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Stripe Review

Best Online Credit Card Processing Solution

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend Stripe as the best online credit card processor for small businesses in 2018. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of credit card processing companies on our best picks page.

Stripe is an online payment processing company designed for developers, so the first time you visit its website, you may feel out of your depth. However, once you know what to look for, you'll discover that Stripe offers tools that make it easy for your small businesses to accept payments online. Here are two easy ways to use Stripe.

One of the best things about Stripe is that it works with hundreds of business software applications and services, such as e-commerce platforms and shopping carts, accounting systems, and invoicing software. Many of these allow you to sign up for a Stripe account from right within the program. If you already have a Stripe account, you can connect it to these integrations with just a few clicks. That's it – no programming skills needed. Here's a sampling of the e-commerce solutions that integrate with Stripe:

  • 3dcart
  • BigCommerce
  • Ecwid
  • PrestaShop
  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • Volusion
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • WooCommerce
  • X-Cart

If you already have a website, you can use Stripe's prebuilt Checkout form. All you have to do is copy and paste a short code to instantly place buy buttons and payment forms anywhere in your online store. Alternatively, you can use plugins to add Stripe to your site.

If you have some coding experience or a developer on staff, you'll enjoy the rich assortment of features and advanced customization options Stripe provides. You can use Stripe Elements, a prebuilt UI, to customize the look of the checkout form for your website or mobile app, or Stripe.js to build a custom payment flow. With Stripe's APIs, you can accept payments, manage subscription billing, send invoices and more. The API works in a wide variety of programming languages, giving you even more options to make Stripe the perfect credit card processor for your online business.

Editor's note: Looking for information on credit card processors? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.

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Stripe users, including the small business owners we spoke with, rave about how easy the service is to use. For your customers, Stripe's checkout form is simple, making it easy for them to complete their purchases quickly.

Whether you're signing up for a Stripe account directly or through a third party that integrates with Stripe, the process is easy and takes just a few minutes. You fill out your business and bank information, activate your account, and choose a processing method. Stripe doesn't provide you with your own merchant account, so you don't need to fill out an application, submit to a credit check and wait for approval.

When you log in to your account from the Stripe website for the first time, you're greeted with a collection of how-to guides that make it easy to navigate the service. Its dashboard is user-friendly, with a minimalistic design and a simple navigation menu along the left side of the screen. Here, you can easily access transactions, customer information, subscription plans and any other feature you want to use.

While it's easy to set up a Stripe account and use its integrations to connect to other business systems, and fairly easy to add Stripe Checkout to an existing website, other features are complex. If you're not a developer and don't have one on staff, you may need to hire one if you want to use Stripe to create a customized payment solution for your website.

It's important to make sure that your online storefront is as easy as possible for customers to use. This includes a hassle-free checkout process to help close the sale and prevent abandoned carts. With Stripe Checkout, customers can check out quickly by simply clicking on a buy button and entering their credit card information.

To make it even easier for customers, Stripe Checkout has a feature that lets buyers securely save their credit card information, so they don't have to enter it again for future purchases from your site or other websites that use Stripe Checkout. This feature isn't just for customers' benefit – because of its convenience, this feature can help you turn one-time buyers into returning customers.

[See related story: Credit Card Machines: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions]

Stripe offers simple, transparent pricing for its online credit card processing service with no hidden fees. Stripe makes clear throughout its website that all you pay is a flat rate of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. You get all the features, but Stripe only charges you when you make a sale. The exception is if you accept international cards, which incur an additional fee of 1 percent. If the payment requires currency conversion, another 1 percent fee is applied to the transaction.

In addition to credit and debit cards payments, you can accept non-card payment methods such as ACH credit, ACH direct debit and wire transfer payments using your Stripe account. Pricing for these services is posted on the company's website.

Volume-based discounts are available, as are custom pricing plans for nonprofits and businesses that have very large or very small sales tickets. You can speak to a sales rep to get a pricing quote based on your company's numbers.

There are no setup or monthly fees, and no additional charges for operational costs like refunds, card storage, subscription billing or recurring payments, and declined transactions. There's no PCI compliance fee either, since Stripe does the heavy lifting on PCI compliance for you, and because you accept a service agreement instead of signing a contract, there's no early termination fee.

Because online merchants are always at risk for payment reversals, or chargebacks, Stripe has a low chargeback fee of $15. It has a dispute resolution process in place to protect sellers from fraudulent claims, and it refunds the chargeback fee to you if the dispute is resolved in your favor.

When you start accepting payments, it takes Stripe seven to 10 days to transfer your funds to you. Afterward, it transfers your funds on either a two- or seven-day rolling payout schedule. Most businesses qualify for the two-day rolling schedule, but businesses in higher-risk industries are on the seven-day schedule. If you need the money from your transactions faster than this, another processor may be a better fit for you, as this is a longer turnaround time than most. For example, if you need your money quickly, Square and PayPal offer instant transfer options for an additional fee.

Whether you accept credit card payments through an integration, use the simple Checkout form or implement a custom payment flow on your website, Stripe is packed with features to help you run and grow your e-commerce business. Here are some of the capabilities small businesses can take advantage of when using Stripe to process credit cards online:

In addition to the big four – Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover – Stripe lets you accept other credit cards, like Diners Club, JCB and China UnionPay.

You can accept digitally stored credit and debit cards from your customers who use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Microsoft Pay, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Amex Express Checkout, Masterpass by Mastercard and Visa Checkout.

Stripe lets you accept credit card payments in more than 135 currencies, so your international customers can pay in their local currencies, and Stripe automatically calculates conversions for you.

You can save time by automating payments with recurring billing, subscription plans, flexible billing periods and saved credit cards. You can also offer perks to customers, such as coupons, free trials and installment payments.

From the dashboard, you can view a monthly summary report that displays all charges, disputes, fees and refunds. It also shows when money is transferred from your Stripe balance to your bank account. You can export your data as reports in CSV or as a monthly report for QuickBooks.

Track sales and payments on the go using the Stripe Dashboard app. With the Android version, you can view business reports, daily summaries and historical comparisons. The iPhone version has more functions, allowing you to set alerts – for instance, when a purchase or payment is made – quickly search for transactions, issue refunds and email your customers.

As mentioned above, Stripe connects with a bevy of business apps you may already use, letting you automatically sync sales data across your operations. Third-party integrations include accounting and invoicing software, e-commerce solutions, email marketing services, analytics tools, point-of-sale (POS) and inventory management systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Security is a huge concern for any business that accepts credit cards, especially online. Stripe has multiple security protocols in place to keep your customers' payment data secure. Firstly, it encrypts card data and processes transactions on its own network. This means no sensitive data actually touches your servers, so hackers won't have access to your business's data or customers' credit card information if you're ever the victim of a cyberattack, Stripe's rep told us.

Stripe automatically implements several layers of protection specifically designed for web-based financial transactions. For instance, Stripe's client libraries and mobile API meet industry standards such as PCI DSS requirements so you're always compliant. Stripe is certified as PCI Service Provider Level 1, the highest level of security certification for the payment card industry.

Additionally, Stripe includes its built-in fraud-prevention tool, called Radar, with every account. Radar uses machine learning to identify and block fraudulent transactions. It assigns risk scores to each payment and automatically blocks those it considers high risk.

Two-factor authentication is also available to further protect and prevent unauthorized access to your account.

If you have any questions about or trouble using Stripe, the company offers several resources to help you find answers:

  • Email support for one-on-one help
  • A searchable database of articles and FAQs
  • How-to guides, tutorials and demo videos
  • Documentation on a wide variety of features and functions
  • Reference guides for developers, coding and third-party integrations

You'll notice that Stripe doesn't give you direct access to its customer support team, meaning you can't call a representative on the phone when you need assistance. You'll have to start with email support; a rep can then help you solve the issue online or give you a call. Stripe says this email-first system helps it provide faster support, but it's definitely a drawback if you prefer being able to reach a live person when you need help.

Stripe is an affordable and customizable online credit card processor, but it's highly technical. Although that's a plus for merchants who have development expertise or developers on staff, small businesses that want customizations will likely need to hire an outside developer to get the most out of the service. Even its website is intimidating for non-developers and doesn't make it easy to find its easy-to-use products – the integrations, extensions and prebuilt checkout form.

Stripe doesn't offer a virtual terminal for processing phone, fax and mail order purchases. Although you can manually key in credit card information in Stripe Dashboard, the company stresses that you can't use this as a regular method of accepting credit card payments, and the payment terms specifically mention this processing method as a prohibited business practice.

Like other merchant aggregators, Stripe has many online complaints about held funds and sudden account terminations. Stripe addressed these issues in a letter to the Better Business Bureau. It explains that, per its service agreement, it may hold your funds or cancel your account if it detects a fraud risk, if your business uses the service in an unauthorized way, or if it considers your business a high risk. For example, if your business has a sudden spike in chargebacks, Stripe may start holding your funds. If it discovers that your business sells products on its prohibited businesses list, it may close your account. To avoid these headaches, you'll want to read the service agreement or contract before you sign up with Stripe or any other payment processing company.

Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.

Ready to choose a credit card processing company? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for information on credit card processors? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.

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Lori Fairbanks

Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.