PayPal gained some reputation as one of the leading online payment platforms in the world, whether it comes to people making donations, freelancers or companies. There are different types of accounts and lots of options to set everything correctly. However, PayPal has its flaws as well. Personally, PayPal's high fees pushed me away. Besides, communication with the provider is not always the best, especially if you live in other countries than the USA or the UK.
Now, PayPal's merchant account and its fees and restrictions have forced me towards an alternative. There are lots of options out there and the good news is that most of them are less likely to adopt PayPal's harsh restrictions and verifications. I know I am not the only one in this situation, as doing my homework sent me on all kinds of forums and discussion boards – people bumped my topics to keep an eye on them, as everyone wants something different.
Putting a list of potential merchant accounts together was not as difficult as I thought. There are a bunch of good results when looking for PayPal alternatives, as well as forums where people come up with all kinds of suggestions and their personal experiences with them – both positive and negative. Practically, while I thought putting together a list would take weeks, I managed to find dozens of solid payment processors within hours only.
It took me just over a month to check each of them and come up with a quick trial – check the conditions, get in touch with the customer service and see how responsive they are and so on. Obviously, based on the nature of my business, some of them rejected me, but many others were happy to help me with an account. The overall ratio is pretty good and some other businesspeople might be luckier than I was if they try.
Let me make it clear for you – the process is quite frustrating. Some services have great customer service, but not the best rates. Some others provide excellent merchant account features, but you would have to stalk their customer service reps a little. Some others do not even want new clients or make different demands based on your business. Anyway, here are some of the providers I got in touch with, as well as my experience with them.
Stripe is quite diversified and makes a good starting point. Whether you have a large business or you run a tiny company, Stripe can cater to your needs and it offers scalable opportunities – this is what drew my attention in the first place. The company provides all the tools you require to send payouts, take payments in more currencies and so on.
Whether it comes to online payments, in person retailers or subscriptions, Stripe can help. It also has tools for invoices, not to mention its high security standards to beat fraud. All in all, it was more than enough to convince me. To open a merchant account, you will need to get in touch with the sales team, so the company can look into your business.
My first email was ignored – three weeks later, I had no reply. I sent a different one and wrote it in a more professional manner – make sure you provide as many details as possible about your business. I got a reply eventually, but it still took a few weeks. While the platform has great features, its customer service is a problem and luckily, they will improve it because it is not such a big investment.
2CO or 2Checkout is quite similar. It will help businesses monetize their work in a plethora of different ways. There are more options for merchant accounts, as well as numerous features – from invoices to security standards. The platform could be a bit confusing for the average user without too much experience though.
You get on the official website and you find options based on the role or perhaps the business type – certain businesses in various fields are more likely to be accepted than others. Prices also vary, so you might feel a bit confused – which option is more suitable for you? Luckily, they have a quick contact link to get in touch with the sales team, which is what I did.
I got in touch with 2CO with my initial information. I was not really sure what type of account I needed, so I thought to include as many details as possible about my company. I got a reply within seven days (well, five working days, as I emailed them on a Friday evening). The customer service is alright and knowledgeable, but you will spend a while replying to all the queries – always more questions to ask.
Safecharge has brought in a plethora of services to help merchants – a well-designed merchant account provider. You have various online payment solutions, checkout pages, cashier features, point of sale and a bunch of different management options. The payment engine works well and there are over 450 ways to pay – more than enough to entice me and convince me about this platform.
You can create an express account, but someone will still have to get in touch with you and check you out. You can also get directly in touch with the sales team if you want an enterprise account – more suitable for business people, so that is exactly what I applied for. Basically, you need to get in touch with the sales team and explain everything about your business.
Based on my previous experience with other providers, I expected to wait for more than a week to get a reply. Surprise! I emailed Safecharge on Monday evening and got a reply by Wednesday. You will be asked for more details and this is when your business will be accepted or rejected. If rejected, chances are you will not even get a reply back. If accepted, things can go pretty smoothly.
Durango Merchant Service is not an actual merchant. Sure, the company is suitable for merchants, but it works like a broker. It is like one of those websites where you put all your details in before performing a search. The company will then display a bunch of other companies that can take your account – similar to finding an insurance for your car, for example.
Durango has a very responsive team. Whether you have an issue or you have no clue what to do next, you will most likely get a reply within hours. But then, the people behind it are not responsible for their recommendations. They will recommend all kinds of platforms for merchant accounts – some of them with a good reputation, while others with no popularity at all.
My point is you will save a bit of time, as you get a good list of results. But at the same time, you need to research the results you are interested in – get a good insight view, read some reviews and so on. For instance, Durango recommended iPayTotal as their first suggestion – a bad reputation and lots of scam reports, so that is a total no.
