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PayPal VS Stripe

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Products & Services
TieFees & RatesTie

Ease Of Use

TieContract Length & Early Termination FeeTie
TieSales & Advertising TransparencyTie
TieCustomer Service & Technical SupportTie

User Reviews

TieFinal VerdictTie

PayPal (see our review) and Stripe (see our review) are tools you can use to handle online payment processing, but they’re also so much more. With its slew of interconnected products ranging from mobile payments to financing services, I think it’s safe to say that PayPal is a household name. And Stripe — while more of a “behind the scenes” processor with a brand name customers don’t necessarily recognize — also has a long list of very popular clients and partners. So in the PayPal vs. Stripe debate, which has the advantage?

First, allow me to explain that neither PayPal nor Stripe offers the cheapest payment processing rates around. For a basic payment processor with lower rates, you’d be better off getting a regular merchant account. You’ll get some basic eCommerce support, which might be best if you’re focused on cost and not so much on features.

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But if you’re looking for features and flexibility, you’re in the right place. PayPal and Stripe’s strengths lie in their myriad eCommerce features, including support for digital goods, subscriptions, and even mobile app payments. However, despite the fact that both these services do fundamentally the same thing, they do go about it in different ways. PayPal is definitely more user-friendly, especially for those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy. If, however, you know your way around code and you want something flexible and powerful, Stripe holds a lot of appeal.

If you’re not sure which of these online payment processors is right for your business, or just want a bit more context for both before you decide, read on for my comparison of both companies’ selling points: features, pricing, customer service, and more. If you have something to add or your experience differs from my conclusions, feel free to leave me a comment!

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Products & Services

Winner: Stripe

If you really want to break down into the nitty-gritty details, check out our PayPal review or our Stripe review. Have questions? You’re always welcome to drop us a comment at the end of this article, too! For now, here’s a brief overview of each company’s features and services:

PayPal Features & Services

PayPal’s core offering has always been its payment processing: allowing anyone to make a payment to a merchant using their own PayPal balance or a credit or debit card. But these days, merchants who use PayPal get access to a variety of supplemental services that allow them to go beyond selling on eBay.

There are three service plans for PayPal:

  • Checkout: PayPal Checkout is a supplemental option you can add to your existing payments page if you already accept credit card payments through another processor or are integrating with an ecommerce platform. PayPal will offer your customers an option to check out with PayPal, as well as PayPal Credit and Venmo, based on what user data it has available.
  • Payments Standard: If you don’t have another payment processor, PayPal Standard essentially becomes your primary processor on the Standard plan. You can build your payment buttons and simply copy/paste some code onto your site to enable PayPal as your shopping cart. The Standard plan is customizable but doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge.
  • Payments Pro: Get your standard PayPal features PLUS a virtual terminal and hosted checkout page for a monthly fee plus processing costs. The hosted checkout page means customers stay on your website during their purchase instead of being re-routed to PayPal’s site.

Beyond the online payment processing, the PayPal platform includes all of the following

PayPal’s other services include:

  • PayPal Here mPOS (read our review)
  • Online & in-app invoicing
  • Donation & Buy buttons
  • Mass payouts

Plus, if you want to sell in person, PayPal offers several integrations with leading POS systems for retail and food businesses, with predictable, flat-rate pricing.

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Stripe Features & Services

Stripe doesn’t have “service plans” the way PayPal does. Your access to Stripe’s payment processing features remains the same regardless of which other features and tools you choose to use. However, some of those extra tools and features may cost you a bit more. Check out our complete Stripe review for a more thorough look at what this payments platform can do for you.

Stripe’s online payment processing tools include:

  • Support for credit cards, ACH, and localized payment methods
  • Support for online and in-app checkouts
  • A pre-built embeddable checkout form (Checkout), plus the ability to build a form from scratch or using pre-built components (Elements).
  • Invoicing, recurring billing, & subscription tools

Technically speaking, Stripe’s invoicing, recurring billing, and subscription tools all fall under the auspices of Stripe Billing, one of the supplemental services that will potentially incur additional charges.

Stripe now has a beta for what it calls Stripe Terminal, which is an SDK that allows you to build Stripe’s payment processing into a point of sale app, either on a mobile platform or on the web. It comes with pre-certified hardware and additional features to make the integration process as simple as possible. Please keep in mind, this is not a ready-to-go POS or mPOS.

Additional noteworthy features include:

  • Stripe Radar: Advanced fraud management tools
  • Stripe Sigma: SQL-based business intelligence
  • Stripe Connect: Marketplace and platform-building tools
  • Stripe Issuing: Generate physical and virtual cards for purposes such as employee expense accounts

I need to point out that generally speaking, you need a developer to even begin using these tools. They aren’t ready-made for someone without coding experience the way PayPal’s tools are. If you want to process with Stripe but you also want an easy-to-use payments platform that doesn’t require a developer, I would recommend looking at Shopify (and by extension Shopify Payments, which is just a white-label version of Stripe). However, you do get an ecommerce integration, the ability to create buy buttons, a virtual terminal, the ability to send invoices, and a mobile/tablet-based POS with a free chip card reader. So…. basically everything PayPal offers, plus a free credit card reader. For more information, check out our complete Shopify review.

Comparing Stripe vs PayPal

So these are two very different platforms. But I do want to draw your attention to a couple of things they have in common: PCI compliance and reporting.

Stripe handles PCI compliance for its merchants, which means no fees or additional work on your part. If you have the PayPal Standard plan, you’re automatically PCI compliant as well (and again, no additional fees). However, on the PayPal Payments Pro plan, you do take on some of the burden for ensuring PCI compliance. It won’t cost you more beyond the monthly plan; you’ll just have to put more work into it. PayPal gives you transparent redirects to help, and you much complete an annual self-assessment as well as quarterly scans.

You also get comprehensive reports from both PayPal and Stripe. PayPal’s reports are fairly advanced (and it’s a long list), but they are not customizable. At least not like Stripe’s. With Sigma, you’re not just selecting from a pre-generated list of options — if you can ask a question using SQL, you can get a report. If you’re after some serious business data, it’s hard to ignore this tool, and it is competitively priced, even for small businesses.

I also want to mention that PayPal does have developer tools. If you do have a developer on hand and you like PayPal’s feature set, but need a little bit of customization, that’s certainly a possibility. PayPal’s developer tools can be used for tweaking the checkout process, sending mass payouts, and even building marketplaces and platforms. However, PayPal’s platform isn’t even close to being on the same level of Stripe’s developer tools. When I say Stripe is the gold standard, it’s because this company really has set the bar for how all other payment processing platforms go about building their APIs and documentation.

While PayPal and Stripe offer solutions to the same problem (online payments), they go about it in very different ways. PayPal is the entry-level solution — something that anyone (or at least, almost anyone) with even a basic understanding of eCommerce or technology could use. However, you also get a lot more tools to take your business beyond just the Internet: mPOS, invoicing, POS integrations, and more. Unless you’re looking at something completely custom (which would mean relying on a developer), most of PayPal’s features don’t require specialized knowledge.

To get the most out of Stripe, you’re going to need a developer, because this system was not designed for the layperson. It’s meant for businesses that need a highly customizable and tech-based solution for payment processing. If you need an abundant array of features and your emphasis is specifically online payments, Stripe is the clear winner. If your priorities lie elsewhere (ease of use, or omnichannel commerce), you might be more inclined to consider PayPal. You can use Stripe to integrate directly with a third-party ecommerce platform, but I really don’t see why you would want Stripe over PayPal or Square, which offer the same capability, the same pricing, and a lot of extra value with no technical knowledge required.

Fees & Rates

Winner: Tie

PayPal’s pricing is, for the most part, pretty straightforward. You have no monthly fees, no monthly minimums, or interchange costs to worry about. You pay one flat fee regardless of the type of card. That makes for very predictable pricing. Just keep in mind that PayPal charges different amounts for different payment processing methods:

  • Online transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Online invoices: 2.9% + $0.30
  • POS/mPOS (PayPal Here) transactions: 2.7%
  • Keyed entry transactions: 3.5% + $0.15

PayPal also offers a nonprofit discount for online payment processing (2.2% + $0.30) and a micropayments options for low-value transactions (5% + $0.05). High volume merchants might also qualify for special rates if they go through one of PayPal’s partners, such as Vend (read our review).

PayPal charges an additional $30/month for its Payments Pro service, which includes a hosted payment page and a virtual terminal. Recurring billing is another $10/month fee. Both of these are optional costs. For a more detailed look at PayPal’s payment processing, check out our PayPal review or The Complete Guide to PayPal’s Rates, Fees & Pricing.

Stripe’s payment processing costs have gotten a little more complex, in particular for merchants who plan to who take advantage of the complete range of Stripe’s tools, from recurring billing to business intelligence. However, again you will not pay any monthly fees, monthly minimums, or any early termination fees to use Stripe’s service.

  • Online credit card transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • ACH transactions: 0.8% (capped at $5)
  • Stripe Terminal (POS) transactions: 2.7% + $0.5

Check out our Stripe review for a more complete look at what using Stripe’s additional fees will cost. Specifically, using Connect, Sigma, and Billing will incur additional fees.

The good news is that for most online transactions, PayPal and Stripe charge exactly the same amount. However, Stripe also accepts ACH transactions, which PayPal doesn’t, and offers them for just 0.8% per transfer. Stripe’s in-person payments solution is still in beta, so it isn’t widely available. However, it will still cost more than using PayPal and merchants with small ticket sizes will see the biggest difference.

It’s hard to say that one offers better pricing than the other because part of what affects the value of each platform is what features and services a merchant needs and plans to make use of. But if you’re just planning on integrating one of these payment gateways into an ecommerce platform, the pricing is identical.

Ease Of Use

Winner: PayPal

Both Stripe and PayPal make it easy for customers to pay merchants. But as a merchant, your experience setting up your payment processing will be quite a bit different. While PayPal does offer tools for developers, it’s designed for almost anyone to be able to set up and start taking payments. You can integrate with various third-party ecommerce platforms for the easiest possible setup, or create your own site with payment buttons. If you can copy/paste and read a little bit of HTML, you’ll be able to use PayPal with no fuss.

Stripe also integrates directly with third-party ecommerce platforms for an easy setup. You can certainly go this route — but if that’s all you’re after I honestly don’t know why you wouldn’t choose PayPal or even Square, which offer identical pricing and comparable contract terms. Stripe’s value is in all of its developer tools and the customization the platform offers. If you have no experience with code, setting up Stripe is going to be a lot more complicated, and you won’t be able to really get the most out of Stripe.

Now, if you are a developer, there’s no question that Stripe is the better choice. You can do a lot with PayPal these days. But you can do so much more with Stripe. Again, Stripe was designed first and foremost for developers, .so this makes a lot of sense. But if you’re not tech savvy and you don’t have easy access to someone with the requisite skills, PayPal is going to be the smarter (and less stressful) option.

Here’s an example: You’ve probably seen PayPal’s ubiquitous “Buy it now” button, which allows you to order and pay for items on a number of sites. In order to integrate a “Buy it now” button into your site, all you need to do is copy the corresponding code from PayPal’s website and paste it into your own site. Stripe has a similar “Pay with card” option, but it requires you as the merchant/developer to create the necessary coding framework.

Contract Length & Early Termination Fee

Winner: Tie

Neither PayPal nor Stripe requires a contract (both services are pay-as-you-go), and that means no early termination fee for either service either. Yay! That’s exactly what we like to see at Merchant Maverick. However, this is because PayPal and Stripe are both third-party payment processors. They aggregate all of their users’ accounts into one large merchant account in the company’s name, which means they assume all of the risk and serve as the merchant of record.

