Recurly and Stripe.
If you run an eCommerce business, you’ve probably heard of them by now.
Both are extremely popular payment processing platforms that are used by eCommerce companies all over the world.
So, if you’re in the market for a platform you can use to accept payments on your site, either of these would be a good choice.
But between Recurly and Stripe, which platform is best?
Despite this, the two have large differences in both intent and implementation.
The largest differences surround the idea that Recurly focuses on supporting subscriptions. At the same time, Stripe's user base is both more technical and focuses on more electronic point-of-sale transactions.
These differences are visible everywhere from what options are available at signup, to what you can do with the application's API.
Recurly is a software platform that allows customers to manage subscriptions for an account holder or business. You can customize these subscriptions to fit the needs of the account holder. At the same time, you can offer one-off payments for extras your customers might want.
Much like Stripe, Recurly accepts payments via:
Although it also accepts others, including:
Stripe exists as a platform for processing payments. You can use it with many different kinds of payment methods, including:
The system also offers access to its API so that people can customize their clients' experience with payments.
Stripe started in 2009 and has had strong ties to existing financial institutions ever since. These include PayPal's founders, the former Governor of the Bank of England, and financial technology company ION. These partnerships have done wonders for improving Stripe’s popularity among other companies – even those outside of the financial industry.
The two apps have a lot of similar features, so let’s compare and contrast them to give you a good idea of where Stripe and Recurly are similar and where they differ.
Before we cover all the other features Stripe and Recurly have to offer, let’s first talk about how user-friendly these two payment apps are.
After all, if you struggle to use them, these other features aren’t going to matter much.
Recurly allows you to sign up for their service in only a matter of minutes. The process is simple, and you are not even required to provide any payment details. This enables you to get going with their platform without much hassle and try out their features fast.
Recurly uses a lefthand menu dashboard. This allows a fast view of everything that might be useful to you when using the platform.
On top of this, it has a similar onboarding approach to Stripe, with simple tutorials that take you through all the basics. Also, regular pop-ups remind you of what parts of the screen mean, so you shouldn’t have to return to a help screen very often.
A low bar to entry helps small-scale businesses with a limited learning budget to use its features without any difficulty.
With Stripe, the process is similar. There is no payment information needed to get involved, and you can sign up by only going through a few quick pages where it asks for some basic details.
When you first use the app, Stripe also provides you with a handy "Getting Started" checklist. This allows you to ensure that you have everything in hand and do not forget something important before you receive payments.
Stripe has a simple dashboard screen. Its main options appear on the left-hand side of the screen in a vertical column. This is also where the "Getting Started" screen appears, although it will disappear once completed.
A search bar at the top of the screen also allows you to find anything you need related to your account with minimal effort. This can help when you are both new to the app and unsure where things are, as well as when you want fast shortcuts as a veteran.
The ability to charge your customers for subscriptions is at the heart of what Recurly offers, but Stripe has subscription features, too. As more and more companies have begun offering their products and services on a subscription basis, these features have made both companies even more popular.
So, let’s look at how their subscription services compare.
With Recurly, the whole experience revolves around subscriptions, so they have made it as simple as possible for you to set these up for your clients or customers. Recurly also allows for many types of subscription plans. This is great if you want to offer more than one level of subscription for more access as it’s incredibly easy to do.
For each level, you need to enter the following information:
As you plan out each level, you can also set how often you want to send an email to your customers. This includes options to send one when they first sign up if they unsubscribe or many other options.
The focus on subscriptions means that Recurly has also added other features. For example, the subscription management section has tools to help you decrease the drop-off in the number of subscribers (or "churn"). This includes ways to reclaim failed sub renewals and giving you analytics to make informed changes.
Stripe offers many of the same features, including subscriptions. Although their features in this area do not have the same set of comprehensive options that Recurly does.
Features you can use include free trials for subscribers, discounts, and coupons. On top of this, although not a subscriber option per se, is the ability to support a physical store.
Stripe works alongside an app called Terminal. This empowers people to handle in-person payments for many different things. The user also does not need to buy bespoke hardware for running a sales point, instead using the Terminal device they can order.
To help you with promoting your business, both of these apps offer features such as coupons and trial periods. These allow your possible customers to try out your services for free or for a reduced amount, giving you a chance to bring them in permanently.
One feature unique to Recurly is the option to upsell add-ons to subscriptions. These are extras that are above and beyond the standard subscription. A customer can choose to add these extras to their service for a price.
