KillerSites Blog

Using PayPal to Process Credit Cards.

October 20, 2008

paypal image

Paypal is a very familiar service that most Web citizens know well. But is Paypal the way to go if you want to process credit cards on your website?

Short answer: yes.

… But it ain’t perfect.

A little background

I’ve been using Paypal to process payments since 2001 for both Paypal account holders and for standard credit card processing. Overall, I have to say that the service they offer is pretty good.

Here are the good things about using Paypal to process orders on the Web:

  • Paypal is easy to set up.
  • Paypal is a known brand, thus lending some confidence to your website. People will feel more comfortable buying from you since you are using Paypal to take their money.
  • Paypal’s reports are reasonably good.

Though I recommend Paypal, it is not all peachs-&-cream … some things suck about Paypal:

  • The Paypal web site can sometimes be painfully slow.
  • When people click the ‘buy now’ buttons and are taken to the Paypal website, it is not clear that they can just use their credit card to buy your products. Paypal over emphasizes the option to become a Paypal member. I’ve been emailed many times by irritated clients who wanted to buy from me, but did not want to join Paypal. I think this is hurting sales.
  • The Paypal reporting tools for merchants are really old-school. Basically, you have to deal with a 1990’s style website. Ach!

Paypal offers different levels of service, where the easier-to-set-up-functionality, is less seamless and the more transparent/advanced services requires programming skills.

My suggestion

If you are just starting out with a new website, then you should definitely use Paypal because it is so easy to get started, especially when compared to other merchant service providers.

In time, as your business progresses and the volume of sales warrants it, then I would look into the more sophisticated Paypal tools and perhaps other credit card processors. I actually have a PHP based shopping cart tutorial that basically provides you with simple but useful shopping cart that integrates with Paypal behind the scenes. With this shopping cart, you could be up in running in an hour or so.

Whatever you do, don’t start storing credit card information on your servers … that opens up a whole can of worms you don’t want to get into.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook