Review Snapshot
Pros

best priced gateway with an unparalleled standard of excellence.

Cons

their website can be convoluted... a lot of people don't understand the difference between a gateway and service provider.

Verdict

Best place to start for your online merchant needs.

Reviewed by:
Casey Dalton : I write reviews of products I deem worthy of review. Generally if I'm reviewing...Member Reputation 335 • 69 active Krits
Authorize.net merchant credit card payment processing from Authorize.net
Authorizenet The Most Options In Merchant Card Payment
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Authorize.net merchant credit card payment processing detailed information
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Authorize.net Review - America's Best Gateway for Card Services

Authorize.net = Options

Authorize.net is a unique system among the throng of merchant services for authorizing credit card payments. They offer a full range from simple do-it-yourself checkout buttons for merchants with basic needs to more complex integrated systems and developers for hire who can implement them, as well as partnerships with a whole host of merchant providers, kiosk and cart services so you can comparison shop and find the one that best suits your business needs. 

Authorize.com even offers a web solution for bricks and mortar businesses to shorten transaction processing to just 3 seconds, a major improvement over standard swipers. This also eliminates the need for multiple phone lines while at the same time allowing you to consolidate your internet fees. As mentioned, for more elaborate set ups, like a fully functioning online store, they have partnered with a variety of merchant providers, such as their most popular shopping cart, Volusion. You can check out my Volusion review to see why online store owners favor this cart.

I confess the authorize.net website gets a bit heady in their descriptions. Personally, I like my web solutions to be pre-fab and cookie cutter so I don't have to think! After doing my research I clarified some information you may find very useful. Those with internet savvy and knowledge and/or who are ramping up to do big business on the web, should know by now that Authorize.net is one of, if not the most reputable payment gateway services out there. They are ubiquitous and represent a standard of excellence. But did you also know they offer the best rates?

Authorize.net = Value + Excellence

Doing a side by side price comparison of Authorize.net, Paypal Pro, Google Checkout and Linkpoint, Authorize.net comes out on top which is why many merchants using these other gateways end up switching.

Additionally, they have an A+ rating with the BBB which immediately engenders trust. Many companies don't even bother with the BBB. 

They also offer some interesting protection options like an advanced fraud detection suite for just $9.95/month (their basic fraud detection service is free.)

What's the difference between a Payment Gateway and a Merchant Service Provider???

What really impresses me though, is the benefit you derive from starting your credit card services by opening an account with Authorize.net. To accept cards online you're going to need both a payment gateway and a merchant service provider. There's no way around it. Authorize.net is strictly a gateway service. Not all merchant service providers offer a platform for taking customers' credit card information on your own website. Generally, Merchant Service providers who do offer that option have partnered with a company, like authorize.net or the other popular ones mentioned above, that specializes in providing that platform (or gateway.) Then they offer you their merchant service program as one integrated whole. 

Authorize.net offers a merchant solution from the other direction. As one of the most respected and well monitored gateway service, they have partnerships with a wide range of merchant service providers, all of whom employ the authorize.net system as their trusted gateway. This gives you a range of options for your merchant service provider and you can be safe in the knowledge that the platform you will have for visitors on your website is of the highest quality at the best value for you.

Here's my recommend: 

If you're not happy with your current payment gateway or if your business is growing in a way that means you're more interested in establishing an online presence, I would start with Authorize.net. Authorize.net's standard merchant service provider is cybersource so unless your business is of a variety cybersource doesn't cover (i.e. adult content,) you will probably be steered towards cybersource. This isn't necessary though and you would do well to shop around. Treat the process like purchasing a car. There are negotiating points and Authorize.net has many partnerships with great companies so you can find one that best suits your needs.

One great option is Merchant Warehouse. With an A+ with the BBB and a sterling online reputation, Merchant Warehouse is widely regarded as one of the best Merchant service providers on the web. They also offer Authorize.net for free as part of their merchant solutions. Remember though, free is never free. Free usually means you are giving something up on the back end. In some cases this translates to a costly termination fee. In this case, what you lose (potentially) is access to precious customer data. 

The Truth About FREE:

When a merchant service provider offers a service like authorize.net for free they incur the cost and they maintain the account. Should you decide to terminate your agreement with that merchant service provider, your authorize.net account will be automatically terminated as well. Customer data such as recurrent payment, customer details, etc. will be lost in the process unless you have taken the time and energy to store the info in another data system… in which case, for the nominal monthly fees they charge, why not just let Authorize.net handle that? 

So for optimal control of your customer data, with minimal hassle, I recommend starting with Authorize.net and then going with a service provider. Or alternatively, go with a top service provider like Merchant Warehouse but opt out of their offer for free Authorize.net and set up the account indepedently, so you pay the fees and you control the data. To learn more about how to save yourself expense, time and headaches and negotiate the best deal for yourself with a merchant service provider, check out my review of US Merchant Systems which goes over what to look for, in detail. This stuff can get confusing because there are a few moving parts. But it's essential to understand, because it will form the foundation of your business.

What Else To Look Out For:

Remember, when it comes to merchant services you need to get a comprehensive picture of your costs beyond just rates. Otherwise, you'll have some unhappy surprises. Find out rates for all 3 categories of credit cards (qualified, mid-qualified, non-qualified.) Check into contract requirements, termination fees, annual & monthly fees, monthly minimums, etc. 

If you run a bricks and mortar business and you're curious about economical point of sales alternatives to standard credit card swiping equipment, check out this vid that shows how you can implement the Authorize.net software as your point of sale solution: 

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They've also partnered with some great companies who offer smart phone apps and swipers!

Being able to accept credit cards on the web can boost your sales by as much as 50% plus! If you're a mobile business or even traditional bricks and mortar, you don't even need the standard equipment these days, which can save you even more money!

If you're starting to do decent sales or plan to, I highly recommend checking out Authorize.net. Click on any of the buttons to this article, for further information.

Date Reviewed: February 4, 2012, 3:32 pm
Reviewed by Casey Dalton
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Research Sources
http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=164217
confused people arguing in a forum because many business owners don't have a basic understanding of the info I've provided in this article.
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