On the one hand, it means you don’t need to provide a lot of information to get an account set up. PayPal and Stripe don’t need much more information than your name and address for identity verification purposes. On the other, it means you face a lot more scrutiny after your account is set up and suspicious transactions could trigger an account hold and review. We’ll delve into this problem more in a bit.

Sales & Advertising Transparency

Winner: Tie

Both PayPal and Stripe are very upfront about their fees and services. Neither company employs any schemes or gimmicks that will catch you by surprise. Both services are also pretty well known, so they don’t need to spam the internet with annoying advertising, and you’re not going to get salespeople pounding at your door (or your email inbox). These are all great things.

If there’s one area where we can really say there’s a flaw in the transparency of these companies, it’s in the lack of disclosure about the risks of using a third-party payment processor. And this is across the board with any aggregator: Many of the merchants who sign up for payment processing with them don’t realize that there’s usually (almost always) a clause in the agreement that specifically warns that the processor can and will terminate your agreement for any violation of the agreement, or for no reason at all. Both Stripe and PayPal include these provisions, and yes, merchants do find their accounts terminated with no warning.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Tie

PayPal offers several ways to get answers to your questions. These include:

  • Help Center: If you have a simple question about how PayPal works, PayPal’s knowledgebase is a good start. It covers commonly asked questions about accepting payments, issuing refunds, and other day-to-day management of your account.
  • Community Forum: If you just want to know whether PayPal supports a feature or if others are experiencing the same problem, or find a workaround to a missing feature, you can post in the PayPal Community Forum.
  • Developer Center: PayPal’s dev documentation probably isn’t as thorough as Stripe’s, but it does exist, and it sounds like PayPal’s investing the resources to improve.
  • Email Support: If it’s not a pressing query you can send an email to PayPal’s team. Note that you have to log into your account to be able to do this.
  • Live Chat Support: This is relatively new, but now you can hop into a live chat with a PayPal customer service rep to get your questions. PayPal posts the estimated wait time before you join in so you know how long you’ll have to wait.
  • Phone Support: Word on the street (see “User Reviews”) is that the quality of PayPal’s phone support is inconsistent at best, but you can reach a real, live person if you need.
  • Social Media: The @AskPayPal twitter account fields service and support questions Mon–Fri 9 AM – 5 PM CST. You can’t post to the PayPal Facebook page, but you can comment on posts and message PayPal directly if you have questions.

Stripe has changed its customer support options to include free 24/7 live support for all its merchants. This is a big deal because one of the most contentious issues with Stripe has been the inability to reach someone to talk to in real time. I sort of expected to see a variation of what Square did — phone support, but limited hours. Instead, Stripe adopted a “go big or go home” attitude for its newly revamped customer service and rolled out round-the-clock chat and phone support in addition to its other support channels:

  • Knowledgebase: Stripe’s knowledgebase covers the basics of your account, but to be honest, I haven’t found it particularly helpful for information about features. That’s because most of the information is based on the documentation, instead.
  • Developer Documentation: Stripe’s documentation is often the best place to learn more about what particular features can do, even if you aren’t a developer. This part of Stripe’s support is far more comprehensive than the knowledgebase, which really isn’t all that surprising. Again, this is a developer-focused option, and Stripe’s invested its resources accordingly.
  • Freenode-Based Chat Support (#stripe): Want to reach Stripe’s developers for a very technical question? The IRC chat is where you’ll find them.
  • Live Chat Support: Stripe’s live chat support isn’t the same as the Freenode channel. When you log into your Stripe account and go to the Contact Us page you can hop into a live chat with a support rep.
  • Phone Support: You can request that Stripe call you back, rather than calling in and waiting on hold. I actually like this, though it’s pretty rare to see. Off the top of my head, the only other company I’ve seen take this approach is SquareTrade, the third-party electronics warranty company.
  • Email Support: If your question isn’t urgent, send Stripe’s team an email. This has been the mainstay of Stripe’s support network for a long time.
  • Social Media: There’s no dedicated Twitter support account like you see with PayPal and Square, but you can tweet @Stripe or check @StripeStatus for outage notices and updates. You can also message the Facebook page.

Here’s the thing, though. Just because a company has multiple support channels and a phone number to call or even a Twitter support account, doesn’t mean that the actual customer service is any good. And while I am happy to see that both PayPal and Stripe are trying to make it easy for customers to reach them, we can’t overlook the fact that the quality of both companies’ customer service is, well, dubious at best.

PayPal’s problem with customer service appears to be consistency. Occasionally you can reach someone who will be very helpful and informative. Other times…not so much. Understandably, this causes a lot of frustration. And it is absolutely a flaw in the customer service. It’s disappointing that such a large company hasn’t figured out how to better manage the customer experience, especially for merchants. If necessary, I do suggest going through the BBB, as PayPal’s team dedicated to handling those complaints seems to be quite helpful.

Stripe has, for a long time, suffered the same sort of complaints about poor customer service. And over the past couple of years, I watched as the frustration about not being able to talk to a real person in real time escalated. Stripe finally announced the introduction of 24/7 phone and chat support in July of 2018, but I’m sad to say that we’re still seeing complaints about poor customer service. I do hope that changes and we start to see better customer support all around.

All in all, even though there are some differences, PayPal and Stripe are pretty evenly matched in the quality of customer support and the variety of customer support options available to them.

User Reviews

Winner: Tie

With PayPal and Stripe, the two major complaints (from merchants, not consumers)  are identical:

  • Withheld funds, freezing of accounts, and termination of accounts
  • Inconsistent or unresponsive phone support

Both PayPal and Stripe have a pretty cautious approach when it comes to accepting online payments, which could result in account freezes and chargebacks for some merchants. This is because they’re both third-party processors. As I mentioned before, it’s fairly easy to create an account. As a trade-off, the minimal underwriting means you’re at a greater risk of a sudden hold or termination. Unfortunately, that’s something you’ll have to deal with if you choose any third-party processor.

Complaints about customer support often seem to relate directly to questions about holds, if I’m honest. The merchants who tend to be most unhappy about the quality of customer service are often the same ones who have encountered a hold or account termination and want answers. The problem is customer support reps are rarely privy to the knowledge of what happened with a given account and can’t usually divulge anything even if they do know. This seems to be pretty common across third-party processors.

The other thing to consider is that not all businesses are suitable for PayPal and Stripe’s third-party processing. Both companies have lists of business types that are on a no-go list. If you think you might be a high-risk merchant, or you know your line of business is on either company’s list of prohibited businesses, you should probably consider going with a traditional merchant account or even a high-risk processor such as Durango Merchant Services (DMS) instead.

You can also check our guide, How To Avoid Merchant Holds, Freezes, and Terminations, for more information

It sounds scary, but people build successful businesses on the backs of these services all the time. And not just large businesses — small ones too. And you can find plenty of small businesses that stand by both of these payment processors and have good things to say about them.

Let’s start with Stripe. Here’s what happy merchants say about the service:

  • Quick and easy signup
  • Nice API to work with
  • Great documentation

None of this is surprising — the signup process is easy. And as I’ve said, Stripe is the go-to choice for developers, with good reason. I have seen some merchants even say that the customer support is top-notch!

Fans of PayPal’s merchant services generally have a few consistent comments concerning what they like:

  • Easy setup
  • Widely accepted/trusted payment form
  • Offers multiple products/services besides payment processing
  • Transparent pricing

All of this is pretty standard. One of the big appeals of PayPal is how popular it is with consumers and how trusted the brand is. PayPal’s Buyer Protection program is a big draw for consumers, even if it does mean an occasional headache for merchants.

Both companies offer a seriously mixed bag when it comes to reviews and you’ll find wildly varying opinions. It’s hard to say that one company stands out more than the other in terms of positive reviews.

Final Verdict

Winner: Tie

You might have noticed that I have some pretty strong opinions about the value and capabilities of both Stripe and PayPal. I’ve been observing and reviewing these companies for years now. And while I can say that one company is definitely better than the other in this regard or that regard, there are still plenty of other ways in which these two companies are very similar.

And so in the end, I don’t think it’s easy to draw a clear winner in the PayPal vs. Stripe debate.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your needs. If you have coding experience (or someone on your payroll with the requisite skills) and want to build a customized online storefront or a complex platform for a SaaS subscription product, Stripe is the better choice. It’s an incredibly powerful, feature-rich platform. But I still don’t think it makes a lot of sense to use Stripe for your payment processing if all you want to do is integrate with an ecommerce platform. PayPal, Square, or Shopify would be just as, if not more, functional in these regards.

If you’re not a developer, don’t have the means to hire one, or don’t have very complex needs, PayPal is likely more suitable. Though you don’t get a hosted payment page without a $30/month subscription, PayPal does have a high degree of consumer trust, so it’s less of a concern if PayPal redirects your customers to its site to complete the transaction. Keep in mind that you also get invoicing, a free mPOS app, customizable buy buttons. PayPal also offers developer tools, but they aren’t as robust or flexible as Stripe’s. Still, if you like everything else PayPal offers, there’s no reason not use PayPal’s developer tools.

Keep in mind that you aren’t just looking for a way to take payments online. Just about any service out there can do that. Focus on the features you need, not just now but in the future. An mPOS, invoicing, flexible checkouts, subscriptions — whatever will help you run your business more easily.

However, neither PayPal nor Stripe requires you to sign a contract, which means you can try out one of these services (or both services) without having to commit. Your pricing is overall pretty similar, and you have no monthly costs, just transaction costs and any fees that you choose to add on.

Want to see which runs better? It might take a little bit of work, but you can totally test them both out for as long as you’d like. And that, my friends, is pretty cool.

What are your thoughts on Stripe vs. PayPal? Have you tried both services? Which did you opt for? We love to hear from readers, so please leave us your comments!

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Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson has been writing about payment processing and mobile payments since 2014, and has been quoted in articles for Credit Karma and The Next Web, among others. She graduated from The University of Kansas in 2010 with bachelor's degrees in English and journalism.
Melissa Johnson

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Ali Ramos

    in order to process credit card payments with paypal in Mexico you need to process at least $3000 Dollars a month, plus transfer from paypal to paypal there is a fee of 6% .


      Can integrate stripe with my online app to collect payments in Africa,Rwanda

        Jessica Dinsmore

        Hello Emmanuel,

        According to their website, Stripe doesn’t appear to be available in Africa yet. I’d suggest reaching out to them to see if they have plans to expand to Africa in the near future.

          Mojdeh Marashi

          this is a great article and it is very helpful. I am new to this world so this was a great read for me.

          I have 2 questions that am hoping you can help answer for me.
          1) I am creating something for which I am leaning towards Stripe Connect. However, their $2/month/active sellers is going to kill me. I was told Paypal had a service similar to this – multi sellers and ability to split proceeds – but they no longer have it. Are you aware of any alternatives to Stripe Connect that might cost less? It has to work on mobile though.
          2) I am trying to find out the user experience for starting a Stripe account for my sellers but Stripe doesn’t have a demo so I have no idea how lengthy, how hard, and how seamless (or not) their experience would be. Any idea where I might be able to see how a user sets herself up to be a seller and set up a Stripe account?
          Many thanks,

            Melissa Johnson

            Hi, Mojdeh!

            So, I’m happy to say I have lots of answers for you!

            1. As far as alternatives, PayPal’s marketplace tools are limited to merchants who apply to be able to access them. I would suggest Braintree as an alternative. It tends to be the most “Stripe like” in terms of features, supported payment methods, and global reach. It’s owned by PayPal, and payments process at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. IF Braintree isn’t a good fit, another option that might work for you is WePay, which is specifically designed for platform payments. Unfortunately, WePay doesn’t publicize its rates at all.

