Founded in 1998, PayPal has become one of the most commonly used online payment systems in the past two decades. PayPal eliminates inconveniences associated with using paper money or checks, as you're able to do a lot through its online payment system.
While hundreds of millions of active PayPal accounts exist globally and many retailers accept PayPal, there are alternatives out there for people looking for something else. We'll look at a few of the best alternatives available.
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What is PayPal?
Before we get into the best alternatives, it's important to have a working knowledge of what PayPal is and how it works. Understanding its basic functions allows us to better evaluate alternatives.
PayPal acts like a digital wallet. Much like a normal wallet, you can store credit card and debit card information in your account to make payments online. You can also pay by storing bank account information in your PayPal account. These different payment methods are stored in your account and can be used when online shopping.
Security, speed of transactions and PayPal rewards are three of the biggest selling points for the company. The security aspect is especially important. PayPal emphasizes its increased security when you give your information to it, and PayPal also emphasizes how it keeps your personal information secure when you make online payments. As the video linked above explains, that's safer than providing your name, email address, living address and credit card information on all the online sites you purchase from. Your bank account information is also secured within PayPal, decreasing the likelihood your information will be stolen. PayPal offers in-store payment options for users, although one of those options was removed just over a year ago. [Interested in credit card processing for your business? Check out our reviews and best picks.]
PayPal can also help with exchanging cash with other individuals or making donations to charity. PayPal also features diverse uses for businesses, which can create e-commerce sites that accept PayPal and even implement PayPal invoicing features if needed. We consider PayPal to be an elite credit card processor for low volume transactions. The business features of PayPal are widely used, and that widespread utilization is part of what makes having a PayPal account valuable for consumers. According to PayPal's website, 19 million merchants use PayPal to help grow their business. It's a versatile platform used by many, as the merchant account numbers indicate.
If you are looking for alternatives from either a personal or business standpoint, it's important to understand what you want from your alternative. Are you looking for increased simplicity? How important is the security of your personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information, etc.) with your alternative? Do you need to make or receive international payments? Will there be a monthly fee associated with the alternative, and would you even care if there was a monthly fee? What might be a great PayPal alternative for a local pizza shop owner in Texas might be a less than stellar option for a global business based out of New York City.
A Paysafe company, this payment method is like PayPal. Skrill is used for both U.S. and European clients, which can make it particularly valuable if you're spending money in Europe and the U.S. Much like PayPal, security is a focus. It's also not complicated to create an account and start using the platform, which can be nice for those looking to quickly set up accounts and use the platform immediately. Overall, there aren't tremendous differences between Skrill and Paypal, although Skrill might be better suited for international merchants.
Reviews on Skrill are mixed. Much like any company, Skrill has some glowingly positive customer reviews and other, more negative reviews. Sorting through the reviews of any company can prove confusing, but it's worth considering Skrill for international payments.
Stripe claims it's the "best software platform for running an internet business." While this is, of course, subjective, there is some validity to the claim. In fact, we named Stripe the best online credit card processor. Stripe integrates with several different platforms including Shopify, Wix and Weebly, which makes Stripe a great option for e-commerce businesses. Amazon, Google and Lyft all use Stripe in some capacity according to the company's website.
An initial look at the company's offerings can prove confusing, as it's designed with developers in mind. It might take extra effort for those without a coding background to understand all of the offerings, but putting forth a little effort can be worthwhile, as Stripe is used by businesses in more than 100 countries. Merchants should take a close look at Stripe's offerings, as the company is highly regarded by many, including those with merchant accounts.
There's an integrated pricing option for businesses that has a fee of 2.9% + 30 cents for every successful card charge. One of the perks for businesses is the custom pricing option. Stripe will create a system that works best for your business to receive payments, and pricing will vary depending on how that plan is set up. Using these customized pricing plans can help your small business save money.
If you're running an online business, Stripe is a fantastic PayPal alternative.
We list Square as our best mobile credit card processor for small businesses. Square's ease of use sets it apart from other PayPal alternatives. The fees and pricing methods are transparent and easy to understand, and you aren't locked into a long-term contract. If you run a small business and want a different credit card processing solution than PayPal, consider Square. Transactions are made simple with Square, and that's critical for the success of small businesses.
Like many of the other solutions on this list, Square offers the ability to customize your offerings to your business. Security is also an emphasis for Square, which can help provide peace of mind to small businesses and their customers. Between the simplicity and security customization options, Square is one of the better PayPal alternatives on this list.
For peer-to-peer payments, Venmo is one of the better options. If you're a business looking for a PayPal credit card processing alternative, Venmo isn't for you, but it is a solid choice if you're looking to quickly transfer money to someone else. There can be a few minor fees when using Venmo, but nothing outrageous. Venmo allows users to add debit card information as well as bank accounts. You can accept payments from peers and quickly transfer those to any of the bank accounts associated with your Venmo account. If desired, you can add multiple bank accounts or multiple cards into your account. You can also leave money in Venmo to use the next time you're looking to make a transaction using the platform.
Venmo transactions can also be made public, which means you can see transactions from people you know. Some people enjoy the social aspect of Venmo and the quantity of users on the platform.
The Cash App, which was developed by Square, serves a similar purpose and functions similarly to Venmo. The Cash App provides more detailed services than Venmo, though. Zelle is another Venmo alternative with increasing popularity. Peer-to-peer payments are quite simple with Zelle.
A good option for those making international payments, Payoneer allows you to easily get paid in multiple currencies and bill clients overseas. Local currency accounts are available for businesses in the U.S. Canada, U.K., China, Australia and Japan. European nations also can create local currency accounts.
Payoneer can be particularly useful for freelance workers, as they can do work for international clients and easily send invoices using Payoneer. If you're a freelancer or if you do work for international clients, creating a Payoneer account is well worth looking into. It's also a good option for companies looking to hire overseas freelancers.
Shopify Payments is another quality option for online businesses. Shopify integrates easily with your stores and has a wealth of expertise in the e-commerce industry. Since Shopify Payments allows you to start accepting online payments without integrating a third-party payment provider, the process becomes simpler than other options. Setting up Shopify Payments isn't difficult, and the overall usability of Shopify Payments makes it a good alternative to PayPal for online sellers.
Google Pay allows users to make purchases in stores as well as online using near-field communication technology. Within the last year, Google Pay added the ability to make peer-to-peer payments.
Amazon Pay makes sense for businesses or consumers who frequently use Amazon. According to the company website, Amazon Pay is automatically activated for people who have Amazon accounts, accept the Amazon Pay user agreement and make one purchase using Amazon Pay on a third-party site. If you frequently make purchases online, especially at Amazon, Amazon Pay is a good alternative to PayPal.
Apple Pay is a sensible option for online shoppers looking to make the process easier. In addition to making payments on the web and making payments within apps, Apply Pay allows peer-to-peer transfers.
What to consider when evaluating alternatives
Different alternatives will work best for different businesses, but there are a few things each company or person should consider when evaluating which PayPal alternative will best suit their needs.
- Transaction fees
- Monthly fees
- Niche services
- Could something like WeChat Pay, which is designed for connecting Chinese customers with business overseas, be useful to your business?
- Saving money
- Is your goal to save money with the PayPal alternative or are you willing to make a bigger payment for a more detailed service?
- Does the alternative easily integrate with your online business?
The bottom line
There are dozens of PayPal alternatives available, and all of them have strengths and weaknesses when compared to PayPal. Making a final decision requires thorough research and an understanding of what you or your business wants from its PayPal alternative. We'd recommend starting with the list above when making a change.