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Pros and cons of international card payment

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Last editedMay 20232 min read

Credit cards are the preferred payment method in many countries. As your business expands its global reach, you might be wondering whether the familiarity of international card payments outweighs the high fees and other disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of accepting international card payment to help you decide.

How to accept international credit card payments

Before comparing the pros and cons, it’s first helpful to understand how to accept international credit card payments. Most businesses will use a third-party international payment gateway to authorise customer card details. These are suitable for online and offline transactions, working together with a payment processor and merchant account for authorisation, processing, and settlement.

In the case of accepting international payments, you’ll need a payment gateway that can handle multiple currencies. It will also need to automatically convert prices into these various currencies, with a multilingual interface.

Advantages of international card payment

Perhaps the biggest advantage of international card payments is their widespread recognition. Credit and debit cards are used throughout the world via international networks like Visa and MasterCard. This means they’re trusted by customers in different countries, who know their purchases are protected by their own card issuer or bank.

Another advantage is that online payment gateways are easy to integrate on your existing website. You’ll be able to get set up and start accepting payments immediately with all-in-one processors like PayPal or WorldPay. By removing geographic barriers to payment, you’ll increase revenue and sales as a result. With the help of online gateways, you’ll only need to wait a few days for funds to reach your business account. This in turn ensures a healthy cash flow.

Disadvantages of international card payment

On the other hand, international card payment processing isn’t cheap. Domestic card processing includes transaction fees taken as a percentage of the total sale. When you add in the currency exchange element, you’ll pay even more. Some credit card processors charge monthly fees as well as other expenses, so you’ll need to compare costs very carefully to get started.

Another potential issue is the risk of chargebacks and disputes. When customers ask for a refund, they’ll turn to the credit card company who passes this cost on to your business. This comes with an additional chargeback fee on top of the refund cost. Finally, you’ll need to think about the added cost of security and fraud. You’ll be responsible for maintaining online security systems to protect your customers from hacks and data breaches.

What is the best credit card for international payments?

The best credit card for international payments will depend heavily on customer payment preferences. Card networks like Visa and MasterCard are widely recognised at home and abroad. Most payment gateways facilitate multiple types of credit card payments. To choose the best international gateway, you’ll need to think about factors including:

  • Your budget (both monthly and per transaction)

  • How soon you need to start

  • The level of support you will need

  • The integrations you’ll need

  • The user friendliness of each platform

  • The payment methods offered

Is there an alternative to international card payment?

One of the main downsides of international card payments is their costly fees. This is because international card payments require multiple third-party intermediaries, each of which takes a cut out of the total. A simple solution is to bypass these card networks altogether, using secure bank payments instead.

GoCardless offers a secure bank pay solution perfect for recurring payments, available across 30 countries worldwide. Customers can pay in their local currency, which is transferred at real exchange rates for processing in your own currency without any need for a third-party foreign bank account. Customers and businesses get the best currency conversion rates on international payments, all without the hassle and expense of card fees.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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