Stripe VS Braintree: Which Online Payment Processor Is The Better Fit For You?
|Excellent||Products & Services||Excellent|
|Good||Fees & Rates||Excellent|
|Good||Ease Of Use||Good|
|Excellent||Sales & Advertising Transparency||Excellent|
|Excellent||Contract Length & Cancellation||Excellent|
|Good||Customer Service & Technical Support||Good|
If you need a tech-driven platform to power payments for your business, Braintree Payment Solutions and Stripe should be at the very top of your list. In addition to powerful developer tools with support for multiple programming languages, both companies are global services that can reach customers all over the world.
Before committing to either of these platforms, it’s important to understand that you need advanced coding knowledge or a developer to make the most of them. You can go it alone with minimal knowledge, but you’ll be unable to harness the full potential of Stripe and Braintree.
But does one company excel more than the other? In the Stripe vs. Braintree debate, which company comes out on top?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- Braintree VS Stripe: A Quick Look
- Features & Availability
- Braintree & Stripe Pricing
- Ease Of Use & Developer Tools
- Customer Service & Technical Support
- Reviews & Complaints
- The Key Differences Between Stripe & Braintree
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs?
- Comparing Braintree VS Stripe: The Final Verdict
Braintree VS Stripe: A Quick Look
In most regards, when it comes to the Braintree vs. Stripe competition, the two are very closely matched. They both cater to some very large and/or innovational businesses with industry-leading tools for online and mobile commerce, global business, and subscription/billing management. The biggest differences come from Stripe being a third-party processor and Braintree offering individual merchant accounts.
You can almost think of Braintree as “PayPal for serious users.” Where PayPal’s name-branded service is designed to be easy to use by lower-volume merchants, Braintree is all about customization and calibration to the specific needs of eCommerce businesses. While the two services share a lot of the same infrastructure, they are geared toward different types of customers.
Braintree differs from Stripe primarily in that it issues merchants with their own merchant accounts. In contrast, Stripe is a third-party processor that aggregates payments. That means Braintree has greater account stability than Stripe. Braintree also provides its tools at no additional cost beyond its flat-rate processing, whereas Stripe will assess small fees for the use of select services. So Braintree could very easily become the more cost-effective solution.
Usually, a merchant account is suited to merchants processing more than $10K/month (though some work with merchants with volumes as small as $5K/month). Braintree has no minimum and no monthly fee and says that it works with businesses of all sizes. That’s quite a big difference. With its similar pricing, Braintree is just as attractive an option as Stripe for new and small-but-growing enterprises.
Stripe, on the other hand, is oriented toward being an all-in-one package for eCommerce businesses, similar to the niche Square has carved out for itself in the brick-and-mortar realm.
Stripe has made a name for itself with industry-leading developer tools. If you’re particularly interested in marketplace or subscription payments, Stripe is the standout option.
As we noted above, Stripe is a third-party processor. While this does come with a host of potential account security issues, we should also note that the hurdles for getting an account with a third-party processor are fewer and less time-consuming.
The best solution for a business isn’t immediately clear here. You’ll need to look at what features are must-haves and consider costs. If you are leaning toward Stripe, it’s worth considering the tradeoffs that you’ll make regarding account stability. Ultimately, it’ll be down to you and your developer to decide whether Stripe or Braintree is right for your business.
Features & Availability
First things first: Both of these companies support all kinds of payments, from directly on a website to inside mobile apps. They both offer a choice of prebuilt and completely customizable payment forms. They also offer tools for businesses that operate on marketplace or subscription models. The differences between the two platforms come down to the nitty-gritty details. You can also find out more about each company and its offerings by checking out our complete Braintree Payments and Stripe reviews.
Payment processing is the main reason you’re looking at Stripe or Braintree in the first place. You’ll be happy to know that both services perform this task quite well and at the exact same flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30.
Here, the two services diverge a little. Stripe’s gateway and payment processing services are an all-in-one deal. You can’t use Stripe’s gateway independent of its payment services.
On the other hand, if you want, you can use Braintree’s gateway without its merchant account services. The question is whether you’d want to. Braintree’s gateway fees and per-transaction charges are nearly two times the industry average.
Braintree Auth is Braintree’s platform for other service companies to integrate the Braintree gateway into their solutions. It allows these companies to securely access their merchants’ data and take authorized actions on their behalf. For example, an invoicing company could use Auth to create an integration with its platform and allow Braintree merchants to connect their accounts and populate invoices based on data from the customer vault. Auth is also the tool that makes it possible for businesses to onboard merchants and accept payments natively.
One of the big draws of both services is their support for foreign currencies.
Braintree’s payment processing and gateway services support merchants in more than 45 countries, versus 34 for Stripe. However, merchants can reach customers all across the globe with support for 130+ currencies. One of the biggest draws is Braintree’s PayPal integration. Because Braintree is a PayPal-owned company, it makes sense that the integration between the two would be seamless.
That’s not taking anything away from Stripe, however. Regardless of the merchant’s location, Stripe can accept payments from all over the globe and supports 135+ currencies. You can check out Stripe’s Global page for a complete list.
Stripe Connect VS Braintree Marketplace
You can think of both Stripe Connect and Braintree Marketplace as a set of expansion features for users who want a little bit more than either service offers right out of the box. While the typical business can manage just fine without these, they could be a deciding factor for some.
Stripe Connect includes features such as payment timeout control, comprehensive reporting tools, 1099 tax reporting, flexible funds routing, instant payouts, and more. Stripe charges $2 per active account per month for these features, plus 0.25% of your payout volume, plus $0.25 per payout for these, with the exception of instant payouts. Instant payouts are charged 1% of your payout volume.
Braintree Marketplace allows users to split transactions and pay providers through Braintree’s gateway. You can designate a service fee for each transaction. Braintree does not provide any information about how much more this feature costs, so you’ll have to contact sales if you’re interested.
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. Further, Braintree uses data encryption to store information in the Braintree Vault, and Braintree is a validated Level 1 PCI DSS compliant service provider.
If you need advanced fraud tools from Stripe, you can get an add-on suite at the cost of $0.04 (waived for accounts paying the standard 2.9% + $0.30 pricing) per transaction processed. Honestly, I don’t think most small businesses will need this. These advanced fraud protection tools are mostly meant for very large businesses with multiple staff members who help analyze the data and spot fraudulent transactions. For those with dedicated fraud teams, there’s a more customizable version available for $0.06 per transaction (or $0.02 if you’re paying the standard price). Chargeback protection is also available for 0.4% per transaction.
Programming Language Support
Since both services are heavily geared toward developers, you may want to know what languages the services support.
Braintree Supported Programming Languages:
Stripe Supported Programming Languages:
Stripe offers an assortment of standard reporting tools in its dashboard. However, if you want advanced reports, then you’ll need Sigma. For an additional monthly fee (based on volume, see the pricing section below for more details), you can generate custom reports based on SQL queries.
Braintree offers a smattering of default reports in its control panel, including transaction-level reporting. However, even the company admits that you’ll probably outgrow the standard reports. Braintree’s Reports API allows you to generate custom reporting based on the criteria you set. And unlike Stripe, this feature costs nothing at all.
Braintree & Stripe Pricing
Baseline pricing for Braintree and Stripe is pretty simple and similar. However, because Stripe has started charging for access to some of its features, merchants can find themselves paying more with Stripe than they will with Braintree if they really start piling on expandable features.
Let’s start with transaction rates:
- Card Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30 per card transaction for both Stripe and Braintree
- ACH Processing: 0.75% for Braintree, 0.8% for Stripe (both capped at $5)
It’s also worth mentioning that with Braintree, you can accept PayPal and PayPal Credit transactions. Those transactions process at the rates determined by your PayPal account, but for the most part, you can expect them to be 2.9% + $0.30.
Supported Payment Types
Both Braintree and Stripe allow you to accept cards from outside your home country. Those will cost an additional 1% per transaction; if the transaction is processed in one currency and settled in another, another 1% fee also applies for both companies.
|Amex Express Checkout||✔︎||✔︎|
|SEPA Direct Debit||L|
|L = supported in local markets|
Discounts & Alternative Payment Plans
I want to point out that Braintree does offer alternative payment plans for some merchants:
- Interchange-Plus Pricing: Available in Europe as well as to high-volume merchants (more than $80,000/month) in the US
- Nonprofit Discount Rate: 2.2% + $0.30 (Amex processed at 3.25% + $0.30)
Braintree doesn’t offer its own micropayments plans, but you can integrate Braintree with PayPal and use PayPal’s micropayments plan (5% + $0.05) instead.
Stripe also offers some discounts:
- Volume Discounts: Stripe doesn’t specify the threshold for enterprise pricing/custom discounts. It also doesn’t indicate anywhere easily found whether those custom discounts include interchange-plus pricing.
- Nonprofit Discounts: Stripe mentions that 501(c)(3) nonprofits may be eligible for custom discounts. It doesn’t disclose what those rates are. Also, the wording used on Stripe’s website sounds more like “we’ll see if we can work something out,” so it’s safe to assume not all nonprofits will qualify.
- Microtransactions: Stripe says its sales team will work with merchants who want to implement micropayments, but it doesn’t specify what the cost is.
You’ll notice a trend here: a lack of disclosure. All of these pricing features are available, but Stripe fails to mention them. This likely indicates that the pricing isn’t consistent from one business to the next (usually volume and industry are two of the biggest contributing factors). It’s not a red flag, but it’s disappointing when you look at Braintree with its disclosures.
Both Stripe and Braintree assess a $15 fee per chargeback incident, which is the industry standard.
Stripe does not refund processing fees for refunded transactions. This is (somewhat surprisingly) stated very clearly at the bottom of Stripe’s pricing page.
Likewise, Braintree no longer refunds transaction fees for customer refunds — although merchants who have been processing with the company before August 2018 are grandfathered out of the change.
This policy change brings Braintree in line with PayPal, which altered its policies on credit card refund fees and no longer refunds even partial fees.
Generally speaking, Braintree charges absolutely nothing for access to all its features and tools. However, you may incur additional charges for using 3D Secure, depending on your rate plan. Using Kount Custom as part of your advanced fraud monitoring will also incur additional costs.
Stripe has modified its pricing to include additional fees for its subscription, marketplace, and reporting tools.
Stripe Billing (including all of the formerly free subscription tools) now assess a small percentage charge. Pricing is lumped into two tiers:
- Starter: Free for the first $1 million in transactions; afterward, 0.4% in addition to processing costs
- Scale: 0.7% in addition to processing costs; this includes additional features and discounted processing costs
If you used Stripe’s subscription tools before April 5, 2018, you are grandfathered out of these costs and can use Stripe Billing at no additional charge. That’s quite nice and somewhat unexpected.
Sigma, Stripe’s reporting tool, is priced on a sliding scale based on volume. I’ll admit this is a fair way of pricing this kind of service. It’s better than tiered packages that are divided by the amount of info available or the number of queries you could generate. This way, small businesses get a very fair price for advanced business info.
- <500 Transactions: $0.02/charge plus $10 infrastructure fee
- 501-1,000 Transactions: $0.018/charge plus $25 infrastructure fee
- 1,001-5,000 Transactions: $0.016/charge plus $50 infrastructure fee
- 5,000-50,000 Transactions: $0.014/charge plus $100 infrastructure fee
Also, merchants who are on a custom payment plan will pay an additional $2 per active account, plus 0.25% of payout volume, plus $0.25 per payout.
One final point of consideration: As we mentioned earlier, with Stripe, you can’t access the gateway separate from the company’s processing services. But you can do that with Braintree for $49/month + $0.10 per transaction. That’s a bit pricey for a gateway fee, but it could easily be worth the cost to access all of Braintree’s tools.
Ease Of Use & Developer Tools
Both Braintree and Stripe offer a similar point of sale experience for users. What we’re talking about with both services is, “How difficult are they to get up and running?” It should be stressed that both require some technical know-how to get set up, so be aware that neither is “easy” if you’re looking for something you can just pick up and start taking payments.
Both Stripe and Braintree maintain pretty thorough online developer references for navigating their APIs, but whereas they’re excellent for Braintree, they’re top of the line for Stripe. Not only that, but they’re sticklers about updating references, telling you what is currently in beta and how to accommodate changes to the API. It’s the little things that count here, such as tabs that let you select code snippets in your language of choice instead of having to find a separate reference. And, if you’re not a developer, Stripe offers links to partners that provide eCommerce services with Stripe built-in.
My guess is the average developer will probably be able to get Stripe up and running a little faster than Braintree.
Customer Service & Technical Support
One of the most challenging parts of assessing customer support is that experiences vary from one merchant to the next. With some notable exceptions, it’s pretty common to see at least one negative review about a company’s customer service for every good review that praises it. As a reviewer, I look for patterns that can clue me into what, if anything, is going on. But it’s also important to look at what support channels are offered and how they serve merchants. Being able to talk to a live person in real-time is a necessary aspect of quality service for many merchants.
Braintree has long been the clear winner in this category, but Stripe has recently taken great pains to expand its customer service options. Stripe now offers more points of contact, for more hours of the day, than Braintree. That said, it doesn’t seem like Stripe’s customer service reputation has caught up to its enhanced efforts just yet. That, combined with the unstable nature of third-party processors, keeps Stripe behind in this category.
