Cashflow is vital for startups so it is important to select the right payment gateway from the beginning. We get it — getting paid is awesome, selecting a payment gateway…not so much.

Don’t worry, we’re putting our experience to work for you. In today’s blog we’ll cover what you need to know in order to select the best payment gateway for your startup: everything from application time frames to fees and fraud protection tools.

Just a quick reminder: a payment gateway is different from a merchant account. A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows you to accept debit and credit card payments from your customers. A payment gateway facilitates the secure transfer of information from your website or application to your merchant account.

You need to have both a merchant account and a payment gateway to process transactions from your customers. Today, many payment gateway providers offer a combination — both a merchant account and a payment gateway from the same company.

In today’s post we’re focusing on how to select the right payment gateway for your startup…

Things to consider when choosing a payment gateway for your startup

pay online pay payment gateway startup

Application process & time frames

We’ve already mentioned that cashflow is vital for startups, so it is important to find out how long the application process with a new payment gateway will take. And once approved, how long will it be before you’re able to process payments from your paying users?

Other time frames you need to ask about when comparing payment gateways:

  • Contract terms
  • Payments

Some payment gateways impose specific time frames for contracts, such as a one year contract. If there are time frames specified by a contract, you’ll also want to find out if there are early termination or cancellation fees you’ll have to pay if you become unhappy with the payment gateway.

Cash is king. What is the timeline for your startup to receive the cash following successful payment transactions? The last thing you need is a gap in cash flow when you have to pay your own suppliers and overhead costs!

Supported currencies & merchant locations

These two are non-negotiable; if these aren’t a fit they’re automatic deal breakers. The payment gateway you choose for your startup must support:

  • The currencies you’ll be billing customers in
  • The country your startup is located in

While this sounds like a no-brainer, it can be a bit confusing. For instance, a payment gateway may support both USD and CAD currencies but only support merchants located in the United States. In that instance, even though the payment gateway supports CAD, they wouldn’t be a fit if your startup was located in Canada.

Be aware that multi-currency cards may have a different transaction fee (we’ll talk more about fees in the section below).

For the most part, the major payment gateways support the same card types. But, it is still worth checking to ensure the card types the majority of your customers will likely be using are supported by the payment gateway you’re considering.


Ideally, the payment gateway you select will have transparent pricing and no hidden fees. To avoid hidden fees, ask the payment gateway for all potential costs you could encounter while using them as your gateway.