            However! You may not actually need to worry about the $2/month active account fee at all, and all of that ties into the answers to your second question.

            2. Stripe does allow you to create a sandbox account. All you have to do is sign up for Stripe. There’s a secondary step after that in which you apply for payment processing. You can access the API keys and other features and get a feel for Stripe before you start processing payments or even building your infrastructure. As far as the onboarding experience for sellers, that depends on which Connect account type you choose — Express, Standard, or Custom. The active account fee only applies to Express and Custom accounts, not Standard. You can find more about that here but it boils down to the age-old tradeoff of convenience versus cost.

            Hope that helps! Best of luck to you!

              Dukagjin Karavidaj


              I am opening an online store shipping worldwide but based in Hungary. Stripes is not supported here, but of the other options, which one would you say is the most lowcost?

                Jessica Dinsmore

                Hi there!

                We don’t know an awful lot about the European market yet, but Paypal does appear to be supported in Hungary, and we are quite fond of them! They are also very affordable, so I’d definitely suggested checking them out to see if they look like a good fit for your eCommerce business.


                  Hi! I am planning on offering a subscription service that is very low (around $2/month — obviously I’m anticipating a big chunk is going to get taken out from transaction fees). Would you recommend a particular service over another in this instance? Thank you for your time.

                    Jessica Dinsmore

                    Hi Paul,

                    Thanks so much for writing! I would suggest looking at PayPal‘s micropayments plan. They charge $10/month for recurring billing plus each transaction processes at 5% + $0.05, which actually saves money. Best of luck!

                      Jeff Mcneill

                      Since Stripe has ACH (and Paypal doesn’t, certainly not in the same way) it seems that Stripe is at least parity on the fees/processing options vs. Paypal. I really don’t see a Paypal win in this. Unless one just accepts manual ACH done by customers?

                        Peter Ridge

                        Hello, great article, thank you. What’s the best online processing merchant for processing one product, price point $5000?


                          Tom DeSimone

                          Hi Peter,

                          For large-ticket transactions, we recommend Fattmerchant. If they say that the account is too risky, try Payline Data.

                            raffa ello

                            Hi Melissa,

                            such a nice article here!
                            This is maybe more a commercial aspect but still useful to take decision on which processor to choose, also I believe useful to share.

                            Do you think/know credit card payment with a system such as stripe is more for luxury products? I think, but I might be wrong, that luxury target customers might not be familiar with a technology like paypal as they won’t spend their time by crating an account for that but they just use to put credit card details.

                            If so this should be also considered before choosing your favourite payment processor.

                            What’s your idea?

                            All best!

                              Melissa Johnson

                              Hi, Raffa!

                              I don’t necessarily think of Stripe as a “luxury” option for payments, but it’s much more modern. PayPal came into prominence at a time when lots of people were still very wary of buying online and the idea that paypal hosted the checkout process and redirected you to the paypal site to complete a transaction actually helped win over consumer trust. But PayPal hasn’t significantly changed its model two decades later, and now a lot of consumers are much more trusting of online shopping. So redirecting to the PayPal site might be more of a hassle for some consumers. That’s why Stripe and other payment processors that offer a checkout form for your own website tend to focus on how modern and customizable their options are.

                              It’s also worth considering that some 200+ million people have PayPal accounts and use them on the regular, so even if the system isn’t exactly sophisticated compared to some competitors, if your customer base likes to use paypal, you should probably consider adding a paypal checkout option. and PayPal does have an “express checkout” option for precisely this purpose.

                              Thanks for your questions!


                                Nice review.

                                What is the best vendor to process virtual card payments (low volume of transactions (5 per month) and each transaction might be $100-$750) USING a virtual terminal only? I sometimes get paid for my consulting services by corporations with virtual credit cards rather than checks so there is no swiping and only manual entry. For whatever reason, SQUARE could not verify my identity despite accurately inputted information so that I can do credit card payments.

                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                  Hi Dave,

                                  In terms of virtual terminals, offers a pay as you go plan. If that doesn’t seem like a good fit, I’d suggest looking into invoicing solutions like Zoho Invoice or possibly Quickbooks Payments. Hope that helps!


                                    Hi Melissa,
                                    Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive review.
                                    Im a personal trainer and about to launch a fitness magazine online and I need to make it profitable via recurring payments. If its not abusing of your kindness, i would like to know your opinion. If not possible, where else could you refer me to find reliable education/information. Thanks for reading. Will

                                      Melissa Johnson

                                      Hi, Will!

                                      I think Stripe’s subscription tools are going to be a better fit for you (so long as you have a developer with the tech experience), but you should be wary of what content you put behind a paywall. I’d double check Stripe and PayPal’s terms of services and prohibited businesses just to make sure you’re in the clear!


                                        I’ve used Paypal for years but I lose a lot of sales as customers lose interest or get confused during the Paypal payment process. Is Stripe more streamlined than Paypal? This would be my deciding factor as the 2 options seem pretty equal with exception to Stripe not refunding processing fees. However, I most sales completed successfully, it would be worth losing those fees.

                                          Melissa Johnson

                                          Hi, Amy!

                                          I assume when you say customers “get confused” that PayPal’s page redirect is what throws them off? If that is indeed the problem, I do think Stripe could be the better option for you. Stripe has a pre-built form (Checkout) that you can simply drop into your website with a few lines of code, but you can also create a custom form using Stripe Elements. That’ll take a little bit more technical knowledge, but it might be worth pursuing for you.

                                          Hope that helps!


                                            Great article and details! Quick question! Is the recurring billing for Paypal the same thing as recurring donations? I’m looking to switch out my church’s merchant services from Square to Paypal for ease of integration to our church website, and I want to setup a donation button. I like the idea of Paypal supporting a recurring donation, but if it costs $10/month, then this may be too costly. Thanks!

