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Stripe Payments review

In our Stripe Payments review, we discover that its customizable API makes it a perfect merchant services system for developers

Our Verdict

A development-friendly payment processor, Stripe is great for high-volume businesses looking for the next level of customization around payment processing software. Don’t be put off if you have less skill; Stripe also offers pre-built solutions that require no coding.

For

  • Flat-rate pricing
  • Great for developers

Against

  • Better for high-volume business
  • No customer support phone number
Stripe Payments: Key specs

- Web-based SaaS
- Fully customizable developer tools
- 24/7 support desk
- Community and online support
- Fast to set up
- Pre-built and Plugin options
- No setup costs or monthly fees
- Transparent pricing
- In-person processing options plus web and app
- Over 300 integrations
- Over 100 different currencies accepted/converted
- Available to merchants in over 25 countries
- Financial and reporting tools
- Advanced security tools
- PCI compliance at no extra charge
- Additional, customizable functions

 

Simply put, Stripe Payments is one of the best credit card processing services around. Launched in 2010, Stripe Payments is a developer-friendly payment-processing service that is used by all the big boys of tech, such as Google, Amazon and Shopify. Its main selling point is its customizable API that allows you to create your own ecommerce environment with industry-leading developer tools. 

Stripe is easy to set up with no upfront costs or monthly fees. Like Helcim, it offers a transparent and competitive pricing structure of 2.9% +30c for online payments and 2.7% + 30c for in-person payments. There is no penalty for early termination but you won’t see cost-saving discounts until you are processing over US $80,000 per month.

A variety of credit cards are accepted by Stripe, as well as over 100 different foreign currencies that Stripe converts without additional charge to the merchant.

The customer support team at Stripe does not have quite as good a name as Helcim, with no dedicated customer support phone number and some users complaining their funds have been frozen in Stripe’s reserve account with limited recourse. More on this further down.

Aimed at fast growing medium-sized businesses and already established big players, Stripe is great for fast, high-volume payment processing and offers a level of customization that will raise your customer experience up several bars. If you're a smaller merchant we recommend you check out Paypal Business or Square Payment Processing instead. 

Looking for pricing information on credit card processing services? Answer the questions below, and our vendor partners will contact you with a free quote: 

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Stripe Payments review: Features

  • Customizable API
  • Subscription-based business tools
  • Payment processing plugin

Stripe Payment’s offering is cleanly split between payment processing and developer tools, however the main reason people use Stripe is for the latter. If you are a small to medium business looking for a payment processing integration then Square payment processing or PayPal Business might be more suited to your needs. 

If you are after an easy-to-navigate full merchant services platform, check out Helcim. If you are a medium to large business wanting to offer your customers a seamless checkout experience with the next level of tech integration into your existing ecommerce site, then Stripe is probably the product for you.

Stripe’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow developers to work with a variety of different programming languages (like Java or PHP), to help businesses build a customized payment portal that works for their clientele. 

The range of tools provides flexibility around common sticky issues, such as accepting in-app payments, and work on a solution that is right for your business culture, not just one that streamlines the accounting process.

Subscription-based business tools are also a big selling point for Stripe. Again, a variety of customizable solutions allow developers to create an ecosystem around a business proposition, offering customers flexibility on how they manage subscription-based products and services, and allowing your business to be responsive to their needs, not a billing cycle. 

Stripe also offers a plugin for those who just want to use their payment processing services, but the cost savings only occur at high volume. If you are processing more than US $80,000 a month then a Stripe plugin is worth looking at. 

Stripe also offers over 300 product integrations, so if you already have a website you love with a shopping cart, inventory management, and accounting software platforms, you don’t want to change – Stripe will probably slot in nicely.

Available in more than 25 countries, and accepting payments in over 100 different currencies, Stripe is a good choice for a large global retailer.

Stripe Payments review

(Image credit: Stripe Payments)

Stripe Payments review: Usability

  • Developer or pre-built pathways
  • Variety of add-on features for both

As well as the pre-built integrations and the developer options, Stripe also offers a selection of additional in-house features that could be useful, especially for larger businesses. 

Connect, for example, is a payment platform for large, complex marketplaces that allows you to time third-party payouts, customize onboarding and bypass global banking relationships to engage with customers in more than 25 countries. Used by Lyft and Kickstarter, it’s a complex interface that speeds up and simplifies the user experience. 

Atlas is a tool that walks US users through the internet business start-up process, taking some of the complexity out of their hands and tracking all the different aspects of the business in one place. 

Issuing is a brand-new API to help you create physical and virtual cards, while Terminal is a programmable point of sale you can manage in the Cloud. Having all these options, both in-house and third party, available through one access point is relative unique and highly compelling.

Opening a Stripe account takes just a few minutes, and the first question you will be asked is if you want developer tools or pre-built solutions. Both options take you to an easy to navigate dashboard that will be familiar to anyone who has used a modern CMS.

Choosing the pre-built pathway will open up a variety of third-party apps for you to choose from, such as the Booxi appointment booking system, Lunatap mobile payments, or 71lbs shipping. 

While it’s the developer tools that really make Stripe special, the pre-built pathway option does open up a whole world of third-party integration to new and transforming businesses that isn’t readily available on other payment processing platforms.

The developer pathway really is only to be used by the experts. It invites you to access an incredible back catalogue of docs that will help seasoned developers create a completely customizable payment processing solution for your business, in almost any programming language, that will also seamlessly integrate with a variety of other third party business products and solutions. 

It really is an exciting place to be for those in the know – but those with less skill can get easily overwhelmed. It’s also important to note that Stripe is constantly updating its features and docs, so paying a developer upfront to design the payment portal you’re after could shackle you to them as an ongoing cost as the Stripe platform evolves. 

Stripe Payments review: Performance

  • Simple pricing best at volume
  • Customer care issues are still being worked on
  • Both pathways offer fast, effective payment solutions

Stripe Payments reivew

(Image credit: Stripe Payments)

The ultimate draw of Stripe is its ability to be extensively customized. Whichever pathway you choose, developer or pre-built, Stripe offers an endless range of solutions to meet your individual business needs, and if they don’t offer it, no doubt they’re integrated with a third party who will. 

If you are just starting out then this can be intimidating and difficult to wrap your head around, but for larger, more established businesses looking to offer their customers something else, something beyond the framework currently available via most payment processing platforms, then Stripe is the real deal. 

Ideally, you would have a developer on staff who could work with Stripe to design something that meets your business needs, and then be available to update and maintain it as both your business, and Stripe, move on and grow.

Stripe’s simple pricing structure isn’t its main selling point, but if the developer tools don’t float your boat then the transparency over service costs will. With no set-up costs or monthly fees, the offering is certainly enticing. 

It’s important to note though that the payment processing charges cover these costs, and only offer efficiency at high volume. At $80,000 worth of transactions a month, Stripe begins to offer discounts. High-volume customers can also take advantage of customized tariffs.

For lower-volume businesses, you need to look closely to find your sweet spot. A medium-sized business making good use of Stripe’s developer tools to assist their projected growth might be happy with the tariff, safe in the knowledge this is a payment processing platform that will not only grow with their business, but will come into its own price-wise once they increase capacity. 

However, smaller businesses may benefit more from Square or PayPal. As a cost comparison, PayPal charges 2.7% per online transaction, while Stripe’s fee is 2.9% +30c. If you are turning over US $10,000 worth of transactions a month, especially if each transaction is small, the cost saving could be several hundred dollars a month.

Another sticking point for some former Stripe customers is the customer service. Where competitor Helcim’s honesty and upfront approach to customer care has earned them a name as the ‘nice guys’ of payment processing, some Stripe users have complained about the misleading ‘24/7’ customer care promised in the advertising. 

There is no dedicated customer support phone number, and some customers have previously complained that the customer team can be tricky to contact via email and their issues have not been resolved quickly enough. In their defense, Stripe has been working to address this. 

While there is still no customer care telephone number, you can request a call back with a real-time statement of how long you will wait to receive the call. An email request for help placed through the website will also tell you how long you can expect to wait for a response, and there is an active online community.

Like some other payment processing platforms, Stripe avoids high risk businesses. There are some historical complaints related to this. It seems that some of these businesses, such as gambling sites, have been accepted for an account by the portal, but after the first few payments have been processed, Stripe has frozen the user accounts and held their funds in their reserve accounts. 

The use of a reserve account is quite common, as it bypasses the need for a merchant account (which needs to be underwritten) to be set up. With a global platform like Stripe, it also makes the processing time and systems for users in different currencies comparable as there is no need to involve local banks, or get bogged down in local regulations around money movement. 

Some users have complained that Stripe has not been upfront about the way in which it will use the reserve account, or under what circumstances funds might be withheld from businesses.

Again, these complaints are historic and Stripe has worked hard to make things more transparent, but if you find yourself unsure about how Stripe will hold, process and pay out your businesses money, make sure you raise this with the sales team at the start.

Stripe’s multi-currency options are easy to enable, and its automatic currency exchange saves you both time and money. The variety of payments accepted, including a number of local payment methods in different countries, is also a huge asset to any globalized business. The company’s new hardware add-on, Terminal, is useful for ecommerce sites transcending into the physical retail world via trade fairs and pop-ups. 

Stripe Payments review: Should you buy?

A sophisticated, elegant solution for businesses moving on to the next level of customizable solutions, Stripe Payments offers a great option for organizations operating complex marketplaces, and those who have developers on staff to manage the constantly improving Stripe framework. 

The integrations, many of which compete with Stripe’s own in-house products, show the company is confident in its offering and keen to support businesses grow in an individual way.

Stripe offers an excellent, ultimately customizable solution for larger businesses with a wide range of customers. The ability to be able to write the software into the system you want to offer your clientele – whatever that may be – should be very attractive to global businesses that want to offer multi-channel options. Its new hardware service makes it a true omni-channel payment platform provider.

The additional tools, including business start-up support for entrepreneurs, are unique and inviting, as are the flat rate and transparent payment options and lack of upfront fees. 

However, as the cost efficiency is only beneficial with volume, businesses processing less than US $80,000 per month may wish to look at other providers. Square, for example, offer cost efficiency at a much lower volume, around US $20,000 per month. 

Stripe Payments may not, historically, offer the best customer care on the market but the company has listened to its client base and is improving its offering in this space. The new 24/7 customer care desk provides call-back and email support, and it also has an active online community.

What other credit card processing service should you consider?

As we said at the top of this review, Stripe Payments is one of the best credit card processing service around but it may not be quite right for your type or size of business. Of course, there are plenty of other services for you to choose from. Here are the ones we think are worth consideration and what purpose they are most suitable for; click through for the full review.

Helcim is a great all-round option; Flagship Merchant Services offers great personal service; Fattmerchant is good for large volume; Dharma Merchant Services is an ethical business option; Square is best for SMBs; PayPal Business is best for micro-businesses; and iPayTotal is the best for high risk merchants. 

To see all these compared in once place, read our Best credit card processing service buying guide.

Looking for pricing information on credit card processing services? Answer the questions below, and our vendor partners will contact you with a free quote: