Stripe Payments Review: Is It Worth Using for Your Business?

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Updated: 29th Sep 2021
Written by Jordan Blansit
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Stripe, Inc. – sometimes referred to as Stripe Payments or just Stripe – is a payment gateway renowned for its ecommerce integrations, extensive developer API, and transparent, flat-rate fees.

The company processes billions of dollars in payments annually and works with thousands of merchants, including big-name clients like Amazon, Adidas, and HubSpot, to name three.

But is Stripe Payments worth it for your business – or is it best suited to serve the big guys?

That’s what we’re here to find out.

Stripe Payments Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Quick, easy card processing
  • Free API to build custom ecommerce experience
  • Predictable, flat-rate pricing with no hidden or unnecessary fees
  • Advanced reporting tools
  • International and multicurrency support
  • Excellent marketplace and subscription tools

Cons:

  • Incompatible with PayPal
  • Account stability concerns
  • Doesn’t contract with “high-risk industries”
  • Requires technical skills to get the most bang for your buck

What is Stripe?

Stripe is a credit card processor that serves a large swath of online-only businesses, though it’s recently moved toward in-person transactions, as well.

This massive platform is built on the back of powerful developer tools, 24/7 customer support, and a predictable pricing model that puts its customers first.

Stripe Payments Reviews

With Stripe, you can construct your own ecommerce environment from the ground-up. Their free, comprehensive API is well-known for its ease of use and unique, highly functional product outcomes.

And while developers will truly get the most out of Stripe, you can keep your hands code-free by partnering with third-party platforms to build your store for you – for an additional fee, of course.

That said, bear in mind that if you’re just after a basic online payment solution, you’ll barely scratch the surface of Stripe’s potential.

How Does Stripe Work?

Stripe is what’s known as an aggregate payment processor, or aggregator. In other words, it doesn’t provide individual merchant accounts; it is the merchant account, under which all of its users clump together.

As such, when you sign up for Stripe, you won’t need to open a dedicated account and undergo an extensive underwriting process.

Instead, you’ll enjoy instant access to payment processing tools – though your business will be under intense scrutiny for fraudulent activity.

The best way to use Stripe is to integrate its software into your ecommerce business, rather than vice-versa.

If you prefer a plug-n-play toolkit, you can also insert Stripe Checkout into your website, though it’ll cost you some functionality.

Additionally, Stripe integrates with a variety of CRM software, invoicing tools, and analytical platforms if their baked-in features don’t cover all your bases.

Regardless of how you set up, once you’re ready to go, you can manage Stripe services from your personalized Stripe dashboard. For example, you can:

  • Set specific roles and permissions for employees
  • Track recent payment processing activity
  • View refunds and disputes
  • Generate customized charts and analytical data

And best of all, you don’t need a desktop to make the most of your front-end. Just download the iOS or Android mobile app and take your business with you wherever you go!

What Does Stripe Offer Businesses?

Stripe is best suited for businesses with a developer on hand who can make use of their extensive API.

From here, you can design a custom checkout experience right within your website – a major perk for companies that don’t want to shunt their customers to third-party portals.

Stripe also offers a number of perks to businesses large and small, such as:

  • Two-business-day rolling deposits
  • Unified payments
  • Preferred currency deposits and conversions
  • Integrations with most major domestic, foreign, and international card networks
  • Contactless and ACH transfer payment options

Additionally, to generate the highest acceptance rates at the lowest risk to your business, Stripe tests and runs multiple optimizations of every transaction for a seamless customer experience.

Stripe Payments Features and Benefits

Stripe has grown from a small company based on seven lines of code into a massive company that pulls in billions of dollars in revenue annually.

Stripe Payments

And while they’ve branched out into various financial, business, and even legal services since their 2009 inception, their bread-and-butter offering remains their payments features.

Online Payments

The basic perk of accepting online payments, of course, is the ability to sell product through an online shopping cart.

But Stripe does so much more, like:

  • Processing credit and debit card, mobile wallet, and localized payment methods
  • Integrating with online portals and mobile apps
  • Converting over 135 international currencies

But before you can start taking online payments, you have to build your portal. That’s where Elements and Checkout come into play.

Stripe Elements

Elements is part of Stripe’s famous API system. This custom UI (user interface) toolkit provides merchants with everything you need to craft a unique payment form from the ground-up.

Although Elements is designed for developers first, it also offers prebuilt components for the less technologically inclined to make the most of their Stripe partnership.

Stripe Checkout

Checkout is Stripe’s alternative to Elements for those who prefer to bypass coding altogether.

This prebuilt, embeddable form offers basic functionality and customizations for desktop, mobile, and tablet interfaces.

