PayPal vs Stripe: Which Payment Gateway Should You Choose?

Posted on February 12, 2018 by in Resources | 62 comments

PayPal vs Stripe: Which Payment Gateway Should You Choose?

When you buy something online, there’s a really high chance that your payment is going to pass through either PayPal or Stripe. Outside of payment gateways like Amazon Pay and such that set themselves apart on purpose, Stripe and PayPal are really the big players in that market. If you sell stuff on the internet, one of your biggest choices will be about how you take payments. That choice comes down, usually, to PayPal vs Stripe.

You get a lot of of the same benefits from either payment gateway (you get money, being the primary one, and both PayPal and Stripe have similar fees), but there are some major differences that make the PayPal vs Stripe choice something you should go into with all the facts. After all, your business is your livelihood, and we only want that to get better and better.


paypal vs stripe

PayPal is one of the oldest payment platforms on the internet, and because of that, it’s pretty much everywhere. The gist of it is simple: it’s an online, one-stop-wallet for payments. Users give them access to whatever credit cards and/or bank accounts and/or addresses they want, and they’re ready for their shopping spree in your store.

PayPal Pros

Like I said above: PayPal is everywhere. In a lot of ways, it has become the de facto way to pay on the web. In most cases, people can choose between credit card payments or PayPal. Which, for you, means your customers probably already have a PayPal account. So they press one button to pay, and you get your money and their address and all other relevant info right then and there.

PayPal offers tons of buyer and seller protection, too, letting you go through specific and well-laid-out processes for dispute settlement.

It’s easy. Not just from the customer’s side, either. From your perspective, PayPal is a default payment method — if not the only one — for a lot of plugins and ecommerce solutions. In many cases, all you need is to have an account ready, and you just put in your email address. With that done, you can get paid. See? Easy.

Reports, analytics, and other tools are within easy reach. You can find any information you need in your PayPal dashboard. Click a few buttons, run a few reports, and you can export pretty much any data you need as PDF, CSV, TAB, or QuickBooks formats.

PayPal lives everywhere you do. By that, I mean there are roughly a gazillion countries in which you can use PayPal. If you live in one of over 200 countries and/or use or want to accept one of their 25 accepted currencies, you’re good. PayPal gives you one of the largest nets to cast in terms of taking payments, no matter where you are or who you’re selling to.

PayPal Cons

While you don’t need a separate PayPal account to pay in most cases, it’s pretty much necessary. Some people don’t want a PayPal account and just want to throw their card number at your store. If PayPal is your only option for payment, that alone will run some people away.

PayPal is kind of its own ecosystem. With everything handled within their own platform, you essentially just link out to them for your customer, and they get redirected back to your store. That comes with a slew of issues, the most common of which is that the redirects get interrupted and the sale goes wonky.

Customers pay by PayPal. That’s it. Sure, it connects to bank accounts and credit cards for users, but no Apple Pay, no Android Pay, no Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payments. If it’s not secured in PayPal’s ecosystem, then it’s not part of your users’ wallets.


paypal vs stripe

There are quite a few different payment gateways that aren’t PayPal, but Stripe is the big kahuna of them all. It’s a major gateway that processes all sorts of different kinds of currencies and payment types. They’re not a front-end brand like PayPal, where you have an account. They are solely a behind-the-scenes processor, and your customers will only interact with your site, not Stripe’s.

Stripe Pros

Stripe is a straight-up, plain-and-simple payment gateway. They process credit card payments. That’s what they do. Because of that singular focus, you have access to a ton more payment options than with PayPal, including Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Android Pay, echecks, credit and debit cards from all major companies (worldwide), and ECH and EFT transfers. It’s all up to you what you take. You are in total control with Stripe. They just handle the payments for you.

Countless API integrations are at your fingertips with Stripe. Instead of relying solely on their internal reporting and analytics, you can seamlessly integrate Stripe’s dashboard with tons of software. And outside of having dedicated libraries for platforms built on Ruby, React Native, Laravel, Angular, Vue, and many, many others, they provide official plugins for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and others.

Big time corporations use Stripe as their payment gateway. When Target, UnderArmour, Blue Apron, and Facebook use Stripe, then you know it’s worth at least taking a look at.

