* Occasionally, I like to feature software and services that we use and love here at Clearstream.
Stripe is an innovative, full-featured and all-around pain free service for accepting credit cards.
Like most companies, when we started Clearstream several years ago, we used a traditional merchant account provider for processing credit card transactions. We explored a few alternatives at the time, most notably Paypal, but nothing provided the convenience, control and customization ability that we required like a traditional merchant account. Paypal was easy to setup, and the fees were competitive, but the complexity of their API and the lack of control over transaction processing was a deal breaker for us.
While our merchant account served us well for a time, allowing us to store credit card information securely, and process transactions as needed, there were several recurring issues:
- Fees.While initially it seemed their fees were competitive, there really was no way for us to know how much processing an individual transaction would cost us. There were additional fees for address verification, security code verification, mid- and low-grade transactions, etc. Predicting our fees with any certainty was basically impossible.
- Monthly charges. In addition to processing fees, traditional merchant account providers usually charge a monthly fee, which, in our case, they increased several times without notice.
- Separate gateways. In addition to our merchant account, we used two different payment gateways, each of which had their own API's, monthly fees and processing fees.
I could write pages on everything that our merchant provider did wrong, but let me focus on what Stripe does right.
- Upfront costs. Every transaction costs 2.9% + $0.30, which is very competitive for non-swipe transactions.
- Incredible API. Their API is incredibly well-written, with libraries for Python, Ruby, PHP and others.
- Flexibility like a merchant account. Stripe allows us to store credit card information for our customers securely, and process transactions as needed. The absence of this feature was a deal breaker for us when selecting a credit card processor.
- Data portability. Stripe is pretty open about their data portability philosophy. Our old merchant provider required a contract and a myriad of forms to apply, was difficult to use, and even more difficult to stop using! At one point, we were refused access to our customer's data because we told them we were migrating to another provider.
Stripe is a breath of fresh air in the crowded world of credit card processing.
We at Clearstream have no hesitation in recommending Stripe if you are looking to accept credit card payments for your website or application. If you're a developer like us, it's a great API to use -- you'll fall in love! If you're not a developer, Stripe effortlessly integrates with Xero, Harvest, and Gravity Forms for Wordpress, to name a few of our favorites. They even have a very simple solution for quickly accepting donations or payments on your website. Of all the integrations we've done, and of all the software and services we routinely use, Stripe is one of our absolute favorites!