The PayPal checkout screen with options to login or pay by card
How you want your PayPal checkout to look…

When a small business or member organisation wants to process payments online, they frequently look no further than PayPal. Many people have PayPal accounts and prefer to pay this way as it reduces the number of small websites which hold any form of your card details. For the others, there is the reassurance that “you don’t need a PayPal account to pay by PayPal”.

We have recently come across several websites where this has not been the case. When the website transfers you to PayPal, you are presented with screen with options to login or to pay by entering your card details, as in the image.  A thorough check of the payment settings for various plugins confirmed that there is not a hidden setting on the sending side, so we turned to PayPal and found the answer.

How to set your PayPal account to accept cards

Screenshot of PayPla Website Preferences screen on Nepeta Consulting post

There is a setting in the PayPal Business account which controls whether your customers get the option of paying by credit card.  Go into “Profiles and Settings” and select “My Selling Preferences”.  Then click to Update the “Website preferences”.

The next screen gives you a number of options relating to how the PayPal payment page behaves when your customers visit.  For the most part, the default settings will work fine, unless your plugin instructs you to go in and change a setting.

Look for the “PayPal Account Optional” setting about halfway down the page.  Set it to “On” if you want to accept cards.  Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Save”.  Your PayPal page will now have the option to pay by card.

Why did it happen?

The problem seems to be a recent one. We have set up quite a few sites with PayPal and this has only been an issue on the recent ones.  We suspect that the PayPal has changed the default settings on new Business accounts.

Note that if you are asking for a recurring subscription, your customers will need a PayPal account. This is because recurring payments are managed from within PayPal, not on the card. In this case it is worth making sure potential customers are aware of this.