Stripe Cons

Let’s be totally honest here: getting Stripe set up can be a total pain. The setup process has made a lot of people run screaming back to the welcoming arms of PayPal. (Or Square,  but that’s a different post entirely). Stripe requires lots of API key juggling, and your site absolutely must be locked down by SSL, which it should be anyway. If you’re on WordPress, there are both oodles and bunches of plugins for you to use to help ease some of this pain. You’ll still need to make yourself familiar with the documentation and procedures, which again, you should be doing anyway.

It is not available everywhere in the world. They are working on expanding their network, but if you don’t live in one of their supported countries, you can’t accept payments at all. However, if Stripe does support your country, you can take payments from anywhere.  For example, if you’re in South Africa, which is not supported, you can take no payments from the United States or elsewhere. But if you’re in the United States, you can take payments from customers in South Africa.

Should You Choose PayPal vs Stripe?

Honestly, use both. You want your customers to have as many payment options as possible, and people have their own preferences on how they want to pay. The only downsides to this approach are that you have to maintain two separate services and keep the data organized, and that’s just extra work to do. That means more responsibility for someone on your team, but it’s also very likely to have a greater ROI than limiting yourself to just one.

You should choose PayPal if you want the simple and easy solution. If you just need to capture payments and not worry about lots of extraneous details, you can’t go wrong with PayPal. It comes standard with most platforms, and people can start paying you right away. You can add Stripe integration later, so maybe starting out with PayPal is a good idea.

You should choose Stripe if you want a fully-integrated payment system. It’s way more complicated to get going. Once you do, it tends to run pretty solidly and silently in the background. Your customers get a lot more options for payments from Stripe. Those  additional plugins, integrations, and documentation just make it a stellar service all around. If you need a quick get-up-and-go solution, though, Stripe ain’t it.

What influenced your decision in the PayPal vs Stripe debate?

Article featured image by Nazarkru /

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  1. I have built a site recently where paypal and stripe wont allow the payments to be processed, this is within the hemp/cbd industry.
    So if you are classed as high risk, then neither will process for you.

    Which is funny as they process for gambling sites.

    So 1st check your industry is not classed as “high-risk”

    • That’s fascinating. I wasn’t aware that PayPal and Stripe refused to process payments for industries like hemp/cbd. I’m assuming that would include medical or recreational marijuana shops too. If you don’t mind responding, how do you accept online or digital payments in your industry?

        • Thanks for sharing the link Kjell!

          In short: Yes. From what I’ve found, a lot of credit card companies have a “marijuana related business” reference in their prohibited products, which (from what I found out) means software companies or any company that doesn’t touch the flower but is still “related”.

      • Hi, there are merchants out there that will accept:

        Yes correct in the recreational side, you would have no chance, just the mention of hemp or cbd and you are treated like a drug dealer lol…

        But you can use them for gambling sites, pretty strange.

        • I have had friends who freelance for sites in that industry, and I’ve learned quite a bit about the CBD stuff and all the restrictions that businesses and sites have to deal with. It’s crazy. I wasn’t aware that was one of the “high risk” areas for these. Weird.

      • Hi Nathan, Yeah Stripe are strict in my experience, we struggled to get them to accept payments for a new travel business.
        I have build a Hemp/CBD website for a UK client and we connected directly to BarclayCard and PayPal without any problems. The bank wanted proof that the business was legit before they allowed them to open an account, however.
        The site trades fine without any problems.
        The Amazon Store and Facebook (adverts) were much more strict and we had to build 2 other sites removing anything in the content or domain name that mentioned “hemp” “cbd” “cannabis” etc. making marketing the sites a bit of a nightmare seeing we couldn’t mention the product by name!

    • No one in the industry can do anything that uses ACH – ALL dispensaries in the US pay everything with cash

  2. I’ve been using Stripe for some businesses and it is far easier to get going than PayPal, don’t know why u say its a pain.

    The interface is extremely intuitive, is more possible u get lost at PayPal trying to find x features, than at Stripe, which what u see is what u get.

    At least with WooCommerce its as easy as getting a Stripe account approved, setting up a few fields and that’s it…

    Could u specify what is that thing u find so hard to setup?

    • I’m with you Enrique… I had no problems at all. I find the Stripe setup easy, the interface clean and it’s my preferred method.

      • Enrique and Gordon, I’m on the boat with you guys. I have all my clients using Stripe. It started with one requesting NOT to have PayPal on her site. The only issue I came across is that if you are setting up an account for a client they have to trust you with some personal info, or you need to walk them through it. I’ve done it both ways and not encountered any issue. And my clients love Stripe. They seldom have to refund, but tell me it is a breeze when they have to.

        • Paypal is the same way now. I tried to setup PP for one of my clients and it kept asking form really personal stuff. So I just told them to do it. I have another client that I will be walking through it this weekend.

        • De Frank, I do the same with my clients, for some they trust me and others I walk them through, and its pretty easy either way 🙂

          Still don’t get why B.J. Keeton thinks is that hard compared to PayPal…

    • Agree with Enrique here – Stripe is a breeze to set up compared to other gateways. When a client asks to set up Paypal or I double the price (not really but I should).

    • I love Stripe!

      It’s so easy to set up.

      Way more than Paypal actually. A lot of paypal stuff seems like it’s juggling legacy controls with the modern new features, and it’s a pain to go through.

  3. Good conclusion, use both. But, if you have to choice only one, I’d rather use Stripe because a lot of (my) customers (in France) don’t want a PayPal account, and PayPal make priority for paiement with an account rather than paiement with CB only, as Stripe does.

  4. I am choose Paypal, easy and popular.

  5. Agree Stripe is great really easy to setup

  6. I had a bad experience with PayPal years ago. I just don’t trust them.

  7. I’d opt for whichever one allows me to use crypto currency

  8. Ever try to balance a PayPal account like you would a bank statement? Talk about a pain!

    • Truer words have never been spoken.

  9. I use both. Stripe is my main method, and PayPal is listed second. Both of them were easy to setup for me on their sites and in my wordpress site using WooCommerce.

    For international orders, Stripe is better as I never have to pay an extra fee for people who pay in other currencies than mine. PayPal adds an extra fee for those transactions. I mainly have PayPal to allow people to pay from their bank accounts if they don’t have a credit card. I also like their invoicing capabilities.

    So I echo the recommendation to include both.

  10. I find that Stripe is very easy to setup. I think your comparison is unfair because the same kinds of robust server to server connection is available on PayPal as well. For that you need API credentials and an SSL certificate. Setting up the API credentials is easier in Stripe PayPal buries the settings and requires a different kind of account.

    PayPal has very old systems and the way they do things tends to not work well. If using PayPal, you are much more apt to get weird errors and things like double charges. This is because their systems are so antiquated and so overly cumbersome and needlessly “complex” that they are just much more prone to misconfiguration. Stripe is powerful and very streamlined.

    SSL has nothing to do with either, really. All websites that use a CMS like WordPress should use SSL exclusively. Any good web host will setup an SSL certificate for you for free (because they are now free). If they don’t look elsewhere.

    I’ve not hooked up a new client on PayPal in a few years. All are going on Stripe. The #1 complaint with my clients is that Stripe has no telephone support. Well, last week while seeking to get support I was shown a phone support button. I clicked, my phone rang and I got phone support. I asked if this was new and they said they are introducing it and I was randomly selected to test it out.

    By the way, Stripe support ALWAYS answers my technical questions 100% to my satisfaction. If I’m not happy they are happy to escalate the matter to some who can help. PayPal, on the other hand, almost NEVER answers my questions sufficiently and my phone call certainly ends with no help. They simply just don’t help developers. Their idea of help is to make you do google searches to find the answer online somewhere in a forum.

    • Edie, I totally agree on what u’re saying.

      U are more likely to get weird errors at PayPal than Stripe, and even if u do get them at Stripe, they are easier to solve because of the error info u get at Stripe.

      Yes, SSL should be use for every WP, since they all have, at least, a login form that should be protected.

      And Yes, PayPal support is pretty slow and not very dedicated, Stripe support answers pretty fast and seems more interested on helping u out.

    • Regarding the support, you are totally right. I haven’t had as many interactions with the Stripe support team as I have PayPal, but I always dread having to contact PP for any issues.

  11. I use Simplify Commerce through Mastercard. Rate’s are slightly lower than both options above but customer support is a little more difficult to work with. I recently was told that Intuit has a 1.75% rate with a $0.30 per transaction fee. Can anyone verify? Or is there any better option than have to pay over 2.5% in rates?

  12. We us paypal because of their non-profit rates being so low. And their chip card reader handles contactless payments like apple pay just fine.

