Top 4 WooCommerce Payment Gateways

Setting up a WooCommerce payment gateway can feel like a daunting process.

With multiple options available at various price points, narrowing down your options isn’t always easy.

Fortunately, there are some helpful resources available to guide you through choosing and setting up payment gateways with WooCommerce. Once you understand the pros and cons of each popular option, you’ll be well-positioned to make an informed decision.

In this article, we’ll explain how WooCommerce payment gateways work. We’ll also review four popular gateway options, and discuss the plugins that are available for each one. Let’s dive in! 

What Is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway is a service designed for merchants that handles payment authorization and processing. While payment gateways differ in features and functionality, they are generally used for credit or debit card payments, as well as direct payments such as ACH. 

It’s important to note, however, that payment gateways are not just for eCommerce shops. They can be set up for online stores in addition to brick-and-mortar shops, or you can manage a combination of the two through Point of Sale (POS) devices. 

Either way, payment gateways facilitate the transfer of information that takes place between the payment device or portal and a front-end processor, such as a bank. The portal itself could be a mobile phone or a website (just to name a few examples).  

WooCommerce Payment Options

WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that enables you to set up an eCommerce store and allows you to manage products, orders, and even coupons from your dashboard. However, accepting online payments through your store also requires one or more payment gateways. Without them, you can only take cash or checks.

A WooCommerce payment gateway is a direct channel connecting your store to your merchant account with a service such as PayPal or Stripe. The payment gateways and merchant accounts you choose will depend on multiple factors, including: 

  • Where your business and customers are based.
  • What currencies you’d like to accept.
  • The plugins available for integrating your site with various payment gateways.

It’s important to understand that without a payment gateway, you won’t be able to accept online payments. Fortunately, while the merchant accounts may involve fees, the integration plugins for WooCommerce are often free or inexpensive.

4 WooCommerce Credit Card Plugins

The most popular type of payment gateways used with WooCommerce are integrated via credit card plugins. These are plugins specifically designed to work with merchant accounts that specialize in credit card transactions.

Put simply, merchant accounts process credit card payments on behalf of your business. This adds a layer of security, by using a specialized third-party service to validate and process every transaction. These merchant accounts can be set up to work with WooCommerce automatically.

Let’s look at how the process works:

  1. First, WooCommerce generates the order a customer has requested.
  2. The customer confirms the order and goes through a checkout process.
  3. This triggers the payment gateway, and makes a connection with the merchant account.
  4. The customer then enters their payment information, which is read by the merchant account.
  5. Finally, the merchant account processes all of the purchase data, and either accepts or declines the payment.

If payment is accepted, the gateway triggers a “success pathway” to deliver the order to the customer. The merchant account deducts funds from the customer and credits it to your account. All of this information is also stored within WooCommerce, where you can access and manage your customers’ orders whenever you like.

However, if payment is declined, the gateway notifies the customer that their order didn’t go through, and does not let them complete the process.

The best way to set up this payment method is by using a dedicated credit card plugin. There are a number of elements to consider when choosing a suitable solution, such as:

  • Security. Credit card information should be securely saved within your merchant account, rather than your local website. This helps ensure that you’re not liable if your website is compromised.
  • Reliability. Not all plugins are backed by a reliable company or developer. That means your choice here is important. Fortunately, WooCommerce lists trusted plugin developers on its site.
  • Flexible options. For small stores, you likely won’t need many options. However, you should always check to see if your desired features are supported by the payment system. For example, not all merchant accounts support recurring payments or subscriptions.
  • Cost. To ascertain whether a solution is financially viable, calculate the total monthly, annual, and one-time fees incurred. Of course, the cost should not outweigh the amount of income you expect to receive.

To elaborate on that last factor, each payment gateway will have different fees attached, possibly alongside a cost for the plugins themselves. Next up, we’ll take a look at four different payment gateways and how they connect to WooCommerce, so you can get a sense of what’s available and how much it will cost.

1. Stripe

Stripe is a company that focuses on developers. It approaches payment gateway technology through a programming lens, to offer scalable solutions that easily integrate with many other applications.  

Key Features: 

  • Transaction fees. Stripe carries a 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction fee for standard services. 
  • Checkout experience. This gateway offers an embeddable checkout page to help you optimize the customer experience, in addition to a custom user interface toolkit. 
  • POS systems. Stripe Terminals work only with pre-certified card readers, but the gateway itself accepts everything from chip cards to ApplePay. 