Payment Links

Merchants can also take advantage of Stripe Payment Links, which allow you to design a payment page in just a few clicks – no coding required.

Whether you want to sell product, kickstart the subscription process, or collect donations, Stripe makes it easy from their sleek, navigable dashboard.

Once you generate your link, all you have to do is paste or embed it anywhere that accepts text, including your:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Social media accounts
  • Messaging platforms

Note that generating Payment Links comes with your basic Stripe account. But recurrent payments – such as automated reorders and subscriptions – are subject to Stripe Billing pricing.

Stripe Terminal

Stripe has long been heralded as one of the best online-only payment processors around. But with Stripe Terminal, businesses can now build their own in-person checkout solutions. Stripe Terminal comes with:

  • Flexible developer tools to create customized receipts, reader splash screens, and more
  • Cloud-based hardware management
  • Scalable, centralized fleet management
  • JavaScript, iOS, and Android-based POS (Point-of-Sale) integrations

While some of Stripe’s hardware is still under development, you’ll soon be able to order a pre-certified EMV card reader for as little as $59 or up to $249, with transaction costs of 2.7% plus 5 cents.

Stripe Terminal for Small Businesses

Additionally, all units will come with end-to-end encryption, native chip, swipe, and contactless payments, and wireless capabilities.

Billing and Invoicing

I mentioned Stripe Billing above – and here it is.

With this add-on service, you can manage your one-time, monthly, and recurrent billing and subscriptions with ease.

You can offer marketing tools, update and renew card information automatically, and send custom invoices and payment requests right from your dashboard. Plus, invoicing services come with support for:

  • Usage-based, tiered, and promotional payments
  • Coupons and prorations
  • Add-ons
  • Overages

Not to mention, Stripe’s smart retries feature can reduce churn even as your system syncs your billing and payments with internal workflows.

And, like almost everything else Stripe offers, you can use their flexible, open API or opt for the no-code-required building-block developer.

Stripe Financial Services Features and Benefits

Payments aside for a moment, Stripe’s also expanded services into the financial sector. Welcome to business banking – without the bank.

Corporate Card

The Stripe Corporate Card provides a quick, easy way to handle expenses, manage real-time spending, and accelerate your business with growth-linked credit increases.

And rather than complex reward programs, all cards come with 1.5% cashback on every business purchase.

Additionally, Corporate Card customers enjoy features like:

  • No fees of any kind
  • Partner benefits like $5,000 in credits for Amazon Web Services or 30% off a HubSpot subscription
  • Spend controls
  • Software integrations

At the time of writing, the Corporate Card program is in beta mode, which means it’s invitation-only.

You can request an invitation through Stripe – and if you’re approved, you’ll be up and running with your logo-branded virtual card in just minutes.

Card Issuing

You can also instantly create and issue your own virtual and physical cards from within the Stripe dashboard.

These programmable cards come with no setup fees or long-term contracts, expense controls, and designations for one-time or multiple use.

But they aren’t free. Pricing starts at 10 cents per virtual card and $3 per physical card, subject to spending limits, international transaction fees, and currency conversion fees.

Stripe Capital

Stripe Capital is the company’s answer to traditional banking loans. With flexible financing, you can invest in your business’ growth, manage cash flows, and see your profits expand.

At the time of writing, Stripe Capital is only available to select businesses based on payment volume and your Stripe history.

Eligible businesses won’t have to complete a credit check or endure a complicated application process – simply request your funds, receive them next-day, and get to work.

There are no burdensome interest rates or late payment fees to worry about; just a single, flat fee.

Plus, repayment is fully automated based on a percentage of your daily sales, so you only pay what you can afford, as you can afford it.

Stripe Treasury

Treasury is a banking-as-a-service API that lets you embed your financial services in your marketplace or ecommerce platform. With a single integration, you can let your customers:

  • Hold funds
  • Pay their bills
  • Earn interest
  • Manage cash flows

Moreover, this bank account replacement is FDIC-insurance eligible and comes with the ability to build a full-featured, scalable financial product.

Stripe Business Operations Features and Benefits

Payments and banking aside, Stripe also provides a number of business-oriented services for its users. (Some of which come included in the integrated fee schedule – and others which cost a pretty penny.)

Online Identity Verification

Stripe Identity is there for businesses who need to confirm the identity of their users.

This software helps businesses reduce scammer and fraud incidents, confirm employees during onboarding, and prevent account takeovers.

And the pricing schedule is simple: $1.50 per verification and 50 cents per ID lookup.

