//How to take payments with WooCommerce – affordably
How to take payments with WooCommerce – affordably

How to take payments with WooCommerce – affordably

Building a store can get costly. Even the most experienced developers can find themselves overspending — a premium theme here, a cool-sounding extension there, and suddenly you’ve blown the budget.

The ability to accept payments is one of those things you almost have to spend part of your budget on. But there’s no reason you should have to waste all your money on preparing to take credit cards online, or cash from local shoppers.

There are multiple ways to take payments from your customers without spending a fortune on setup or monthly fees. From built-in processors to optional extensions, there’s a fitting solution for every budget-conscious store builder that won’t waste your money — or your time, for that matter.

Let’s explore a few ways you can take payments with WooCommerce… and do so affordably. But first, we’ll take a closer look at what it really costs to take credit card payments, and why a “cheap” payment gateway may not be as good as it sounds.

The cost of accepting payments online

If you’re building your first online store, you might not realize that taking credit cards comes at a cost. There are fees that the payment provider may charge you, either monthly or at the time of purchase, in exchange for you using their service.

If your store is small or your products are inexpensive, it can be easy to shrug off these fees. 5% of your total purchases might not seem like much. Or you might assume it’s going to be easy to afford $100 a month in fees.

Before choosing a payment solution, you should give careful thought to what it will actually cost you to accept cards, or even other forms of payment. $100 per month is $1200 per year — what if you have to spend more than you expect on development? Or what if your store gets incredibly popular, and 5% adds up to thousands of dollars?

This is why it’s better to look for solutions that allow you to accept credit cards without up-front fees or huge monthly payments. And the beauty of open source is that our community has come together to develop them — lots of them — and we’ve collected them all here, just for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the most affordable (and hassle-free) ways you can take payments on your WooCommerce store, whether you’re selling simple products or subscriptions.

Built-in options that cost (almost) nothing: Stripe and PayPal Powered by Braintree

You can’t beat free, right? Right. So these first two payment options come at the attractive cost of zero dollars — and don’t even require you to lift a finger to install.

Stripe and PayPal Powered by Braintree come bundled into WooCommerce core, and if you’re setting up a new store, you can activate them right from the setup wizard. If you set up WooCommerce in the past and didn’t have these options, you can download the extensions for free at any time from WordPress.org.

Just tick those boxes to activate PayPal or Stripe, plus any other payment option you’d like — then proceed with the rest of the setup wizard.

Both of these payment gateway options are integrated into your store, so they’ll appear embedded into your checkout page instead of sending shoppers off-site to complete their purchase. For example, here’s how Square looks on a sample WooCommerce checkout screen:

These are the fields a customer might see when completing a purchase on your store when Stripe is installed and in use.
These are the fields a customer might see when completing a purchase on your store when Stripe is installed and in use.

PayPal Powered by Braintree looks similar, but also adds in a “pay with PayPal” option so that a customer can use their PayPal account to complete a transaction, if they wish.

The pricing for both of these solutions is fairly straightforward:

  • PayPal Powered by Braintree: the first $50,000 in transactions are free; after that, pay 2.9% + 30 cents per successful credit card or digital wallet transaction
  • Stripe: pay 2.9% + 30 cents per successful credit card transaction, as long as your yearly charges are below $1 million

If you’re just getting started with WooCommerce, we recommend giving one of these two gateways a shot (which is why we bundled them in for you in the first place). They’re quick to set up, they look great on your store, and they allow you to take credit card or PayPal payments right away.

Free-except-for-fees payment gateways available as extensions

As we mentioned above, if you set up WooCommerce before Stripe or PayPal Powered by Braintree were built into core, you can download the extensions at any time (for free!) and get the same great processing rates as everyone else. We wouldn’t want you to miss out, after all. ?

Having said that, if you’re looking for something a little different, or need payment options not offered as part of WooCommerce core, there are plenty of other free-to-install WooCommerce payment gateways available.

