It seems like everyone has a PayPal account, but most people think of it for transferring money to friends, storing funds, or sending invoices. But PayPal For Business is also a useful ecommerce tool for integrating with online stores, accepting payments, and even getting paid on the go. In this PayPal review, we're going to look at what PayPal offers for business credit card processing. Sure, you could use the system as a freelancer and collect payments for your services, but this is an entirely different type of transaction. Our goal here is to uncover everything about PayPal as a merchant account, payment processor, and multi-channel sales option.
Throughout our in-depth PayPal review, we outline how well the payment processor integrates with other systems, what you can expect to pay in fees, and what types of selling options are available, like processing payments from online marketplaces.
The best part about PayPal is its security, particularly when selling through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. In fact, its early support for secure eBay transactions is one of the main reasons the PayPal user count has consistently increased since PayPal's inception. They offer verified buyer and seller protection to prevent scams, and ensure that neither side feels uncomfortable transacting with strangers online.
PayPal also excels in its global accessibility. Whereas many payment gateways restrict use to merchants in certain countries, PayPal has a long history of supporting over 200 markets and 100+ currencies. You can also accept and convert international payments with ease, making PayPal an ideal solution for international business.
Keep reading our detailed PayPal review to understand exactly how much you're going to spend, and what types of online businesses should use PayPal.
Top PayPal Features and Tools
PayPal offers several tools and plans for online businesses to accept payments in their stores. Here's what's available:
- PayPal Website Payments – A simple module to accept debit and credit cards through an online store, even if customers don't have PayPal. This is the main checkout tool from PayPal, and it integrates with popular ecommerce platforms like Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, and Wix.
- PayPal Business Point of Sale – Also called “PayPal Zettle,” this offers a complete point of sale system for accepting physical purchases, tracking sales, and syncing offline and online purchases.
- Marketplace Payments – Tell eBay, Etsy, and other marketplace customers they can trust you as a merchant with PayPal's checkout. The Marketplace Payments module offers instant integrations, added protection, and rapid processing.
- PayPal.me – A mobile app for collecting business and personal payments on the go.
- PayPal App Center – A collection of various add-ons to extend the functionality of your payment processing. Options include subscriptions, virtual terminals, digital goods, business debit cards, QR codes, virtual card numbers, business loans, and dispute management.
- PayPal Credit – A “Bill Me Later” tool for merchants to offer customers.
- PayPal Fundraising – An online payments module to attract and collect donations with international support and lower transaction fees.
- PayPal Business Loan – A fast way to get cash for your business.
- PayPal Invoicing – Freelancers and contractors can send out quick invoices for the services they perform.
PayPal Ease of Use
Is PayPal easy to use?
The PayPal website is historically difficult to navigate, with far too many links and constantly changing pages for new services and fees. However, the basic payment processing tool has remained intuitive, glitch-free, and easy to implement on any ecommerce store.
You can grab a simple PayPal button (by using the PayPal Checkout app) and start selling products from any website. Even if you don't have a shopping cart, the PayPal button offers the flexibility to place it anywhere on your website, essentially converting any type of site into an online store.
And PayPal's Website Payments feature expands upon that simplicity with a complete online store experience, sending customers through a shopping cart, checkout, and payment processing area.
We also found that the PayPal mobile app is just as smooth as Square, and they give you a free swiper to plug into your phone's headphone jack. PayPal provides an excellent mobile payments solution, and it integrates with your online store, POS, or whatever type of configuration you have.
Other highlights of the interface include PayPal's sales reporting, always sleek invoicing interface, and a beautiful new app store that replaced its previously endless list of products into a more digestible app store.
Just be careful on the PayPal website; our PayPal review uncovered a maze of information that's often contradictory, linking to old pages, or simply confusing because of their wide range of offerings.
PayPal Pros and Cons
PayPal stands out as one of the best-known solutions for managing transactions in today's digital world. However, just because a solution is popular doesn't mean that it's going to be the right option for every business.
PayPal makes it easier for customers to make secure purchases online without having to rely on their bank account.. It's also possible to tie a debit card or credit card to PayPal in case you run out of money in your account. This makes PayPal one of the more reliable choices for a virtual money transfer. However, it lacks in some areas.
