Braintree Payment Solutions Review
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- Date Established
- Chicago, IL
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- Excellent developer tools
- Extensive integrations available
- Comprehensive payment type support
- Multi-currency options
- Excellent marketplace tools
- Excellent subscription tools
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
- Long setup times for accounts
- Reports of closed accounts and held funds
Is it a brain in the shape of a tree, or a tree that grows brains? I’m not entirely sure, but either way, I can tell you that choosing Braintree Payment Solutions (or, for everyone’s sake, Braintree) is a no-brainer — an easy but sophisticated way to accept payments.
Braintree offers merchant accounts and a payment gateway, with a high degree of customizability and multiple services available at no charge beyond processing fees. That makes it ideal for forward-thinking app developers, marketplace-style businesses, and other Internet-based, tech-driven merchants. It also provides seamless, frictionless billing while providing access to billing information in a way that most providers don’t allow.
These sorts of companies don’t often like to disclose just how big they are. But even if you’ve never heard of it, Braintree is big. Big enough that the company processed more than six billion transactions in 2018, and in 2017 Braintree’s revenue grew 54% year-over-year.
You’re probably thinking that Braintree is sounding an awful lot like Stripe (read our review) — and you’d be right. There’s definitely a lot of similarities between the two, from their developer-first focus to the core services provided. The primary difference is that while Stripe is a third-party processor, Braintree offers a bank-sponsored merchant account, which translates to more stability.
I wholeheartedly recommend Braintree Payment Solutions. If you have no need for the developer tools and other capabilities beyond simple payment processing, then you might want to look elsewhere for the lowest rates. However, Braintree offers incredibly valuable services at a fair price, and almost any merchant could benefit from processing with the company. And you won’t find much better options if you need a platform for mobile or eCommerce payment processing. Congratulations, Braintreeps (Braintree reps, get it? I didn’t make this up). You’ve earned a perfect 5-star rating.
Read on to learn more about what makes Braintree unique. If you’re a current or previous Braintree merchant, we’d love to hear from you. Please check our guidelines, then leave us a comment about your experiences!
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
We’re not looking at just a simple merchant account provider with Braintree. In fact, if you wants a POS integration, an mPOS app, or an all-in-one solution, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. With Braintree, it’s mobile and digital products only. If you work in eCommerce or app development, or you use mobile processing, Braintree might be the merchant account provider for you.
There are two elements of Braintree’s service:
- Merchant Accounts: Braintree is a merchant account provider, which translates into greater stability than you see with an aggregator such as Stripe or Square. Braintree is a also global provider, with international accounts available for merchants in some 45 countries total, Not to mention that you can accept payments in over 130 currencies. While Braintree does have a list of prohibited businesses, it doesn’t have a minimum processing requirement for merchants.
- Gateway Services: This encompasses pretty much everything else Braintree has to offer beyond payment processing, from the control panel to the API. It’s worth noting that if you already have a merchant account and just need the gateway, you can use Braintree for a fee. However, it’s a higher cost than other gateways, so you should make sure the cost absolutely justifies the benefits.
Braintree’s services can be broken down into four elements or products:
- Braintree Direct: Direct is built for businesses that want to sell directly on a website or in a mobile app. It allows you to accept multiple payment options including cards, PayPal, wallets, Apple Pay, and Google pay. Direct also gives merchants access to features like fraud protection tools, recurring billing, and reporting and integration options.
- Braintree Extend: Extend allows merchants to share payment data with partners, including other platforms, merchants, or service providers. Some merchants use Extend to share payment data with fraud protection services, secondary vault providers (to build in data redundancy), or rewards and loyalty partners. In addition, Extend allows you to develop in-context commerce experiences and add purchasing options within your partner’s content.
- Braintree Auth: This is more for partners and platform providers than merchants, but Auth is a way for these businesses to securely share merchant data and take authorized actions on behalf of merchants. Auth is, at the time of this review, still in beta.
- Braintree Marketplace: Braintree’s marketplace solutions allow you to seamlessly manage many aspects of the business, including splitting payments between you and your providers. We weren’t able to find information on pricing for Braintree Marketplace, so be sure to ask before you sign up for the service.
Additional Braintree Features
In addition to Braintree’s four core offerings, you get access to a wealth of additional features at no additional charge:
- Sandbox: If you want to test out Braintree before you go about integrating it into your system, there is a sandbox for developers to play in. It’s free, although you do have to register.
- In-Store Payments: Process payments in person using PayPal. Braintree will integrate with your current mPOS app or third-party POS provider to process card-present transactions. This feature is current available for merchants in the US, UK, and Australia. Since you’ll be using PayPal for these transactions, you’ll be paying PayPal fees. Check out our review of PayPal for more information.