Connect

Stripe Connect is a suite of programmable APIs designed for marketplaces and platforms – think Kickstarter and Lyft, both of whom use Stripe Connect. Users can employ Connect to:

  • Build their product or service marketplace
  • Customize onboarding
  • Verify international sellers
  • Create custom pay schedules, automate payments, and facilitate complex money movements
  • Shift PCI compliance to Stripe

What’s more, all of this is possible in over 135 currencies and 44 countries!

Radar

Radar is Stripe’s answer to ecommerce fraud. This program uses machine learning to identify and stop credit card misuse – and it comes built into your software, with no additional setup required.

Though some features cost extra. With Radar, you can:

  • Distinguish fraudsters from customers
  • Use Dynamic 3D Secure to verify high-risk payments
  • Increase your peace of mind that your business won’t facilitate fraudulent activities

To accomplish this, Radar uses a retrainable algorithm that adapts to your business and global shifting fraud patterns.

The AI uses hundreds of millions of data points based on Stripe’s payment processing network, which collects information on every industry, company size, and business model it encounters.

Sigma

Sigma is an add-on service that lets businesses quickly analyze their Stripe data and gain comprehensive business insights.

With instant answers powered by SQL, Sigma helps your company:

  • Identify the customers least likely to churn
  • Locate geographies that generate the most revenue
  • Ascertain the most seasonally popular products
  • Customize how your team runs and receives reports

But Sigma isn’t free. Pricing is based on factors such as how many charges, authorizations, and application fees your business processes.

Atlas

If your company is still an idea in your head, Stripe has a platform for that, too: Atlas. This powerful, yet simple, tool walks you through the process of launching your startup with:

  • A best-in-class legal structure built for scale
  • Accessible financial tools
  • Entity setup in the state of Delaware
  • Your own Tax ID number
  • Stock issuance
  • Legal document creation and completion

Best of all, you can get started in 10 minutes for an initial setup fee of $500. Note that Stripe will continue to charge you for basic business maintenance costs annually.

Tax

With Stripe’s tax tools, you can jump into local, state, and federal tax compliance in minutes, with features like:

  • Registration identification and completion tools
  • Automatic sales, VAT, and GST tax collection
  • Tax reporting, filing, and remittance

And like the rest of Stripe’s platform, there are no fixed fees, hidden costs, or transaction limits – just a 0.5% charge per transaction, or 0.4% when you process more than $100,000 per month.

Climate

Like Square, Stripe offsets its carbon footprint to the tune of at least $1 million annually under its Negative Emissions Commitment.

And for businesses who want to do their part, they make it easy to direct a fraction of your revenue toward emerging carbon removal technologies. The hope is that these processes will be able to scale upward – and, eventually, become cheaper.

You can enroll right from the dashboard and let your customers know you care about the climate with a badge on every receipt, invoice, and checkout terminal. Good for you!

Stripe Fees and Rates

Stripe’s pricing falls in line or just slightly higher than many of its peers at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

Businesses can also expect to add a 1% charge for processing international cards and an additional 1% for currency conversions.

At this price, users can enjoy the full payment processing system, feature updates, global support, Stripe’s full API, and enhanced security and analytics.

But this price isn’t all-inclusive – some features, tools, and services cost extra.

For a comprehensive look at Stripe’s pricing, check out the table below:

Service:Fee(s):
Cards and Wallets2.9% + $0.30
Bank Debits and Transfers0.80% (Capped at $5.00)
Additional Payment MethodsStarts at $0.80
Adaptive Acceptance0.08%
Instant Payouts1.0%
Billing (Starter)0.50%
Billing (Scale)0.80%
Invoicing (Starter)0.40% (First 25 Invoices Free Per Month)
Invoicing (Plus)0.50%
Connect (Standard)Free
Connect (Express + Custom)0.25% + $0.25
Tax0.50% Per Transaction
Radar Machine Learning Starts at $0.05
Radar for Fraud TeamsStarts at $0.07
Chargeback Protection0.40%
ID Document & Selfie Verification $1.50 Per Verification
ID Number Lookup $0.50
In-Person Card Processing2.7% + $0.05
Card Reader (BBPOS Chipper 2X BT)$59
Card Reader (BBPOS WisePOS E)$249
SIGMAStarts at $0.02
ATLASOne-Time $500 Fee
Card Creation$3.00
Card Transactions Free for the First $500,000 then (0.20% + $0.20)
International Payments1.0% + $0.30
Disputes$15 Per Lost Dispute
Premium SupportStarts at $1,800

How Much Does Stripe Premium Support Cost?

Stripe Premium Support is there for users with specialized customer support needs, such as:

  • Prioritized responses
  • A dedicated support manager
  • On-demand emergency support for critical issues
  • In-dashboard chat
  • Personalized optimizations

But this service isn’t free – prices start at $1,800 per month.