PayPal customers are constantly complaining about the company's lack of customer support, and issues with high-risk industries, among other things. Some of the most common pros and cons worth noting from our PayPal review include:
- Trusted by consumers around the world
- One of the most popular ways to make a payment online
- Industry standard processing fees
- Quick Buy buttons and full checkout modules
- A large app center to extend your online store and payment processing
- Support for selling subscriptions and recurring payments
- Support for international sellers and multiple currencies
- Great developer tools for integrations and growth
- Extensive integrations with countless ecommerce platforms
- Ideal for low-volume merchants who don't take too many payments
- Suitable for an all-in-one payment system
- Options to activate buyer and seller protection
- Ties into accounting and financial tools
- Suitable for use via mobile devices
- Available hardware and card readers
- Options for borrowing money and capital
- Inconsistent support for customers
- Confusing website that makes their simple products tricky to understand
- A lengthy list of fees, making it tough to figure out how much you're charged for each transaction
- Extremely high fees for international transfers when compared to competitors
- Convoluted dispute and resolution process
- It's often harder to provide refunds to customers when they pay through PayPal
- Can, in rare cases, suddenly shut down your account
As mentioned in the pros and cons, PayPal tends to follow industry standards for its basic processing fees. In the past, that fee was 2.9% + a fixed fee ($0.30 fixed fee in the US), but PayPal has slowly increased transaction fees to reach 3.49% + a fixed fee; that fixed fee depends on the country in which you conduct business.
When straying away from the standard merchant fees, PayPal pricing gets complicated. PayPal has an extensive list of merchant fees based on the type of transaction, location, medium, and currency.
We won't cover them all, but here are the merchant fee essentials:
- PayPal Checkout transactions: 3.49% + fixed fee ($0.49 fixed in the US)
- Send/Receive Money for Goods/Services: 2.89% + fixed fee
- Standard Debit and Credit Card Fees: 2.99% + fixed fee
- Invoicing: 3.49% + fixed fee
- International transactions: The standard domestic fee (3.49% + fixed fee) plus 1.50%.
- Donation transactions: 2.89% + fixed fee (add 1.50% for international)
- PayPal Here transactions: 2.7% to 3.5% + fixed fee
- Chargebacks: 0.40% to 0.60% per transaction
PayPal Fee Calculator
Consider using our PayPal fee calculator to understand how much you’re likely to pay when processing ecommerce transactions:
Keep in mind that this pricing varies drastically from past merchant fees you may have experienced with PayPal. Our PayPal review showed that these ecommerce products are deprecated or still in use but not marketed much by PayPal:
- Payflow Pro
- Payments Advanced
- Payments Pro
- Virtual Terminal
So, you might have access to a product like Payment Advanced, and PayPal still supports it, but they're drifting away from all of those options in favor of the all-encompassing PayPal Website Payments product.
If you're still using something like Payflow Pro, Payments Advanced, or Payments Pro, they all have monthly fees ranging from $5 to $30.
The usual problem that people have with PayPal is that thousands of customers have talked about horror stories of funds tied up in the PayPal risk department. It seems like the company has eased up on this throttle, but there's still the looming possibility that thousands of dollars could randomly get frozen inside your PayPal account.
That said, the PayPal customer support team is pretty solid, but most of your time is going to be spent on the community forum or knowledge base. PayPal clearly wants you to figure out most of the problems on your own, so they direct you through a considerable amount of documentation that could very well resolve your issues.
A PayPal blog gets published consistently, so you can find articles about updates and tips. Connecting with PayPal on social media is possible, but we recommend going through phone or email. The response times are sub-par, and the customer support staff clearly outsourced, but having direct access through phone and email is definitely better than nothing.
One huge benefit of working through PayPal is that you can usually complete a quick Google search to fix your problem. It has so many users that people are talking about it online quite a bit.
Extending PayPal with the PayPal App Center
Aside from taking online payments, PayPal can also help with a wide range of other transactional experiences. You can access your own PayPal card reader and use PayPal for currency conversion. What's nice is that most of these extras have been converted into apps for you to install whenever you need them from the PayPal App Center.
Here are just some of the extra products and services to explore.
- PayPal Payouts: If you're hiring freelancers, employees, or contractors, and you want to pay them via PayPal, you can. The PayPal Payouts app sends multiple payments at once, rather than making one payment at a time. Sending various payments also means that you save some cash on standard rates.
- PayPal Business Debit Card: Sign up for a business debit card to get cash back on all spending and to deposit business revenue into the account.
- Subscriptions: Offer trial periods for certain products and create flexible subscription plans for products from your online store, all processed by the PayPal checkout system.
- PayPal.Me: Share a simple link to quickly get paid for your products or services. No need for an online store.
- PayPal Zettle: PayPal's modern POS system with an advanced app that syncs with your store, and hardware such as card readers, receipt printers, and cash drawers.
- Virtual Terminal: A method of accepting payments from any device as long as you have internet access. It uses “card-not-present” authorization and accepts all major debit and credit cards.
- Donations: Accept onetime donations or customize the app for recurring contributions.
- Sell On Social: Post products on social media sites and stay protected with PayPal checkout tools.
- QR Codes: Show a QR code to customers for them to scan and pay you with PayPal on their own devices.
- Gift Cards: Generate digital gift cards, then sell them from your online store.
- Store Cash: Run an automated discount generator to recapture leads and reward customers without having to create the discounts yourself.
