This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
Braintree is a PayPal-owned payment processor that specializes in online payments and has complementary tools through PayPal for in-person transactions. Notable features include top-notch security with level 1 PCI compliance and compatibility with many payment types, including international payments and bank transfers.
Credit card processing rates are reasonable, and discounts are available for nonprofits. Online businesses looking for a merchant account with the ability to accept international payments will find Braintree a viable option.
When to Use Braintree
Braintree is one of the most popular online payment platforms, after PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Pay. Its security, ease of use, wide array of payment types, and international capabilities make it an enticing option for just about any online merchant. However, there are many mixed user reviews around customer support and frozen funds, so I recommend comparing all your options for accepting payments online before choosing Braintree.
In particular, Braintree is best for:
- Secure online payment processing: Braintree has advanced features to fight fraud, chargebacks, and other threats to your business. It can also be used to securely store customer data for recurring billing and subscriptions. It’s one of the best secure payment processors available.
- Increasing online conversion rates: Using Braintree as your payment gateway allows you to accept PayPal, Venmo, and digital wallet payments. Shoppers view PayPal as the most trustworthy security seal, and offering PayPal payments can reduce cart abandonment rates at checkout.
- Nonprofit credit card processing: With options to accept ACH and bank transfer payments, recurring donations, and reduced transaction fees for qualifying organizations, Braintree is our top recommended payment processor for nonprofits (we looked at Braintree and PayPal together in this guide).
- Mobile credit card processing: Braintree works with PayPal’s mobile readers and with PayPal’s mobile payments app, which is one of the best mobile credit processors.
- Businesses looking for a merchant account with free PayPal Integration: PayPal is great as a small business payment processor but does not provide you your own merchant account. A merchant account with Braintree can give you access to PayPal payment features at no extra cost.
When Braintree Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Retail payment processing: If you have a permanent brick-and-mortar store, you might opt for something tailored for storefront businesses. One of Braintree’s advantages is its mobility, but there are better options for the best retail credit card processing.
- Cheapest credit card processing: Though Braintree’s ACH deposits are affordable, there are other payment processors with more affordable rates for card transactions. Check out our guide to the cheapest credit card processors.
- Food-based businesses: Braintree doesn’t have features dedicated to food-based businesses like sit-down or quick-service restaurants and food trucks. Read our guide to the top payment processors for restaurants for a more industry-specific solution.
- High-risk businesses: Braintree does not support high-risk businesses. If your business falls under this category, you’ll need to apply for a specialized high-risk merchant account.
Looking for something different? See our recommendations for the best merchant services for small businesses to find a solution that’s right for you.
|International payments||Complex interface can be difficult to use|
|Reduced rates for nonprofits||Owned by PayPal|
|Affordable rates for ACH deposits||Chargeback fee applied to every instance|
|Secure platform with fraud prevention tools||Less-than-favorable user reviews|
You can use Braintree’s “sandbox” offering to try the software without signing up for its merchant services. To actually use Braintree, you can sign up for a merchant account through Braintree or integrate your existing one.
When you want to apply, you’ll need your official ID, proof of address, bank statements, processing statements, and IRS SS4 letter. Overall, users report a fairly quick and easy application and approval process.
Since Our Last Update:
Braintree announced more competitive transaction fees in August 2021 and made improvements in its fraud protection system. We also took a closer look into Braintree’s features and terms of service.
Braintree Deciding Factors
- Monthly fee: $0
- Credit card and digital payments processing: 2.59% + 49 cents
- Venmo payments processing: 3.49% + 49 cents
- In-person payments: Through PayPal and based on PayPal rates
- ACH processing: 0.75% per transaction capped at $5 per transaction
- ACH returned and disputed payments: $5
- Nonprofit payments processing: 1.99% + 49 cents
- International currency processing: 1%
- Chargeback fee: $15
- Deposit speed: Two to five business days
Braintree Payments Calculator
Enter your current in-store and/or online sales volumes and average order values for an estimate on the monthly fees you would pay using Braintree.
Braintree Alternatives & Fees Comparison
Most small businesses
Starts at $0
Starts at $0
Card-present transaction fee
2.7% + 5 cents
Interchange + 8 cents
2.6% + 10 cents
2.29% + 9 cents
Keyed transaction fee
Interchange + 15 cents
3.5% + 15 cents
3.5% + 49 cents
Ecommerce transaction fee
2.9% + 30 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
Starts at 2.59% + 49 cents
Visa / Master / Discover Rates
Cards and digital wallets
2.59% + 49 cents
1.99% + 49 cents
1.99% + 49 cents
ACH Direct Debit
0.75% capped at $5, return/unauthorized fee $5
3.49% + 49 cents
3.49% + 49 cents
PayPal and PayPal Credit
Custom flat rates and interchange-plus pricing available for established businesses based on business model and processing volume for cards, digital wallets, and Venmo transactions. Discounted ACH debit rates available for enterprise businesses.
Other possible fees include:
- Account updater: Contact Braintree sales
- PayPal payment fees: $0
- Fraud security 3DSecure: Contact Braintree sales
- Integrated third-party fees: Varies
- Overdue account fee: 1.5% per month or the maximum amount permitted by law
What You Get With a Braintree Direct Account
- Merchant account
- Payment gateway
- Basic and advanced fraud protection tools
- Card details encryption (Braintree Vault)
- Phone and email support
- International payment processing
- Recurring Billing
- Third-party integrations
- Data migration and Integration support
Braintree offers different products for various business models for accepting credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, ACH, and Venmo payments on a website or mobile application.
- Braintree Direct provides a merchant account and payment gateway for an end-to-end payment solution.
- Braintree Marketplace is for businesses that need scalable payout management tools.
- Braintree Extend offers security for exchanging payment data.
- Braintree Auth takes authorized transactions from ecommerce platforms and merchant service providers on behalf of its merchant account holders.
Contract & Merchant Agreement
Braintree lists general and product-specific agreements, which include stipulations for payment services as well as a separate agreement for those signing up for a merchant account. Note that Braintree works with both Wells Fargo and Chase, which provide different terms of service. Product-specific agreements are for those accepting PayPal and other payment technology services.
For the general payment service agreement, there’s a number of stipulations you might want to note:
- Braintree may terminate its gateway service after sending a written notice if your merchant account is inactive for a period of 12 months or more.
- Overdue payments of fees will incur a 1.5% interest per month or the maximum amount permitted by law on all overdue amounts.
- Braintree may impose a reserve requirement from a portion of your payouts for businesses that it deems operating at a high risk.
- If your chargeback rate reaches 90 basis points and 100 chargebacks in a month, Braintree will impose a Chargeback Maintenance Fee, which starts at $2,000 for merchants with a sales volume of $0–$500,000 per month.
Braintree offers a seamless checkout process through its payment gateway feature. You can choose between a simple drop-in user interface (UI) for an easy checkout page solution, or a custom UI for a more tailor-made user checkout experience. Both of these hosted payment options include secure data encryption and ensure that your payment processes remain PCI compliant.
Note that you can sign up for a Braintree payment gateway and integrate it with different merchant account service providers.
Braintree, like Venmo, is owned by PayPal and therefore considered more of a major feature than just an ordinary integration. The difference is you can get your own merchant account with Braintree but not with PayPal, and with this integration, you can link your PayPal Business account with your Braintree merchant account. This allows you to start accepting PayPal and in-person payments through PayPal’s infrastructure at no additional cost. You only need to pay for PayPal’s processing fees.
Having a PayPal integration means Braintree merchants have access to omnichannel tools. You can provide your customers with the option to buy in-store with payment methods saved to an online profile or buy online with payment methods used in-store. You can even support in-store pick-ups, returns and exchanges.
However, in spite of the recent Braintree updates, its user guide still walks you through a PayPal Here integration, which may seem strange as PayPal has been actively redirecting its users to PayPal Zettle for in-person transactions. Make sure to ask for clarification on this with Braintree’s account managers before signing up for an account.
International Payments Processing
Global payments processing is supported by Braintree’s partnerships with local banks in other countries so you can get the best transaction rates possible. You can accept payments in more than 130 currencies with an option to settle one transaction in multiple currencies. All international payments you receive are automatically converted into US dollars and deposited to your bank account with a 1% fee for every transaction.
ACH Payments Processing
Braintree users provide their customers with the ability to pay securely through a direct connection to their local bank account. This can be used for one-time and recurring payment arrangements and supports four methods of verifying a bank account before collecting any payments to minimize the risk of being fined for failed transactions. Clearing payments received is by batch processing, and takes around five business days to deposit your funds into your account.
