When I wrote about recurring payment solutions in March I called Saasy “without doubt the simplest recurring billing payments solution the world has ever seen.” I thought it was expensive though, and it doesn’t have data portability. You can’t move your customers’ credit card data to another provider. You are locked in.
Braintree was my overall favorite of all the options I looked at. Their cost was very reasonable and they are strong advocates of data portability. Having now completed the integration with our app I can say based on first hand experience that their API is easy to use and nicely thought out. Their transparent redirect is a clever way to eliminate most of the PCI compliance hassles associated with taking credit cards.
Stripe, which launched a few days ago, might have changed everything. It takes simplicity to a new level at what appears to be very low cost. They charge 2.9% of your transaction fee plus 30 cents per transaction. Nothing else. In their words:
No setup fees, no monthly fees, no card storage fees, no hidden costs: you only get charged when you earn money.
In reality there is one other potential cost: a $15 chargeback fee when someone reverses a payment.
I have updated my Recurring Payments Cost Calculator, so if you are looking for a subscription billing solution you can see for yourself how Stripe compares to Braintree, Chargify, Recurly and Saasy. If that’s too much work, just check out the two situations below, $5 and $50 subscription fees for up to 5000 subscribers. Stripe is the new low cost leader for small subscriptions, and is extremely competitive for larger ones. For $50 subscriptions, Chargify and Recurly are cheaper options, but not by much and they involve a lot more complexity because in both cases you bring your own merchant account and payment gateway.
Stripe also seems to meet all of my other requirements. You can use it to create a payment form that lives on your own site, which means the user experience is all within your control. And PCI compliance issues seem to be minimized because the credit card number never hits your server. As with Braintree and Saasy, you don’t need to worry about setting up your own payment gateway or merchant account.
This combination of price, functionality and simplicity seems too good to be true. My initial thought was that there must be a catch and I was smugly certain that I would find it as soon as I asked @stripe about data portability. But the answer was:
For sure! If you ever want to move to another provider, we’ll export your data for you.
I haven’t had a chance to use Stripe, so the catch might still be out there. And Stripe is a newcomer that doesn’t have the industry pedigree and experience of Braintree. But the service is interesting enough that I’m going to put the launch of our subscription offering on hold while I check it out.
Updated 1/20/2012: A few people pointed out that Recurly has updated their pricing and I have modified the calculator (though not the charts above).
See the discussion on Hacker News.
Posted: October 2nd, 2011 under The Wild Web.