- Payouts: This tool is designed for marketplace businesses. Use Hyperwallet to manage payouts to the merchants who are selling on your platform.
- Reporting: View reports and use the available filtering tools to isolate different elements. Use the API to build custom reports.
- Security: Braintree now offers 3D Secure 2.0 (3DS 2.0) to all users. 3DS 2.0 is the new industry standard for customer authentication, and it’s nice to see it available here. In addition, Braintree uses data encryption to store information in the Braintree Vault, and Braintree is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.
- Drop-In UI & Custom UI: When it comes to checkouts, it’s your choice — select Braintree’s ready-to-go checkout UI for your site or app, or use the custom payment APIs to create a unique checkout experience while maintaining PCI compliance.
- Global Selling: Braintree offers features for international selling, including global fraud protection and the ability to accept payments in over 130 currencies. After you accept these funds, Braintree will convert the currency and deposit funds in your US account in USD for a 1% fee.
- Different Presentment & Settlement Currency: If you sell internationally, Braintree offers an option for you to offer different presentment and settlement currencies, meaning the currency you can display on the site can be local to the customer, while you still get the funds in your deposit currency. Even better, Braintree handles all the conversion for you.
- Recurring Billing: While a bunch of providers can hook you up with recurring billing, not many execute the service as well as Braintree. Customization is king with Braintree. This includes customized failed transaction management, pricing plans, discounts, promos, push notifications, rewards, and add-ons, and automatically prorated subscriptions. And let’s not forget the secure storage in Braintree’s vault. More notably, recurring billing through Braintree is free, whereas with PayPal it’s a $10 monthly fee.
- Payment Updater: Never lose a subscriber to a new or re-issued card. Braintree will automatically obtain and update that info for you, so you don’t have to reach out to customers, which is pretty awesome.
- Fraud Protection Tools: With a Braintree account, you get access to fraud monitoring tools through the company’s partner, Kount. You can set parameters for security and override certain suspicious transactions if necessary. (Just make sure you have these features enabled to begin with!). Please note that while Kount Standard is free to use, there are additional fees associated with using Kount Custom.
- Data Portability: The Braintree gateway uses its “vault” system to give you access to your customers’ stored payment information while maintaining PCI compliance. With other gateways, you lose access to this information if you decide to switch providers. This means that all of your recurring payments would be interrupted (a really bad thing). So I’m really impressed to see Braintree offering this wonderful feature.
- Integrations: Braintree is compatible with a wide assortment of third-party services, from shopping carts to recurring billing and accounting tools.
All of this is good to see. These are pretty solid features for merchants, and you don’t necessarily get all of these from any old merchant account provider — especially not data portability or advanced fraud protection.
And then, of course, there’s all of the payment methods that Braintree supports, which you can integrate into your system at your own discretion. It is nice to see such an array of payment options from a single provider:
- Credit & Debit Cards: This also includes acceptance of pre-paid debit and gift cards.
- ACH Direct Debit: ACH Direct Debit is currently available as a “limited release” for US merchants. Rates for ACH are listed in the Pricing section below.
- PayPal: Braintree’s integration with PayPal shouldn’t surprise you, since it’s a PayPal company. You’ll still need a PayPal account to process through Braintree, but you will get a simple, time-saving and seamless setup and a unified way to accept all forms of payment. In addition, you’ll gain access to PayPal’s 250+ million active users. Running PayPal transactions through Braintree means you will be paying PayPal rates on those transactions. Notable PayPal features include PayPal One-touch Payments and PayPal Credit. View our review of PayPal for more information.
- Android & Apple Pay: Integrate payments from the two major mobile wallets into your setup. There are no additional fees to use these payment methods.
- Venmo Payments: Accept Venmo transactions from consumers on the web and through iOS and Android apps. There are no additional fees.
- Visa Checkout & MasterPass: In addition to all of the above ways to checkout, you can integrate support for Visa and Mastercard’s online wallets. Process payments with both options with no additional fees.
- Google Pay: This Google API lets a merchant pay with any card they have on file with Google.
That just about covers what Braintree has to offer merchants. The support articles and developer docs are two good resources to learn more about what Braintree can do. And of course, don’t forget that you can go poke around in the sandbox if you feel inclined.
