When most people think of online payments, one name comes to mind: PayPal.
But for all PayPal’s strengths, it’s a bad idea to rely on it as the single system to accept payments on your site. Monopolies are never healthy, and you need to diversify your payment channels.
Why You Need PayPal Alternatives
There are plenty of reasons why you should support multiple payment options, but here are several of the most important ones:
- Your partners or customers can’t always make or accept PayPal payments. This is the major reason to offer payment alternatives. There are always people who can’t (or won’t) pay or receive money via PayPal. In this case, if you are not open to alternatives, you simply lose these customers or partners. On the other hand, you need to make some estimates if the gain is worth the extra effort. It might turn out that offering more options doesn’t increase your income but does increase your costs and hassle.
- Your PayPal account could be blocked. We have all heard horror stories about PayPal blocking accounts for various reasons, or for no reason at all (so the victims claim). Even if these stories are not 100% true, it would still be a nightmare if it happened to you. You shouldn’t put all your payment eggs in one basket–the risk is too high.
- You need a safer way to receive payments, especially for larger sums. PayPal is very convenient for small amounts but if you regularly send or receive thousands of dollars, then you are better of with other forms of payments, such as checks or wire transfer.
- You want to reduce costs. PayPal fees are certainly not the lowest in the industry, so you might end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month in commissions. There are lower cost alternatives but unfortunately they have other limitations. In fact, if reducing costs is your main reason to look for PayPal alternatives, your options are limited.
If any of these reasons apply to you, then you should definitely consider using other online payment systems to supplement or even replace PayPal.
Best PayPal Alternatives
There is no single PayPal alternative that is best in all cases–the right option depends on your needs.
Since PayPal is global, a real alternative needs to be global, too. The best services that can be used for international transfers are: Skrill, Google Wallet, Payoneer and Payza.
In addition to these, there are dozens of local and regional ones payment processors. These services could be good for you, though if you have international clients or partners they’re not much use.
Skrill, formerly known as Moneybookers, is one of the few true alternatives to PayPal. Though it is global in nature, it’s targeted mainly at U.K. and the other European countries because the merchant fees for these regions are more favorable than for the rest of the world.
Skrill is one of the more popular PayPal alternatives, so if you want to send money to somebody, he or she might have already heard about Skrill, or even have an account. Skrill is also widely accepted by many top websites and service providers, including Skype, eBay and oDesk.
Skrill is easy to use and it allows to transfer your account balance onto a prepaid debit card almost right away.
The fees for personal transfers are very low, though they very from country to country. With a 1% sending fee (capped at a maximum of €10) and no receiving fees, it’s one of the best offers on the market.
With merchants, the fees are much higher, though still acceptable. You can check the fees here. Currently their rates range from 1.4% + £0.20 for U.K. merchants with more than €50,000 monthly sales volume, to 3.9% + €0.35 for non European merchants with monthly sales volume of up to €2,500.
2. Google Wallet
Google Wallet, formerly known as Google Checkout, is another good online payment system with global reach. It might not have all the features of PayPal but for personal and business payments it does a good job.
Google Wallet’s fees are reasonable–it’s free to send money directly from your bank account or from your Google Wallet balance. If you want to send money via credit card, then the fee is 2.9%. Unlike PayPal, it’s also free to you receive money or transfer it to your bank account.
There are some per transaction and other limits ($10,000 USD per single transaction and no more than $50,000 USD per 5 day period) but they are something to worry about only if you have a huge turnover (in which case you will most likely be using wire transfer anyway). One of the limits I personally find peculiar is the $500 limit per 30 days for uploading money to your Wallet Balance with a credit or debit card, but this is hardly a deal breaker.
Payoneer is very similar to the other international services on this list. Probably what makes it truly different is that with it you can get a virtual U.S. bank account. This is of great importance to everybody who is not in the US but who needs to get money in a U.S. bank. (If this might pose legal issues in your country, check with a local lawyer.)
As for fees, Payoneer is not cheap. First, it has an annual fee of $29.95. Second, withdrawal from an ATM costs about $3. Third, there are transaction fees (they differ based on volume and location).
Despite its high fees, Payoneer has managed to become popular. Many sites now accept it, and some of the best affiliate marketing networks have embraced it as well.
Payza (formerly known as AlertPay) is very similar to the preceeding payment options. It is available in more than 190 countries. It offers generally low fees (though this varies on your location and the type of the transaction) and some of the services are even free. It seems to be the least popular of the PayPal alternatives but still many sites accept it.
Bonus: Local Payment Systems
The availability of local payment services is astonishing, especially for the U.S. Some of the best options include: Stripe, Paymate, Amazon Payments, and Dwolla.
Of all the non-global payment alternatives Stripe is the most promising. Currently they cover the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Ireland but they are also available in beta in another 10 or so countries. At 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, their fees are similar to PayPal’s. Stripe also has great customization capabilities that might be of interest to developers.
Paymate is a good option for sellers in New Zealand and Australia, though cards from 60-plus countries are also accepted. They have relatively high monthly fees and transaction fees. However, one of the advantages of Paymate is that you can use it to collect payments on eBay.com.au.
Amazon Payments is a good option if you are looking for a credit and debit card processing and an eCommerce platform. It’s an option for U.S. sellers only and it’s fairly pricey for low sales volumes. You can use Amazon Payments on Amazon.com, of course, and some other sites also accept it as a form of payment.
If you are looking for a PayPal alternative mainly for personal payments and you are in the U.S., then Dwolla is probably your best option. With a cost of just $0.25 per transaction and no fees for transactions under $10, it beats all the other systems in terms of fees.
In addition to these systems, there are dozens of payment processors that target particular countries, so do your homework if you only need to sell in-country.
There’s No Perfect PayPal Replacement
While there are plenty of online payment systems, none can really replace PayPal completely.
Your best bet is using alternatives to reduce your reliance on PayPal while still offering PayPal as an option.
If you try to eliminate it completely, chances are good that most of your clients or partners won’t follow you.