Braintree Payments Review: Should You Get A Braintree Merchant Account?
Braintree is one of the most important providers in the eCommerce and mobile processing worlds and has an enormous catalog of unique features and no monthly fee.
- Predictable flat-rate pricing
- Excellent developer tools
- Extensive integrations available
- Comprehensive payment type support
- Multicurrency options
- Overpriced gateway-only option
- Not open to high-risk industries
- Long setup times for accounts
- Reports of closed accounts and held funds
Braintree Payments Overview
Braintree (sometimes also known as Braintree Payment Solutions) is a merchant services provider that was acquired in 2013 by PayPal for $800 billion and now lists itself as “Braintree — A PayPal Service” on its website. Today, Braintree is one of the heavyweights in the payments industry, processing more than 6 billion transactions (and over $50 billion) annually.
Despite its huge size, the company is still focused almost exclusively on the eCommerce sector, with relatively little to offer for retail-only merchants. However, as payment processing systems continue to migrate to the cloud, there are more and more opportunities for merchants in any sector to take advantage of Braintree’s payment gateway.
For eCommerce-only merchants that sign up for a Braintree merchant account, the company easily earns an overall score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The Braintree gateway offers a full range of standard features you’d expect in a modern, secure payment gateway as well as a huge variety of customization options.
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!
Keep reading our full Braintree Payments review to find out if this service is right for you!
Table of Contents
- Countries Served
- Braintree Merchant Account Features & Services
- Braintree Merchant Services Fees & Rates
- Supported Payment Types & Currency
- Braintree Payments Ease Of Use
- Sales & Advertising Transparency
- Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
- Braintree Customer Service & Technical Support
- Braintree Payments Reviews, Complaints, & Problems
- Final Verdict: Is A Braintree Merchant Account The Best Choice For eCommerce?
Braintree is available to merchants based in:
- United States
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
You also must have a bank account in one of those countries/territories. Braintree also supports over 130 currencies, putting it near the top of the list when it comes to international reach.
Braintree Merchant Account Features & Services
You can think of Braintree as something like PayPal’s “advanced feature” service, made for customers who want access to the PayPal ecosystem but also want developer-friendly features that may be lost on the very small businesses that tend to make up PayPal’s main target audience. Perhaps even more important is the fact that Braintree offers individual merchant accounts.
Here’s a quick rundown of what Braintree offers. Note that some additional features (like cryptocurrency payments and invoicing) are available through PayPal and other integrations:
|Credit Card Processing||✔|
|ACH Payment Processing||✔|
|Dynamic Currency Conversion||✔|
|Recurring Billing & Subscriptions||✔|
|Native eCommerce Integrations||✔|
|Premade Online Checkout Form||✔|
|Native POS Integrations|
|POS Integration SDK|
As we’ve mentioned above, Braintree provides a true, full-service merchant account, complete with a unique merchant ID number for your business. This feature offers greater account stability than you see with a payment service provider (PSP), such as Stripe or Square. Braintree doesn’t have a minimum processing requirement for merchants, so even low-volume businesses can use its services. The company does, however, have an Acceptable Use Policy that makes it unusable by most high-risk merchants.
Aside from the merchant account, Braintree’s payment gateway encompasses pretty much everything else Braintree offers beyond payment processing, from the control panel to the API. As we’ve discussed above, it’s possible to use Braintree’s gateway with your existing merchant account from another provider. Need to stop and learn more about merchant accounts? Read our guide on what is a merchant account to flesh out your knowledge. However, gateway fees and per-transaction charges are nearly two times higher than the industry average, so you should make sure the cost justifies the benefits.
Braintree 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 credit/debit cards, PayPal, wallets, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Direct also gives merchants access to fraud protection tools, recurring billing, and reporting and integration options.
Braintree’s marketplace solutions allow you to seamlessly manage many aspects of your 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.
Braintree Developer Tools
Braintree is built with developers in mind. Braintree’s tools are often mentioned in the same breath as other elite payment processing SDKs such as Stripe, to which the service is often compared. Read more about it in our Braintree versus Stripe breakdown. Braintree provides extensive online documentation and support for developers, as well as a sandbox to test out code without accidentally doing something you’ll later regret. You’ll also be able to tweak Braintree Auth and Braintree Extend.
Braintree Auth is aimed at third-party providers rather than merchants, but you’ll still want to use it if you need to integrate a third-party service, such as invoicing, data analytics, or recurring billing, into your Braintree account. Auth is a way for these businesses to securely share merchant data and take authorized actions on behalf of merchants.
Braintree 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. Also, Extend allows you to develop in-context commerce experiences and add purchasing options within your partner’s content.
Integrating Braintree With PayPal
As the branding reminds us, Braintree is a PayPal product. It can be a little confusing, however, because Braintree and PayPal are not the same service. That said, Braintree’s is one of only a few ways to process PayPal transactions without explicitly using PayPal’s branded service. More importantly, Braintree can give you access to pretty much the entire vanilla PayPal ecosystem. The one catch, though, is that you’ll have to activate the PayPal integration to use it manually.
As it’s a first-party integration, you can expect it to work seamlessly with Braintree.
