How to Select The Online Payment Service Provider That's Right for You

Payment service provider

Are you looking for an easier way to accept payments than waiting for cheques in the mail?

Are you hoping to set up an online store, and want to learn more about which payment processor will best suit your needs?

Many small organizations are initially intimidated by choosing an online payment service provider, but it’s a decision that can make your life (and that of your customers or members) a lot easier.

Once you decide to begin accepting online payments on your website, the next step is choosing a payment service that meets your needs. There are many payment service providers out there, with some offering multiple payment services or systems — but there are also many differences between the various online payment systems that can help you decide which one is right for you. So, to help you narrow down your options, I’ve prepared this list of questions to help you figure out which payment provider is the best fit for your organization. 

And if you’re a membership organization or nonprofit, consider starting a free trial of Wild Apricot. Our all-in-one platform not only allows you to take online payments, but also to build a website, online store, and events — and much, much more!

What is a Payment Service Provider? 

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of which payment provider is best for you, here’s a quick refresher on what exactly a payment service provider is.

A payment service provider, otherwise known as a PSP, gives your website a way to accept online payments so that your customers can pay by direct debit, credit card, or other methods directly online. Payment services connect you, the merchant, with customers who want to pay for your services as well as the credit cards and banks from which the funds are transferred. 

If you’d like to learn more about the payment process or learn more about which payment processor might suit you, check out our full guide to online payments.

Table of Contents

Are they compatible with your existing site software?

First and foremost, you need to figure out which payment systems are supported by any third-party software that you use on your website, like Wild Apricot, Shopify, or Cvent. If they’re not compatible with your existing setup, you won’t be able to use them without changing your software. (Wild Apricot also offers our own payment processor, so you’re assured of compatibility.)

Do they support merchants in your country?

Another easy way to chop down your list of possible payment partners is to eliminate those that don’t support organizations operating in your country.

Several payment providers such as Authorize.Net, BluePay, Global Payments, and Moneris require you to have a merchant account in the United States or Canada, and Google Wallet is available only to merchants in the US.

If you use Wild Apricot, you can also use Wild Apricot Payments in the US and Canada (and if you’d like to see which other payment service providers we support, click here.)

If your organization is based in the UK, then you can count Shrill, IATS, and PayPal among your options. 

Do they support the currency you want to use?

If the members and supporters of your organization are concentrated in a particular country, you should make sure the payment providers under consideration support the currency you want to use in your transactions. 

Most support a wide range of currencies, but BluePay, Global Payments, and Wild Apricot Payments support only US and Canadian dollars, while Authorize.Net and IATS support British pounds as well. Google Wallet supports only US dollars and British pounds. In contrast, 2Checkout, Moneris, Shrill, and PayPal all support dozens of different currencies.

What kind of fees do they charge?

Now that you’ve cut down your list to a manageable size, you should start comparing the fees charged by the different payment systems.

All payment service providers charge a fee per transaction. Some payment systems also charge a monthly fee (Authorize.Net, Moneris, PayPal Payments Advanced & Pro, PayPal Payflow Pro), as well as a setup fee (Authorize.Net, BluePay, Moneris). In contrast, Wild Apricot Payments doesn't charge a set up or a monthly fee.

The transaction fee can be a flat charge and/or a percentage of the transaction value. For example, PayPal typically charges a fee of $.30 per transaction plus somewhere between 2.2% and 2.9% of the value of the transaction. A transaction with a face value of $100 would cost you between $2.50 and $3.20 to process, depending on the number of transactions your site processed that month.

What kind of transaction volume do you expect?

Which brings us to the next factor to take into consideration: how many transactions you expect your site to handle in a month.

The percentage fee charged by payment providers is typically a sliding scale that decreases as the number of transactions increase. So, depending on the volume of transactions processed, one payment system might suddenly make more financial sense than another.

If your expected transaction volume is low – say, less than 15 per month – consider a provider whose scale is the lowest at the top end, like PayPal or Google Wallet (2.9% each) rather than Moneris (3.5%) or 2Checkout (5.5%). If you expect to be handling a high volume of transactions, look for the lowest rates at the bottom end of the scale, like Moneris (1.8%) and Google Wallet (1.9%).

Where do payments take place?

The payment systems that charge setup fees typically allow you to process online payments at your website. The other payment systems will transfer customers to their website where the payment is processed and their services are advertised. PayPal, for example, uses their online payment form to aggressively promote the use of PayPal accounts while still permitting the use of credit and debit cards.

It may or may not be important to you to provide visitors to your site with a seamless, one-stop experience. If it is, Wild Apricot Payments allows your customers to pay onsite without needing to leave their Wild Apricot instance.

What kind of payment mechanisms do they support?

Another important difference between payment systems is the kind of payments they accept. Most systems allow your customers to use their credit cards – some support Visa and Mastercard but not American Express – and some allow them to use debit cards. With PayPal systems, the payer can choose between using a credit card or their PayPal account. Google Wallet, however, requires purchasers to sign in using a Google Wallet account, something your customers may not already have.

Do they support recurring payments?

Most but not all payment systems support recurring payments — the ability to automatically charge fees on a regular, repeating schedule. However, recurring payments are not supported by Global Payments, Google Wallet, or PayPal Payments Advanced, and may not be supported by third-party software you use to handle transactions on your site. 

If you’re a nonprofit or membership organization, this may be a crucial feature as it allows you to charge membership dues or set up a monthly giving program without any effort for you or your members. If you use Wild Apricot Payments, this feature is available in Wild Apricot.

Do they focus on small and/or non-profit organizations?

If you’re a nonprofit or membership organization, you may have different needs than other kinds of organizations, and some payment providers recognize this. IATS, for example, provides both a merchant account and a payment gateway service exclusively for non-profit organizations. We have a full guide on how to select a nonprofit payment processor here.

Others, like Google Wallet, allow you to process tax-exempt donations, something not all payment systems can do. PayPal offers several different payment systems – Standard, Advanced, Pro, Express Checkout, and Payflow Pro – with different features and pricing for different sized organizations.

However, if you’re looking for more than just a payment service provider, you may want to consider using an all-in-one platform that also offers payments, such as Wild Apricot. It provides your organization with a website, an online store, a membership directory, and much more. Start your free trial today!

What other features do they offer?

Depending on your needs, you may be interested in additional features such as anti-fraud protection and chargeback management. Some features like these come at a price, either an additional fee or a higher percentage rate.

There are, of course, many other factors to consider when choosing an online payment partner, including the level and quality of their support, how many years they have been operating, and their overall reputation in the industry. Also, with some payment systems, the process of opening an account can be complex and time consuming.

However, the most important considerations continue to be:

  • Do they support organizations located in your country?
  • Do they support the currency you want to use in your transactions?
  • What kind of fees do they charge?
  • What volume of transactions do you expect on your website?
  • Are payments are processed on your website or theirs?
  • What kind of payments do they accept?
  • Do they support recurring payments?

Once you’ve answered all these questions to your satisfaction, you’re sure to find the right payment service provider for your organization. 

Note that if you decide to use Wild Apricot, an additional fee may apply for accounts inside the US and Canada who choose not to use Wild Apricot Payments.

See for yourself how easy to use and affordable Wild Apricot is:


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