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Stripe Review

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Domain Editor
  • Stripe is our pick as the best payment processor for online businesses.
  • It has transparent, flat, pay-as-you-go pricing for its basic processing services.
  • It integrates with hundreds of business software applications, including e-commerce platforms, which can make it easier to use.
  • This review is for e-commerce business owners who want to learn about Stripe's processing services and why it's our best pick for online businesses.

Stripe is the best credit card processor for online businesses because it easily connects to existing e-commerce stores and websites with ready-to-go integrations and prebuilt checkout forms that you can customize to match your brand. It has transparent pricing with flat rates, no account fees for its basic services, and no contract. Its services are scalable, allowing you to add advanced features and customizations as your business grows.

Stripe

Stripe

The Verdict

Stripe is our pick as the best credit card processor for online businesses because it integrates with hundreds of business software applications, charges flat rates with no account fees or contract, and is packed with features and customization options.

Stripe Summary

Pricing model Flat rate
Monthly fees No
Contract length Pay as you go
Rates 2.7% + $0.05

Pricing

Flat-Rate Pricing

Stripe has simple, transparent pricing for its credit card processing services with no hidden fees. Here's what it costs to use Stripe's payment services.

  • Online credit card transactions: 2.9% + $0.30. This rate applies to all types of domestic credit and debit cards, including all card brands and card types – even premium rewards credit cards and American Express cards. It also includes digital wallets.

  • Online payments made with international cards: Additional 1% fee. If the payment requires currency conversion, another 1% fee is applied to the transaction.

In addition to credit and debit card 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.

One of Stripe's newer offerings, Stripe Terminal, can be used to accept credit and debit card payments in person.

  • In-person credit card payments with Stripe Terminal: 2.7% + $0.05. This rate applies to all types of domestic debit and credit cards that you accept in person using a card reader.

Other Fees

Stripe only charges you when you make a sale. There are no setup or monthly fees and no payment gateway fee. There's no PCI compliance fee either, since Stripe does the heavy lifting on PCI compliance for you. Because you accept a service agreement instead of signing a contract, there's also no early termination fee.

  • Chargeback fee:Online merchants are always at risk of payment reversals, also known as chargebacks, so it's a plus that Stripe has a low chargeback fee of $15. It has a dispute resolution process in place to protect sellers from fraudulent claims, and it is one of the few payment processors that will refund the chargeback fee if the dispute is resolved in your favor.

  • Add-on services:Stripe also offers services and products that cost extra to use. For example, if you need your money quickly, Stripe's instant payout service costs 1% with a minimum fee of 50 cents. If you use Stripe Billing to add recurring payments like subscriptions to your account, it costs 0.5% over the transaction fees. Other services that carry additional costs include Chargeback Protection, Stripe Sigma, Stripe Atlas, Radar for Fraud Teams and premium support. You can find details on these products and their pricing on Stripe's website.

Payout Schedule

When you start accepting payments, it takes Stripe seven to 14 days to transfer funds to you. Afterward, it transfers your funds on a rolling payout schedule. Most businesses qualify for its two-day rolling schedule, but businesses in higher-risk industries are on the seven- or 14-day schedule.

If you are on the two-day schedule and need the money from your transactions sooner than this, instant payouts are available for an additional fee.

Key takeaway: Stripe charges flat rates for both its online and in-person credit card processing services, with no monthly or annual account fees. Add-on services are available for an extra cost.

Integrations and Extensions

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, Stripe's tools make it easy for your small business to accept payments online.

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

Here's a small sampling of the e-commerce solutions that integrate with Stripe:

  • 3dcart
  • Big Cartel
  • BigCommerce
  • Cratejoy
  • Ecwid
  • GoDaddy
  • Magento 2
  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • Volusion
  • WooCommerce
  • Wix
  • X-Cart

Stripe Checkout

If you already have a website, you can use Stripe's prebuilt Checkout form. You only have to copy and paste a short code to instantly place buy buttons and payment forms anywhere in your e-commerce 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 developer tools, 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 use Stripe.js to build a custom payment flow.

Key takeaway: The easiest way to use Stripe is to integrate it with another business application, like an e-commerce platform. If you already have an online store, you can embed its prebuilt and customizable checkout forms into your website.

