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While Stripe offers a good amount of e-commerce features and integrations, it can be challenging to set up and manage – especially for those without technical know-how.
It can also be hard to predict how much you’ll pay because Stripe’s transaction fees vary based on how a customer pays. ACH payments and international cards incur additional transaction fees, for instance. Stripe even adds a higher markup to certain card-not-present transactions, such as first-time subscription payments and any virtual payments you or your staff key in.
If you process a high volume of transactions, Stripe can end up costing significantly more than some competitors due to its reliance on per-transaction fees, which can quickly add up. That’s one reason Stax’s subscription-style plans, with their 0% markups on transactions, offer better value if you process more than $5,000 per month.
With Stax, you’ll also get a user-friendly payment software, a built-in shopping cart and virtual terminal, great billing and reporting tools, plus a bunch of other helpful e-commerce features.
While Stax is my top pick for e-commerce payment processing, I’ve also put together a list of other Stripe alternatives that might be a better fit for your business.
What We Look For in the Best Alternatives to Stripe
When researching Stripe’s competitors, my first priority was narrowing down the list of payment processors to those offering the most secure online payment processing. They also had to have the following essential features.
Powerful e-commerce tools. Each of these payment processors gives you what you need to sell online. That includes integration with popular e-commerce platforms and fast-loading shopping carts (built in or integrated).
Fair, easy-to-understand pricing. Stripe charges many different processing rates and fees, which makes it hard to project your actual costs. The processors on this list offer simpler subscription-style or interchange-plus plans that make it easier to predict how much you’ll pay.
Outstanding security features. Every processor on my list is Level 1 PCI compliant, the highest standard for the industry. Fraud monitoring, end-to-end encryption, and tokenization are other defensive tools that help reduce costly chargebacks and keep your customers’ data secure.
Ease of use. Stripe can be challenging to set up and integrate with your online store, and the complexity of its API and customizations can be overwhelming. You’ll find these alternatives to be more user-friendly at the outset and beyond.
Beginner-friendly business management tools. A challenging interface can make it difficult to use Stripe’s reporting, analytics, and accounting features. The payment processors on this list offer similar tools, but they are typically easier to access and customize.
Stax is my top choice if you’re looking for a payment processor with a low monthly membership fee that still offers a ton of e-commerce features, including an online merchant portal, analytics reports, inventory management, automated customer reminders, and more.
Unlike Stripe, there’s no interchange-plus markup for Stax – you’ll just pay a small 0% + 10¢ (online) fee on each online transaction. This makes it easier to project your monthly processing costs and keep on top of your business’s finances. You can read more about this in our Stax vs. Stripe comparison.
Stax typically approves accounts within 24-48 hours, though you’ll need to provide 3 months of payment processing transactions to apply. That’s one reason Stax may not be ideal for startups with no transaction history. But established businesses earning $5,000+ per month could save up to 40% on credit card processing with Stax.
Features and Benefits
One-click shopping cart setup. The pre-built Stax shopping cart can be activated with a single click. Simply add products or services you sell, click create, and you’re ready to take orders.
Billing and invoicing. Business tools let you schedule recurring billing, send customers customized invoices by text or email, and easily track payments right from your Stax dashboard.
Accounting tools. With a seamless QuickBooks integration and two-way data sync, Stax makes managing finances easy. Payments, customer information, invoices, and products/services are updated automatically.
Set up multiple sales channels. Securely accept online, in-person, keyed, mobile, and digital wallet payments with a built-in virtual terminal, free POS terminal, contactless/EMV card reader, shopping cart, and mobile app.
If your business is new or your sales volume is less than $20,000 per month, Payment Depot may be the best answer to your processing needs. Its low-cost membership plans start at just $79.00 per month. Payment Depot charges 0% markups on interchange rates. Instead, you’ll pay just 0% + 10¢ (online)for each online transaction.
All plans include a free virtual terminal and free POS terminal if you also have a physical location. You can integrate popular shopping cart apps, e-commerce platforms (Shopify, Woo Commerce, and BigCommerce), and accounting software to run all aspects of your business. And unlike Stripe, you won’t need technical skill or an on-staff developer to start accepting payments.
That said, Payment Depot’s suite of e-commerce and business management tools isn’t as extensive as Stax’s. If you’re running a larger or more complex business, it may be worth paying the slightly highly monthly fee for a Stax subscription.
Features and Benefits
Fast payout. Payment Depot aims to process transactions and deposit funds to your account within 24 hours.
24/7 technical support. If you run into an issue, you can call Payment Depot’s technical support team to help you quickly solve the problem. According to merchant reviews and our own internal tests, the quality of support on offer exceeds the industry standard.
Manage payments and more. Create and send branded invoices and payment links, track payments, and monitor sales performance, all from a user-friendly dashboard.
Quick and easy setup. Once approved, you can expect to start collecting funds for processed payments within 48 hours. Your customers can pay however they choose, including via credit card, debit card, or digital wallet.
Like Stripe, Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) offers an interchange-plus payment model, though its fee for online transactions is lower. LMS also boasts a high 98% approval rate, which makes it suitable for new businesses looking for quick approval and onboarding.
For e-commerce businesses that also have brick-and-mortar locations, LMS can provide free POS Clover terminals, but generally only with a 3-year contract. Alternatively, you’ll get the option to purchase equipment outright, including a terminal and check reader. While this increases your upfront costs, you’ll save on LMS’s monthly rental, insurance, and maintenance fees.
If you’re an existing merchant, make sure to take advantage of LMS’s meet or beat price guarantee when negotiating your new rates. You’ll need to factor in the small monthly fee for using its Authorize.net payment gateway, as well as an annual PCI compliance fee.
Features and Benefits
Full-featured shopping cart. When you integrate the CartManager shopping cart to your online store, you’ll get helpful tools that will automatically calculate tax and shipping costs, support multiple languages, provide insights into customer behavior, and more.
QuickBooks integration. Merchants can use Instant Accept to take payments on any device. Real-time syncing will keep your records up to date without having to launch QuickBooks.
Gift cards and loyalty programs. Digital gift cards and loyalty programs are time-honored tools for creating loyal, return customers.
Business funding. LMS offers convenient merchant cash advance and business loan options with predictable repayment terms. Once approved, you’ll pay the loan back through a small commission on your future sales.
PaymentCloud specializes in serving high-risk merchants that payment processors like Stripe don’t support. Quick approval and free, same-day e-commerce setup means you can start accepting payments within 24 hours.
Another plus is PaymentCloud’s easy integration with Shopify, BigCommerce, and other online store builders. Customers can pay however they please: credit or debit card, e-check or ACH, digital wallet, or even via cryptocurrency.
PaymentCloud offers a secure payment gateway together with fraud and chargeback prevention services, which helps higher risk e-commerce merchants avoid fraudulent charges. Its card-reading equipment is also compatible with EMV and NFC technology, adding an additional layer of security if you also accept in-person payments.
While PaymentCloud could be more transparent about its pricing upfront, merchant reviews indicate that it’s one of the most affordable options for mid-and high-risk merchants.
Features and Benefits
Quick and easy payment setup. Whether you just need a payment gateway or also want a mobile reader or full POS kiosk, PaymentCloud offers several online, retail, and mobile solutions.
Range of funding options. From working capital loans to equipment financing, PaymentCloud will have an option that meets your needs. Funds are typically available within 24 hours.
Business software integrations. PaymentCloud offers hundreds of third-party integrations, from e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce to team and customer management solutions like HubSpot and Slack.
Contactless payment solution. Integration with Paysley lets your customer pay by scanning a QR code or clicking a link. You can also set up recurring payments, send invoices, receipts, and more.
Flagship has one of the fastest application and onboarding processes, making it ideal for new businesses that want to start accepting payments quickly. It offers two pricing models: tiered or interchange-plus, though I’d recommend sticking with interchange-plus – it will likely be cheaper in the long run.