    • Stripe beats PayPal with its charity rates, and no monthly fees for onpage transactions. But you have to contact Support to get charity rate.
      Does me well on three charity sites,

  13. Hmm, why is Stripe a pain? It is the easiest gateway to set up. Slick, quick and intuitive. We love Stripe and it has long been our payment gateway of choice. Better transaction fees too for our clients. The main problem with PayPal is like you say, it’s all in it’s own ‘bubble’. No Apple Pay etc. for example is very limiting for merchants in this day and age.

  14. I have used both and Stripe is now my favourite for several reasons:

    1 Easier to set up
    2 There is an elegant Woocommerce WP plugin that is free and works, unlike the Paypal plugin that is quite ancient and ugly
    3 Stripes charges are cheaper per transaction and there is no monthly charge unlike Paypal Pro.
    4 in Uk Stripe takes care of the PCI and does not charge for that unlike Paypal who require PCI compliance through a separate company for Paypal Pro accounts.

  15. Paypal – You do not need a bank account with PayPal.
    Get the Paypal Debit card – Instant access to your cash.
    Vons now has PayPal as a payment option
    Their customer support is great and handle payment returns promptly.
    I have been a customer for many years and now complaints here!

  16. Hi Keeton, I prefer Paypal to Stripe… I got spammed last month via a service market platform and Paypal helped to refund my money… After launching a dispute against the spammer on Paypal.

    • I did have PayPal work very diligently on a case when there was an issue with a fraudulent purchase on eBay, too, for an item I sold.

  17. How is Stripe for integrating with Quickbooks?

  18. If you are living out of the USA then both asked terrible much useless information to make a certified business account. PayPal have a European bank licence so it can copy my owners info from my Dutch bank account, but the USA goverments ask so many rubish that eBay and Amazon let their US bank accounts for what they are and going to make use of a Dutch fintech company at the end of this year.

    Comfort for the sellers is #1 at the moment to hold an international webshop platform running.

  19. Wow, looks like a whole load of stripe promoters/employees just commented.

    • As far as I can tell on the backend, none of the comments seem to be from Stripe employees. Seems like a lot of folks just like Stripe.

    • Ddd, I’m not a Stripe promoter/employee, I’m just a regular Graphic and Web Designer who have tried both gateways and prefers Stripe because all of the things have been commented.

      If accusing people is your best way to defend PayPal, probably means that u don’t have better arguments to use.

      • Yeah, I think it’s just loyalty to the product and brand. That’s a fantastic thing, if you ask me. I’m that way about my selected ones, too. I might’ve had more than a couple “hold my beer” moments when I overhear someone talking bad about WordPress. 😉

  20. I use Stripe for monthly retainer clients. Can’t speak for the set up in the likes of an eCommerce store but setting up and using it was easy (if not particularly intuitive to begin with).

    One of the main reasons I use it that’s not been touched on here is that Stripe looks professional and also quite slick at the client end. PayPal has a bit of a tacky stigma.

    • I can totally see that. As much as they’ve updated the PayPal website to be slick and clean, the buttons and integration on sites when you pay is still incredibly dated.

  21. I use both but prefer payPal. Stripe takes a full 7 days to payout, Paypal 3-5 days but in my market (western Canada) often in my bank in 24hrs.

    • Originally, Stripe’s payout schedule was 7 days, but that changed to 2 days quite a while back.

      • How did you get that as we are still on 7 days (might be because we are in UK) or do you have to apply for the change. If we could get 2 days then Stripe would be first on our payment list as Paypal pays within minutes which is about the only good thing about them. On Woocommerce Stripe is so easy to set up a child could do it and Paypal initial set up is easy ishh but sandbox is a nightmare.

        • Here in the US, when it was first introduced, you had to apply, but now it’s standard. Not sure why it’s different in the UK.

  22. Hey BJ, I think Stripe only seems harder if you don’t remember the PITA PayPal was then first time you used it. If you sat a new user in front if both I think they’d agree stripe is a superior product. PayPal was for the last ten years. Stripe is for the next ten.

  23. Definitely not a fan of Paypal but I still use it as a payment gateway. I love stripe but they’re still not on their level.

  24. I didn’t know much of stripes before but this post shared some good insights. Thanks.

  25. One Pro and Con hasn’t been covered: cost.
    In Switzerland PayPal is way more expensive. Compared to their antiqued tool, nightmare account structure and demanding all customers (who want to pay) to have a PayPal made me go with Stripe.

    I’m not a developer, just a power user and webpage designer. The implementation was smooth and straight forward.

