Processing online payments or donations on your own is a technical and legal minefield. There are countless laws and regulations you’d need to overcome if you wanted to manage transactions yourself.
So like most smart businesses, you’ll want to use a payment processor to help you collect money. This way you can focus on growing your business, serving your customers, and building quality products.
But which payment processor is right for your business? Which should you choose?
Without a doubt, Stripe is the best payment processor for most online businesses. It’s especially powerful for early-stage companies that are just beginning to accept online payments. In this post, we’ll explain why.
1. You Can Set up an Account in Seconds
Unlike other payment processors (especially if you go through your bank), setting up a Stripe account is simple. You only need your name, email, password, and phone number to access your dashboard.
Next, click “Activate your account” to confirm your email address and give Stripe some basic information about your business and where to send your money.
It takes about a week for Stripe to verify your account, but you’ll find this is quite fast for most payment processors. Sometimes they ask for some additional information, but nothing you wouldn’t know off the top of your head.
2. You Don’t Need a Merchant Account
Most payment processors require you to open a merchant account at your bank in order to accept online payments. Stripe, however, uses their own merchant account on your behalf. This saves you a lot of time, hassle, paperwork, and a waiting period.
Generally, merchant accounts come with their own set of fees. Stripe wraps it up into their overall cost structure. Even though Stripe’s fees are about equal to other payment processors, they’re actually cheaper once you account for all the services that make up that cost.
3. You Can Accept Recurring Payments
If you provide a recurring service or sell access to a product, you know how painful it is to invoice your clients or customers every month. Creating invoices (and tracking them to make sure you get paid) is an unnecessary burden on your time.
With Stripe, you can set up any type of billing model you could possibly need. For instance, you can bill at any interval indefinitely, tie your billing to usage, create tiered billing plans, adjust billing for discounts and trials, etc. With a custom solution like WP Simple Pay, you can set up recurring payments on custom schedules (e.g. $100/month for six months).
Setting up unique billing structures sounds difficult, but Stripe makes it easy. You can customize everything from the dashboard.
4. The Pricing Structure is Simple
Stripe is designed to be simple. Their goal is to make something that’s usually quite complex (accepting online payments) into a seamless, easy experience so you can focus on growing your business.
You can see these values reflected in their pricing. For most accounts, there’s only one pricing plan. They charge 2.9% + 30¢ for each successful transaction. Simple, right?
Technically, Stripe’s pricing structure is actually cheaper than most other payment processors when you consider…
- There are no setup, monthly, or hidden fees. You only pay 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction.
- You only pay for what you use. If you don’t make a sale for three months, you won’t pay anything (hopefully that doesn’t happen, but it’s nice to know you won’t be punished for a slow season).
- Stripe deposits to your bank account every business day (however there’s a two-day delay, so you receive money your customers sent two days ago). That’s far quicker than many processors. Some hold your money for two weeks or only pay once per month.
This simple price structure is the main reason Stripe is a perfect solution for small businesses who are just beginning to accept online payments. You don’t want to commit to monthly fees because you aren’t sure if you’ll make enough to recover the expense. Plus, Stripe fees only come out when you make money, so there’s no need to pay any bills out of your pocket.
If you do a lot of sales, Stripe has enterprise pricing options as well. You’ll have to speak with their sales team to get more information about their pricing for your volume. Contact their sales team if you have a unique business model (like microtransactions) too.
5. Stripe Integrates with Hundreds of Products
As your business grows, you may need to integrate your payment processor with other platforms and tools. For instance, at some point you might decide to use a general accounting tool like QuickBooks or Xero to manage your finances, and you’ll want to integrate it with your payment processor.
Most importantly, you’ll want to collect payments right on your website, so your payment processor needs to integrate with your site’s content management system. If you use WordPress (like most of the web), you’ll want to pair Stripe with a plugin like WP Simple Pay to accept payments without any coding or technical skills.
Stripe naturally integrates with hundreds of products, including project management tools, ecommerce platforms, accounting tools, analytics platforms, customer relationship tools, and many others. There is an extension for just about everything you need.
If you don’t find the integration you need, Stripe is known as a flexible platform with an accessible API and robust documentation. They even give code samples to make development easy. You won’t have any trouble finding developers with experience building custom Stripe tools.
6. You Don’t Have to Worry About PCI Compliance
PCI compliance refers to the Security Standards Council, a forum that organizes security standards for digital payment processing. It’s a set of security standards that govern how you process payments.
PCI compliance isn’t required federally, but some U.S. states require it if you want to sell to their residents. Plus, being PCI compliant looks favorably on you if you ever find yourself in court over a payment-related matter.
If you process debit and credit cards with a merchant account, becoming PCI compliant is an important part of processing payments. It’s also a long process that requires you to take several security steps.
Stripe takes care of this for you. They are a PCI Level 1 Service Provider, which is the most stringent level of certification available in the payments industry.
By transferring payment information through them, Stripe takes on the obligation of PCI compliance. They use a unique string of code called a “token” that allows you to bill the card without ever storing the customer’s payment information. Through this method, Stripe saves you the hassle and cost of PCI compliance and improves security.
7. Stripe is More User-Friendly than Any Other Option
Stripe’s ease of setup, use, pricing, and development make it one of the most user-friendly payment processors available. It’s far easier to use than its main competitors – PayPal, Authorize.net, or Square.
The dashboard is clean and easy to understand. You don’t need advanced financial knowledge to maneuver around your account and find the information you need.
From a development standpoint, there’s no easier option. Stripe was originally designed for developers, which explains its immaculate code, accessible API, and thorough documentation. This is how we were able to build such advanced customization into our plugin, WP Simple Pay.
Most of the features and integrations you’ll need come standard, but if you ever have to hire a developer to build something custom, Stripe’s API accessibility will reduce your development costs.
This makes Stripe the perfect platform for early entrepreneurs who don’t have technical skills. You can accept payments without customizing complex solutions, digging through help documentation, or writing custom code.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re a developer, a web novice, or anywhere in between, Stripe is the best platform to accept online payments and donations with your WordPress site because it’s easy.
Everything about Stripe’s user experience is simple, clear, and straightforward. In the rare event that you need help, Stripe even makes finding answers easy.
We’re so sure that Stripe is the right choice for online businesses that we built our plugin, WP Simple Pay, to integrate your WordPress site exclusively with Stripe. It’s just the right choice for businesses who want to collect money quickly without all the hassle.