPal account to your ecommerce store or set up Paypal for in-store purchases.
No, PayPal does not offer a free trial because it is not a subscription-based service. You pay by transaction and are not required to pay a monthly or annual fee. Some discounts to standard fees may be available if your business has high sales volumes or small transactions. Contact PayPal to find out if discounts apply to your business.
PayPal does not require a contract. It is free to set up a PayPal account. You then pay per transaction and may close your account at any time.
PayPal sells a card reader and an all-in-one terminal. The card reader pairs with PayPal’s smartphone app. Businesses can purchase their first card reader for $29 and each subsequent card reader for $79. The reader can process Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Venmo, PayPal, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
The all-in-one terminal has the PayPal app, Zettle, built in. It contains a SIM card and the mobile data usage is included in the terminal’s $199 sale price. For $239, you can get a terminal with a barcode scanner, and starting at $269 you will also get a printer and dock.
PayPal takes security seriously. It is PCI compliant, which means it adheres to industry-wide data encryption and fraud prevention standards. Its information security, policies and controls are also regularly reviewed by independent third parties for compliance adherence.
In addition, PayPal offers a service called PayPal Security Key, where each time users log in, they receive a unique one-time-use PIN to securely log in, thereby protecting their information. Buyer data is fully encrypted through Transport Layer Security, meaning the seller only sees the payment amount and not the payment details. PayPal also performs automatic fraud monitoring on each transaction.
PayPal’s mobile app for sellers is called Zettle, and it’s available on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Zettle is focused on credit card processing. It integrates with PayPal’s POS system to track inventory, generate invoices and record transactions, essentially turning your phone or tablet into a POS system. The app is free to use.
PayPal integrates with most common ecommerce sites, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Adobe, OpenCart, Squarespace, Miva, GoDaddy, Shift4Shop, Vortx, Volusion, X-Cart, Cart.com and ShopSite.
Along with e-commerce sites, PayPal integrates with online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay, accounting systems like Quickbooks, business management apps and web development companies.
View the full list of integration options in PayPal’s integration directory.
PayPal helps merchants grow and manage their businesses by offering business debit and credit cards and working capital and business loans. It also offers advanced fraud protection features for $10 per month plus five cents per transaction. Other PayPal add-ons include recurring payment, advanced reporting, product shipping tools and branded online checkout tools.