This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
Stripe is a highly secure online payment processing service. It is best known for sophisticated online payment processing, advanced fraud prevention, and dispute management tools—without a high price tag.
Stripe is an affordable and versatile payment processing company for small businesses. It earned an overall score of 3.8 out of 5 in our review of merchant service providers, particularly for online, ecommerce, and B2B payments.
Using Stripe to process in-person and mobile payments requires extra configuration, which prevents it from earning a higher score.
Stripe has always been a top consideration for most of our buyer’s guides way before I started writing about merchant accounts. It ticks most of the boxes for features we look for in small business payment providers, particularly for ecommerce and B2Bs.
Its highly customizable nature easily keeps up with fast-growing businesses that process recurring online payments and provides the most flexible and scalable solution for designing checkout carts. It also includes the assurance of strict PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance—all in a free account.
On the other hand, Stripe may not be the best fit for all types of ecommerce businesses, as some small online businesses do not require a highly customized checkout process. So, while subscribing to Stripe is free, the complexity of its “developer-first” platform setup process affected Stripe’s ranking in our evaluation. For in-person checkouts, most small businesses would be better served with a plug-and-play option that does not require a custom build.
Stripe Deciding Factors
Supported Business Types
Retail, professional services, B2Bs, ecommerce
Monthly Software Fees
Setup and Installation Fees
Shopify, Lightspeed, Wix, Squarespace
Payment Processing Fees
Very competitive for small businesses
Stripe Fee Calculator
Top Stripe Alternatives
Low-volume merchants with less than $10,000 monthly transactions
Those needing payment processing for occasional sales
Low-cost payment processing with free POS
Starts at $0
Starts at $0
Starts at $0
Card-present transaction fee
2.6% + 10 cents
Starts at 2.29% + 9 cents
Interchange plus 0.1%–0.3% + 5–8 cents
Keyed transaction fee
3.5% + 15 cents
3.09% + 49 cents
Interchange plus 0.2%–0.5% + 10–25 cents
Ecommerce transaction fee
2.9% + 30 cents
Starts at 2.9% + 49 cents
Interchange plus 0.2%–0.5% + 10–25 cents
Looking for the lowest rates?
The payment processing rates you will pay can vary based on your business’ size, type, and average order value. To find the most affordable option and compare multiple processing rates, read our guide on the cheapest credit card processing.
Stripe offers a free account so merchants don’t need to worry about upfront cost, unless they opt for add-on tools and upgraded features. Transaction fees are competitive and discounts are available upon request. Card readers can be directly purchased from the Stripe dashboard and chargeback fees are refundable. The system lost points for chargeback fees, volume discounts, and hardware purchasing options.
Stripe supports many integrated payment methods, including card transactions, digital wallets, bank transfers, and international payments. Fees start at 2.9% + 30 cents per successful transaction—and there are no monthly or additional gateway fees for simple online transactions.
Since our last update:
Beginning November 2022, Stripe will collect 3.4% plus 30 cents for all its keyed-in transactions. This includes payments accepted via virtual terminal, as well as first-time payments for subscription and card-on-file transactions.
- Monthly fee: $0
- Transaction processing fee:
- Ecommerce: 2.9% + 30 cents
- Touchless: 2.9% + 30 cents
- Virtual terminal: 2.9% + 30 cents
- Card-present: 2.7% + 5 cents
- Keyed-in: 3.4% plus 30 cents
- ACH: 0.8%, $5 cap
- Invoicing: + 0.4%–0.5%, 25 invoices free per month
- Recurring Billing: + 0.5%–0.8%
- International payments: + 1.5% fee, 1% spread for currency conversion
- Stripe Checkout: $10 per month
- Chargeback fee: $15
- Failed transaction fees: $4–$15
- Deposit speed: 2 business days, or 1%, minimum 50 cents for instant payout
Though limited, in-person payments are also available through Stripe Terminal, which works with pre-certified third-party hardware and a software development kit (SDK) for either a native mobile app or a web platform. Note that you need to create an account first with Stripe and order the hardware from your Stripe Dashboard.
Stripe Reader M2contactless, and swipe payments.
Strike SDK for iOS and Android
Stripe Reader M2 is Stripe's newest Bluetooth-enabled card reader that accepts EMV chip, contactless, and swipe payments.
