Stripe payments review

Stripe is one of the most popular payment service providers in the world – here's everything you need to know

Our Research

Our expert team of writers and researchers worked to identify the best payment processing and merchant account providers by focusing on the factors small businesses care about most – value for money, including fees and hidden extras; security protocols and fraud protection; customer support, and ease of access across platforms including mobile.
Written and reviewed by:
Heleana Neil

Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers.

4.2 out of 5
  • Price
    3.4
  • Features
    4
  • Customer Support
    5
  • Customer Score
    4.6

With an overall score of 4.2 out of 5 based on our research team findings and over 20 years experience in the industry – we'd say that Stripe is one of the best payment gateways you can choose, and a very viable option for small and big businesses alike.

But, of course, it's not the only game in town. If your own business is starting out with accepting online payments, make sure you consider all options and choose a system that has the features you need, and as well as a fee structure that keeps things profitable for you as you grow.

Stripe may be the right solution, but it would pay to spend just two minutes selecting the features you need with 🔍our cost comparison tool – which can help you receive comparable costs across different merchant accounts and online payment services – and the savings could set you up for real success:

How do you need to take payments?

Compare Costs

We've reviewed plenty of other payment service providers, as well as Stripe. To understand your options, we've an overview of some of the best of the market, below:

How does Stripe compare to other payment processing services?

If you're considering Stripe, then you may be interested to learn how we've ranked it against other payment processing services:

  1. Worldpay: Best overall payment processing service
  2. Square: Best for taking mobile payments
  3. Stripe: Best merchant service provider for online payments
  4. SumUp: Best for handling next day deposits
  5. Barclaycard Payments: Best merchant service provider for brand familiarity

Click any of the links above to begin comparing costs on merchant account services for your own business's size and needs.

Read on for a comprehensive Stripe payments review that looks at how Stripe works, its pros and cons, and how much Stripe costs.

Stripe: What is it?

Stripe is a Payment Service Provider (PSP) – a system that allows you to take online payments. In other words, it’s a payment gateway that automatically processes card transactions – protecting both company and customer from fraud – and takes a small cut for itself in the process.

Functioning in 135 different currencies, Stripe also allows your customers to view prices in the currency they’ll be paying in. This means no nasty conversion charges appear at the check out, doing away with disparity between the displayed price and charged price on your site.

Stripe has over:

How does stripe work?

1. Unlike PayPal, customers do not need to sign in to Stripe, or even have an account in order to make a payment.

For all intents and purposes, the customer will feel like they’re paying you directly.

Cast your mind back to when you ordered a Deliveroo on a Saturday night-in, it appears that your online payment goes straight to Deliveroo, right? But actually, the payment goes to Deliveroo’s Stripe account.

2. To protect against fraud, Stripe holds the money for seven days.

Payments are then made to the bank account linked to Stripe on a seven-day rolling payout structure. Fear not, you still get daily payouts, but these will be daily payouts that contain last week’s processed payments.

To clarify, any payments received via your site on a Wednesday will be paid out to you on the following Wednesday.

For example:

  • Wednesday 14th November = Customer makes purchase on site.
  • This payment then goes to your business’ Stripe account, where it is held for one week for fraud protection purposes.
  • Wednesday 21st November = The payment will be transferred to your business’ bank account.

3. Stripe has also created a handy dashboard so businesses can see what’s due to come into their account and when to expect it.

You can also amend the regularity of payouts from Stripe to your bank account, creating a payout structure that suits you.

Stripe: Pros and Cons

Here is a list of the most important pros and cons we think you should consider when deciding if Stripe is the right small business payment processing system for you:

Pros
  • Stripe has a single form to fill in and it’s all managed digitally, compared to alternative payment services (some of which take weeks to sign up to and require tonnes of information).
  • Stripe's fees are generally much lower than with PayPal, and some other payment providers as well.
  • The fee structure is really simple. There's a flat fee of 20p for all card types, plus 1.4% of the transaction value (far less complex than other providers).
  • Stripe can handle subscription payments, which is something a number of other providers currently can’t or don't want to offer.
  • It's really customer friendly and works well on all devices (a must-have feature for all e-commerce).
Cons
  • For micro transactions, Stripe's fees can rack up pretty quickly. Because of the set 20p fee, when transactions are £20 or so, 20p equates to just 1%. But for retailers who deal in transactions of circa £2, for example, then 20p becomes 10%.
  • Stripe holds on to your money for seven days as an anti-fraud measure – longer than a number of competitors.
  • The prohibited products and services list is more explicit and extensive than that of some competitors. Top tip: make sure that you're eligible before signing up.

Stripe: Prohibited Businesses

There is a complete and comprehensive list of all the businesses Stripe does not allow nor stand by on their website, and this is updated fairly regularly so it's definitely worth checking out from time to time to ensure that your business adheres to their regulations, and you can continue using the service smoothly. But as a general overview, Stripe's restrictions are quite typical compared to the other best merchant services, as well as most websites on the internet. ‘Banned' content is something most of the population can understand and get behind in support of a cleaner, safer internet.

