2020 Guide to PayPal fees and alternatives for e-commerce entrepreneurs

Andrea Piacquadio
paypal fees and alternatives - woman dressed in white sitting at a laptop holding a credit card

PayPal fees and alternative payment charges can have a tangible impact on the cost of selling for your e-commerce store. Here’s a look at PayPal fees and alternatives you can use in 2020 to maximise your profits.

PayPal has many advantages; it’s quick and easy to set up, everyone knows and trusts it, and most people have a personal account for e-commerce purposes before they set up a business. But with e-commerce margins, the fees can quickly eat into your profits, so it is worth exploring the alternatives.

PayPal fees 2020

If you are receiving funds from the UK, the fee is 2.9% + 30p per transaction. Funds from outside of the UK, may rise to 3.4% + 30p per transaction, depending on the locale.

The Drawbacks

PayPal is building a bad reputation amongst sellers for freezing funds without warning. Losing access to funds can be catastrophic to a business, so we recommend not leaving funds sitting any longer than you need to. If you do use PayPal and are expecting an abnormally large amount of funds to arrive, contact PayPal in advance to make sure it doesn’t trigger a freeze.

PayPal Alternatives – Veem

We love Veem for international transactions. In almost all situations, it is entirely fee-free whether you are transferring money within the UK or internationally. The one drawback is that both parties need to have a Veem account. This makes it a frontrunner for payments to and from suppliers but less handy for taking payments from your customers.

It also syncs with Xero, reducing your admin time.

PayPal Alternatives – Google Pay

Google Pay is growing in popularity and features on an increasing number of e-commerce sites. It’s fast and simple; shoppers add their card payment details to their Google Pay account, giving them a secure and streamlined payment method.

It’s easy to hook up on your store and is free when payments are made by debit card or bank transfer. If a customer pays by credit card, you will be charged 2.9% of the transaction amount.


PayPal fees and alternatives - woman working at a desk

PayPal Alternatives – Stripe

Stripe is a very popular payment platform for e-commerce businesses and is also easily integrated with Xero. In fact, many e-commerce tools, such as Shopify, can be integrated with Stripe. It’s highly customisable and available across the globe.

Stripe fees are 1.4% + 20p per transaction for European cards and 2.9% + 20p per transaction for non-European cards. This means domestic transactions come in considerably cheaper than PayPal, while international transactions are largely on par.

PayPal Alternatives – Shopify Payments

Our list wouldn’t be complete without the obvious option for e-commerce entrepreneurs – Shopify payments. If you are hosting your store on Shopify, their payment platform allows you to receive funds without the need for a third-party.

Customers can sign up to Shopify Pay for easy payment in future, it’s quick and easy to set up on your Shopify store, and it keeps everything under one roof.

Shopify Payments can also be used on other platforms (providing you have a Shopify subscription) such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay, and Facebook.

To use Shopify Payments, you will need a Shopify subscription, which starts at $29 a month. Once that is in place, transactions start at 2.9% + 30¢ USD per transaction. As you increase your subscription package, your Shopify Payment fees will fall.

While the fee level may make Shopify Payments seem unenticing, if you do have a Shopify store, you will be charged 2.0% per transaction every time you receive a payment through a third-party method. Add this onto Stripe fees or PayPal fees and it soon makes sense to enable Shopify Payments.

Next Steps

If you use the Shopify platform for your e-commerce store, Shopify Payments is a good place to start. But if you sell through third-party platforms such as Amazon, or host your own site outside of Shopify, Stripe or PayPal are safe and trusted options.

Little expenses can add up but putting your business in the hands of an e-commerce specialist accountant can help your bottom line improve year on year. If you would like to discuss the growth of your business or would like help moving to Xero, the accounting app designed for e-commerce businesses, our team will be happy to help.

The best time to act is now.