Braintree Payment Solutions Review
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- Date Established
- Chicago, IL
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 Braintree is definitely smart — smart as a business, and smart for businesses that want to accept payments through websites, smartphone apps, and mobile devices.
Braintree Payment Solutions offers a high degree of customizability and invaluable services that make it ideal for forward-thinking app developers, social market-style businesses, and other Internet-based, tech-driven merchants. It also provides seamless, frictionless billing while maintaining access to billing information in a way that most providers don’t allow.
A word of caution: There’s no brick-and-mortar POS solution here. For that, you’ll have to look at Braintree’s parent company, PayPal. Itself owned by eBay at the time, PayPal acquired Braintree in September of 2013, but has maintained it as an independent subsidiary. That doesn’t appear set to change, despite the Great eBay/PayPal Divorce of 2015.
After all, from Q2 of 2013 to Q2 of 2016, Braintree’s total number of payment transactions grew 25 times over. Mind you, that isn’t the payment volume; nevertheless, it does offer solid proof of the company’s continuous growth since being acquired by PayPal. In fact, Braintree says it is the preferred integration for accepting PayPal, which is no small consideration.
So we know Braintree is big, and it keeps attracting new merchants who clearly see something in the company. I’m sure it’s the flexibility and wide support for payment types that are the big draws. Whereas Braintree’s biggest and most obvious competitor, Stripe, focuses on making commerce available everywhere, Braintree is more focused on making commerce available no matter how consumers want to pay. That’s not to say Braintree doesn’t have a global reach — it absolutely does, with support for 130 currencies and more than 40 countries. It’s just a matter of priorities for the company.
I think few companies understand mobile and digital commerce as well as Braintree does, and the tools provided and the huge assortment of supported payment types just prove that.
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. In my mind, though, Braintree offers incredibly valuable services at a fair price, and almost any merchant could benefit from processing with the company. 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. To find a merchant account that accommodates brick-and-mortar sales, check out our guided merchant account finder.
Products and Services:
We’re not looking at just a simple merchant account provider here. There isn’t even a brick-and-mortar solution with Braintree; it’s mobile and digital products only. If you’re into e-tail, app development, or mobile anything, you need to take a closer look. But with so many incredibly useful features, you might need to take a couple of days to process the possibilities. Everything is customizable, with the most painless integration you’re likely to find anywhere in the industry. Offerings include:
- Merchant accounts: Braintree is a direct processor, so your payments account comes directly from this provider, which translates into greater stability than you see with an aggregator such as Stripe or Square.
- International accounts: Available in the US, Canada, Europe and even Australia (some 40 countries total), Braintree is a truly global provider. Not to mention that you can accept payments in over 130 currencies AND 6 languages. Businesses that cater to a truly global customer base will benefit from how flexible Braintree is when it comes to serving an international customer base.
- Payment gateway: The in-ho1use gateway comes as part of your account, although you can purchase it separately — for a fairly steep fee — if you already have a merchant account. One of the big advantages to the Braintree gateways is unprecedented freedom (see below).
- 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.
- Drop-In UI and Custom Fields: 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 hosted fields to create a unique checkout experience while maintaining PCI compliance.
- 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 the Brain. This includes customized failed transaction management, pricing plans, discounts, promos, push notifications, rewards, and add-ons, automatically prorated subscriptions, as well as search/reporting capabilities. And let’s not forget the secure storage in Braintree’s vault.
- 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.
- One-touch payments: App developers will love Braintree’s One Touch Payment option. We first saw this through Venmo, but now PayPal has adapted that into its own One Touch solution for apps and websites. Users can pay securely and easily, and PayPal will remember their information, so they can complete purchases more quickly in the future.
- Braintree Marketplace: For market-style merchants, you just cannot beat Braintree. If you fall into this category, I’m legitimately excited for you to try this service. Braintree will effortlessly split payments between you and your providers, keeping track of your 1099-K tax forms along the way. The flexible escrow service gives you the option to pay right away, or wait for fulfillment. Plus, it’s free. You only pay the normal processing rate for the initial transaction, and nothing else. Be aware that the marketplace feature only works for US-based companies with US-based providers.
- Venmo payments: While we’re on the topic of Braintree’s marketplace, this service allows you to pay your market providers using their email addresses or mobile phone numbers, so you don’t have to deal with collecting and verifying bank account numbers.Not only that, but you can actually accept Venmo transactions from consumers as well.
- Bitcoin support: Braintree allows merchants to accept Bitcoin payment via Coinbase digital wallets.