BBPOS WisePOS E
Strike SDK for iOS, Android, Desktop, and Mobile Web
The BBPOS WisePOS E is a hybrid countertop and handheld terminal for in-store and curbside payment processing. It features a 5” touch-screen display, end-to-end and point-to-point encryption, EMV chip, contactless, and swipe payments processing, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Setup & Application
Stripe comes with a wide range of features that help you build an easy and seamless online payment processing experience for your customers. It also has advanced solutions for optimizing online payments, more so if you know how to code. However, setting up a Stripe account is not as complicated.
Creating a Stripe account starts with a click of a button and is completed in minutes. You will then be prompted to activate the payment features by providing information such as:
- Business or trade name
- Physical address, email, and phone number
- Tax identification number
- Business website URL
- Nature of your business or activities
- Business owner/owners information
- Designated Stripe Account administrator
Underwriting will be required to give you access to Stripe’s payment processing services so expect to be asked for additional information as follows:
- Copies of financial statements, reporting, and other documentation that will help Stripe conduct risk assessment
- Other records to support your ability to comply with the merchant agreement
- Personal or company guarantee
Access to your Stripe account is temporary until underwriting is approved.
Contract & Terms of Service
Stripe has a variety of products that carry their own service agreements. However, the general terms of service outline details regarding account setup, approval, maintenance, and fees among others.
- Stripe reserves the right to revise its fees at any time with at least 30 days’ advance notice before revisions become applicable.
- High dispute rates are described as exceeding 1% of your total sales and can result in the suspension of your access to Stripe’s payment processing services.
- Stripe may suspend your Stripe account as well as your access to funds in your Stripe account after determining, based on its sole discretion, that you are in breach of any provision within the service agreement.
- Stripe also reserves the right to set up and determine terms of a reserve fund in the event that your account is deemed to carry a higher-than-normal risk of doing business.
- Consult Stripe’s list of Restricted Businesses before registering for and opening a Stripe Account.
Stripe offers a wide range of online payment methods including ACH Debit and Credit functions, as well as B2B payment processing. However, Stripe does not offer a readily available virtual terminal. And while a mobile POS is available, you will need custom integration which can take some time to set up.
Since our Last Update:
Stripe now adds cryptocurrency in their list of accepted international payment methods, although this service is still limited to Stripe users who run their business and accept payments on Twitter. Stripe has also upgraded its ACH Debit service by allowing users the ability to accept back debits (both one-time and recurring) from any kind of Stripe integration.
This is Stripe’s in-person payments solution for mobile and web platforms. It includes an SDK and pre-certified third-party hardware but will require a separate point-of-sale (POS) software subscription. You will also need to configure the integration yourself—unless your POS comes with a pre-built solution.
There are no extra fees for using Stripe Terminal, except for a different in-person fee of 2.7% + 5 cents per transaction. You will also need to purchase a mobile card reader that starts at $59.
This is Stripe’s hosted checkout page where you can create customizations and decide on the level of customization you would like to provide your customers. It is optimized for accepting one-time or subscription purchases and can accommodate both local and international payments—all while ensuring key considerations such as page load time, animations, device screen compatibility, and language.
Stripe Payment Links
Stripe’s invoicing tool allows you to build custom invoices for any type of pricing model with options for either a Stripe-hosted invoice (no-code required) or API to add more advanced customizations—such as adding automatic email reminders and aging reports generation. You can collect one-time or recurring payments, add line items, specify discounts, and customize tax rates directly to your invoices.
Stripe Invoicing Plans:
- Starter Plan: Costs 0.4% per paid invoice, has 25 free invoices per month, and includes hosted invoice page and insight and analytic tools
- Plus Plan: Costs 0.5% per paid invoice and adds estimate building, automatic collection, and auto reconciliation tools on top of the Starter Plan
Stripe’s billing feature is especially useful for subscriptions where you can design different pricing structures such as one-time, recurring, usage-based, and tiered pricing. You can also set up billing adjustments if you offer promotions and trial periods, and customize the billing frequency.