Stripe not only allows for coupons as mentioned above but can even turn them into physical coupon cards. While this costs extra, it does mean that you can give customers a physical reminder of your existence.
Stripe also grants you an API. Thus, while there are no specific upselling features, you could always make one yourself. Although, you would need to hire a developer to program such a feature.
Both platforms offer some level of analytics for their users. Although, the differences start to appear once you see how much they offer based on how much you pay.
Recurly has a wide range of analytical options. To start with, on their dashboard, you have at-a-glance information on all your key stats. These include your subscriber numbers and how they have changed over time.
Through running detailed reports, you can find information on:
Not all these reports are available to all customers. If you wish for more comprehensive data, you must pay for higher levels of service from Recurly.
Similarly, Stripe offers access to some basic reporting tools with its unpaid plan. You can see overviews of subscribers and growth, as well as more overviews of its data.
If you wish for more detailed information from Stripe, you can use their scripting language called Stripe Sigma. This SQL-powered system can give you all the data in the exact format that you need to perform anything you want.
It probably goes without saying that you want to know what kinds of payment methods these payment apps actually accept.
Recurly supports all of the following popular payment methods:
The app also allows for different payment methods to link to an account. Therefore, if one payment method does not work for any reason, another will instead try to charge the user. This prevents you from losing subscribers and allows said users to continue to be a part of your community.
Stripe allows a wide variety of different payment methods, including:
As you can see, Stripe has a much wider acceptance of transfers from more locations. It even offers bank transfers from a much larger group of foreign banks than Recurly. This means that you can offer your services to a much wider area.
Similar to the last section, how these payment apps handle billing and accounting is an especially important consideration before making a final decision.
Recurly allows for a lot of options in how its users approach your subscription requests. It offers many different ways for customers to sign up with a subscription. On top of this, the different subscription types offer a level of freedom for their users.
They also have an automated invoicing system. As you may have to handle many different subscription levels and different numbers of users with each, this may be very helpful for you.
Recurly allows for refunds, too, handling and shipping fees, as well as taxes in a way that is transparent and easy to manage. They allow you to handle your business taxes without complexity. This is an especially useful feature as it calculates them based on the country you are in (for a set number of countries).
Stripe also has many different options for different customers. They enable people to handle subscriptions at different levels. Despite this, their options are not as comprehensive as Recurly's.
Stripe also allows the user to create customized landing pages for their payment sites. They empower the user to create invoices and email receipts that match their branding.
Everyone’s always on-the-go these days, which is why it’s important to look at how these two apps support mobile.
At the time of writing, Stripe has an advanced mobile app that gives you all the features that you need when on the go to control your account.
Recurly also has a mobile app. It will show you your subscriber numbers in real-time and also let you engage with your community. This is the app’s real strength. It’s a helpful tool for when you want to interact with your community and strengthen those interactions with subscribers.
Being financial systems, both of these platforms take security very seriously. Their systems are both robust and offer powerful security tools to help ensure that your money is not affected by malicious actors.
To this end, Stripe partners with a fraud prevention company. Using their Radar service, you can make use of a set of security tools to help you ensure that your account remains secure.
Radar can detect any fraudulent activity that may occur on your account and block it. The app does this with an AI that learns from the patterns of fraudulent activity and prevents them from continuing. As time goes by, it only gets more accurate and helpful.
If you are not comfortable with the level of security in Stripe, you are also able to take matters into your own hands. Stripe's API means that you can program your own systems or adjust the security as you feel is necessary.
Recurly provides security features that are compliant with many different standards. For example, they match PCI-DSS compliance.
With such a strong security foundation, Recurly can give you assurances about data encryption on your account. You can also expect payments to be private, and the network security of its systems to be top-notch.
But how well do these two payment apps play with others?
Stripe offers several integrations with other platforms. These help you communicate with your customers more comprehensively and receive the data you need on a day-to-day basis.
These integrations include:
You can find a full list of integrated apps on the Stripe marketplace.
Much like Stripe, Recurly also has many integrations. These include the following services:
Many of these are the same as Stripe, but not all. If you want to use apps that you are already invested in, you should check whether Stripe or Recurly supports them.
Both Stripe and Recurly offer detailed knowledge bases as part of their support features. These allow you to help yourself rather than waiting on a response from a support representative.
If you do end up wanting to contact them, though, this is where the differences lie.
Recurly allows you to create a ticket with their support staff that they will respond to in due course. If you choose to pay for a Pro or Elite plan, you’ll be able to access direct methods of receiving support. These include phone support and an account manager.
