Skip to content

What is a pay link and how can you use one?

Written by

Last editedMay 20233 min read

Pay links are becoming increasingly popular in ecommerce and online payments. Using a pay link is a convenient way for merchants to accept payments remotely without the need for a website or payment gateway integration. Pay links are simple to set up and secure. They provide an easy way for customers to make payments online.

A pay link is a secure, unique URL that you can send to customers to facilitate online payments. With a pay link, there is no need for a website or payment gateway integration. Customers just need to click on the link and follow the prompts to complete a transaction. 

With some pay links, customers may not even need to enter their payment information. They may just need to verify their identity and confirm that they want to make the payment.

All pay links serve much the same purpose. However, different types of pay links achieve that purpose in different ways. This means that you can generally notice a clear difference between pay links from different payment systems. In fact, sometimes the same payment system offers different types of payment links.

For example, GoCardless currently offers three kinds of payment links. These are PayTo, Instant Bank Pay and standard bank payment. Currently, PayTo can only be used to charge customers in Australia. Instant Bank Pay can be used to charge customers in the UK and Germany. (It will be expanded to France in the near future). Standard bank payments can be used in any country where GoCardless operates.

The process for setting up a pay link varies between providers. With GoCardless, you can set up a pay link via the dashboard or the API. 

If you choose to send pay links by emailing them from the GoCardless dashboard, the GoCardless system creates a customer record for the recipient. The record is categorised as inactive until the customer makes the payment. This feature can make it easier for merchants to keep track of payments.

You may also be able to set up pay links through other software, particularly accounting packages, though this depends on the package you use. However, support for pay links is increasing.

There are many ways that you can use a pay link. Here are three of the most popular options.

Many invoicing packages allow you to add a Pay now button to an invoice. If the customer presses the button, they are charged immediately instead of on the invoice due date. 

Traditionally, using the Pay now button charges the customer via the payment method they already have on file. With pay links, you can direct the customer to make an immediate payment via the method of your choosing. (When pay links are used this way, they are often referred to as invoice links).

This can be useful if a customer does not yet have a payment method on file. It can also be helpful if their regular payment method is not suitable for the current situation. 

For example, it’s often very convenient for customers to pay recurring invoices via standard bank debit. If you want to take a deposit quickly, then PayTo is likely to be a better option.

If your invoicing software does not support this use of pay links, you can send the link separately. Once payment is made, you can just reconcile the invoice manually.

Pay links are formatted as regular html links. This means they can be used on websites in much the same way as any other link. For example, if you had a small number of service packages, you could have a Buy now (or Pay now) button for each option. This would send the customer to a pay link where they could make the purchase online.

You do not need to use invoices or have a website to use pay links. You can just message them to customers. You don’t even need a customer’s email address to do so. For example, if you are selling via social media (social commerce), you can send a pay link via the platform’s messaging system.

How can GoCardless 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.

Sign upLearn More

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up