                                              Melissa Johnson

                                              Hi, Jimmy!

                                              Quick disclaimer: I don’t have a nonprofit PayPal account myself, so I’m not 100% certain. However, when you create the donate button on your site it automatically includes an option to give on a monthly basis. Recurring billing tools are something you have to set up yourself. So I don’t think that PayPal will charge you a monthly fee for the recurring donations. PayPal is also usually pretty good about disclaimers and transparency, so I think they’d mention if that were the case. (If you wanted to create a tiered membership subscription with perks, that would be a different matter entirely.)

                                              If you’re switching to PayPal, make sure that you get verified and that you’re getting PayPal’s discounted nonprofit rate (2.2% + $0.30 versus 2.9% + $0.30 for standard transactions).

                                              Hope that helps!


                                                Thanks for the review, Melissa! I looked over your content and growing comments forum with interest. Can you share any insight regarding the 2 providers’ practices for helping(?) merchants deal with chargeback situations? PayPal reps state that merchants are 100% protected from buyers to resort to chargebacks if products have been described clearly and shipments are tracked and shipped to verified buyer shipping address. Wondering if anyone here can confirm this PP policy in actual practice, or weigh in on Stripe.

                                                  Marilyn Fowler

                                                  When using swipe …does the money get deposited in your checking or is it similar to PayPal that you would do s manual transfer of funds to your company checking?

                                                    Melissa Johnson

                                                    Hi, Marilyn!

                                                    Stripe transfers funds to your bank account once the transactions clear. It’s not a digital wallet like PayPal is.

                                                      Misty Smead

                                                      Does anyone know if the stripe offers a business MasterCard debit card like PayPal Does?

                                                        Melissa Johnson

                                                        Hi, Misty! Stripe doesn’t offer a business card. I think that’s because by default Stripe routes funds to your bank account, whereas PayPal keeps them in a digital wallet that was previously only accessible to online purchases. The debit card makes it easier to spend the PayPal balance anywhere, negating the need to transfer funds out of PayPal and to a bank account. That’s the same reason Square doesn’t offer a debit card for merchants — but it does offer a debit card for its Cash app (which is also a digital wallet).

                                                        Hope that helps!

                                                          Brad May

                                                          Thanks for writing this! What an excellent piece of work and research!

                                                            Henry Courbis

                                                            I use Stripe and so far have only found one major issue which they seem to hide. You also did not seem to know about it in your well written article.

                                                            When I refund a customer Stripe DOES NOT refund the transaction fees. Any of it. See here:
                                                            “You can issue either partial or full refunds. There are no fees to refund a charge, but the fees from the original charge are not returned.”
                                                            It’s not mentioned at all here:

                                                            Very sneaky indeed Stripe! I thought you were trying to be better than PayPal? Guess not.

                                                            So users should be aware if they refund a customer they will out all of the transaction fees. Stipe will not refund ANY of the 3.9% or the $.30 charge. PayPal on the other hand will. As much as I hate PayPal this is a major reason to use them as a seller. $500 sale is $19.80 you will never see again – unlike with PayPal’s $.30. HUGE difference!


                                                              I just found this out!! very sneaky indeed. I am also managing a Vacation Rental business that has cancellations as part of it’s business. Now the owners have to EAT the fees. Am looking for an alternate system.
                                                              Also in my e-commerce business, I have had 5 or 6 Fraudulent transactions a year. Stripe does not have Fraud protection….I have lost alot of money by shipping out our product (a $2500 product) and then receiving a chargeback which has never got resolved in our favour.

                                                              Looking for another better payment processor.


                                                                My problem with PayPal is the support. While phone support is nice, first you must convince the PayPal robot to let you talk with a person. Once you get a person, they are located overseas in countries not even subject to our laws. I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t like handing access to my personal and financial accounts and information to someone not subject to the laws of my country.

                                                                I often have trouble simple understanding their speech as we have different languages; PayPal support is located in the Philippines and I in the U.S.A. That said, I still end up getting a rep who has no authority to do anything for me, or pretends to, and normally only offers me canned or standard responses from a book of policy. I am looking for humanity these days coupled with good sense and common decency, not corporate policy.

                                                                So, these days, I am making some changes in business. Most important in our sights is placing all of our accounts into the hands of Americans with U.S.A. based customer support. It’s not an easy task for many companies love to deceive just to land your business (get that money!), especially in Europe. At present we are moving hosting account because we were lied to by our current provider who assured us in advance that they and all servers and service were U.S. based and I find after the fact that they are in fact, operating from Germany and soon after signing on, they turned to Philippines based customer support as well.

                                                                The article seems a fair and unbiased review of the products and services but I do see a slight tendency in your article of leaning toward PayPal for personal or professional reasons. Very informative and thorough. I appreciate the info very much. Even the comments contain some handy info to know. Hopefully, someone might find my info of some value as well 😀 Thank you


                                                                  I agree with your comments about PayPal asking for documents and then asking for others. When told that those documents are not issued in this country, they revert back to boilerplates replies. Even when you get a chance to speak to one of their supervisors you get the same response. They are now refusing to release nearly USD$1500 because we cannot supply the forms requested because they are not available. And they never told us any of this when they opened the account and initially took the money. Sounds like PayPal and Stripe operate on the same principle.

                                                                    George Aweanung

                                                                    PayPal sucks so much, I did business on eBay then out of nowhere the account was limited and all my customers were stuck with payments, I provided them with documents and they limited my account further, then I closed every business with them but they still have 300 bucks of mine laying there, now I am moving onto stripe.


                                                                      PayPal chooses what the rules are after the fact. Requiring documents after they have collected monies without upfront notification is in my view fraud. This is especially true when you trying to deal with people who are making the document demands without their understanding the documents they are asking for do not exist. They should require all the documents they require BEFORE they allow the account ot be opened and used.