Fees & Rates
For most merchants, the rates and fees charged by Braintree Payment Solutions are incredibly simple:
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
That’s it. There are (for the most part) no surcharges, no fees. That means:
- No monthly minimum
- No monthly fee
- No annual fee
- No PCI compliance fee
- No early termination fee
- No set-up fee
- No gateway fees
- No statement fees
A few exceptions to this rule are fees that apply when your customers make an international transaction. Any transactions presented in a non-USD currency incur a 1% fee, and an additional 1% fees applies to transactions made on payments cards that were issued outside of the US. In addition, you’ll be responsible for chargebacks, which come with a reasonable $15 fee. This is industry-standard and unavoidable.
Braintree’s rate of 2.9% + $0.30 is absolutely competitive, especially when you consider there are no other fees (minus those international fees) and everything is very predictable. If you’ve integrated with PayPal, you’ll pay your standard PayPal rates (which will also probably be 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions). It’s also worth noting that Braintree does offer volume discounts if you process more than $80,000 per month. In addition, Braintree offers a discounted rate for non-profits (2.2% + $0.30 per transaction, and 3.25% + $0.30 per transaction for Amex).
For established businesses, there is also the option to negotiate custom pricing (you can negotiate either flat rate pricing or interchange plus pricing). This pricing is based on business model and processing volume. We always recommend interchange-plus pricing when it’s available as it’s the most transparent pricing model (and at high volumes the most affordable), so we’re happy to hear that it’s an option for some merchants.
In addition, Braintree offers ACH Direct Debit at the low rate of 0.75% per transaction, with maximum per transaction fees capped at $5. Discounted rates are available for enterprise businesses.
As I mentioned before, Braintree’s gateway is available independent of its processing services at a cost. Braintree says the gateway is compatible with most US merchant accounts, and you can even connect multiple accounts. Here’s what you’ll pay:
- $49/month for gateway
- $0.10 per transaction
- $10 for additional merchant accounts beyond the first
All in all, that’s reasonable for everything you get — but you get a better deal when you use Braintree’s processing.
The 2-3 day payout (3-5 days for Amex) is another plus. That means you’ll get your money quickly. It’s not as fast or as convenient as next-day payouts or the instant access PayPal offers, or even Square’s instant deposit, but it’s on par with a lot of the best processors.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
You’ll have absolutely no early termination fee with Braintree. You can see the standard Braintree Merchant Agreement on the website if you’re interested. It’s pretty standard fare as far as merchant agreements go, and nothing that should worry you. As we’ve already said, there are no extra costs or hidden fees, so you don’t have to worry about early termination fees or monthly minimums or anything. Please make sure you check the list of acceptable business types before you sign up, too!
Another plus: If you do choose to leave Braintree, you get to take all of your customer data with you. That’s a really good deal. You’ll just want to make sure the new system is PCI compliant.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
With such a simple pricing structure, Braintree has an easy job when it comes to transparency. It discloses all rates, fees, and important contractual stipulations in plain sight, with absolutely no surprises.
The much tougher task here is properly explaining all of Braintree’s many features and customization options. Fortunately, it has some great resources: its developer docs, its support articles (which serve as your knowledge base), and its FAQs. You’ll also find an active blog with some good information for merchants. Want more information? Braintree also has a resource center to help businesses stay up to date on trends in the payments industry.
Braintree doesn’t have thousands of independent agents hitting the pavement to try to sell its products. All salespeople are in-house, and they know Braintree products inside and out. This is an optimal sales situation because it tends to lead to far more transparent practices and much happier merchants. It just seems like there’s far less pressure in these kinds of situations to close the deal at whatever cost — even if that means lying to a merchant and promising the world to them. While there are some companies that manage their independent reps well, they’re definitely few and far between. So I like that Braintree keeps its team in house.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Braintree makes their customer service and technical support readily available. Although there is no live chat option, you get email and phone support at no charge and with no limits. In fact, Braintree likes to bill itself as offering “white-glove support.” We’ll explore whether Braintree lives up to that claim in the User Reviews section below.
Merchants in the US and Canada can get a hold of a knowledgeable support rep during these hours:
- 5 AM to 12 AM Central Time, Monday-Thursday
- 5 AM to 8 PM Central Time, Friday
- 8 AM to 7 PM Central Time, Monday-Thursday
- 8 AM to 5 PM Central Time, Friday
If it’s an emergency, you can get service 24/7/365 via email from reps and engineers on-call, and that’s pretty awesome. We’ve already mentioned the website resources that you’ll have access to as well. In all, I find them to be quite comprehensive and easy to navigate, which is always nice.
I’m always thrilled to see phone support available, because the lack of it is invariably a major complaint against any merchant account provider. So, this is definitely a great thing for Braintree.