If you’re looking to integrate Stripe into your website, there is a free plugin developed by the WooCommerce team that you can use.

When you install this plugin, you’ll bring the benefit of Stripe’s recurring subscription functionality to your website. Additionally, customers will be able to save their payment details in Stripe when they check out through your online store—saving them time and hassle if they purchase from you again.

Want an even easier way to harness the power of Stripe on your eCommerce sites? WP Engine’s eCommerce hosting is deeply integrated with Stripe Connect, which offers the same world-class payment gateway Stripe is known for, but optimized for widespread transactions on a large scale.

Stripe Connect is easy to set up and configure, and it provides added security for transacting in WooCommerce as well as superior ownership over your transactions and data. You can find out more about Stripe Connect here.

2. PayPal

PayPal is one of the most trusted names in online payment gateways. The company has been around for 20 years and is very popular with consumers. 

Key Features: 

  • Transaction fees. For mobile and in-store transactions, you’ll pay 2.7% per United States-based card swipes and 2.9% plus $0.30 for online payments and invoicing. 
  • Checkout experience. While you can pay for a custom, seamless checkout page, the PayPal button is free and takes users to PayPal to complete their purchases. 
  • POS systems. You can choose from a wide variety of card readers, ranging in price from $19.99 to $99.99. Or you can try out POS accessories and all-in-one systems from a range of PayPal partners. 

When it comes to WooCommerce integration, PayPal offers a free plugin for your online store. This makes it easy to add PayPal as a payment option for your customers.

Created by WooCommerce, this plugin offers a seamless purchasing experience. Customers will be able to use a trusted and familiar payment gateway within your online store. 

3. Square

Known originally for developing compact credit card swiping technology that could be plugged into a mobile phone, Square has continued to develop both payment software and hardware. 

Key Features: 

  • Transaction fees. You’ll pay a 2.9% fee, plus $0.30 per transaction. There are no other monthly fees for Square’s eCommerce solution.
  • Checkout experience. As a seller, you’ll find your preset inventory options the same whether you’re taking a payment online, on your mobile phone, or at a Square POS terminal. 
  • POS systems. You can also purchase a Square register or an iPad-friendly terminal. These range from $199 to $799, and monthly plans are available. 

In addition, the WooSquare plugin is designed to integrate and synchronize your WooCommerce products with Square.

WooSquare comes in a free version, as well as a premium tier for $69. The main difference between the two options involves the way you can synchronize your products between services. The free version has various manual synchronization options, while the premium version offers automated synchronization.

4. Amazon Pay

As a highly-trusted name in online retail, Amazon also offers a digital payment gateway option for eCommerce sites. Designed to cover just about any needs businesses and organizations of all sizes might have, Amazon Pay offers a broad selection of features.

Key Features: 

  • Transaction fees. Amazon offers its payment gateway services for 2.9% plus $0.30 per domestic U.S. transaction. 
  • Checkout experience. Customers can use Amazon Pay seamlessly without creating a new account, and might be more willing to complete a purchase with a recognized and trusted name on the checkout process. 
  • POS systems. Amazon Pay does not currently offer a POS system. 

A free WooCommerce integration plugin does exist for Amazon Pay. This tool makes it easy to integrate Amazon Pay with your WooCommerce products, including subscription items and recurring payment options.

The Amazon name brings a pretty powerful sense of security and trust along with it. Adding it as your payment gateway might be the differentiator you need to boost conversions and purchase completion on your website.

WooCommerce Payment Gateway Integrations

Adding a payment gateway means installing its associated WooCommerce plugin, and entering in your account information. While each plugin is different, integration usually follows the same process:

  1. For a free plugin, navigate to the Plugins > Add Plugin screen within WordPress. For premium tools, you may need to download the plugin’s .zip file directly from the developer.
  2. Follow the installation and activation procedure within WordPress, which will vary depending on the option you chose in the first step.
  3. Follow the plugin’s provided instructions for configuration within WooCommerce.

Successful payment gateway integration will rely on your site being up to date, and you’ll need an active merchant account that’s properly associated within WooCommerce. In addition, your site needs to respond quickly to any API calls made by the merchant account while it processes payments, so it’s important to have reliable hosting for your website.

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