Paypal Checkout Options

Updated 20-Sep-2023

> Updated July 2019 - I no longer use Paypal, as it is roughly twice as expensive as Stripe when looking at $100 USD/month in transactions (more than 10% with transaction fees and currency conversion), and without currency conversion it is still 30% more when only looking at transaction fees (usually because of the international transaction fees which are higher). If one is not a US national or without a US company, then use Stripe Atlas to incorporate and get banking set up.

I've been looking into Paypal checkout options. There are many. Most people use Paypal Standard Checkout (actually Paypal Buttons, which are the same thing) which redirects to Paypal and has two or three steps on their site. However, there are several other options available.

Paypal Payments Pro

This is only available for US, UK, CA paypal accounts. However it provides the most flexibility and keeps customers on your site for the entire transaction. Can accept most credit cards and paypal (does not have to have a paypal account). Need SSL and software (easily configured with a plugin). Additional fee of $30 USD/month.

Note that Paypal Payments Pro has Paypal Express Checkout automatically enabled for Paypal payment option.

Paypal Payflow Pro

Only available for US, CA, AU, NZ accounts. Basically the same as Payments Pro, except can also use any merchant account (including Paypal, but not required) for payment processing. Supports more payment methods (additional credit cards, prepaid cards, TeleCheck, ACH, etc. Can also do recurring billing. $25 USD/month.

Note that Paypal Payflow Pro has Paypal Express Checkout automatically enabled for Paypal payment option.

Paypal Advanced

Similar to Payments Pro, but without a virtual terminal (ability to take credit card payments over the phone). If you don't need that, and don't want to use a third party merchant, then this probably the best option. $5 USD/month fee. US and CA only.

Paypal Express Checkout

This minimizes steps for payment. Acts the same as standard checkout and available in same countries. It does a window overlay instead of redirection to another site, so the customer stays on your site during the transaction. Note that the In-Context-Checkout feature is not supported in some countries in the Middle East, Japan, and domestic buyers in both India and China. For those, the normal checkout process takes place. Paypal Express is available in 190 countries. -

Basically, all of these are meant to increase conversion rates, by reducing friction in the payment process, as well as supporting (in the case of Payments Pro and Payflow Pro) more payment options.

Paypal Digital Goods

This streamlines the payment process and allows to keep the customer on site. Good in AU, NZ, CA, CN, DK, HK, IN, ID, IT, JP, MY, NO, PH, PL, SG, SW, TW, TH, US, UK. Actually though, this gateway is no longer accepting applications, and the replacement has been renamed Adaptive Payments. (Note, Digital Goods -- as a category -- are supported by Express Checkout as well.) The Adaptive part means that there is an ability to do multi-party payments, though Subscription payments are not supported. Adaptive Payments is available in 190 countries. However, it does not allow for keeping customer on one's own site. Not really attractive unless there needs to be immediate multi-vendor payment of some kind.

Generic Recommendations

  • If you can/do have a US, CA, AU, NZ paypal account -> Payflow
    • Then integrate with a merchant account, there are many to choose from, and cheaper than Paypal or Stripe
    • Save money and keep customers on your site for ease of checkout
  • If you can/do have a US, CA, UK Paypal account, but don't want a third party merchant -> Payments Pro
  • If you don't want a third party merchant account and don't need virtual terminal, but do have US, CA paypal, then Paypal Advanced
  • Otherwise Paypal Express

Additional Fees for Paypal

The fees are not complete, as there are cross-border fees, as well as currency conversion fees as well. Cross-border effectively adds 1% (for the receiver, but only for personal payments), and currency conversion is 2.5% (for the sender), for Paypal. Unclear about the others, but this is important if you are working outside of the US, or at least have customers in different countries than where your account is located.

Paypal states that cross-border is not charged for payments/purchases (on some international transactions, thanks for the clarity there Paypal), and the buyer's credit card/bank may (also) incurr a fee. Paypal will charge a fee for currency conversion in this case.

Additional Resources

Multistore Paypal IPN Notification

The limitations of a single IPN callback address per Paypal account means that a bit of code is needed to use one Paypal account for multiple stores.