What Are the Best Small-Business Payment Options?

We surveyed small-business owners and shoppers to determine how payment options affect the shopping experience.

Key Takeaways

  • 60% of small businesses said they pay the cost of fees due to payment methods.
  • 21% of shoppers are willing to pay extra fees to pay with Amazon Pay.
  • Cryptocurrency was the least trusted payment method despite 65% of people saying that accepting this payment method would make them more loyal to a store or brand.

Americans Spend $459 per Month Through Google Pay, More Than Any Other Fintech Provider

It’s been a tumultuous few years for small businesses, with the economic impacts of the pandemic still being felt. As these businesses begin to recover, it’s understandable that many owners are more closely considering which payment methods are the smartest options for them. Name recognition, reputation, and ease of use are factors in these decisions; however, extra fees are also a concern.

Most business owners want to provide convenient payment options for customers without significantly affecting their profits. How are small businesses handling this situation? What payment options do their customers desire? We recently surveyed small-business owners and shoppers to find answers to these important questions and more. Read on to learn about the most trusted providers and what small businesses can offer to keep their customers happy.

Popular Small-Business Payment Options

In the first part of our study, we asked small-business owners and consumers which payment methods they trusted the most. The top 10 financial technology providers are ranked from most to least trusted below.

According to our results, Americans think Visa and Mastercard are the most secure payment methods for small businesses. Shoppers and owners still prefer credit cards despite the introduction of contactless and digital payment methods. And even though it was the most expensive payment method for small businesses, a well-established online payment system, PayPal, came in third. The least trusted payment methods for small businesses are Zelle, Apple Pay, and Venmo—a mobile payment service owned by PayPal.

Shoppers Don’t Trust Crypto

Payment methods are important for many reasons, but ultimately the best methods come down to reliability and consumer trust. In the next part of our survey, we asked consumers and business owners about the payment methods they use and how extra fees factor into those methods.

If a small business uses a payment merchant that a customer doesn’t know or trust, it can negatively impact the business. As digital payment becomes the norm, many customers expect a simple experience that doesn’t take too long or impede their purchasing process. These expectations undoubtedly inform the way commerce is evolving in the digital age.

Notably, 60% of small businesses reported paying the cost of fees from payment methods, while 22% rely on customers to cover costs. A smaller percentage (17%) split the charge between themselves and their customers. The high number of businesses covering the cost of extra fees certainly speaks to customers’ feelings about having to pay them—34% of respondents said they’d feel negatively toward a business if they charged extra to use a particular payment method.

Cryptocurrency is becoming more common in the digital age, but it’s the least trusted payment method among consumers in our survey. This response may be due to a lack of knowledge about crypto, as it’s much newer than other payment methods. After all, it’s an extremely popular form of currency that’s skyrocketed in interest and use over the past few years.

Crypto aside, there are payment methods that consumers trust enough to use and are willing to pay extra fees. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they’d be willing to pay fees to use Amazon Pay, while 20% said they would do so to use Google Pay.

What Are You Pulling Out of Your Wallet?

Sometimes consumers choose not to shop at a small business because of the payment methods that are or aren't available. For example, some establishments may be cash-only or only accept one form of payment online. Shoppers might also have concerns about payment security, but often, it's a convenience issue.

Take a look at the payment options most Americans prefer when shopping at small businesses.

Visa came out on top once again, with 46% of consumers saying they’d be more likely to shop at a small business that accepted it. Forty-four percent preferred Paypal, followed by Mastercard (41%) and Amazon Pay (39%). Interestingly, just 36% of respondents said they’d shop at a business that accepted Google Pay. However, the average amount shoppers spent monthly through Google Pay was $459—the highest average of vendors that included Amazon Pay, Venmo, and PayPal.

As for cryptocurrency, many Americans would be willing to use it as a payment method despite not trusting it as much as other methods. More than 7 in 10 said they’d use crypto to buy from a small business if it was available, and 65% said the availability of crypto as a payment option would make them more loyal to that particular business.

Speeding Up Checkout

We wanted to get a sense from consumers of whether certain factors in the checkout process would make them abandon their cart and not complete a purchase. Here's what they had to say and what small businesses should try to avoid.

Making online and in-store purchases can be either quick and easy or not. And although there have been strides made to protect online purchases better, there are still enough security concerns that some people stay away from online purchasing altogether. Having a secure and streamlined way to complete a purchase can go a long way in the success of a small business.

Among consumers, the biggest deterrents to completing a purchase were surprise costs and charges (51%) and security concerns (48%). More than one-third of Americans would also fail to complete a purchase if an online vendor asked for too much information or required an account login. Shoppers also dislike trudging through multiple pages during checkout, and 35% said they would abandon the purchase if their preferred payment method were unavailable.

Notably, 76% of respondents said they’d be more likely to purchase if there was a one-click payment option. Most American consumers clearly want small businesses to offer fast and safe payment options.

What Method Makes Sense for Your Business?

Being a small business owner requires drive, determination, and a passion for what you’re doing. That goes all the way to the payment methods you’re offering customers. As the study points out, these things matter, as does everything from name recognition to convenience and ease of use.

While we seem to be a ways off from cryptocurrency being a primary payment method, it appears that small businesses should focus on simplicity and streamlining. Even if that means paying convenience fees or prioritizing payment methods that customers would be willing to pay extra to use, making the purchasing process as easy as possible will undoubtedly lead to a better sales experience.

Achieving a trusted purchasing process with an affordable payment provider takes time and troubleshooting, but it’s possible for those who try.


Clarify Capital surveyed 749 small-business shoppers and 252 small-business owners to learn about different small-business payment options. Survey data has certain limitations related to self-reporting. These limitations include telescoping, exaggeration, and selective memory.

About Clarify Capital

At Clarify Capital, we help business owners secure financing that helps them become more than just business owners—it helps them become visionaries. No matter what the size of the loan is, we can help you get what you need so you can focus on building your business the right way.

Fair Use Statement

If you or someone you know is a burgeoning small business owner and you enjoyed our study, you’re welcome to share it. We just ask that you link back to the findings and that your purposes are noncommercial.

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