Note that there are fees associated with processing ACH payments as well as fines for rejected, returned, or disputed transactions. Also, not all Braintree merchant account holders can accept ACH payments unless they meet the following conditions:
- Your business is located in the US
- Your transactions are local and accept payments in US dollars
- You signed up for a merchant account with Braintree
- Your Braintree account is not enrolled in a chargeback program
- You are using Braintree’s custom payment gateway integration
Braintree’s recurring billing feature allows you to create custom pricing plans and set up discounts, add-ons, promotions and free trials for your customers. You can even set up rewards for long-term subscriptions.
Once your customers sign up, Braintree can securely store billing information and card or banking details for those wanting to enroll for automatic payments. It can also take care of computing prorated fees whenever your customers decide to upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions.
For customers who want to sign up for automatic payments, Braintree offers a secure card and bank information vault feature. Braintree also offers an account updater service. Every saved payment method in the vault is encrypted by Braintree’s payment gateway and tokenized for PCI compliance.
The Braintree Vault also comes with an account updater, but you will have to request the service as there is a separate fee for it. An update is requested when the card:
- Is expired
- Is expiring within the current month
- Is enrolled in a recurring billing payment that’s due within two weeks
- Has been declined authorization for under specific decline codes
- Has been declined in the last 30 days
- Has not had any successful transactions in the last 30 days
Take advantage of Braintree’s advanced transaction search options, or use the open API to build your own custom reports. The Control Panel also gives you reports on transactions, declines, and settlement batches. If you need real-time notifications for certain events taking place in your gateway, Braintree can be set up with Webhooks that can store a record of these events for you.
One thing to note about Braintree’s detailed transaction reports is that the availability of information depends on your merchant account’s pricing model. If you have signed up for interchange plus pricing, data for each of your transactions become available five days after the proceeds are deposited in your account. If you have a flat rate or blended pricing model, data for each transaction is added to the report three calendar days after proceeds are sent to your bank account.
Braintree offers basic and premium fraud protection tools. Basic fraud protection includes address verification, card verification, and risk threshold settings. These ensure that all fraudulent transactions identified through the verification tools are blocked from being processed.
On the other hand, premium fraud protection offers two types of security: Fraud Protection and Fraud Protection Advanced. Fraud Protection comes with a fixed set of security rules such as geolocation and device information, while Fraud Protection Advanced (available for an additional fee) includes the ability to customize security rules, review transactions, and send notifications.
Braintree Ease of Use
Strong integration with PayPal makes it easy for merchants already using PayPal or just getting started with online payments. It’s a simple, trusted, and secure platform. However, this does put merchants at the mercy of PayPal’s tendency to unpredictably freeze funds and accounts.
Braintree has no shortage of other integrations either. You can connect it to popular ecommerce platforms like Shift4Shop (formerly 3dcart), BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. Other integrations include options for recurring billing, shopping carts, accounting, analytics, online forms, event ticketing, and enterprise-specific tools.
Braintree customer support is available over the phone, or you can submit a support ticket via an online form. You can also troubleshoot with its extensive support library or refer to its developer documentation. Most users report difficulty getting in touch with Braintree’s support team.
What Users Think of Braintree
Braintree’s overall reviews are mixed, with most complaints about poor customer service. Well-liked features include the open API, integrations, ease of use, and global payment capability.
- Capterra: Over 35 users give Braintree a 4.1 out of 5 rating. Those who like it say it’s easy to use, though there are many complaints about customer service.
- G2: Braintree is rated 3.5 out of 5 based on 80+ reviews. While merchants like that they can do business across international borders, they have negative comments about fraud prevention, unresponsive customer support, and inability to access funds.
- FinancesOnline: Around 20 reviewers rated Braintree an average of 4.5 out of 5 and gave a 95% user satisfaction rating. Some report difficulty from start to finish, even saying they had trouble closing their account entirely. Others like the pricing and how many payment types Braintree can work with.
While reading through reviews, I noticed these trends:
|Open API and integration options||Poor quality customer support|
|Payment options, including PayPal and Venmo||Lack of customization|
|Setup and ease of use||Frozen funds and accounts|
Overall, Braintree is easy enough to set up and use for mobile and online payments. If you’re a PayPal Business user looking for a merchant account, Braintree may be the most natural next step to scaling your operations. However, while features and functionality have improved along with better pricing, it’s still not the best long-term solution. Limited features and functionality, lack of customer support, and commonly frozen accounts and funds mean other payment processors may be better suited for the long run.