Stripe offers its billing tools in two plans:
- Starter Plan: Charges 0.5% for paid recurring charges and includes automatic collection and customer portal tools
- Scale Plan: Costs 0.8% on recurring charges and adds estimates building tools and NetSuite integration (through Stripe Connector) on top of the Starter plan
Stripe stands out from its competitors for making advanced fraud management and data security available to small merchants. It also offers a variety of business management tools.
However, like most free merchant account providers, Stripe charges add-on fees for certain features like invoicing and recurring billing tools. You will also need to pay extra for same-day fund transfer processing.
This is Stripe’s machine-learning fraud prevention tool that uses billions of data points to continually adapt to how you do your business. It includes advanced payment, hardware and account protection tools, and secure data migration—so transactions are protected from start to finish. For businesses accepting international payments, Stripe also includes an identification recognition feature that can recognize IDs from over 33 countries.
Stripe charges 5 cents per screened transaction, but this fee is waived for payments that are billed the standard 2.9% + 30 cents transaction fee.
Customization is key for Stripe’s advanced security features. Aside from built-in PCI compliance, chargeback protection, and dispute management, it has developed payment, hardware, and account protection tools that go beyond the standard. For instance, you can customize your acceptable payment risk by setting your own risk level scores. It also offers secure data migration, so you can safely transfer transaction details and customer payment information to and from different payment processors.
Stripe provides you with the tools to create different types of identity verification methods. Aside from global ID verification, you can also verify US Social Security numbers, and addresses, and even match selfies with the provided ID. Note that this add-on feature requires some coding knowledge and will cost $1.50 for each verification (the first 50 requests are free).
This is where you can manage roles and permissions, make notes on your collaborations, and take action via the dashboard app on your iOS and Android devices. Stripe’s unified dashboard gives you access to all of its payment processing tools, including risk management, reporting, and advanced integrations. This is also your dispute-handling platform where you get access to automated evidence submission and monitor all disputes.
Sigma is Stripe’s advanced reporting function that allows you to create advanced reports based on your actual needs right on the dashboard. It includes ready-made queries that you can customize for your business type along with quick sidebar access to your sources to easily adjust parameters whenever you need it. You can save, download, and share reports, and even collaborate with your team.
Stripe’s revenue recognition function is an accounting automation that allows you to gain a comprehensive view of your business. It can track upgrades, downgrades, prorations, refunds, and disputes to help reduce the task of preparing financial statements.
Stripe Tax is an add-on feature that integrates with Stripe Invoicing, Billing, Checkout, Payment Links, and Connect. It lets you configure your system to automatically calculate tax, VAT, and GST on sales, and even detect customer location and compute the appropriate taxes. You can generate customized tax reports by country so you can confidently file your returns. Note that this feature costs 0.5% per transaction where you’re registered to collect taxes (0.4% for transactions exceeding $100,000/ month).
Adding Stripe as a payment processor is easy if you already have your online store. It offers a wide range of plug-and-play integrations for all of its third-party platform partners, so it will only take minutes to set up Stripe as your checkout option. Meanwhile, Stripe is also known for its developer integrations. Experienced coders can utilize comprehensive testing tools, over 450 platforms and extensions, and a dedicated developer dashboard.
Stripe offers financing options for businesses requiring short-term funds (loan is payable for up to 18 months). There is no lengthy application process, and qualification is determined by your credit history with Stripe. Once you’re approved, you get access to the funds as early as the next business day.
Stripe Capital charges a flat fee based on a percentage of your daily sales, which you can customize depending on your preferred loan terms. This means that repayment is automatic until your loan is paid—and you don’t incur any late fees.
Stripe deposits your funds into your account in two business days. Meanwhile, Instant Payouts is Stripe’s solution for providing you instant access to your funds by sending them to a supported debit card or bank account (available for a fee).
It comes as no surprise that Stripe gets excellent marks for pricing, popularity, and integrations. At zero monthly fees, Stripe provides advanced payment processing and security features you would often find for larger businesses. It also earns above-average user reviews in spite of the generally complex setup. Stripe has over 450 integrations that go beyond ecommerce tools such as accounting software, CRM platforms, and POS systems making the system a highly scalable solution that we look for and recommend to small businesses.
On the other hand, ease of use is Stripe’s biggest challenge. While it offers code-free payment processing tools, familiarizing with the dashboard alone can take a while and can be challenging for small and new merchants.