Here are just a few of your options:

  • PayPal Express Checkoutlets customers use their PayPal account to finish their transaction off-site
  • Amazon Payadds in a “Amazon Pay” option, so customers can finish their purchase without leaving your store
  • Simplify Commerce — powered by Mastercard, this gateway supports major credit cards plus invoices and recurring payments
  • Klarna — for stores in certain countries, Klarna allows you to accept credit cards, issue invoices, or allow customers to pay for their purchase over time
Just one example of a free payment option, this one Amazon
Just one example of a free payment option, this one Amazon Pay. The best of two worlds jam-packed into one, WooCommerce and Amazon Payments. Thumbs up.

Much like Stripe and PayPal Powered by Braintree, these gateways are free to install, but you’ll typically be charged per-transaction fees based on the number of orders, how much money you make, or some other criteria. We recommend reading the docs or FAQs on each payment processor’s website prior to signing up to find out exactly what those fees are.

The transaction fees are typically pretty reasonable, though — for example, PayPal Express Checkout has the same rate as the Braintree-powered option (2.9% + 30 cents per successful charge), which really doesn’t amount to very much per month on larger purchases or for stores just starting out.

Another thing to keep in mind: with Stripe and PayPal Powered by Braintree, you don’t need a merchant account — aka a special bank account — to get up and running. With other gateways — even free ones — depending on how the payments are processed, you might need to apply for one through your bank. Read the FAQs when you sign up for a payment processor to find out what you need to take payments, and if a merchant account is a must-have.

Do your research: find out if you need a merchant account to take credit cards before you sign up for a payment gateway.
Do your research: find out if you need a merchant account to take credit cards before you sign up for a payment gateway.

There are plenty of free payment options to explore for your WooCommerce storesee them all here. Who knows, you just might find a new favorite (and save a ton of money in the process)!

Selling subscriptions or need recurring billing? Try these low-cost options

If you’re planning to offer subscriptions to the products you sell or want to set up memberships for your customers, finding a payment gateway that supports automatic recurring billing is a must. We have this list of payment options that support subscriptions, but you might find that overwhelming if you’re just getting started.

Setting up your subscription package or membership program is expensive enough, so you should aim to find a payment option that works with your store but doesn’t cost much. Here are a couple to consider:

If none of these options sound good to you, take a look at the full list here. But remember, review all the fees of the gateway (initial signup fee, extension cost, per-transaction charges, etc.) before deciding if it’s a good fit for you — those costs can add up fast, especially if you’re billing customers on a regular basis.

Non-credit card options that everyone can afford

Finally, if you don’t want to pay card processing fees, are only selling locally, or simply want to have a few alternate options for your customers, there are three options built into WooCommerce that allow you to take payments for 100% free:

  • BACS (bank transfer) — enter your bank account information, and customers can wire you a payment
  • Pay by check — have customers mail you their payment before you ship out their order
  • Cash on delivery — customers pay with cash when their order is dropped off, or when they pick it up

Let customers order online and pay when they pickup -- a timesaver for everyone. And Fluffy gets her food faster, too. (Image source: Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography [CC])
Let customers order online and pay when they pick up — a timesaver for everyone. And Fluffy gets her food faster, bonus. (Image source: Darren Johnson [CC])

Being built into WooCommerce means you’ll pay nothing to turn these options on or off. However, if you’re accepting orders with these payment options, you’ll find they’re a little more complex to process than those paid via credit card (or a method like Klarna or PayPal):

  • You’ll need to manually mark orders as paid for or shipped, which can lead to some extra time spent
  • You might encounter an occasional issue when a product goes missing in transit, a payment doesn’t take place, or a customer doesn’t have cash — it’s a lot less reliable than an online system

Having said that, if you deliver a lot of local orders or only ship products to a limited area, these are great options that will allow you to save a lot of money on processing fees. Just remember to keep your tax records in order and you’ll be all set!

Accepting payments doesn’t have to cost you a fortune

By now, you should have a better idea of how to take payments with WooCommerce without blowing your budget out of the water. Whether you’re planning to sell simple physical goods, digital items, products with recurring payments, or something else entirely, the options we’ve highlighted for you in this post should help you save money, time, and headaches.

With more money in your wallet, you now have the freedom to explore more options for your store. Thinking about trying a little marketing after you launch? Here’s how to do that on a budget, too.

If you have any questions for us about these payment gateways, or comments about taking payments with WooCommerce without spending a fortune, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and we’ll get a response back to you right away.

Header image credit: frankieleon (CC 2.0)