6 Reasons to Use Stripe Payments

Stripe is a comprehensive tool for developers and growing businesses who need more than just basic payment processing, such as:

#1. Developer-friendly & Seamless Integrations

While you can use Stripe without coding, it’s really built for developers who want to integrate and customize their payment framework within their new or existing ecommerce site.

Fortunately, their coding process is simple whether you want to achieve minimal functionality or go all-out from the get-go.

To facilitate your creativity, Stripe offers exhaustive documentation, security keys for tests and live code, and even fake credit card numbers to play with.

Plus, with handy tutorials, code snippets and boilerplate projects, and server-side language support, you’re never left in the dark.

Oh…and did we mention Stripe’s 300+ software-friendly integrations?

#2. Scalable Solutions

Nearly every Stripe tool can be scaled to your business. Even if you don’t have the technical skills to make use of Stripe’s API, their integrations, add-ons, and codeless features provide all the functionality you need to run a growing organization.

Whether you need extra Billing capabilities, the tools to craft your own marketplace, or corporate cards and capital financing, Stripe makes it possible to build your business from the ground-up.

#3. Tailored Tools to Meet Your Business Needs

In addition to scalable solutions, Stripe provides everything you need for a highly customized customer experience.

Add on the tools you need, scrap the ones you don’t, and enjoy a flat-rate payment system on 99% of features so you’re never surprised by hidden costs.

Plus, with the company’s latest push into hardware terminals, businesses of all stripes will soon be able to easily process in-person payments as well as online orders.

#4. Trusted Security

In the world of online payments, fraud and security breaches are high on the list of “how to get yourself cancelled quick.”

Fortunately, Stripe offers myriad tools to protect your business, such as its machine learning algorithms, 3D Secure verification system, identity checks, and of course, end-to-end encryption.

And all that on top of industry-standard PCI compliance and an automated dispute network.

#5. Reliable Infrastructure and Support

As one of the world’s most valuable venture-backed companies, Stripe has a reputation for reliability.

The payment processor is accepted and used in the majority of the world’s countries, works with dozens of international currencies, and is highly compatible with the bulk of online software.

And should you ever get lost, hit a brick wall, or find yourself in a payment emergency, Stripe offers tons of support in the form of its:

  • Self-help knowledgebase
  • Comprehensive developer documentation
  • 24/6 live chat, phone, and email assistance
  • Freenode IRC chat

#6. Employs Machine Learning and AI

Last, but certainly not least, the presence of Stripe’s machine learning and AI algorithms make the company’s security and capabilities top-notch in the industry.

From analyzing hundreds of millions of data points to update its fraud detection software to programmatically verifying thousands of employee and customer identities, Stripe’s AI is here to keep your business safe, secure, and on the cutting edge of industry.

Welcome to the future.

Downsides of Using Stripe

Of course, I’d be remiss if we didn’t go over the downsides of Stripe’s platform, as well.

#1. The Restricted Business List

As an aggregator, Stripe is responsible for all the businesses under its “umbrella” merchant account.

Unfortunately, that means that in the interests of preventing fraud and illegal activity, the company maintains a thorough list of businesses that it considers prohibited, like:

  • Finance, including currency exchanges, crowdfunding, investment and credit services, and real estate
  • Virtual currency producers and exchanges
  • Adult content and services, including escort services
  • Multilevel marketing and get-rich-quick schemes
  • Businesses involved with counterfeit products intellectual property rights infringement
  • High-risk or vice businesses such as gambling, firearms distribution, and cannabis dispensaries

Additionally, Stripe prohibits services with direct or indirect links to the high-risk jurisdictions of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea Region.

#2. Account Holds and Terminations

The number one complaint of (often former) Stripe users is the payment processor’s penchant for account terminations, monetary holds, and sweeping payment reversals.

In its quest to prevent and eliminate fraud and unhealthy business practices, Stripe’s AI is known to be a bit…overzealous in its task.

And while that’s not unusual for third-party payment systems, it does inject a level of account instability that some industries may find unappealing.

That said, Stripe is still better than some of its competitors, as it usually gives five days’ notice before closing accounts and refers now-former customers to alternatives like PaymentCloud.

#3. Best for Developers

Stripe has worked tirelessly to ensure its API-based payment system is as accessible as possible for the layman.

But as a software built with developers in mind, it remains very much a service for the code-inclined – which leaves users who prefer a plug-n-play model in the dust.

How Does Stripe Compare to Other Payment Solutions and Processors?

#1. Stripe vs. Square

Square is a payment processor that’s often compared to Stripe, but there are some distinct differences.

