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PayPal Payflow Review


The Payflow payment gateway is one option you can use if you’d like to take PayPal payments online. (Note, it is not the only way to do so. You can read about other options in our article on taking PayPal.)

As with all gateways, you can think of Payflow as the ”credit card machine” of the internet. It’s what your customers will ”swipe” their cards through. With Payflow, you can accept all major credit and debit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Payflow also supports accepting payments in multiple currencies, allowing international customers the comfort and convenience of paying in their own currency.

How to Use Payflow

The Payflow payment gateway works with a variety of credit card processors, eliminating the need to switch processors. If you don’t currently have a merchant account, you can either set one up through a processor that supports PayPal, or get set up with a PayPal Payments account directly.

There are two options: Payflow Link and Payflow Pro.

Payflow Link
With Payflow Link, you’ll utilize a checkout page hosted by PayPal, eliminating the need to accept transaction information on your own server. When completing a transaction, customers enter payment information into a PCI-compliant, secure template that PayPal hosts. You can use an embeddable template or customize a full-page template.

Payflow Pro
With Payflow Pro, you can fully customize a PCI compliant checkout page that is hosted directly on your existing website. You can tailor a variety of features, including language, page layout, PayPal buttons, and more. Payflow Pro may be a better option for businesses with developers or IT staff.


The PayPal Payflow gateway includes a several great features, including recurring billing, a hosted payment page option, virtual terminal, robust reporting, API resources for developers, basic and advanced fraud management tools, and an optional card reader for card-present virtual terminal transactions.

Recurring Billing
Recurring billing can be used to process repeat payments, such as monthly subscriptions. Recurring billing allows you to process the payments automatically, eliminating the need to manually request payment every time a customer should be charged.

Hosted Payments Page
Payflow offers a hosted checkout page (through Payflow Link) for those who prefer the added security of a payment page hosted off the businesses own server. Customers enter payment information in a page hosted by PayPal, with transaction data going directly to PayPal servers.

Virtual Terminal
The Payflow gateway includes a virtual terminal if you need to accept phone, mail, and fax payments or process cards in person. The virtual terminal is a secure web-based form that you can access from any computer with an internet connection.

Payflow offers a range of reporting options for managing business, including daily activity reports, transaction summaries, settlements, shipping and billing, fraud reports, recurring billing reports, voids and credits, and more. You can filter and view reports by a number of variables, including transaction ID, batch ID, account number, purchase order, and more.

API resources
For developers, Payflow offers an API reference and developer guide. Developer references include documentation, integration guides, sample code, API reference, and more.

Fraud management
Payflow includes basic fraud protection services at no additional cost. Basic fraud protection includes the ability to make lists of permitted IP addresses, fraud filters, and password management. You can choose to add extra fraud tools for an additional fee. Additional features include Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode security functions (offering extra protection for processing Visa and MasterCard payments) and advanced fraud filters.


If you prefer to swipe credit cards at the time of sale with the virtual terminal option, PayPal offers a USB card reader that plugs into computers and populates the card data into the payment form. You may benefit from lower card-present rates and fees if you use a card reader for entering data into your virtual terminal. 


Payflow is PCI-compliant, offering security for businesses and their customers. Additionally, Payflow offers fraud management features, including IP address tracking and fraud filters, to ensure safety.


The cost to use Payflow as a gateway only is 10 cents per transaction. That cost is in addition to the pricing set by your credit card processing company for transactions. If you choose to use the Payflow gateway with a PayPal Payments account, your pricing is likely to be 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction, though volume discounts may be available. Depending on the type of account you set up, a $30 monthly fee may apply.

If you’re looking to know what your total costs would be to use Payflow with your choice of processor, you can get fully disclosed quotes using CardFellow’s free quote request tool.

Helpful Links

Manufacturer’s page

Product Features



  • Includes virtual terminal
  • Fraud prevention features
  • Recurring billing
  • Level III data
  • Mobile swiper support
  • Card storage vault
  • Hosted Checkout
  • Multi-currency support
  • Web Service API
  • Customized risk preferences
  • Real-time reports
  • Electronic invoicing

PayPal Payflow Q&A

PayPal Payflow Reviews ( 4)

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from eCommerceWiz, on Feb 22, 2018

Was great in the past, but now just a money grabbing cast of chaotic bankers. They love it when you lose a customer dispute because they charge you at least $20.00 per dispute (win or lose). You will always lose, even when you customer contacts them or the credit card issuer to validate a transaction they didn't recognize. You lose your product, your payment + the $20.00 dispute fee. They run you through the paperwork circle just to keep you busy for three months until they ALWAYS rule the dispute against you. Thankfully, my customers always give me another card for payment when they realize what is happening, but Paypal still gets your $20 dispute fee. I know more about merchant processing than Paypal Payflo does. I've done it for 20 years.

from Tom, on Nov 11, 2017

I have been with PayPal flow for 4 years. Now I will be looking for another gateway. there is more trouble with PayPal then it is worth, not to mention all the repeat paper work they want you to fill out and send. I've spent more time with PayPal then I did on my business. Time to change.

from Rose, on Feb 16, 2017

I will give a negative if it is available. They have no responsibility with regards to the authenticity of the card owner. You can basically enter any address and name as long as you have the card number. When chargeback occurs, you lose your products, shipping fees and to add insult to injury, PAYPAL will charge you a FEE (a fee for collecting fraudulent funds!!!) Why should they care anyway? They make money both ways, your Paypal fees if a real transaction or even higher if the transaction is fraudulent. Take your business elsewhere.

from CardFellow, on Jan 21, 2017

You can choose which option works for you (Link or Pro) to either create a fully customized checkout page, or use PayPal's.

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