  26. As a 15 year PayPal user I know they work in the favor of merchants returning charge back money until the case is resolved

    I can use my PayPal debits card(s) to expense money in real time

    I have a $60,000 line of credit from PayPal working capital

    you know who has my vote

  27. Stripe,is really easy to set up, both using there APIs or simply entering keys in pluggins. Also as a user of Stripe, we find reconciling there account a breeze, money goes into our account exactly on the day they estimate and have never had an issue.

    Stripe for me 100% of the time costs are reasonable @0.20p per transaction and 2.5% this can reduce depending on your sales volume.

  28. Stripe hands down every time, I would never encourage the use of PayPal on a business or shopping site. Rules and limitations are in place for a reason It’s for security and abiding by laws, albeit some laws we may perceive as senseless they are laws none the less and processors have to comply with country laws, therefore so do we if we want to use those processors.

    Stripe keeps customers on your site, PayPal drives them off site to the PayPal site.

    PayPal won’t allow you to have more than one account. Stripe allows you to have one “Main Account” with separate child accounts under your main account, similar to how you can have one Facebook account and many separate business pages under and managed by your main Facebook account. Stripe is now actually easier than PayPal, much easier! Stripe is easier to test and easier to set up.

    With Stripe, Customers can pay how they like, to achieve this simply tick all payment methods you want to offer via Stripe plugin in Woo commerce. Stripe even supports Ali-pay and Apple payments.

    I agree it used to be a bit complicated YEARS ago, but now It is much easier, more convenient, and I trust Stripe 100% more than I would trust PayPal.

    Stripe is so much more professional. You can even brand Stripe with your own logo totally free, as well as brand any accounts you have added or set up stripe for different businesses under your main account.

    I will also mention that each of your stripe child accounts under your main account keeps all transactions for each business you may have separate, so banking and reconciliation as well as analytics and accounting associated things are simple clear and easy to manage.

    Stripe has spread to many countries and expanding. Stripe is marginally cheaper for transactions, however, even if Stripe ends up costing more into the future, I would still put Stripe way above PayPal 100% of the time.

    Stripe Support is much nicer, they are human and they live on planet earth like us! You get a real response, (from a human) answering your actual question, not a run around in a generic robotic circle like you get from PayPal. You can tell can’t you that I disapprove of PayPal !!

    PayPal stems from an old eBay association, this is the only reason people perceive it as more popular due to marketing and being well known over many years.

    Perceived popularity doesn’t mean it is better, Stripe is 100% better.
    They just have not had the same marketing resources and exposure as PayPal has had over the years due to PayPal previously owned by eBay and is still eBay’s only allowed processor which is wrong in my book.

    If eBay ever allowed Stripe in to the mix as a payment method, Stripe would quickly take over as the number 1 payment method of choice.

    Why? because Stripe is simply better, genuinely deserves to get our support, and I personally believe it to be more secure and a much better experience for end users & customers.

    Just my opinion !! 🙂

  29. We’ve used Stripe on multiple projects because the free tier supports recurring payments. With PayPal, you have to upgrade to Pro for that feature.

  30. Lot’s of good info here. I am setting up a payment system on a site now and it is getting set up with Pay Pal. I sent a general request question for Stripe and one concern is the integration of the stripe extensions with woocommerce. After reading this I may have to take a second look at stripe. Right now I am just struggling a bit with shipping and sales tax. Is it any easier to set up with stripe?

  31. I have been using Stripe exclusively and happily on one of my sites for a few years now.
    One of the big advantages of Stripe is the customer service. When setting up, they got back to my queries quickly and effectively and suggested some of the WordPress plugins I could try, without committing to pushing any one in particular.
    It was easy to set up with a plugin, and Stripe runs perfectly in the background. The popup payment form is elegant and simple.
    My Stripe dashboard is clear and easy to understand.
    And as I’m mainly running a consulting service, with minimal products, Stripe payments also look more professional (in my opinion) for my particular style of work and my clientele.
    I love Stripe!

  32. Thanks for the article!

    It’s tempting to use the more familiar payment gateway provider as there have been here for a long time, and we probably heard about them even before we started our business (PayPal), however, I’m noticing many “less-known” (at least outside the industry) names that are offering much better deals (fees, customer service). I have recently had an experience with g2a pay which did not disappoint me at all. Guys were very helpful, fast integration, long list of payment providers for different regions. Hey, only recently eBay abandoned PayPal for Adyen, a payment gateway provider that was till recently not really recognized.

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