Flagship uses the secure Authorize.net payment gateway, which allows you to accept credit card payments on your website. You can also use its developer tools to integrate a shopping cart from e-commerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce. A mobile app even lets you accept online payments on the go.
Flagship doesn’t disclose plan pricing and fees on its website, so it’s important to discuss pricing and fees with your account manager to get the best deal before you commit. On the plus side, this gives you the freedom to negotiate the best deal for your business, ensuring you won’t have to pay for any features you don’t need.
Features and Benefits
Payment security. Regular security scans, end-to-end encryption, and tokenization are some of the security features Flagship provides. Online merchants can also enhance payment security by adding AVS, CVV2, and transaction restrictions.
Same-day funding. While standard payouts are within 24-48 hours, you can request same-day funding for an additional fee.
iAccess business management. This handy business tool gives you helpful analytics and performance data for your business, including sales volume (daily, weekly, and monthly), chargeback volume, and competitor analysis.
Digital loyalty program. You can build a base of committed shoppers and stand out from the competition by offering rewards to your most loyal customers with the Pirq app. When customers scan your “merchant Tag” each time they make an online or in-store purchase, it’s automatically added to their virtual card.
Where National Processing shines is its commitment to offering plans and pricing tailored to specific e-commerce industries. It also stands out for its low and transparent rates, which are posted right on its website – though you may be charged an additional fee for some features.
All plans include a free proprietary payment gateway so your customers can securely pay online. If you promote your e-business or service at in-person events such as pop-ups, conventions, or marketplaces, you can take advantage of the free SwipeSimple Mobile Reader. National Processing even offers a free POS terminal if you have a physical location, which is something you won’t get with Stripe.
While you have to commit to a long-term contract to get a free POS terminal, once you sign up your fees are locked in and will not increase. National Processing will also reprogram your existing equipment free of charge.
Features and Benefits
E-commerce tools. National Processing’s API makes it simple to integrate popular business tools like QuickBooks, Shopify, and WooCommerce.
Mobile app. This handy app lets you track sales and inventory, calculate tax, and create discounts for your customers on the go.
Free next-day payouts. Most processors who offer the option of expedited payouts charge a fee for this feature. National Processing will expedite your payouts for free.
Processing fee estimator. You can use this helpful tool on National Processing’s website to calculate how much you’ll pay in fees. Simply enter your industry, processing volume, and number of transactions to get an estimate of your processing costs.
It might not be immediately clear which Stripe alternative is the best fit for your payment processing needs. Knowing your projected sales volume and most common transaction types can help you estimate your costs and decide which processor is right for your business.
If you’re looking for a service that can save you as much as 40% on your processing costs while offering a comprehensive suite of features for e-commerce businesses, Stax is my top recommendation.
If you process a lower volume of transactions but still want to benefit from a subscription-style payment model, Payment Depot could be a more affordable option. A lower monthly fee and 0% markup on interchange rates will drastically reduce your costs.
Or, if you’re comfortable negotiating for the best possible rates, consider Leaders Merchant Services. You’ll have everything you need to take online payments securely, and you won’t have to pay for any features you don’t want.
Monthly fee on cheapest plan
Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Advanced e-commerce features and 0% markup on transactions
Established online businesses that process a large volume of transactions
Are there cheaper alternatives to Stripe for e-commerce payment processing?
Yes, but which alternative is cheaper will depend on your specific needs. If you process a high volume of online transactions per month, Stax offers the best rates for an affordable monthly fee. If you’d prefer an interchange-plus pricing model, Leaders Merchant Services offers a meet-or-beat guarantee that can help you negotiate the lowest possible rates for your business.
Which Stripe competitors are best for high-risk online businesses?
PaymentCloud is best for high-risk merchants that other payment processors like Stripe don’t support. As well as favorable transaction fees for high-risk merchants, it offers top-of-the-line security features that can help you reduce risk and disputed transactions, which can improve your credit score.
How fast do the best Stripe alternatives pay out funds?
Dawn is a freelance writer and editor specializing in developing strategic content for businesses. A lover of philosophy and the arts, she brainstorms with cultural educators to ensure all students have access to enriching learning opportunities.