                                                                        Shannon, you provided some great information. Thanks!
                                                                        I’m just getting started on creating a marketplace and doing research. Will stripe automatically split the payment between me and the seller? Is there just one fee for the payment processing or do I pay a fee for payment processing and a fee to transfer funds to the seller?

                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                          Hi Tracy,

                                                                          We can’t definitively answer your questions since it will depend on how you set up your marketplace. We’d suggest you check out Stripe’s resources here, here, and here. Or contact them directly to ask your questions. Hope that helps!


                                                                            Did Stripe give working capital loan,base on your sales like PayPal and Square.

                                                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                              Hi Soji,

                                                                              No, Stripe doesn’t operate that way. I think you’ll have better luck finding what you are looking for in our business loan category.


                                                                                Having just compared pricing for transactions with Paypal v Stripe, and stripe being nearly 50% less than Paypal, I’ve just deactivated Paypal! Will see what customer feedback I get as to whether this is a permanent fixture.

                                                                                e.g. £17.98 transaction – 72p fee with Paypal, 45p with Stripe
                                                                                £47.99 transaction – £1.59 with Paypal, 87p with Stripe.

                                                                                  Gino nmn Fina

                                                                                  Thanks Melissa,,

                                                                                  Great research and terrific presentation.

                                                                                  Would a company that uses internal messaging and payments such as Airbnb benefit one way or another between Stripe & Pay Pal? Because my new company is similar in structure to Airbnb and based on trust, so I’m a fan of the trusted name and the credit card verification that Pay Pal offers, but my developer likes the functionality of Stripe. I’ve asked 10 people today if they’ve ever heard of Stripe, all said no. What is your opinion about the importance of the recognized Pay Pal brand as marketing goes to the baby boomer generation?


                                                                                    Melissa Johnson

                                                                                    Hi, Gino —

                                                                                    PayPal has more of a household name status, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Stripe is a nobody. Thanks to its partnerships with some major industry players (Shopify, for example), Stripe is massive, and handles an enormous load of credit and debit cards for processing. A 2016 Forbes article says 27% of Americans have made a purchase through Stripe; I’ve seen reports of much higher numbers. In fact, it’s most recent valuation puts it at $9.2 billion dollars.

                                                                                    And Stripe is definitely the most dev-friendly option out there. (That’s not to say PayPal and Square don’t have dev tools. They do.) I am not surprised your dev favors Stripe; the whole service is designed for developers first and foremost.

                                                                                    PayPal has such easy recognition in part because it’s both a consumer service and a business service. And it’s been around for over 20 years at this point. Stripe is a lot newer and tends to operate more behind the scenes, and it’s not a consumer service, either.

                                                                                    I unfortunately don’t have a lot of perspective on which one Boomers would be more likely to trust. I’m inclined to think it makes less of a difference to them so long as you can make them trust the site on the whole.


                                                                                      Great info! U left off whether Stripe has an atm card with an electronic chip that will work in the rest of the world (paypal doesn’t) and that’s the one thing I wanted to know. Earlier this year I was unable to receive funds from paypal thru the atm outside of America because paypal, being CHEAP doesn’t want to send their customers, millions I’m thinking, new cards… that’s expensive. I get it but they make a lot of money and it’s the cost of doing business.

                                                                                      Somehow they got yet ANOTHER extension from the EU banking systems on top of the one Prez Obama gave them the year before. I don’t know when they will finally join the rest of the world but if Apple is using Stripe, I assume they have international Mastercard/Visa.

                                                                                      I’ll check it out on their site directly. Thanks for the info about Stripe vs Paypal. It’s good to know that the bottom line is 6 of 1 half a dozen of the other!

                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                        Thanks for your feedback! Unfortunately stripe does not yet offer an EMV chip card.

                                                                                          Bradford Cathey

                                                                                          I’m a developer (client and server side) and have dealt a fair amount with both PayPal and Stripe support. My experience: PayPal is frustratingly slow and uninformed, not for developers; Stripe is fast, helpful, and knowledgeable. We bailed on PayPal because I couldn’t serve my clients with the lousy support I was getting. We are Stripe all the way.

                                                                                          That said, you are correct: Stripe requires programming knowledge to get up an running. I’m experienced and had trouble with my first one (though Stripe support was amazing).


                                                                                            Very nice article, exactly what I needed.
                                                                                            One issue I had: I’m in the US and selling to companies in Europe (not individuals) is a nightmare of taxes and paperwork. Paypal and Stripe can’t help there. I found one company that does: Paddle. They charge more (5%+50c), but they take into account all taxes in Europe and Japan.


                                                                                              can Strip suppport Split payment? is there supported in Portugal and brazil.?

                                                                                                Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                Hi Uzer,

                                                                                                Stripe should be able to support split payments but access in Portugal and Brazil are still in Beta testing, but you can be notified when it launches here.


                                                                                                  can Sprite Support Split payment? is there supported in brazil and portugal?

                                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                    Yes, Stripe can support split payments but unfortunately at this time, access in Brazil and Portugal have not yet released and are still in beta testing.


                                                                                                      This review does not cover a huge issue for EU customers – data protection…
                                                                                                      In general people in the EU do not trust the poor data protection in the US and the reselling of information that happens as a result. Paypal has been forced by EU law to warn all customers that if they use Paypal, their data is being transferred to the US. This leads to cart abandonment. I have a query into Stripe at the moment because even if you turn off Paypal on Shopify, you still get that warning. Not sure if it’s a Shopify or a Stripe function as yet but I’ll let you know if I find out.


                                                                                                        Hi Imogen, did you ever find out how stripe handles the EU issue?

                                                                                                          Tom Rubens

                                                                                                          Thank you so much for this review, Shannon! This was exactly what I was looking for, and I have no need to read another review. You nailed it!