Braintree Merchant Services Fees & Rates
For most merchants, Braintree’s rates and fees are incredibly simple:
- 2.59% + $0.49 per credit card transaction
- 0.75% (max $5) per ACH transaction
- 3.49% + $0.49 per Venmo transaction
Braintree recently changed its flat fee from 2.9% + $0.30 per credit card transaction to 2.59% + $0.49. This effectively shifts costs from higher-priced transactions to lower-priced transactions. That means if your average transaction is $60 or less, you’ll be paying more under the new pricing. This is the same rate PayPal now charges for Advanced Credit/Debit Card Payments. Qualified nonprofits can get a reduced fee of 1.99% + $0.49.
For businesses processing over $80,000 per month, there is also the option to negotiate a custom pricing plan. While you can choose between either a flat-rate or interchange-plus pricing plan for your Braintree processing fees, the interchange-plus option will almost always be more affordable overall. It’s also the most transparent form of pricing that’s available, as you’ll always know exactly how much your processor is charging you as a markup. Flat-rate pricing is more predictable, but you’ll inevitably pay more for some types of transactions, particularly PIN debit sales.
That’s it. There are (for the most part) no surcharges or additional fees, including monthly, setup, or early termination fees. There are a few circumstantial fees you might run into, though.
Currency Conversion 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% fee applies to transactions made on payment cards issued outside of the US.
Chargebacks are one of the risks of taking credit cards. You’ll be responsible for chargebacks, which come with a reasonable $15 fee. This is industry-standard and unavoidable.
As we’ve mentioned, Braintree’s payment gateway is also available independent of its processing services at a cost. The gateway is compatible with most US merchant accounts, and you can even connect multiple accounts. Here’s what you’ll pay:
- $49.00 per month for gateway fees
- $0.10 per transaction (this is in addition to processing rates charged by your processor)
- $10.00 per month for each additional merchant account beyond the first
Supported Payment Types & Currency
As a global payment processing service, Braintree’s supported payment methods vary by region. Braintree also supports settlement in over 130 currencies.
Available payment methods vary by market:
Broadly Supported Payment Methods
- Diners Club
- Alternative Payment Methods
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Samsung Pay
Locally Supported Payment Methods
Braintree Payments Ease Of Use
There are tools and integrations available to help non-developers use Braintree, but in most cases, you’d probably be better off using PayPal if you don’t want to tinker with the guts of your payment processes.
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 more difficult task here is properly explaining all of Braintree’s many features and customization options. Fortunately, it has some great resources: developer docs, support articles (which serve as your knowledgebase), and FAQs. You’ll also find an active blog with some good information for merchants. Want more details? Braintree also has a resource center to help businesses stay up to date on trends in the payments industry.
All salespeople are in-house, and they have a thorough knowledge of Braintree’s products.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
You’ll have absolutely no merchant account early termination fee with Braintree. You can see the standard Braintree Merchant Agreement on the company’s 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. Please make sure you check the list of acceptable business types before you sign up, too!
Another plus: If you 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.
Braintree Customer Service & Technical Support
Braintree makes its 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 Braintree Payments Reviews, Complaints, & Problems 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 CT, Monday through Thursday
- 5 AM to 8 PM CT, Friday
- 8 AM to 7 PM CT, Monday through Thursday
- 8 AM to 5 PM CT, Friday
If it’s an emergency, you can get service 24/7/365 via email from on-call reps and engineers, and that’s pretty awesome. We’ve already mentioned the website resources that you’ll have access to as well in the Sales & Advertising Transparency section. In all, I find them to be quite comprehensive and easy to navigate, which is always nice.
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 directly from the source whether something is working.
Braintree is also active on social media with regular posts on Facebook and Twitter, and it has lots of informative videos on YouTube.
Braintree Payments Reviews, Complaints, & Problems
Negative Braintree Reviews & Complaints
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) now rolls Braintree into its PayPal profile. PayPal currently has an A rating. As Braintree is no longer disambiguated from PayPal, that makes it difficult to zero in on Braintree-specific issues. Needless to say, PayPal has over 29,000 complaints closed in the last three years and a customer review score of 1.08 out of 5 stars.
Some issues that come up in Braintree Payments reviews:
- 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 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.”
- Withheld Funds & Sudden Account Closures: Among the serious complaints, these two issues show up most often. In theory, a proper merchant account means that holds and account closures are less likely than with aggregated accounts. 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 it could not support that business. In some cases, 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.
- No Support 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 amount 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 the company’s definition. 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 or PaymentCloud.
- 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 protect their businesses. Some even complain that the number of fraudulent transactions they process increased after switching to Braintree.
Positive Braintree Reviews & Testimonials
Braintree’s client list speaks for itself: Uber, GitHub, 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 invest in doing this, but it’s always nice to see. You’ll see the case studies come from smaller-name businesses, too, and not just the giants of the industry.
That’s not the only source of good reviews. There are positive Braintree reviews from actual users on other sites around the web mixed in with the negative reviews. As I dug through them, I found that people 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.
Final Verdict: Is A Braintree Merchant Account The Best Choice For eCommerce?
Braintree remains one of the best merchant account providers for online businesses, particularly those who want the simplicity of all-inclusive flat-rate pricing with no month-to-month contracts. However, the recent change in pricing does reduce Braintree’s value proposition for merchants doing less than $60 per transaction. Bigger ticket merchants may actually wind up saving some money, but many of them will probably be better off with interchange-plus pricing anyway.
Everything else that made Braintree one of our favorite processors is still here: the excellent developer support, access to the PayPal ecosystem, and strong international support. You’ll just need to do some napkin math beforehand. We give Braintree 4.5 out of 5 stars.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.