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How to Migrate from PayPal to Stripe

How to Migrate from PayPal to Stripe

Learn the step-by-step process of migrating from PayPal to Stripe for better payment processing and subscription management.

PayPal is relied on by more than 31 million small businesses, with many running their entire business through the platform. But for many of those businesses, PayPal comes up short in addressing key challenges, especially for those that offer subscription services and products. Ecommerce businesses that sell goods on subscriptions, service-based businesses, and those that offer digital resources may find that PayPal lacks some of the more robust features they need. That’s where Stripe comes in. 

Migrating from PayPal to Stripe isn’t ideal for everyone; there are still many situations for which the simplicity and accessibility of PayPal is a good choice, but subscription businesses that need greater transparency, tools for customers to manage their accounts, and ways to more easily communicate with buyers, Stripe is a great place to start. 

When switching from PayPal to Stripe, there are two options:

  1. Start from scratch and have your customers reenter their credit card information the next time they purchase or when their subscription renewal is up. 
  2. Migrate the credit card information from PayPal to Stripe to retain all clients. This way, they won’t know you made a change, and you don’t risk people opting not to continue. 

The first option certainly requires the least effort from you, the business owner, but there’s a very real risk that you will lose customers when asking them to reenter their credit card information. Opting in is a major ask; doing it a second time will result in churn you did not expect or plan for. 

The second option is ideal for business operations and growth, but it requires a bit more work. We’ll go through this process in greater detail below to ensure you have everything you need to make the transition smooth and avoid losing any of your existing customers. 

An Overview of the Migration Process

You can’t just export a CSV of credit card numbers and import them into another system as you would contact details. Stripe provides a detailed summary of this process, including some of the challenges you may face here, but in short, there are three steps you’ll follow:

  1. Contact PayPal and initiate the migration process
  2. Let Stripe support know that you’ve started the migration from PayPal
  3. Once done, your customers will have been migrated to Stripe seamlessly and with no churn. 

The process from start to finish can take as little as a few days and as long as several weeks, so give yourself ample time to complete the process. On average, it takes 5-10 days, and Stripe emphasizes that the process is free for all merchants. 

Step 1 - Contacting PayPal

The owner of the PayPal account is required to connect with PayPal and initiate the transfer with both PayPal and Stripe. If the person who initiates the transfer is not the account owner, PayPal will require the owner to reach out and approve the transfer before it can move forward, so starting there will expedite the process. 

After the request, and once approved, you can reach out to Stripe for the next steps. Stripe has noted that you can reach out to them first, and they can work on your behalf to start the conversation with PayPal, though account owner verification will still be needed. 

Step 2 - Contacting Stripe

Once PayPal has initiated the transfer, you must reach out to Stripe and tell them to start the import process. They will be able to import customer data, credit card information, bank account information for ACH and SEPA payments, and billing addresses. Baremetrics offers a complete list of the data that can be transferred from PayPal to Stripe here. Subscriptions won’t transfer over, so they will need to be recreated separately upon completion of the migration. 

In Stripe, a separate Customer object is created for each customer record in PayPal. All data is then attached to the Customer object, including default payment method status. 

As part of this step, be sure to create Price IDs in Stripe that correspond to the Price IDs you had for your PayPal products. Having a specific SKU taxonomy can help to streamline this process, reducing the risk of a product not transferring over or of data being duplicated into multiple products. 

Step 3 - Using Stripe

Once the data has been transferred, you’ll need to ensure all recurring payments and subscriptions are assigned properly in the system so that the payments go through automatically without customers having to input any additional information or data into the system. 

After Credit Card Migration

Because the migration to Stripe is often most beneficial to those who offer subscriptions, this step will likely affect you. If you have active subscriptions or any other type of recurring billing running with PayPal, you’ll need to complete the following two steps:

  1. Create pricing models in Stripe, using the same pricing and billing intervals that you used in PayPal before the migration. 
  2. Recreate any subscriptions your customers have in Stripe when you map over the customer records. 

This last part can pose a challenge if you have a large number of subscriptions currently running through your PayPal account, but the resulting simplicity and transparency offered by Stripe will be worth the effort, and it’s unlikely to impact your customers or the status of their subscriptions directly. 

Here are some key considerations when setting this up:

  • Create the necessary subscription objects to match what already exists in PayPal. 
  • Set the subscription billing cycle anchor to bill customers on the correct day of the cycle. This is especially important if your customers are billed a set number of days from their signup date, meaning they all have unique billing dates. 
  • Stripe’s Subscription Schedules API allows you additional flexibility with start dates and subscription continuity if you need to do something more complex or your existing subscriptions list does not correlate to new billing cycles. The API allows you to schedule subscriptions to start in the future. This is an important element of the system as it allows you to review your data import before you start billing customers in production (e.g. you avoid accidentally double billing people during the migration). 

Stripe offers a full subscription migration guide here for more in-depth details on how to migrate, rebuild, and map subscriptions to your customers as seamlessly as possible. While limited tools support this, some like Skyvia allow you to import customers, charges, invoices, and events for mapping to the Stripe API. 

One of the major benefits of this process, which addresses one of the most common concerns we hear from customers attempting to complete these types of migrations, is that they won’t need to do anything on their end. There are, however, some exceptions depending on the specific information for each customer.

For example, the CVV is not included with credit card information when imported into Stripe due to PCI regulations. Similarly, Stripe does not store CVV codes for long periods either. So if the merchant does a CVV check during the checkout process, customers may need to re-enter their CVV information. Bank accounts will not need to be reverified, however, and all other information will transfer as part of this migration.

Why Is Migration from PayPal to Stripe a Good Idea? 

The only formal way to export customer information from PayPal is to ask PayPal to do it directly. There is no user interface, but there are some workarounds to start capturing the information you need as part of the migration process. 
That said, Stripe works to make the process as seamless and accessible to the average user as possible, reducing the time it takes to organize and complete the process. There are certain elements, of course, that Stripe cannot control. For example, some third-party processors may take weeks or months to export the data. They have no incentive to export data since they are losing a customer, so you may experience barriers or obstacles during the process. Stripe will work with you to reduce that time as much as possible, but be prepared for the migration to take up to several weeks. Some other possible issues or challenges that might occur and you should be ready for include:

  • Some processors may require you and Stripe to sign a data transfer agreement before exporting your data. The Migrations team will work with you and the Contracts team to complete this if needed. 
  • Your migrations team partner will not import the metadata you would otherwise have access to. They work only on migrating content that you don’t have access to and require third-party support on. 
  • Stripe cannot import or recreate subscriptions when importing payment data as they require decisions on your part. Because of the risk of double-charging customers, these must not be automatically recreated and are manually double-checked before reactivating. 

What’s a Better Fit with DepositFix

While DepositFix works well with both Stripe and PayPal, and we offer a free PayPal module, DepositFix provides more functionality when integrated with Stripe. You can seamlessly pull data into your CRM for automated follow-ups after payments when payment data needs to be recaptured and to track your sales data. As a Certified Stripe Partner, we also provide customized Billing Portals for your customers, 1-click upsells, and several other features specifically with Stripe. 

Choosing the Right Payment Processor

There are several reasons a company might migrate from PayPal to Stripe. While the process can seem complex at first, working with Stripe’s migration team, reviewing all documentation before starting the migration process, and double-checking your data at each step will help ensure a smooth transition and the long-term benefits of having made the change. 

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