                                                                                                            Thanks Shannon for the article, great explanation! But isn’t it that most of the merchants are working on ecommerce features and simplified setup? I was thinking about these two options before, but since my business is in Europe, I have chosen Cardinity (, not so well know brand as PayPal or Stripe, but service is good and price is lower. Sometimes it’s worth trying something new, not only most popular brands.


                                                                                                              Very informative Shannon. Thank you. Is it true that Stripe has the option of installment payments, while PayPal doesn’t. In other words, if I am offering my clients 2 options, pay now in full, or pay in 3 installments, then Stripe has an automated payment option for installments and PayPal cannot. That would bet an advantage for Stripe. Is that true?

                                                                                                                Andrew Walsh

                                                                                                                Hi Shannon… thanks for an informative article – great job!


                                                                                                                  Can anyone tell me if Stripe will allow payments via paypal adaptive inside their system?


                                                                                                                    Hello, can you tell me if Stripe allows you to manually enter credit cards in the system? It is a pain the booty with PayPal

                                                                                                                      Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                      Hi Judy,

                                                                                                                      Yes, you can manually enter credit card information with Stripe:


                                                                                                                        Thank you for the comprehensive article. The information is very helpful for sellers who are undecided which payment method to choose between the two.

                                                                                                                        Do you have any comparison of these two payment methods from the buyers’ experience? If a buyer is presented with these two payment options during checkout, which payment method would they prefer? What would the pie chart split between the two look like?

                                                                                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                          Hi Allan,

                                                                                                                          It depends on how the business chooses to integrate the payment service – whether the merchant chooses to use the hosted payment page option or integrate with some other shopping cart or use one of the other options offered by both PayPal and Stripe. With both services, the merchant can have a lot of control over the appearance if they want to. But in terms of the easiest most basic integration options, I think Stripe tends be a little cleaner. Although of course PayPal’s payment processing makes it easier to accept PayPal payments.


                                                                                                                            Thanks Shannon !! really the best understanding I got through your precious arrangement of words.

                                                                                                                              Shannon George

                                                                                                                              Terrific, thanks for reading! Glad I could be of help.


                                                                                                                                Thanks Shannon – great write up!

                                                                                                                                I have a question: I’ve narrowed my options between these two processors, but was wondering about Paypal’s tolerance for Marketplace websites. I’ve heard that, in general, payment processors don’t like Marketplaces because the site owner and the providers of goods/services are not the same and it is believed that it leads to more disputes/chargebacks/etc. Stripe Connect has specifically stated that it is made for this type of business, but I haven’t seen anything like that for Paypal Payments Pro (PPP). I’m hesitant to use PPP if there is a chance that they either won’t approve me or will close my account down at some point for this. Any insight into how Paypal views this?

                                                                                                                                  Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                                  Hi Jason,

                                                                                                                                  You are correct. Most marketplace businesses bring more risk to the table than conventional online sales. This is true no matter which company does the processing. With higher risk comes a greater chance of having funds withheld or, worst-case, the account terminated.

                                                                                                                                  It’s difficult to say whether Stripe or PayPal would be more prone to account instability for marketplaces. I’d say that PayPal (especially via PPP) is more stable overall, but I honestly haven’t heard from any marketplace-style sites using that platform. Have you considered Braintree? It’s a company owned by PayPal that offers marketplace solutions. It might be a good alternative for you.


                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the response, Tom.

                                                                                                                                    I actually called PayPal today and asked them flat out how they view marketplace sites and they said that their PPP product is not allowed to be used with that type of site. So, that is a no go. However, their Adaptive Payments product does allow it – unfortunately, they redirect to the PayPal domain during checkout which I don’t want.

                                                                                                                                    Stripe Connect is my leading option right now as it is specifically set up for marketplace sites. Good call on Braintree as well – I stumbled upon them earlier, but haven’t really researched what they offer, but they appear to be focused on marketplace sites as well. So, that seems like another solid option.

                                                                                                                                      Nathan Hanlon

                                                                                                                                      Jason, I’d love to hear who you went with (Stripe Connect (standalone), Braintree or PayPal adaptive payments).

                                                                                                                                      I’m looking into the same thing right now. I might be off with the following notes, please feel free (anyone) to advise on comments or your experience with these platforms.

                                                                                                                                      Stripe Connect (Standalone accounts, not the managed accounts):
                                                                                                                                      Pros: merchants communicate with Stripe for issues, my app is not routed anywhere for payments (seamless, great UX), split payments for my fee. I don’t have any web, cart, sales.
                                                                                                                                      Cons: no credit card verification, very limited merchant support.

                                                                                                                                      PayPal adaptive:
                                                                                                                                      Pros: Merchant support, verified customers (using a pay pal account), split payments for my fee.
                                                                                                                                      Cons: my app is routed to PalPal for verification & payments (not ideal), expensive due to monthly fees for me and my merchants.

                                                                                                                                      PalPal Braintree:
                                                                                                                                      Cons: I have to manage all merchants for refunds. deal killer…..



                                                                                                                                        I talked to Braintree and they only support marketplaces that are focused one aspect

                                                                                                                                        For example if your website is a marketplace where sellers can sell electronics then you have to make sure all sellers are selling electronics, cannot sell other categories of items.

                                                                                                                                        The best choice right now for a marketplace website is to use stripe connect standalone accounts, that way sellers are responsible for any chargebacks and bot the platform. I’m sure as long as any seller follows the stripe tos correctly, they wont get shutdown for no reason

                                                                                                                                        A lot of complaints you see about stripe are from shopify users who do drop shipping when drop shipping is clearly not allowed according to stripe TOS, so shopify is really misleading a lot of merchants by marketing how great drop shipping is, but also don’t tell merchants that it is a high risk business according to stripe


                                                                                                                                          Very useful post!


                                                                                                                                            Thanks Shannon, really usefull.


                                                                                                                                              Thank you, Shannon! The clearest breakdown I’ve found.

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