Reviews & Complaints
On the whole, Stripe has far more complaints floating around than Braintree does on BBB and elsewhere (though it’s worth noting Stripe is BBB accredited, while Braintree is not). That isn’t too surprising because third-party processors, including Stripe, tend to have a high number of complaints overall, usually for one main reason:
- Holds & Terminations: Third-party processors or aggregators can’t offer the same sort of stability that you get with a traditional merchant account. That’s because the onboarding process for new merchants doesn’t include the traditional in-depth analysis of the business and underwriting. That means accounts are more likely to face termination for suspicious behavior after they get up and running. That’s the pattern we’ve seen with Stripe, and it is one of the two biggest complaints about the company.
The other major complaint about Stripe is:
- Poor Customer Service: One of the biggest gripes in the customer service department had been the lack of phone service, which Stripe now offers. However, it still seems to end up with a higher volume of dissatisfied customers and complaints about customer service than Braintree. That’s particularly true in cases of funding holds or account terminations. I don’t see many complaints about the quality of support for everyday sorts of issues.
And then there’s Braintree. Braintree overall has far fewer complaints scattered across the web. (Considering this is a PayPal-owned company, this is somewhat surprising.) However, you will see some similarities to Stripe complaints:
- Account Terminations: I want to make it clear that references to merchants who have had their accounts terminated are few and far between. They aren’t the majority of Braintree complaints, and even if they were, they would still be uncommon. From what I can tell, an account termination usually occurs when Braintree deems a business to be high-risk. Whether this is a flaw in the screening process or a determination made by analyzing processing history or particular transactions, I don’t know.
- Poor Customer Support: Complaints in this category seem to center on slow response times for email support and inconsistent answers from support reps. However, I do see other merchants praising Braintree for the quality of its customer support, too.
- Long Setup Times For Accounts: Some complaints focus on the fact that it can take a while to establish an account with Braintree. As it’s a merchant account provider, this is normal; there’s a lot more screening that goes into it. Still, if you’re used to third-party processor speed, you might be impatient with the setup time.
Both Stripe and Braintree have access to exhaustive lists of integrations. Really, if you use it, someone’s probably made an integration for it, or you can make an API call or two to get your favorite programs to interface with them.
The big elephant in the room here, however, is PayPal. As a PayPal service, Braintree can give you access to PayPal’s enormous platform of online payment tools.
The Key Differences Between Stripe & Braintree
These comparison features can often feel like comparing apples to oranges, but that’s not the case here. Stripe and Braintree are competing within almost the exact same niche with very similar features.
There are a few areas where they differ, however, and these differences may make all the difference in your decision:
- Merchant Account VS Third-Party Processor: Perhaps the biggest difference between these two technological juggernauts is simply how they go about processing your payments. Where Braintree offers stability, Stripe offers speed. Normally, Stripe would have more of an edge with low-volume merchants, but Braintree does a good job accommodating them as well.
- Payment Methods: Both services offer robust support for payment types. Stripe provides support for regional payment methods popular overseas, while Braintree can accept PayPal payments.
- Free Features: Stripe puts more of its features behind paywalls than Braintree.
- Standalone Gateway: Braintree’s gateway can be used independent of its merchant services, although this comes at a premium. Stripe’s payment services and gateway are a combo deal only.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs?
Payment processing isn’t one-size-fits-all. In the end, you’re looking for the best payment service for your particular business.
Choose Braintree If…
- You want your own dedicated, stable merchant account
- You want to use the gateway independently of other payment services
- You want access to PayPal’s infrastructure
- You don’t mind relying on integrations for some functionality
Choose Stripe If…
- You want to get your payment services up and running as quickly as possible
- You want to accept regional payment methods
- You want to work with some of the best development support in the industry
- You don’t mind paying for some best-in-class tools
Comparing Braintree VS Stripe: The Final Verdict
When two options are as similar in appearance as Stripe and Braintree, it can be tempting to say, “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo!” and point to one and roll with it. But I hope you’ve got a slightly better understanding of where Stripe and Braintree align and where they are very different.
The stability of a merchant account can be a considerable draw. Some businesses won’t want to sacrifice that, even if it means spending a bit more on integrations to get the features they need. On the other hand, Stripe has several best-in-class tools, such as its Billing tools, that some businesses may find essential. The risk of account termination is relatively small so long as your business model is sound, you’re not on the list of prohibited business types, and you take appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.
You should make a list of must-have features and a list of “would be nice” features. If you can’t make a choice based on those criteria, have a discussion about the account stability issue and decide how much risk you’re willing to tolerate. Also, consider the customer support that each company offers and the fact that you may end up having to pay more for using some of Stripe’s best features.
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