For instance, Square is better suited for in-person transactions with their wide range of tried-and-tested hardware, and the software is less developer-dependent than Stripe.

Additionally, Square’s basic platform is less comprehensive than Stripe’s, but their per-transaction cost ranges 2.6% plus 10 cents to 3.5% plus 15 cents.

And if you’re missing essential functionality, you can buy into one of Square’s add-on packages, making it a scalable platform.

>> More: Stripe vs. Square

#2. PayPal for Businesses vs. Stripe

PayPal is one of the most well-known payment processors in the world – but the service is shot through with hidden costs and a long list of international and currency exchange fees.

That said, PayPal’s customer support, online help center, and integration library is tough to beat. Plus, it carries the benefit of brand-name recognition with shoppers.

But to unlock its full potential, you’ll have to buy into the $30 per month subscription for PayPal’s virtual terminal.

#3. Stripe vs. Payment Depot

Payment Depot’s membership-based pricing model is ideal for high-volume clients who need cheaper per-transaction costs.

The company also offers easy integrations, an unlimited package for $199 per month (plus five cents per transaction), and no-contract payment processing.

That said, if you start in a lower bracket – subscriptions begin at $49 per month plus 15-cents per swipe– you’ll be subject to processing limits, lest your profits drag you into the next-highest tier.

#4. Stripe vs. Clover

Clover POS is built for customers who do most of their business in-store. You can get a countertop register for as little as $600, with the POS software to run it costing just $14 per month.

And with the $29-per-month Register plan, you’ll drive processing fees as low as 2.3% per swipe.

But Clover POS isn’t perfect – overall, the system provides less functionality than Stripe, though its inventory and reporting features are comparable.

#5. Stax vs. Stripe

Stax is a contract-based processor that also charges pay-as-you-go transaction fees. Stax Pay subscriptions start at $99 per month, with software subscriptions running as little as $49 per month with basic functionality.

Depending on your package, you can drive per-transaction costs down as low as eight cents per swipe.

That said, Stax is designed for users who want to cobble together their ideal payment processor with a series of month-to-month subscriptions and add-ons at checkout.

While their business model may work for companies with higher volume and simplified processing needs, their monthly charges can run up your bill in a hurry.

Stripe Reviews FAQs

Why is Stripe So Expensive?

On the whole, Stripe’s fees fall in line with the industry standard. Though the platform’s per-transaction fees are slightly more expensive than competitors like Squares, its full-service API, 24/7 customer service, and other tools come included, rather than bundled into add-on packages.

How Much Does Stripe Take?

Stripe’s pricing starts at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. You can also customize your plan to scale up as you grow, which comes with additional costs. Some businesses also qualify for multi-production, volume, or country-specific rates.

Is Stripe Safe to Use?

Stripe is just as safe as any other major third-party payment processor out there – if not more so, thanks to Stripe Radar. That said, some customers have reported account stability issues when Radar gets overzealous in identifying fraudulent transactions or illegal behavior.

How Secure is Stripe Payments?

Stripe Payments is a secure system thanks to end-to-end encryption, fraud protection, and two-factor authentication capabilities.

How Long Do Stripe Payments Take to Process?

Stripe Payments processes fairly quickly, with the company offering two-business-day rolling payouts. That said, your first payout can take up to seven business days, while high-risk and international businesses may see longer processing times.

Is Stripe a Merchant Account?

Stripe is a third-party processor, or aggregator – not a merchant account.

Do I Need a Website to Use Stripe?

You don’t need a website to use Stripe, but it sure comes in handy.

Is Stripe a Payment Gateway?

Yes, Stripe is a payment gateway. That said, you can’t use the company’s payment gateway functions independently of the Stripe platform.

Is Stripe Worth It?

As always, that depends! Stripe is best suited for online-based companies who have (or can hire) a developer. That said, its variety of no-coding-necessary tools has made it more accessible for the average person in recent years, as well as companies with a mix of in-person and online revenue streams.

Bottom Line: Stripe Payments Review

Stripe is a great payment processor for scaling businesses, burgeoning marketplaces, and the technically inclined.

The service charges fair rates and limited added costs, and offers a free, simple API so organizations can generate a customized shopping experience.

That said, if all you need is a simple payment processor for your website, or if your bread-and-butter comes from in-person payments, Square or PayPal may be a better option.

Jordan Blansit
Jordan Blansit
Jordan is a freelance writer with an inexplicable predilection for investing and personal finance. When she’s not click-clacketing from the comfort of her living room, you can find her (or not) craftily avoiding human contact in the California redwoods or Oregon Siskiyous with her black cat, Bean.