 

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.

 

Ease of Use

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

For Businesses

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 or 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 help you navigate the service. The 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.

As easy as it is to set up a Stripe account, add Stripe Checkout to an existing website, and connect to other integrated business systems, other features are complex. If you are not a developer and don't have one on staff, you may need to hire one to create a custom payment solution for your website with Stripe.

For Your Customers

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

To make the process even easier for customers, Stripe Checkout lets them securely save their credit card details so they don't have to enter it again on future purchases. This feature isn't just for your customers' benefit; this convenience can help you turn one-time buyers into returning customers. [Read related article: Credit Card Machines: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions]

Key takeaway: It's easy to set up an account with Stripe and add its prebuilt checkout form to your website. It's also easy for your customers to use. However, its customizable payment solutions are complex, so you may need a developer's help if you want to use them.

Features

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:

Accept More Credit Cards

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

Accept Digital Wallets

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.

Accept In-App Payments

You can allow your customers to shop and make in-app payments through your mobile app using Stripe's SDKs. Stripe supports both Android and iOS apps.

Accept Global Payments

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

Manage Payment Options

With Stripe Billing, 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. With this feature, you can create and send invoices to your customers via email and accept invoice payments through a hosted payment page. Stripe Billing is an add-on service that costs extra.

Accept In-Store Payments

As mentioned above, Stripe recently released Stripe Terminal, which has SDKs that you can use to build your own mobile app for accepting in-person payments. There are two credit card readers you can use with this feature:

  • The mobile credit card reader is a BBPOS Chipper 2X BT. It costs $59 and connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.
  • The countertop credit card terminal is a Verifone P400. It costs $299.

Both card readers are EMV certified and allow you to accept chip cards, contactless cards and mobile wallets.

View Real-Time Reports

From the dashboard, you can view your account activity in real time. You can manage refunds, respond to chargeback disputes, and track your sales, processing fees and refunds. The dashboard also shows when money is transferred from your Stripe balance to your bank account. You can export your data as a CSV file or as a monthly report for QuickBooks. For an extra fee, Stripe Sigma provides advanced business data.

Access the Dashboard on the Go

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

Use Stripe With the Rest of Your Business

Stripe connects with many of the business apps that you may already use, letting you automatically sync sales data across your operation. Third-party integrations include accounting and invoicing software, e-commerce solutions, email marketing services, analytics tools, point-of-sale systems, inventory management software, and CRM software.

Key takeaway: Stripe allows you to accept many card brands, digital wallets and international currencies. You manage your account from the dashboard, which you can access from a browser or the Stripe Dashboard app.

Security

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. First, it encrypts card data and processes transactions on its own network. This means no sensitive data 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, as Stripe's rep told us.

Stripe automatically implements several layers of protection 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. You will still need to do your part to be PCI compliant by following the data security standards and completing the annual self-assessment.

Stripe includes its fraud-prevention tool, 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 available to further protect your account from unauthorized access.

Key takeaway: Stripe meets the highest security standards and includes its fraud-prevention tool with your account.

Customer Support

If you have any questions about Stripe or trouble using it, the company offers these 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 to reach a representative directly when you need help.

Key takeaway: If you need customer support, you must email the company.

Limitations

Stripe is an affordable and customizable online credit card processing service, 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. 

[Check out all of our reviews for more small business credit card processing solutions]

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 payment method as a prohibited business practice. Check out our review of Square, another alternative for small business credit card solutions.

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 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 business 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.

Key takeaway: Stripe's website and tools can be intimidating for non-programmers, and it doesn't have a virtual terminal, which may be an issue for businesses that accept payments over the phone or by mail order.

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.

Image Credit: radifanil / Getty Images
Stripe

Stripe

The Verdict

Stripe is our pick as the best credit card processor for online businesses because it integrates with hundreds of business software applications, charges flat rates with no account fees or contract, and is packed with features and customization options.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Business News Daily Staff
Lori Fairbanks is a writer and editor for business.com and Business News Daily who has written about financial services for small businesses for more than seven years. Lori has spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and choosing the best options for critical financial-related small business services, including credit card processing services, point-of-sale (POS) systems and employee retirement plans. Lori's publishing experience is extensive, having worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies.