What is the best payment gateway for digital products?

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You’re ready to sell your first digital product, yay! But with the amount of payment processing companies and terms like SSL, it can get confusing fast. When you want to start selling digital products online for the first time, you want a payment gateway that’s easy to set up so you can move on to promoting your digital product launch ASAP!

If you’re already paying for an all-in-one solution like Kajabi that handles your email list and digital product sales, you’re all set and ready to go.

However, not everyone is ready for that type of solution. If you want to sell your first digital product, it may not be in your budget to pay for an all-in-one solution each month.

Which online payment processor is best for you?

It all depends on what type of product you’re selling and what types of integrations you need to connect with. The most common integrations are with your email marketing software and your membership site or plugin (if you have a membership site for customers).

If you’re selling an online course, it’s really important that your shopping cart integrates with your membership site or course platform, so your customers get access to your online course without you needing to manually add each person.

If you’re selling a live online workshop, it’s really important that your shopping cart integrates with your email software, so you can send your customers emails to prepare, excite & remind them about the workshop and how to access everything.

If you’re selling an ebook, workbook, PDF download, or another type of digital download, the main concern is how you’re going to deliver the file. 

If you’re selling different digital products that people may want to buy at the same time such as copywriting or design templates, you may want to use a platform where people can put multiple products in a cart and check out multiple products at once. For this, WooCommerce and Shopify are the way to go.

Below, I’ll share more details about each payment processor and shopping cart software.

What is SSL and why you need it

SSL provides a secure connection between your website and a visitor’s browser, allowing you to transfer private data online. Stripe and Gumroad require SSL, to secure sensitive data, like credit card info, that’s submitted to your site. You don’t need an SSL certificate for PayPal, because visitors will be navigating away from your site to PayPal (which does have SSL) to pay you.

You can buy an SSL certificate from your hosting company. Some hosting companies now include an SSL certificate for free with their hosting packages, for others, it’s a $5 add-on.


PayPal costs USD 0.30 + 2.9% per sale.

The percentage goes down if you sell huge amounts, and there are slight variations in charges depending on the country you’re in and whether it’s a sale in your own country or an international sale.

Your clients can use their bank accounts, debit, and credit cards with PayPal.

For payment, customers will be sent to PayPal, away from your site. When payment is complete, you can set it up to send customers to a certain page on your website, like a Thank You page.

Pros: Very easy to set up and get running. No complex tech. Integrates with pretty much any membership plugin, course platform, or email software you’d want to use, either directly or by using Zapier.

Cons: I’ve heard horror stories of PayPal holding funds from you so that you can’t transfer them into your bank account. However, it’s never happened to me, so I can’t speak about this from experience. You might be able to avoid it by calling them before you launch anything new – when there will hopefully be an influx of money coming in and you don’t want them to flag your account for it.


Stripe charges USD 0.30 + 2.9% per successful charge, but costs can vary depending on the country you’re in and whether or not your client or customer is in the same country.

In addition to debit and credit cards, you can set up Stripe to support wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and local payment methods for some countries.

For payment, a Stripe pop-up is shown on your site. When payment is complete, the pop-up disappears and clients stay on the same page, but you can edit the code to make it redirect to a Thank You page.

Pros: It’s easy to set up your Stripe account. Funds are transferred into your bank account automatically. Integrates with pretty much any shopping cart you’d want to use.

Cons: Complicated to set up on your site if you’re not using software that already integrates with Stripe.


Gumroad charges USD 0.25 + 5% per transaction.

With Gumroad, your clients or customers can pay with any major credit card or PayPal.

With Gumroad, you can either have a pop-up for the product and payment processing, or the product shown on the page itself and the payment processing overlaying the product information.

Pros: Very simple and straightforward. You can embed an order form on your site so customers don’t have to leave the page. It provides a direct download as soon as they purchase, so they don’t have to wait for anything.

Cons: Only allows credit card purchases. It also doesn’t directly integrate with many membership site plugins, course platforms, or email software, but you can use Zapier to connect it to almost any of them.

ConvertKit for selling digital products

ConvertKit charges USD 0.30 + 3.5% per transaction. Your money is transferred into your bank account automatically on a weekly basis.

Pros: Easy to set up and it’s inside your email marketing software, making it easy to set up delivery emails and sequences for your product or workshop. Your money is transferred into your bank account automatically.

Cons: If you’re not already using ConvertKit for email marketing, it may not be the best choice for you.

How to integrate a payment system on your website: Shopping Carts

Sell digital products online with PayPal

PayPal code for Buy Now button

To set up a product in PayPal, go to Seller preferences. Then click the Update link for PayPal buttons.

Click Create new button (or update an existing one by using the Action dropdown for existing buttons).
For products, you’ll want to use the Buy Now button type. Input the product name in Item name, set the price, and go through the steps. You can skip step 2 if it’s not a physical item, but keep the Save button at Paypal checked so you can edit the button later.

With Customize advanced features, you can add URLs to pages on your website when people have finished the payment process (and also a different page if they cancel).

Click Create button. You can then either copy the code given in the Website tab, which will create a button that looks like what’s shown in the Buyer’s View, or you can customize your PayPal button using the URL in the Email tab.

How to set up Gumroad to sell digital products

Gumroad code for Buy Now button

Adding a product in Gumroad is straightforward and well-explained by themselves. Once you’ve set up your product, go to Gumroad Widgets and select the Overlay (pop-up) version or the Embed (in-page) version. Next, select the product and edit the button text if you’re using the Overlay version. Finally, simply copy and paste the code into your website.

Sell digital products with ThriveCart

Once you’re ready to upgrade your digital product sales, ThriveCart gives you everything you could want: upsells, downsells, order bumps, A/B tests, and affiliates. It can connect with your email marketing software to send emails not only when someone purchases, but also when a product is refunded, when a payment is declined, or the cart is abandoned.

ThriveCart doesn’t process payments directly, but integrates with PayPal and Stripe.

ThriveCart integrates with several membership and course platforms, as well as most email marketing providers. And for those it doesn’t integrate with directly, you can use Zapier.

ThriveCart also has its own course platform, Learn (and Learn+). Learn is included in your one-time payment purchase of ThriveCart, and Learn+ is also a one-time purchase you can add on with your purchase or upgrade later.


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