How to Accept International Payments

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With the world economy becoming more globalised, being able to accept international payments has become especially important. These are transactions where funds transfer from one country to another, typically exchanging currencies at the same time.

Whether you’re taking credit card payments or direct debits from a bank account, international payments are necessary if you want to become a truly global brand.

This guide explores things to consider before accepting international payments, their benefits and drawbacks, and how to accept them.

Accepting International Payments as a Merchant

Before accepting international payments with payment processors like Airwallex, here are some important things to consider.

The Cost of Accepting International Payments

International payments are often more expensive than domestic payments due to additional costs like currency conversion fees and charges by banks and/or other intermediaries.

For example, Stripe charges 1.5% + 20p for standard UK credit card payments, but 3.25% + 20p for international cards, along with an extra 2% if it requires currency conversion. The exact fee varies, but it’s usually between 2.5% and 5%.

Opting to receive international payments via other methods can come with different costs, too. For example, many UK banks charge a small fee for receiving international wire transfers, along with other potential costs like foreign transaction fees.

In addition, you should monitor exchange rates. They’re constantly changing, and even small fluctuations can impact how much your international payments cost.

Scenarios Where Businesses May Want to Accept International Payments

You’ll probably want to accept international payments if your business falls into one of the following categories:

  • An ecommerce platform that wants to expand into markets around the world
  • An educational establishment that welcomes international students
  • A hotel or airline that frequently has people from all over the world making purchases
  • A streaming platform or subscription service with global customers
  • An importer or exporter who frequently works with partners in other countries

There are also some specific benefits and drawbacks to be aware of, as we explore below.

Benefits of Accepting International Payments

  • Reach more potential customers
  • Better brand recognition
  • Advantage over competition that doesn’t accept international payments

Drawbacks of Accepting International Payments

  • Higher fees
  • Potentially complicated regulations
  • Increased vulnerability to fraud

How to Choose Which Currencies/Payment Methods to Offer

To choose what currencies to offer, you’ll need to research your target market. This is the group of people you want to reach with your product/service or who you feel is most likely to purchase it.

For example, if you’re marketing your product/service to Canadians (or your research finds that Canadians are likely customers), you’ll want to make sure you support the Canadian dollar. You should also be familiar with the types of payment methods your target is most comfortable using.

One country may like making online international payments with a credit card, while another might prefer to send money orders internationally. Do your research and ensure you make things as easy and familiar as possible for your target.

For more advice on taking payments, read our guide on how to accept payments in instalments.

How To Accept International Payments

Your business can accept payments from international customers in several ways.

Accept International Payments Online

For many businesses and ecommerce platforms, accepting international payments through an online payment method is the preferred choice. It’s quick, easy to set up, and generally integrates well with your website/store.

Popular online payment processors include Stripe, Square, Worldpay, takepayments, and PayPal. Each has different features and fees, so do your research to find the right one for your needs.

When you get started with many of these platforms, you won’t have to do anything special to start accepting international payments because multi-currency support is often built in. As a result, it’s just as easy to accept international payments as domestic payments.

For example, Stripe supports well over 100 currencies and lets you charge customers in their currency, while being paid in yours. The conversion happens automatically, as well.

While many of these providers support a variety of currencies and countries, make sure the ones you want to support are included before agreeing to use any solution.

Accept International Wire Transfers

A wire transfer is a secure way to send funds directly from one bank account to another, and works both domestically and internationally.

To accept wire transfers from customers, you need to provide your:

  • Business name and address
  • Account number
  • Sort code
  • Payment amount

The exact requirements vary depending on your bank, so reach out to it to ensure you’re sending the proper information to customers.

Accept International Money Orders

A money order is a type of certified payment that’s similar to a check but treated like cash. Customers can go to a bank or other location, pay for a money order, and send it through the post. It’s more practical than sending cash. It’s also more secure as it can be replaced if lost before being cashed.

While they aren’t as common as in the past, some parts of the world still use them, especially where not everyone has a bank account. Because money orders are sent through the post, if you want to accept them, you just need to provide an address.

Important Future Actions

Whichever method(s) you implement to receive international payments, there are some steps to take to ensure your system is efficient and customers are satisfied with the experience.

Be Aware of Compliance Requirements

When dealing with international payments, you have to ensure you’re abiding by all proper laws and regulations.

Some examples of these regulations include AML (anti-money laundering) rules, PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance, tax liabilities, import/export restrictions, and more. Payment processing partners tend to handle a lot of the heavy lifting regarding compliance, but it’s still important to be aware of it.

Take Security Seriously

Any time you’re dealing with the transfer of funds, fraud is something you need to think about. While all payments are susceptible to fraud, international payments are especially vulnerable.

This is because there’s no single regulatory body to oversee them, and the process isn’t standardised. Each country has its own security regulations and policies, and some are more vulnerable than others.

Thankfully, there are plenty of techniques to mitigate fraud, too. You need to use secure payment methods and allow customers to use 2FA to better protect their accounts. All employees should be well trained on how to identify various types of fraud, from phishing to fake invoices. Performing risk assessments and monitoring transactions also helps to identify potential fraud.

Make Sure Your Site/Online Store is Approachable for Everyone

If you sell your product or service around the world, every customer who visits your site/store should be comfortable navigating it and making a purchase.

For example, you should use localised pricing that tailors the price/currency presented on your site based on the visitor’s location. Thankfully, many payment processors include this feature.

Make sure the site looks good and performs well on various devices, too. In fact, many parts of the world (especially in Africa and Asia) have much more traffic from mobile devices than computers, so ensure you don’t disregard your mobile experience.

Consider offering support for multiple languages, too. You could have your checkout process and FAQs page translated into other languages, or even hire people who speak your target’s language for personalised support over the phone or in a live chat.


International payments are widely accepted by ecommerce platforms, universities, subscription services, hotels, airlines, and a variety of other businesses. While they may have higher fees and additional regulations to think about, accepting them enables you to reach more customers and build your brand recognition around the globe.

If you’re interested in accepting international payments for your product or service, don’t hesitate to research which methods might work best for you and which currencies and languages you should support.


What are the best providers for accepting international payments online?
Top options for accepting online international payments include Square, Stripe, takepayments, Worldpay, and Paypal, each with its own costs and features.
What does it cost to accept international payments?
Taking international payments is generally more expensive than taking domestic payments. This is due to things like currency conversion fees and additional fees imposed by banks/intermediaries. Exact costs vary but usually range from 2.5% to 5%.
What are some things to consider before accepting international payments?
Before you accept international payments, you should think about the associated costs, the type of scenarios that call for international payments, and how to choose the currencies/payment methods to offer.
Written by:
Kale has over five years of experience writing on a broad range of business-related topics, including business technology, software, automation, human resources, employee engagement, and finance. He also holds a BSc in Sociology with a Minor in E-commerce and a certificate in Business Administration. Kale's easy-to-digest, research-driven articles stem from his passion for sharing knowledge with readers, and his bylined work has been published on Yahoo, BestMoney and a selection of SaaS sites.