- Support for digital wallets: Braintree is really good at making sure that consumers can also make payments via their preferred digital wallets. This is significant because everyone and their mother is trying to create a mobile wallet, and no one’s managed to quite claim dominance yet.
New to Braintree:
In early June of 2015, Braintree introduced a beta program for buyable pins on Pinterest. The same technology that powers buyable pins and enables secure information sharing is also powering a newer partnership, Yelp’s Cash Back program, as well as SkyScanner, an online airline booking site.
In addition, Braintree is the company powering the payment tool linking Facebook Messenger and Uber, as well as Facebook/EventBrite sales.
The most noteworthy additions to Braintree recently are new payment methods. Now merchants can accept (or will soon be able to accept) Apple Pay on the Web, MasterPass, Visa Checkout, PayPal Credit, and in Europe, Union Pay.
PayPal Commerce bears the PayPal name, but make no mistake: It is absolutely a Braintree offering. It’s actually powered by Modest, a recent acquisition that now shares space with Braintree in its Chicago office. Commerce is what I have been hoping to see — “contextual commerce.” In short, with a little bit of code, you can create buy buttons in apps, in blog posts, in emails, and plenty of other places on the web. No more redirecting people to your website. The one downside is that Commerce is still in beta and isn’t available to the public. I really want to see Commerce do well and reach the masses of merchants, because it’s so far beyond what is available elsewhere.
What’s Missing from Braintree:
The only thing missing from Braintree that I really would like to see added is support for ACH payments. Stripe now supports ACH, and while it’s definitely an archaic form of payment, it’s one that’s still in demand.
There’s a long list of integrations that work with Braintree, including a couple of mPOS apps that will let you swipe cards. Given that the payments space is moving toward omni-channel commerce, seeing a company like Braintree offer a solution that works with mPOS makes me happy. I just wish that the options were better. Like Stripe, this is something we could see change with a bit of time, and it is far from a high priority.
Fees and Rates:
For most of us, the rates and fees charged by Braintree Payment Solutions are incredibly simple:
- 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee for everything except Bitcoin
- 1% for Bitcoin (after the first $1 million processed)
That’s it. There are 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 (monthly or setup)
- No statement fees
You’ll be responsible for chargebacks, though, which come with a reasonable $15 fee. This is industry-standard and unavoidable. If you knew how much of an expensive pain in the ass it is for processors to deal with chargebacks, you’d consider $15 unbelievably low.
The two-day payout is another plus. That means you’ll get your money quickly. It’s not as fast or as convenient as next-day payouts, or even Square’s instant deposit, but it’s absolutely on par with a lot of the best processors.
While I like that Braintree provides incredibly accurate and plain disclosure here, flat-rate services will never be as transparent as itemized fees and interchange-plus rates. All costs just come out of the 2.9% + $0.30, and you have no way of knowing the actual expense behind the scenes.
Still, I like this system for Braintree and the rest of the world’s pay-as-you-go processors. It simplifies costs into something extremely predictable.
A Quick Example:
For a point of reference, 2.90% + $0.30 is what you’d expect to pay for non-qualified e-commerce payments with a good-quality processor, along with maybe 1.90% + $0.30 for qualified. Figuring a half-and-half split between the two, you’d pay about 2.40% + $0.30 on average, making Braintree about 0.5% more expensive that I might like to see. So if you’re doing $5,000 worth of sales each month, you might expect to pay an extra $25 with Braintree. But when you consider that standard monthly service and gateway fees usually come in at about $25 anyway, you can see that Braintree is actually offering competitive pricing, most of all for low-volume merchants. In my opinion, it’s absolutely worth it, especially if you’re going to take advantage of the unique marketplace, partner APIs, recurring billing and data storage features.
High-volume merchants may qualify for customized pricing. Aside from that, though, don’t expect to be able to negotiate. Braintree is what it is, and it’s not going to make exceptions for just anyone.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
You’ll have absolutely no early termination fee with Braintree, which makes sense given that it’s a PayPal company. You can see the standard Braintree Merchant Agreement 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.
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 and 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 describing all of Braintree’s many features and customization options. It’s a big job, but Braintree performs outstandingly. The website is very well organized, with answers to just about every question you could conceive of. The navigation is simple, not pages buried inside pages, which is nice.
Braintree also has a fairly active blog filled with all kinds of useful information. I’ve said this in many reviews — I do look closely at the kind of information and support processing companies offer merchants. I like the resources that Braintree puts out. It’s catering to all sorts of merchants with ways to address some of the most pressing issues they’ll encounter and letting people know about new features. However, it’s not quite at the level of Square, which is pretty much the gold standard for educating merchants.
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. While there are some companies that manage their independent reps well, they’re definitely few and far between.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
While many providers struggle to maintain an acceptable level of customer support, Braintree has a reputation for excellence in this category.
Braintree offers an extensive knowledgebase in its article center — an essential support feature in my opinion. Sometimes you just want to look something up without getting on the phone with customer support. By using this resource, you can solve the vast majority of issues on your own time. And don’t forget there are also many developer guides to help you with the more technical aspects.
If you need to get a hold of a knowledgeable “Braintreep” (Treep for short), you can do so during these hours:
- Email: 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. CST, Monday-Thursday; 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST, Friday
- Phone: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, Monday-Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Friday
If it’s an emergency, you can get service 24/7/365 via email from reps and engineers on-call.
You’ll be impressed by Braintree’s Status page, where you can find information about outages or other technical difficulties in real time. This is becoming a more common practice among online service providers, and I do like it. Rather than getting a bunch of inconsistent anecdotal evidence, you can see direct from the source whether something is working.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Braintree has just six complaints with the BBB in the past three years. That’s an extremely low number of complaints for anyone, but when you consider just how large Braintree is, it’s outstanding.
Unfortunately, the BBB has lowered Braintree’s score to a B+ because it seems customers aren’t happy with the company’s response to their complaints. However, looking over the complaints, a couple relate to the chargeback process, another relates to an account being terminated for high risk, and one is about the fee structure in the Asia-Pacific region. One is from a customer who claims a Braintree merchant never shipped their order.
All in all, nothing is a red flag here. It’s unfortunate about the B+ rating but I feel like it’s not necessarily warranted in this case.
Braintree has 3 reviews on the BBB site, all of which are negative — but one is a complaint about chargebacks, which are industry-standard. The other complaints about an account termination…but notes that Braintree transferred funds to their account instead of leaving it in limbo for months, as many third-party processors do. The third relates to a hold placed on the account after a series of fraudulent transactions.
There are no actual complaints against Braintree on Ripoff Report, either. While you can search for “Braintree,” the results you’ll get are mostly for a town called Braintree, Massachusetts.
I don’t know how to communicate to you how unspeakably low this complaint volume is for a processor of Braintree’s size and type. Even Stripe Payments, a Braintree’s major competitor with a similar business model, has over 350 complaints with the BBB. Somehow Braintree manages to move billions upon billions of dollars per year without enraging entire armies of disgruntled customers. That’s a serious feat!
I scoured the internet for Braintree complaints and found only a few. A few are re-hashings of BBB complaints, a few are merchants who took issue with the signup process. A few other complaints relate to account holds and terminations.
One of the advantages to Braintree is that because it’s not a third-party processor the same way that PayPal and Stripe are. That means greater account stability, but it’s not totally infallible. We highly recommend that you check out Braintree’s Acceptable Use Policy, including the list of prohibited businesses. if you’re in a high-risk field, you’re better off pursuing a merchant account with a processor that specializes in working with those kinds of businesses, including Payline Data and Durango Merchant Services.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Braintree’s client list speaks for itself, in some ways: GitHub, Uber, AirBnB, OpenTable, LevelUp, and StubHub, just to name a few. Each of them revolutionary in some way or other. And Braintree has helped each of them along the path to greatness.
But if you really want something remarkable…
Braintree has some of the most comprehensive and impressive case studies I’ve ever seen, along with kind words from very successful companies. I mean, its client list is chock-full of unique apps and Internet businesses, many of which provided complex challenges for payment processing. In the case studies, Braintree walks you through these challenges and the solutions. It’s really fascinating reading material if you’re interested in this sort of thing. Check them out.
That’s not the only source of good reviews. In looking online, I found Braintree merchants who have praised the company’s ease of use. Specifically, access to the sandbox for testing is a huge draw, as well as the extensive support for various programming languages.
Braintree is probably the only provider I’ve rated 5 stars without a widely available interchange-plus option. That would usually be a deal-breaker for me at this level, 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 e-commerce/app-commerce processing industry. I’m beyond impressed.
With everything Braintree has accomplished in the past three years, it’s poised to own the e-commerce and m-commerce worlds. With Paypal as its parent company, it also has access to some spectacular resources. And that’s only going to get better as PayPal 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!