- PayPal Shipping: Discounted shipping labels, streamlined pickups, and package shipping in one dashboard.
- Happy Returns by PayPal: Offer in-person returns to thousands of “Return Bar locations around the US.
Integrating with Ecommerce Marketplaces
We know PayPal for its direct integration with eBay, but it also features a collection of apps for linking to other marketplaces, some of which include:
Technically, shoppers have the option of using their PayPal balances to pay for products on Amazon, but there's no PayPal integration or direct shopping cart tool, since Amazon has its own distinct checkout.
You'll also notice that many popular marketplaces already have PayPal as a default payment method when you create an account, so even though you won't see an Etsy or eBay app on PayPal, it's available to offer your customers in both of those marketplaces.
PayPal Developer Tools – The Basics
During our PayPal review, we also found the company's developer tools rather appealing. PayPal has been supporting developers in the digital landscape for a while now. However, the company doesn't stand out as the most reliable option on the market. PayPal doesn't match companies like Stripe and Braintree in these areas.
However, it's still an excellent choice to build a more customized payment solution for your business.
Features for developers include:
- PayPal Checkout Tools: This allows you to use a developer to implement your PayPal checkout experience into your website. The tools include a variety of integration options focused on apps, mobile, and desktop web browsers.
- PayPal Subscriptions: If you're hoping to run a subscription-based business with PayPal, consider the Subscriptions solution for developers. These tools make it easier to create billing agreements and plans that automate the subscription process.
- PayPal Invoicing: While you can use the web interface from PayPal to create invoices, you can also try the API for developers to design and create invoices you send directly to your customers.
- 3rd-Party Integrations: PayPal offers solutions to merge with and create external shopping cart systems and plugins.
- Multiparty Marketplace: This is an option for marketplace store owners who want to include a payment solution for the marketplace as well as an onboarding guide for users.
- Payouts: Develop a custom solution to generate mass payments to non-employee workers like contractors and freelancers.
- Disputes: Create a custom, automated dispute resolution center.
- Reporting: Build advanced insights catered to your company, with transaction-level analytics and more.
- Identity: Construct a way for customers to access your online store by only logging in with their PayPal credentials.
Those are the standard developer tools, and here are the APIs and SDKs available for your developer:
- Payment Data Transfer
- Instant Payment Notification
- Braintree SDKs
- Donate SDK
- Braintree GraphQL API
- NVP/SOAP APIs
- REST APIs
It's also worth mentioning that all developers get access to an API executor, PayPal sandbox, and demo portal for testing.
PayPal Funding and Capital Solutions
As we mentioned above, one of the things that makes PayPal so impressive is the fact that the company can offer more than just an immersive online payment experience. With PayPal, you also have access to business funding.
The first thing you need to know about PayPal for payments, is that the money from your transactions will be available almost instantly within your PayPal account, you can then spend the amount that you earn anywhere online that accepts PayPal, or transfer the funds directly to your bank account.
PayPal also offers its own debit card for business users, which is available through MasterCard. This gives business owners an easy way to access cash from the PayPal account without having to wait for your funds to transfer. This card can also be a good option if you need to keep your personal and business accounts separate for tax purposes.
As for actually gaining capital to fund your business, PayPal offers two options:
The PayPal Working Capital option offers:
- One fixed fee that you can often choose
- Automatic repayments pulled from your sales
- A calculator and consultation to determine the size of your loan
- No credit check required
The PayPal Business Loan offering provides:
- A tailored loan solution with your own dashboard, necessary documents, and a personal loan agent
- Options to choose your loan terms and amount based on your eligibility
- A streamlined application that analyses business health
- Predictable payments that pull on a weekly basis from your bank account
- One fixed fee
- Loan approval within minutes
Top PayPal Alternatives
PayPal isn't for all businesses. Our PayPal review showed that some users think the fees are too high, or the online store tools are too confusing. Regardless of your reasoning, it makes sense to explore PayPal alternatives. We also find it prudent to consider pairing PayPal with another payment gateway, since you can then provide multiple payment methods to customers.
Here are some notable PayPal alternatives to consider:
Square is one of the more impressive and attractive options in the market for today’s merchants. One thing that makes Square so impressive is that it’s perfect for both online and offline selling. Often, it’s difficult to find a company that can provide both solutions so well.
Square is a leading tool for in-person and retail transactions, thanks to a range of hardware options that you can tie into your plan. You can accept cash, checks, gift cards, and cards. Also, if you don’t have an internet connection, you can still take payments.
To build an online store, Square offers a free shop builder (since it purchased and integrated Weebly), where you add products, activate the Square checkout system, and market your brand, all from one simple dashboard.
Square comes with all the functionality you need to monitor your business on the back end. You can assign a tracking number to pieces of inventory and keep track of all your payments from things like Visa or MasterCard. You can even create a website that’s connected to your POS, so you get a totally synchronized experience.
