Easy Ways to Accept Online Payments

Stripe CheckoutWe’re all familiar with the concept of an online store, with a shopping cart and checkout. But what if you only need a lightweight interface where someone can fill in a bit of information and make a payment to you? In the past few years, we’ve built simple online payment links and forms into quite a few websites to meet a variety of needs:

  • Donation to a non-profit or contribution to a cause;
  • Payment of an invoice;
  • Paying a balance due when there was an underpayment;
  • Purchasing tickets for a one-time, open seating event.

A few years ago, PayPal was by far the most commonly used credit card processor, but there are some new contenders that offer easier and zippier interfaces, and some options that can reduce the transaction fees. Here are a few that we particularly like:

  • Stripe offers the traditional credit card form as well as a cool popup interface called Stripe Checkout. Stripe Checkout is particularly well suited for people accessing your website from their mobile phones, as it enables people to save their credit card details and then use the card with a verification code delivered by text message. Stripe’s transaction fees are roughly comparable to those of PayPal. Our experience is that the money arrives at our bank within 2-3 days after the transaction is processed.
  • Square Cash is a recent offering from the folks who sell the little square credit card reader that plugs into an iPad or iPhone. The downside of Square Cash is that clients or donors can only pay using a debit card, not a credit card. The upside is that the money is transferred instantly. Square Cash is free for personal transactions; for business use, the fees are a flat 1.5%, less than half what Stripe and PayPal charge. (Updated 3/11/2016: Square recently increased their fees to 2.75%.)

You can see Square Cash, Stripe Checkout and PayPal in action on our Contact page. Look for the blue buttons in the right sidebar. In the next couple of months, we’ll feature some other payment systems we’ve built for client sites.