The next recommendation was eMerchant – a pretty responsive service that could take my business with no issues at all. I got in touch with the platform and got a reply within a week – a representative insisted to give me a call and discuss my business needs more. The third recommendation was Nochex, who lacks good customer service – a week later, I was still waiting for a reply. It does have good features though. Even better, they wanted to put us on their 3rd party solution for faster approval, it took 3 weeks to get a price quote from them which finally went out to be 4 times more expensive compared to PayPal. Alone the RU 195 PER MONTH, WHOAAA you must pay to use their payment gateway is crazy. On top of this you pay 5% processing fee and 0.25€ per transaction and not to forget a setup fee of EUR 495! Anyway, if this is your last chance to get processing (which this Lithuania company knows) it is still a valid solution, you just have to bleed every month for their favor.
Generally speaking, Durango will make your life easier, but some of its recommendations are sketchy, so you still have to do your homework and figure out what you truly need. From some points of view, it is a time consuming job, but at least you have a good list of choices to look at. They are also given based on your business needs, which is a plus.
eCommpay is based in Cyprus and offers access to a variety of different solutions – payouts, global acquiring, open banking and more than 100 payment methods. It has a few different packages, but it also provides tailored pricing based on your business needs. This is definitely a plus – pay for what you need only, rather than get a package with lots of useless features.
The merchant dashboard is one of its greatest pluses. Data security and payment monitoring are not to be overlooked either, while the payment (checkout) page stands out in the crowd. It looks like a great choice, so I signed up straight away. The application is fairly simple and you will have to wait for a reply – it took eCommpay about four days to get back to me.
Paysera is one of the popular names out there and quite common in our community, so I thought – why not? There are more payment methods at your disposal, a mobile application and great currency exchange rates. It allows dealing in 184 different countries and 32 currencies – what else can you ask for?
It sounds like a good service and it has a good reputation, so I thought to give it a try. You will have to apply for a merchant account and wait for a reply. So said, so done. Four business days later, I got a reply asking for more information. After all, I deal with cryptocurrency, so the platform was a bit anxious about it and asked for more details.
A few more business days later, I got another reply. Now, the customer service is great, but your business must be quite traditional. If it is a bit out of the ordinary, chances are you will get rejected. It has to be a traditional business – you are more likely to get an account if you run an online shop than if you are a cryptocurrency broker, you get the idea.
ProMerchant has a good reputation among high risk merchants, as it accepts pretty much any type of business out there. It offers POS systems, e-commerce solutions, phone and mail orders, mobile solutions and so on. You have a free terminal placement program, rolling contracts and a personalized support team. It sounds perfect, so it is totally worth a try.
Prices are quite transparent, but you still have to apply to get a more individualized quote – slightly bigger or smaller than the actual pricing list. You need to provide a few details about your business – not much, so expect a reply back. Now, once they get the application, someone will get in touch with you to open the account or request more details.
Just like Paysera, ProMerchant is a bit anxious about businesses people cannot understand. If you have an innovative idea, you might get rejected. Sure, the platform is also aimed at high risk businesses, but whoever processes your application must actually understand what it is about. From this point of view, getting rejected begins with a slow wait – if you are accepted, you will get a reply within a few days only.
Credorax operates digitally only. Basically, there is no paperwork involved, but just digital signatures and electronic documentation. The service is quite personal and tailored to your business needs. Payments are also optimized according to your business needs. In order to apply, I had to complete a form on the official website.
As I applied, I received an automatic email just minutes later. This is where the actual application takes place. You will be asked about your company, history with card payments, total processing volume, registration country, year of incorporation and so on. More importantly – and this is what makes the difference, you will be asked for a description of your business model.
I learned that more conventional businesses will get a reply within a few days only – the customer service is quite knowledgeable and will give you some good choices for your merchant account. If you come up with an unusual business that most people cannot understand, chances are you will not get a reply – it is a way of saying that you are rejected.
What to keep in mind when trying to open a merchant account
There are more things to consider when looking for a merchant account – especially if you want a new alternative to the classic PayPal. From personal experience, I believe that providing as much information as possible will help. You need to be specific – no doubt about it. If you are totally new in business and your monthly turnover and transactions are unknown, there is a decent chance to get rejected.
This is what makes this venture so challenging. If you have a bit of experience, be crystal clear about it. Mention the ticket price, the amount of charge backs you get and so on. Even if you are asked for a few words about your business only, you can save time by providing all the info – no need to wait for replies asking for it. Plus, you are more likely to convince the provider to get accepted.
If your website is not relevant enough and people must login to access everything, you might want to create a random account for the provider to explore the website and services. The provider must be able to login directly, without needing to register. Also, get prepared to face lots of questions, as well as potential rejections if you run a less conventional business.
Since most merchant accounts are tailored to the business needs, such rates are normally discussed if the business is actually approved. The provider takes a risk by having you on and this risk will weigh in the negotiation process. As a direct consequence of this trend, newer businesses are likely to pay higher rates or face more rejections.
Now, think about why you are avoiding PayPal or other famous providers – it could be the fees or perhaps some new policies. With these ideas in mind, I recommend trying to get more merchant accounts. Split your transactions effectively between them. This way, you will never miss sales should one of the providers quit on you. The same rule applies if they increase fees or change policies.
Unexpected situations can arise when least expected. As if all these were not enough, you know already how difficult it is to get a merchant account. The more options you have, the better, so try to get approved before actually needing a new provider.