Square for Retail ensures that you can sell faster with tracking, adjustable components, point of sale performance, vendor management, and customer profiles. There’s also the option to create reports that you can share with the rest of your team and shareholders. For instance, you might make a goods sold report, or track employees with timecards.
After reading out PayPal review, checkout our comprehensive Square review here.
Shopify Payments is an interesting alternative to other leading solutions like Square, PayPal, and Authorize.net. Just like many other market leaders available today, Shopify Payment helps you to take many card payments.
One of the interesting things about Shopify Payments is that you can reduce your processing and transaction fees on Shopify by using this built-in system. Shopify Payments also ensures that you can track every aspect of your business in the same environment.
You don’t need to jump between different apps to get results. Shopify makes it quick and easy to accept payments online and offline. There’s also support for things like Facebook shops, buyable pins, Amazon, Facebook Messenger, and more.
Shopify Payments only works within the Shopify ecosystem, so we highly recommend it for Shopify store owners; it eliminates extra transaction fees, provides a seemless setup, and you don't need to go through a credit check.
Read our full Shopify Payments review here.
Wise (Formerly TransferWise)
Wise advertises itself as one of the cheapest and most effective ways to send money around the world. You can send and receive money with a borderless account and put that money in a Wise business debit card. This makes it easier to keep your personal and business payments separate when growing your brand.
Like PayPal, Wise ensures that you can send and receive money easily. Run batch and payroll payments, get paid as a freelance expert, and even explore the payouts solution, too. The Wise system even comes with the option to create your own solutions via the payouts API.
Another big benefit of this solution compared to options like PayPal, is the company claims to have one of the fairest exchange rates around. You can get rid of problems like hidden fees, complete around 90% of all transfers from the UK to Europe, and more.
If you conduct a higher amount of international sales, then you might be able to save a lot of time and money. It’s definitely worth checking this solution out if you need something that’s simple and straightforward for international sellers. Keep in mind, however, that Wise is more for transferring payments, not processing ecommerce transactions. You can absolutely accept an international payment and send out a product, but Wise doesn't have any checkout module, just a simple link for you to get paid.
Read our full Wise review here.
Payline promises an open and fresh approach to getting the payments that you deserve online.
Payline is one of the more impressive alternatives to PayPal on the market today. The reason this company stands out so much is that there are no gateway or transaction fees to worry about. No annual fees or monthly fees to consider, and the deposit times are exceptionally fast.
Payline has transparent pricing for all online and offline transactions, and it's all powered by a simple calculator that uses interchange, monthly, and transactional pricing, with no additional costs after that. There are also features like chargeback protection and fraud prevention, so you can protect yourself from payment headaches.
Other than that, Payline offers readers and terminals, API and developer documentation, invoicing tools, a beautiful dashboard, and top notch customer support through a robust online knowledgebase and dedicated support reps.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Payline does provide support for more risky accounts, as well as specialist options for healthcare.
When you're done with the PayPal review, read our comprehensive Payline Data review here.
If you’re running an eCommerce business and you want plenty of room to grow, then Stripe could be the perfect alternative to PayPal. This developer-first company takes a different approach to managing your payments. The simple and effective API means you can get your Stripe solution up and running in little time.
Stripe is available in over 47 countries for ecommerce payment processing and in-person POS systems. It also offers products for invoicing, billing, corporate cards, payment links, taxes, terminals, and much more. Stripe has continued to maintain its industry standard pricing at 2.9% + $0.30 per ecommerce transaction, which is significantly lower than PayPal.
The self-hosted checkout experience provided by Stripe also means that you don’t have to send your customers to an external site like PayPal. This saves companies from monthly fees and other concerns. Another convenience of this platform is that it’s fantastic for bank account deposits.
If a customer purchases a product from the business using Stripe, the network will automatically send funds into an outside bank account, so there aren’t as many manual transfers to think about. This reduces the risk of things like account holds and fraud suspicion.
Read the comprehensive Stripe review here.
Don't forget to check out our top 10 PayPal alternatives for more info.
Who Should Use PayPal?
Can you run a large ecommerce site with PayPal as its sole payment processor? Technically, yes. But we recommend it for companies just getting started, since it's super easy to install, and it integrates with options like Shopify (read our full Shopify review), WordPress, and BigCommerce (read our full BigCommerce review).
As you move onto more advanced payment processors like Stripe, it's not a bad idea to still include a PayPal button, considering many people still love using PayPal. The main reason you wouldn't use PayPal as your traditional merchant account is because most other solutions save you money as sales grow. For example, surpassing $5 to 10,000 in sales will cost you far more with PayPal than it would with other payment gateways.
If you have any experience running PayPal on your website, or if you have questions about our PayPal review, leave us a comment below.