A few of these include (but are not limited to):

  • Certain adult content or services
  • Companies or products that infringe intellectual property rights
  • Companies or products that are unfair, predatory, or deceptive
  • Firearms, explosives and dangerous materials
  • Jurisdiction-specific prohibitions (by country)
  • Illegal products and services
  • Certain legal services
  • Products or services that are otherwise prohibited by Stripe’s financial partners
  • …and more

Stripe: Costs and Fees

Stripe is a pay-as-you-go service that charges you a flat rate of 1.4% + 20p for European cards, and 2.9% + 20p for non-European cards. This means you’ll be charged a fixed fee and percentage of the transaction per sale. Importantly, the charge on credit cards is the same as on debit cards, and you won’t have to pay anything for failed charges.

Here's a breakdown of Stripe costs and fees:

Stripe cost/fee descriptionCost
Each transaction, regardless of value, will incur a flat-rate fee.EU cards: 1.4% + 20p
Non-EU cards: 2.9% + 20p
Currency conversion for international cards.1%
Disputed payments (ie: charge-backs). Although, if the customer’s bank resolves the dispute, the fee is fully refunded.£15 or £0
Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) direct debit.1% + 20p (with a £5 cap)

Stripe: Features & What's Included

Those are the main Stripe costs to consider. But everyone loves a freebie, so, what’s free, no extra cost, or included in the price when it comes to Stripe?

  • Charging cards
  • Refunds
  • Subscriptions / Recurring billings
  • Fraud Protection
  • Set-up
  • Real-time reporting

Stripe: For Small Businesses

Stripe is the second most popular payment service provider in the world, used by the giants of online sales game such as Deliveroo, Made.com and Missguided. But you might be happy to know that despite Stripe having a loyal following amongst the major players, it's a great choice for smaller businesses, too.

The only thing that is worth mentioning is that you might need to consult a developer if you're not naturally tech-savvy or have no interest in learning, to really utilise Stripe to its full potential.

Stripe’s features far outweigh PayPal’s, but those features aren’t completely accessible without some in-depth technical know-how. For example, if (like many) you have zero coding experience, you might find setting up anything more complex than Stripe’s basic eCommerce site a bit challenging.

On the whole however, being free to set up and with no monthly membership costs, Stripe’s a pretty sound option for those looking to broaden their e-commerce horizons and expand their web-based presence.

Stripe vs PayPal

The big question: is Stripe better than PayPal?

Although PayPal has made a name for itself in the market and is currently the most popular payment processing option, Stripe is newer, fresher, and overall a more efficient online PSP than PayPal – coming in as the second most popular choice.

12 years younger than PayPal, Stripe provides a simple and transparent alternative to PayPal’s complex fees and outdated structure.

PayPal also comes in at a touch more expensive than Stripe. PayPal charges 1.9% + 20p per transaction for sales of up to £55,000 a month, and 3.4% + 20p per transaction for sales under £1,500 a month. So, for a smaller business or start-up whose sales probably won’t exceed £1,500 per month, Stripe is the most cost-effective option.

Stripe: Safety & Security

Stripe is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protected.

This means that both you and your customer’s information is securely transmitted throughout the entire payment process.

Stripe is PCI compliant.

As a PCI Service Provider Level 1, Stripe offers the highest possible level of payment processing security.

Stripe is encrypted.

This ensures security and integrity of information by encrypting all credit and debit card numbers.

In short, Stripe exceeds the industry standards. After all, if it wasn’t considered a safe and secure option, it wouldn’t have such a strong cohort of brands that trust in its services.

Stripe: Customer Support

Stripe provides a great amount of information on its support page, and advises that you view its ‘documentation’ before contacting anyone directly. It is popular with customers for this level of simplicity, ease of finding the correct support you need, as well as its memorable branding, campaigns and taglines which helps customers feel proud for choosing them to do business with.

Despite providing a 24-seven email, phone and chatbot service, its extensive online resources (and strong hints that you should read before you call) suggest that Stripe would rather you didn’t get in touch. They state themselves that “the most efficient way to get answers to your questions is to review our documentation.”

That being said, there is a handy search bar on its support page, so you can find information specific to your query rather than trawling through the many online documents.

Stripe: Final Thoughts

The key things to remember about Stripe are:

  • Stripe is a payment service provider, a system that allows you to receive online payments.
  • Stripe operates on a seven-day rolling payout structure.
  • The Stripe dashboard will indicate the regularity of payouts you can expect.
  • Stripe is a pay-as-you-go service.
  • Stripe’s fees are generally much lower than with Paypal.
  • Stripe is safe and widely used.
  • Stripe offers 24-seven support.

Stripe can be expensive for micro transactions and the fee climbs steeply for non-European cards. However, with all things considered, Stripe looks set to continue to come up against PayPal as a valid competitor and is well-regarded within the market when it comes to e-commerce.

For more information on payment gateways, Startups.co.uk recommends our guide on best payment gateways and online payment systems.

Interested in comparing Stripe and other payment providers?

Taking payment has quickly become essential for business owners in every industry. Finding the right deal for your business is as simple as completing a form with Startups.

Compare quotes
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How trustworthy is Stripe?
    Stripe is known to be very trustworthy, with its high customer score of 4.5 out of 5, over 11,000 reviews, and a range of different security measures to secure your transactions.
  • Does Stripe charge a fee?
    Stripe only charges per transaction, at 2.9% plus 30 pence for each sale.
  • Is Stripe good for beginners?
    Stripe is a very viable option for beginners as it is quicker and simpler to set up than most other providers (with just single form to get started). However, advanced-expert users can experience Stripe's full capabilities which require some technical know-how.

Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.
Back to Top