Braintree also maintains a Status page where you can find information about outages or other technical difficulties in real time. Rather than getting a bunch of inconsistent anecdotal evidence in a giant rumor mill, you can see direct from the source whether something is working.
Braintree is also active on social media. They post regularly on Facebook and Twitter, and they have lots of informative videos on Youtube.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Braintree has just eight complaints with the BBB in the past three years. That’s an extremely low number of complaints, and when you consider just how large Braintree is, it’s outstanding. Stripe, which is also extremely large, has hundreds of complaints.
Braintree scores an A- with BBB. Looking over the complaints, one relates to the chargeback process, another relates to an account being terminated for high risk, and a few are related to not receiving funds for orders shipping before Braintree had officially approved the merchant’s account. Braintree also has 9 reviews on the BBB site, most of which are negative. A couple relate to being unable to open an account, one relates to a termination, one is just a general plea for help.
I also browsed multiple comment boards to find trends in customer feedback. Among those complaints, here is what I’ve seen:
- Long Setup Times for Accounts: This isn’t surprising, given that you get an actual merchant account and not just an aggregated account like you do with PayPal (Braintree’s parent company). You won’t get instant access, and you’ll have to provide several documents before you’re approved. This is definitely one of the more common and consistent complaints. Another complaint I have seen echoed is that Braintree requires merchants to submit so much documentation that at times it feels “intrusive.”
- Closed Accounts & Held Funds: Among the serious complaints, these two show up most often. In theory, a proper merchant account means that holds and account closures are less likely than with aggregated accounts. And judging by the overall low complaint numbers, I think that’s true of Braintree. However, I have seen numerous complaints that state that Braintree allowed the merchant to process payments before the account was “fully approved.” Then, after the merchant had been processing payments for a while, Braintree conducted a full review of the account and determined that they could not support that business. In some cases, that means that merchants who shipped products during this period lost the payments (and products) from those transactions in addition to having their accounts closed. The Braintree representative I spoke with says that this occasionally happens with merchants in the EU, and that Braintree always provides a disclaimer that merchants should wait to ship orders until their account has been fully approved.
- Not For High-Risk Merchants: We always recommend that you read the Acceptable Use Policy for every merchant account you apply for. This will significantly reduce the risk of you signing on to a service that boots you out after a short period of time (like what we described above). Braintree does not accept high-risk businesses, and your idea of high-risk might not line up with theirs. We highly recommend that you diligently read Braintree’s Acceptable Use Policy, including the list of prohibited businesses. if you’re on the list or in any sort of high-risk field, you’re better off pursuing a merchant account with a processor that specializes in working with those kinds of businesses, including Durango Merchant Services.
- Insufficient Fraud Protection: We always see complaints regarding chargebacks and fraudulent transactions, and Braintree is no exception. Merchants state that Braintree’s fraud protection services aren’t enough to actually protect their businesses. Some even complain that the number of fraudulent transactions they process have increased after switching to Braintree.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Braintree’s client list speaks for itself: GitHub, Uber, AirBnB, and DropBox, just to name a few. But if you really want something remarkable…
Braintree actually bothers to put in the effort to create case studies and shows how its solutions can be used to tackle different problems. Not many companies actually invest in doing this, but it’s always nice to see. You’ll see the case studies come from smaller-name businesses, too, not just the giants of industry.
That’s not the only source of good reviews. There are quite positive reviews of Braintree from actual users on other review sites around the web, mixed in with the negative reviews. As I dug through them I found that people really like the following:
- How easy it is to integrate Braintree
- Consistent pricing with no monthly fees
- Easy to use and integrate
- Lots of payment methods available
Developers in particular note that the API is solid. They also like the extensive support for various programming languages.
Braintree is one of the few merchant acocunt providers I’ve rated 5 stars without a widely available interchange-plus option. That would usually be a deal-breaker for me, but the company pulls it off because it offers both consistency and affordability. When you consider the absolutely enormous number of unique features and services you get at absolutely no additional charge and for no monthly fee, Braintree may have the best value in the entire eCommerce/app-commerce processing industry. I’m beyond impressed.
With everything Braintree has accomplished in the past few years, it’s poised to own the eCommerce and m-commerce worlds. And that’s only going to get better as Braintree keeps finding ways to innovate and reshape the payments space. Keep an eye open and your ear to the ground for new offerings.
App developers would be crazy not to thoroughly consider working with Braintree Payment Solutions, and market-style businesses would be, too. These people are not only delivering a developer-friendly medium; they’re bringing ethical, transparent, high-quality processing services to the table. When you put these two attributes together, you get a solid 5-star processor. Good work!
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
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