When you’re managing a small business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a million things on your to-do list. And that’s probably why some small business owners still prefer cash and check payments — it’s simple, and you literally have cash in hand.

But did you know that customers actually spend up to 100% more when they pay with a credit card? A lot of customers also want the option to pay with a credit card because they collect airline miles or other credit card rewards. So offering a simple credit card payment option is just a smart business decision.

Now you just need to decide which system you’ll use to accept credit cards. Today we’re breaking down all the features, pros, and cons of Authorize.net vs. Stripe.

In this article you’ll learn:

We’ve also compared these other popular payment processors for small businesses:

The main differences between Authorize.net and Stripe (TLDR)

You’re a busy business owner, so we’ll get straight to the point, and you can read on for more details.

  • Authorize.net requires a merchant account (read more about these below), and it charges a monthly fee. Stripe doesn’t require a merchant account, and has no set-up or monthly fees.
  • Stripe has more 3rd party integrations (i.e. it works with more web systems like SquareSpace and Shopify, in addition to other apps).

What’s a merchant account?

If you’ve ever accepted credit cards for payment before, you probably noticed that you don’t get the money instantly. That’s because the funds are sitting in a merchant account before they move over to your bank. When a customer makes a purchase with a credit card, the card issuer is essentially fronting the money for the customer, and fronting money always involves some risk. Credit card companies and banks minimize their risk by building some delay into the process and using merchant accounts as a go-between.

Even if you’ve never heard of merchant accounts before, if you’ve paid for anything with credit cards, your money has passed through one. The vast majority of payment processors, including Stripe, use aggregated or group merchant accounts, so consumers and most businesses never have to think about them. A few systems offer a dedicated merchant account for your business, and Braintree is one of those. 

So one of the main questions if you’re considering Authorize.net versus Stripe is whether or not your business needs its own merchant account, and we’ll cut to the chase — for 99.9% of businesses, the answer is no. 

Authorize.net Features, Pros, and Cons

Authorize.net vs. Stripe
When it comes to accepting credit cards with Authorize.net vs. Stripe, what’s best for your small business?

Payment Types

Authorize.net works with major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, JCB), PayPal, Visa Checkout, Apple Pay, Chase Pay, and E-check.

Accepting Online Payments

Authorize.net can be set up to accept online payments, but it will require some coding and development skills. If you have a dedicated web developer or web team for your business (or you are a developer), this might not be a huge hurdle, but for most small businesses you’ll want something much easier to set up that doesn’t require coding classes.

Accepting Retail and Offline Payments 

Authorize.net offers a Virtual Point of Sale, which is included as part of your monthly fee in their All-in-One pricing plan.

Ease of Use 

Because it’s meant for bigger businesses running a lot of transactions, Authorize.net is definitely not the most small-business friendly system out there. Everything from the initial set up of your account, to starting to accept payments is going to take longer than other systems that don’t require a merchant account, and that offer one-click integrations with your website, and plug-and-play credit card readers.

Security and Reputation 

Authorize.net has a solid reputation when it comes to security, and is PCI compliant like all of the major payment providers. 

Integrations and Apps

Developers can integrate with Authorize.net using their API, but don’t expect the one-click integrations that Stripe offers.

Data Portability

The company has made a trade-off here in favor of security. You can securely store customer info like address, and payment method, but because the data is encrypted and moving your data out of Authorize.net down the road would be complex and expensive.

Cost/Fees

Authorize.net has three price structures:

  • All-in-One Option: $25 monthly plus 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
  • Payment Gateway Only: $25 monthly plus 10¢ per transaction plus a daily batch fee, which is 10¢
  • Enterprise Solutions: Custom pricing

The verdict

With a high level of complexity, and monthly fees, Authorize.net isn’t the best choice for the vast majority of small business owners. But, for bigger businesses who do a high volume of online sales, and already have a merchant account, the Payment Gateway Only option can be a very cost-effective choice.

Stripe Features

Authorize.net versus Stripe
Stripe is a leader in payment processors for small businesses, helping them accept credit card payments both quickly and easily.

Stripe is a simple, secure, and powerful payment processor with a lot of options whether you’re interested in selling online, in-person, or a combination of the two. 

Payment Types

Stripe works with all major credit/debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club), and customers can also pay directly via a bank account, which is great for service providers and subscription businesses.

Accepting Online Payments

Stripe integrates in just a few clicks with many web platforms like SquareSpace, WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Weebly, Volusion, BigCommerce, and others to easily accept online payments. If you want a completely custom online store/checkout experience, you can also work with a developer to access a host of additional features via Stripe. 

Accepting Retail and Offline Payments

Using an app like ChargeStripe makes it super simple to accept offline payments. Swipe, scan, or type in a customer’s card info and accept payments from anywhere on your smartphone. 

Ease of Use

Stripe can really be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The vast majority of small businesses will just need an account (here’s everything you’ll need to set one up), an e-commerce shop like SquareSpace or Shopify that integrates with Stripe for online sales, and an app like ChargeStripe for offline and retail sales, and these are all very easy to set up. 

Security and Reputation

Stripe has really set the bar for payment processors in terms of security. Their set up never sends customers’ credit card info to your servers, so you don’t have to worry about storing credit card information securely, even if you have a developer create a custom online shop for you. 

Integrations and Apps

Stripe offers a growing list of integrations with well known apps and has doubled down on their core technology and security acquiring 8 companies specializing in payment, POS, and security/authentication. 

Stripe is also doing an amazing job attracting partners who use their system to create apps that help businesses in just about every category. ChargeStripe is a Verified Stripe Partner for mobile payments. 

Data Portability

If you have subscriptions or recurring payments and you ever want to move to a different system, Stripe allows you to do this without having customers re-enter information. 

Cost/Fees

  • Online card transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Online ACH transactions: 0.8% (capped at $5) — this is an amazing option for small businesses that provide services like graphic design or marketing to regular clients. 

Card Readers:

  • Completely optional. ChargeStripe sells a secure card reader for $99 ($129 internationally)

Retail Transactions: 

  • ChargeStripe: an additional 1% per transaction, optional $99 card reader

The verdict:

Stripe is a great option for all kinds of small businesses with its easy-to-use basic features and a growing list of app integrations that are very business friendly, as well as developer tools for more robust set ups. The ability to accept credit cards by keying in a card number, or scanning using your phone’s camera mean that you can get started taking payments fast, without waiting for a card reader to arrive. Setting up the ChargeStripe app takes about 5 minutes, and a card reader is completely optional.


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