If you sell anything online, whether that be hand carved Liam Neeson dolls or a SaaS product, you need a way to get paid. After all, as the great philosopher Tom Cruise once put it, “Show me the money!”

And unless you plan on taking checks or under the table cash payments (both terrible ideas), you need a way to process credit card payments.

Taking payments online used to be somewhat complicated and your options were pretty limited. You used PayPal or you created an account directly with credit card companies, with the latter being an enormous pain in the ass.

But thanks to advances in technology, there are now dozens of payment gateways available for you to use on your website.

From PayPal to Payline to Authorize.net to Stripe to Square, there’s no shortage to choose from.

Of course, this raises a bit of a problem for you: which payment gateway is best for you?

Unless you’re a finance nerd who enjoys learning about transaction fees and chargebacks and international currencies, there’s a good chance you don’t know much about the different payment gateways or why one is better than another.

And trying to research dozens of gateways to find the best one probably sounds terribly unappealing. You’ve got a business to run, after all.

So, to save you from the headache, we’re going to compare three of the most popular payment gateways: PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree.

We’ll break down key features of each one and help you decide which will work best for your business.

But before we dive into the nitty gritty, you may know that PayPal actually owns Braintree. So why are we bothering to compare them? Because they offer different payment models, which may affect your choice. So for the purposes of this article, we’re going to treat them as separate products.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

What Is A Payment Gateway?

Let’s start by making sure we’re on the same page when it comes to payment gateways. Simply put, a payment gateway is technology that allows you to take payments online. It’s the online version of a credit card reader at the grocery store, liquor store, bowling alley, or wherever you like to spend most of your time.

Payment gateways can be integrated directly into your website, and allow you take credit card payments, protect against fraud, issue refunds create a transaction history, etc.

The companies who own the payment gateways make their money by charging fees, which are usually comprised of a portion of the total sale, plus a fixed transaction fee on top of that (although there are other models).

In reality, the only difference between a payment gateway and a credit card reader is where it’s located (your website versus a physical location).

Now that we’ve sorted that out, let’s compare the three gateways.

Payment Logos

PayPal vs. Stripe vs. Braintree

PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree each have their own pros and cons. In order to make the comparison easier, let’s break them down by specific features.

Supported Payment Methods

Your website needs to be able to accept more than the Big 3 credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, and American Express). You need to be able to accept additional credit cards, and maybe a few of the new payment methods that have burst on the scene in recent years (cryptocurrency, Venmo, ApplePay, etc.)

  • PayPal - PayPal accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express. JCB, Maestro, Discover, and Diners Club credit cards. It also accepts payments from other PayPal accounts. It doesn’t accept any other payment methods, such as Bitcoin.

  • Stripe - Stripe accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express. JCB, Maestro, Discover, and Diners Club credit cards. It also accepts Apple Pay, Android Pay, AliPay (a Chinese platform), Amex Express Checkout, Pay With Google, Bitcoin, as well as ACH payments (direct payments from a bank).

  • Braintree - Braintree accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Maestro, Discover, and Diners Club credit cards. It also accepts Apple Pay, Android Pay, MasterPass, UnionPay, Visa Checkout, Amex Express Checkout, Pay With Google, ACH, PayPal, Venmo, and Bitcoin.

Fees, Chargebacks, and Refunds

  • PayPal - PayPal charges the standard 2.9% + $0.30 only for US transactions, and 3.9% plus an additional fee for international payments (varies by country). For American Express transactions, they charge 3.25% + $0.30.

There is also 1% conversion fee for international currency.

In the event of a refund, PayPal will return the transaction fee but keep the $0.30 fee.

They have a chargeback fee of $20, though this amount will be returned to you if the dispute is resolved in your favor (minus a $0.30 fee).

  • Stripe - Stripe charges the standard 2.9% + $0.30 for all transactions, including international.

Additional fees include 1.5% credit transfer fee capped at $25, direct debit fee of 0.8% capped at $5, and direct debit and Bitcoin payments above $625 fee of $5

In the event of a refund, Stripe will return the entire transaction fee, including the $0.30.

There is a chargeback fee of $15, though this amount will be returned to you if the dispute is resolved in your favor.

  • Braintree - Braintree charges the standard 2.9% + $0.30 only for US transactions. For American Express transactions, they charge 3.25% + $0.30.

In the event of a refund, Braintree will return the entire transaction fee, including the $0.30.

There is a chargeback fee of $15, though this amount will be returned to you if the dispute is resolved in your favor.

International Fees

  • PayPal - PayPal charges 3.9% plus an additional fee for international payments.

  • Stripe - Stripe charges 2.9% plus an additional fee for international payments.

  • Braintree - Braintree charges 3.9% plus an additional fee for international payments.

Additional Services

All three services support subscriptions and discounts. Braintree allows you to provide add-on products and services. Stripe gives you the ability to offer coupons.

Supporting Platforms

Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal have created APIs for all of the primary programming languages, including Ruby/Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, and Node.js.

All the APIs are well-documented and include a significant level of detail to ensure the APIs are implemented correctly.

All three payment gateways also have APIs for iOS and Android. This especially matters if you’re developing an app that will accept payments.

Security

All three gateways are PCI compliant, ensuring that strong encryption is used to protect transaction information. They all also implement fraud protection measures to protect against improper transactions.

Obviously, in our age of security breaches, this is hugely important.

Making Your Choice

When it comes to choosing between PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree, it really boils down to three things:

Paypal vs Stripe vs Braintree

  • Ease of use
  • Cost
  • Payment methods

In terms of implementation, PayPal is probably the easiest out of all three to implement. But that ease comes at cost, both in terms of transaction fees and limited payment options.

Stripe and Braintree have such similar features that the primary deciding factor will be either a unique payment method offered by only one of them, or the fact that Stripe doesn’t charge a percentage for international transactions.

We intentionally designed Paperform to integrate with all three platforms. We know that, depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other.

Connecting Paperform to each of the three payment gateways is really simple.

Connect Paperform And Start Accepting Payments
Paperform makes it simple to create beautiful, customized landing forms and accept payments using either of these three gateway options.

Build and design your landing form, then add Stripe, Braintree, and/or Paypal from your site or on our hosted form.

Connect Paperform And Start Accepting Payments

It just takes a couple of clicks to set up.

You can even set up recurring payments and subscriptions using Paperform, making it ideal for almost any kind of online transaction. SaaS products, ecommerce, conferences and events, course and ebook sales—all made simple.

Learn about how to set them up easily:

Ready to start making some serious bank?

Create beautiful, high-converting forms, surveys, and landing pages and accept payments through them with Paperform.

Try it free for 14 days—no credit card required!