Stripe Payments Review: Pros, Cons, Alternatives

by Ann deBruyn

Stripe Payments is a powerful payment processor for online sales. It can accept dozens of payment methods and more than 135 currencies. And its advanced developer tools allow you to create a checkout flow that feels custom, provided you know how to use them.

Stripe users can accept in-person payments by integrating the company’s point-of-sale option, Stripe Terminal. But if you do most of your business in person, there are better options. For example, other  payment processors , such as Square, offer specific restaurant and retail features like end-of-day reports and inventory tracking.

That said, Stripe’s flat-rate pricing is easy to understand and there are no monthly fees. In addition, you can cancel at any time if it isn’t a good fit.

Pros

Cons

Flat-rate, transparent pricing with no setup, cancellation or monthly fees.

Open API and tools may be difficult to use without software development expertise.

Supports a wide variety of payment methods and currencies.

Limited functionality for in-person retail businesses and restaurants.

Highly customizable checkout flow.

24/7 customer support via phone, email and live chat.

Easy and quick to set up.

Processing rates

For online payments, 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, plus an additional 1% for international cards or transactions where currency conversion is required.

For in-person payments, 2.7% plus 5 cents per transaction.

Accepted payment methods

Credit and debit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and Diners Club.

Digital wallets including Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Microsoft Pay, Click to Pay and WeChat Pay.

ACH debit and credit transfers and wire transfers.

Buy now, pay later options including Klarna and Afterpay.

Compatibility

Large library of apps and extensions allow Stripe to integrate with Xero, Squarespace, Mailchimp and more.

Contract length

No set contract length. You can close your Stripe account at any time, as long as you complete any pending transactions.

Payout timing

You can choose a daily, weekly, monthly or manual payout schedule. In the U.S., funds can be paid out two business days after a transaction. Stripe also offers immediate payouts to a debit card for a fee.

Customer support

24/7 customer support via email, live chat and phone.

Who should use Stripe Payments?

Stripe is best suited to business owners who:

  • Have customers around the world. Stripe can accept payments in more than 135 currencies. It also supports various other payment methods, including Alipay and WeChat Pay (digital wallets widely used in China); several buy now, pay later providers; and bank debit systems with customers worldwide.

  • Make most of their sales online. Stripe offers a small list of point-of-sale hardware options for in-person businesses. But most of its unique features — like its open application programming interface and ability to accept so many currencies — are primarily relevant to online sales.

  • Have a software developer on their team. Stripe allows users to fully customize their checkout flow — provided you know how to code. Of course, you can still use Stripe if you don’t have a software background, but you won’t be able to take advantage of all of its customization options.

Stripe Payments charges flat rates for most payments:

  • For online payments, 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

  • For in-person payments, 2.7% plus 5 cents per transaction.

The service tacks on additional fees for some international transactions. These include:

  • 1% for international cards.

  • 1% if currency conversion is required.

For an ACH direct debit transaction, Stripe charges 0.8% with a cap of $5.

If you have a customized-pricing account, Stripe may tack on additional fees, including:

  • 25 cents each to update expired or renewed card information for customers.

  • 3 cents per attempt to use 3D Secure, a customer identity verification tool.

Stripe also charges a fee of 1% for instant payouts, which lets you immediately transfer funds to a debit card instead of waiting for your next scheduled payout.

How to set up Stripe Payments

You can create a Stripe account with just your name and email address. Confirm your email address to activate your account.

You’ll then need to provide some additional details, including:

  • Personal details. Stripe asks for your legal name, email address, home address, phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

  • Business details. Stripe also asks for your industry, business website, a description of your products, whether or not you sell physical goods and how long customers typically have to wait to receive them.

  • Customer support details. So customers can recognize your business, Stripe asks for the name you want customers to see on their credit card statements, a customer support phone number and an address.

  • Banking details. Stripe invites users to link their bank accounts directly, but you can enter a routing and account number manually. Stripe only works with checking accounts.

Next, you have to set up two-factor authentication.

At the end of the onboarding process, you’ll receive a prompt to opt into Stripe Climate, a carbon sequestration initiative you can support by automatically contributing a percentage of your revenue. Participation is optional.

At this point, you can customize your checkout flow and send payment links and invoices to customers. But you won’t be able to collect your first payout until seven days after you’ve taken your first payment. You may have to wait as long as 14 days, depending on your industry.

If Stripe can’t verify your personal or business identity from the information you provided, the company might ask you to upload a copy of a government-issued photo ID.

Alternatives to Stripe Payments

Square

Fees:

  • Online payments.  2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

  • In-person payments.  2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction.

  • Additional monthly fees for plans with extra features, like a custom domain and product reviews.

Generally speaking, Square is designed for in-person transactions, while Stripe is designed for online ones. Square offers several point-of-sale hardware options, including a free magnetic stripe reader that users can plug into an iOS or Android phone. Through Square POS, you can manage inventory and offer retail perks like gift cards. You can even build an online store through Square Online.

In addition, with upgraded plans, Square’s services designed specifically for retail and restaurants come with the ability to accept returns and exchanges; the seat management feature, for restaurants, specifies which person at a table ordered which dish.

PayPal

Fees:

  • Online payments.  3.49% plus 49 cents per transaction.

If you’re overwhelmed by Stripe’s breadth of options and want a more straightforward solution, PayPal may be a good option. PayPal Checkout offers the simple choice of copying and pasting a code into your website to accept payments. But, of course, the more coding skills you have, the more you can customize the checkout flow.

Like Stripe and Square, PayPal sells point-of-sale hardware designed to work with its software. In-person sellers can accept credit and debit cards, mobile wallets and payments via Venmo, which PayPal owns. You can also take a credit card number over the phone and enter it manually.