Stripe has much of this support without you needing to pay extra for it. They offer phone, email, or live chat at their most basic support levels.
Both Recurly and Stripe's support staff rate highly for friendly and useful interactions. Both companies also review well on third-party online review sites, including when it comes to customer support.
Finally, let’s talk about what Stripe and Recurly cost.
The two payment apps differ quite a bit here.
As we touched on a moment ago, Recurly offers three different payment plans:
Stripe offers customers a very simple pay-as-you-go plan. You pay $00.30 per transaction plus 2.9% of its total amount. There are no setup or monthly fees and you’ll get hundreds of updates every year for free.
But Stipe also gives you the option to completely customize your own plan, provided you receive especially large payments, high-value transactions, or just have a unique business model that doesn’t fit their other plan.
As with Recurly’s advanced plans, the price for Stripe’s customized plan is only available upon request.
Still on the fence about using Stripe or Recurly?
It might help to see which other companies entrust their payments to these two popular apps.
Let’s take a quick look at some household names.
The following sites use Recurly to manage their subscriptions:
The following sites use Stripe to manage their subscriptions:
No app is perfect and Recurly and Stripe are no exceptions. They both have their ups and their downs depending on your business’s unique needs.
Here are both the pros and cons that are mentioned most often about these two apps.
First of all, Stripe is very easy to sign up for. If you are a small business that cannot pay for the subscription price of Recurly, this is a big benefit of going with Stripe. You can take payments at a slower rate while you spin up your business to a point where you can afford other payment solutions.
On top of this, Stripe allows you to adjust invoices before you finalize them. Thus, you can enact small changes that suit specific circumstances instead of handling such things later.
Stripe also offers a highly customizable payment page. You can brand this to match your organization’s unique look, so customers never feel like they’re handing their payment information over to a completely different company.
Despite being easy to use, Stripe may not be the best option if you rely on detailed reports. It only has limited scope for such things unless you get a programmer to develop the kind of reporting tool you need.
This need for further development is found all over Stripe.
For example, once you offer multiple subscriptions or products, you will need to design a method to handle that via Stripe's API.
Compared to Stripe, Recurly's design is much easier to use for beginners. You can get up and running with less work, and a lot of the basics are ready for individuals without much input.
Recurly is also built around subscriptions. If your business model is based on recurring payments, then, as the app’s name suggests, a lot of what Recurly offers is purposely built with companies like yours in mind. You can even create different levels of subscriptions without the difficulty that you might have with Stripe.
The major con with Recurly is the fact that they charge both a percentage of your revenue and a monthly fee. Together, this can work out as a very expensive choice for both companies that handle large and small numbers of payments.
On top of this, many of Recurly's best features are hidden behind a paywall. You will find that multi-currency payment, phone support, and a lot of their analytics cannot be attained without a decent investment.
It’s also worth noting that there are many other options for payment solutions outside of Recurly and Stripe.
Here are four worth considering:
Amazon Pay uses people's already-existing Amazon accounts to let customers pay for goods and services. Because of its existing user base and infrastructure, Amazon Pay has expanded fast and is automatically available to millions of people all over the planet.
Acting as a mobile payment system, Venmo is popular among people who want to conduct peer-to-peer transactions. Nonetheless, businesses can take advantage of Venmo, too.
Shift4 primarily works in the restaurant, retail, e-commerce, and hospitality industries. Aside from payments, the app also offers some impressive analytics. The app is cloud-based, which means these features are accessible everywhere.
As we covered a moment ago, Stripe and Recurly both have their respective strengths, which means there’s probably a clear choice based on your unique needs.
If your company relies heavily on subscriptions, Recurly is probably your best choice – provided you don’t need any other bells and whistles. The payment app is quick to set up and very secure, but you can also rely on it to do a great job of keeping your subscribers happy, too.
On the other end of the spectrum, if subscriptions are just one part of your business model – or if you plan on growing in the near future – Stripe is probably the way to go. It just offers a plethora of features you won’t get with Recurly. Plus, you can always add a subscription platform to your setup to enjoy recurring billing.
Oddly enough, it’s also the cheaper of the two, insofar as you don’t need to start paying for Stripe right away. Your fees grow as your revenue grows.
That being said, neither is exactly expensive.
So, there you have it: two fantastic payment platforms. There’s no clear winner overall, but if you know what your eCommerce business needs, you probably know which platform you need, too.