What Users Say of Stripe
Stripe continues to receive generally positive feedback. Users like Stripe for its seamless integration with popular online platforms. In particular, users found Stripe’s customization and subscription features extremely useful for creating invoices and recurring payments.
- Capterra: Over 2,600 users rated Stripe an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars.
- G2: More than 200 users rated Stripe an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Common negative Stripe reviews include lengthy payment holding time and refunds being provided to customers without prior notice. Users also cite a learning curve in using most of Stripe’s features, so if your business lacks access to a certain degree of software development skills, Stripe may not be the right fit.
|Dashboard and reporting features||Refunds to customers without notice|
|Handy developer tools||Poor customer service|
|Compatibility with most ecommerce platforms and marketplaces||Extended holding time of payments before being credited to the bank|
Methodology—How We Evaluated Stripe
We test each merchant account service provider ourselves to ensure an extensive review of the products. We then compare pricing methods and identify providers that offer zero monthly fees, pay-as-you-go terms, and low transaction rates. Finally, we evaluate each according to a range of payment processing features, scalability, and ease of use.
The result is our list of the best overall merchant services. However, we adjust the criteria when looking at specific use cases, such as for different business types and merchant categories. This is why every merchant services provider has multiple scores across our site depending on the use case you are looking for.
Click through the tabs below for our overall merchant services evaluation criteria:
25% of Overall Score
We awarded points to merchant account providers that don’t require contracts and offer month-to-month or pay-as-you-go billing. Additionally, we prioritized providers that don’t charge hefty monthly fees, cancellation fees, or chargeback fees and only included providers that offer competitive and predictable flat-rate or interchange-plus pricing. We also awarded points to processors that offer volume discounts, and extra points if those discounts are transparent or automated.
Stripe scored well in this category, but missed the mark for automated volume discounts, hardware purchasing options, and chargeback fees.
30% of Overall Score
The best merchant accounts can accept various payment types—including POS and card-present transactions, mobile payments, contactless payments, ecommerce transactions, and ACH and e-check payments—and offer free virtual terminal and invoicing solutions for phone orders, recurring billing, and card-on-file payments.
Again, Stripe scored well in this section but points were docked for charging additional markup on top of transaction fees.
25% of Overall Score
We prioritized merchant accounts with free 24/7 phone and email support. Small businesses also need fast deposits, so payment processors offering free same- or next-day funding earned bonus points. Finally, we considered whether each system has affordable and flexible hardware options and offers any business management tools, like dispute and chargeback management, reporting, or customer management.
Stripe somewhat struggled in this criteria. While the system provides advanced features, some functions require additional fees to use.
20% of Overall Score
We judged each system based on its overall pricing and advertising transparency, ease of use (including account stability), popularity, and reputation among business owners and sites like Better Business Bureau. Finally, we considered how well each system works with other popular small business software, like accounting, point-of-sale, and ecommerce solutions.
Stripe earned a near-perfect score in this category, only missing partial points for ease of use.
Stripe Payments Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Stripe the same as PayPal and Square?
Stripe leads PayPal and Square in features for accepting credit cards online while Square is the better option if you need a reliable and affordable point of sale. If you are looking for customer-friendly checkout options, choose PayPal.
Learn more in our Stripe vs Square vs PayPal comparison.
How fast can Stripe transfer my funds?
Stripe card transactions are processed the next business day but instant payouts are available with access to an eligible debit card. Instant payouts cost an additional 1% and have a minimum fee of 50 cents.
ACH payments are normally processed within three to five business days but Stripe also offers options for two-day settlement at 1.2% fee and $1.50 for instant bank account validation.
Is Stripe safe to use?
Stripe is one of the safest online payment processors in the industry. It supports machine-learning risk management tools and a range of identity verification options to prevent fraudulent transactions and minimize chargebacks.
Learn more about Stripe and its other tools in our guide.
Stripe is a well-known brand in ecommerce payment processing—and rightfully so. It provides a free merchant account with exceptional data security and global payment capabilities that sets the standards for other payment processors in the market. And while the system is developer-friendly, Stripe also offers an array of simple customization tools that do not require coding skills. Head over to Stripe to create a free account.