How to Choose an Online Payment Method for Your Organization

Posted on 12/11/13 10:32 AM by Kristen Goecke

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Offering online registration is not only convenient for your clients, but also for you.  If you have a website for your organization (you should), more often than not, online registration AND payment processing is expected.  With online registration you can kiss long lineups and mountains of paperwork goodbye and give your clients the convenience of signing up for your classes, memberships, and events from the comfort of their own home or office.  You can always offer online registration and invoice your clients to pay in cash or check, but why not add even more convenience with online payment? There are quite a few options for setting up online payment and each has their advantages and disadvantages.   



PayPal has been around since the early 2000’s and manages over 232 million accounts worldwide.  PayPal has 3 tiers for monthly pricing depending on the level of customization you want to do and their per transaction fee is straightforward flat-rate pricing.  PayPal is easy to set up and they are universally recognized which reduces customers’ fears of fraud.  They have been a dominant force in online payment for small businesses but that doesn’t make them the best option out there.   PayPal only offers online payment.  They do not support registration, inventory or membership management, reporting, accounting or communicating to your clients outside of invoices.  It’s strictly payment processing... but that might be all you need, even when it comes to online fundraising

Another consideration is customer service, PayPal has been known to unresponsive and difficult when it comes to customer service.  This is especially frustrating because with PayPal, your funds are deposited into your PayPal account which they can freeze, withhold funds or take money out as they please.   When you go with PayPal you play by PayPal's rules.  PayPal isn’t the best choice for everyone, but never fear, there are other options available.

Credit Card Processing With Your Own Merchant Account

Depending on the size of your organization, setting up your own merchant account might be a good option but move forward with caution because there are a lot of options and a lot of hidden fees you may not be aware of.  It’s tempting to go with a credit card processor with the lowest transaction fees; however there may be other hidden fees like set-up fees, fixed monthly fees, gateway fees and refund fees.  It usually takes around 2 to 4 weeks to set up before you can begin taking payments.  You must have a personal guarantee and setting up security and compliance is a complicated process that requires your time and effort.  Just like PayPal, a merchant account is strictly payment processing and all bank reconciliation, reporting, accounting, registration and membership management needs to be done by you.  

Opening your own merchant account has its advantages and disadvantages.  Before you decide on one, make sure you are clear about all possible fees, do not get locked into a long term contract (no more than 6 months to 1 year) and take the time to read your entire contract to make sure there are no surprises down the road. 

Opening your own merchant account might not be the mountain you want to climb.  Is there something else out there that will allow me to take online payments without all this hassle plus provide online registration, reporting, accounting and more, you ask?  Why yes, yes there is . . .   

Amilia: Online Registration, Payment Processing, Reporting, Online Store and MORE

There are a few companies out there that offer online registration, payment processing, reporting and some of the other tools Amilia offers but not everything and not on an entirely web based system that you can access anywhere anytime.  With Amilia, you get online registration, membership management, reporting, accounting, the ability to mass communicate with your members via email, an estore AND we will help you get your own merchant account for credit card processing.  With Amilia, there are no set up fees, refund fees, no hidden fees period!  Bank reconciliation is automatic; card holder support is included as is recurring billing and fraud management.  Amilia is compliant with the strictest PCI requirements so your clients can rest assured that every transaction is secure. Amilia can have you set up to take payments quickly and your cash is distributed to you every 48 hours. 

If you already have a merchant account but need Amilia’s management tools, you can connect your merchant account to Amilia for a small connection fee.   

When setting up online payment processing there are a lot of factors and many options to consider.   Your traditional payment processors like PayPal and Credit Card Merchant accounts will allow you to process payments online but that is all.  Full service online registration, membership management, and estore platforms like Amilia will provide online payment processing plus all the management tools described above. 

To learn more about how Amilia can help grow your business, visit and request a free demo.