Managing your account

This guide will cover some of the basics of setting up and using your account.

Now that you've finished the basics of integrating Stripe into your website, here are a few of the account features and processes you'll probably want to understand:

  • Live mode and testing
  • API Keys
  • Activating your account

Live mode and testing

Every account is divided into two universes: one for testing, and one for running on your live website. All API requests exist in one of those two universes, and objects in one universe cannot be manipulated by objects in the other.

In test mode, credit card transactions don't go through the actual credit card network — instead, they go through simple checks in Stripe to validate that they look like they might be credit cards. In test mode you can use any combination of credit card data that passes these simple checks, discussed more on our testing page.

API Keys

Related to these universes are your API keys. Each key exists either in the live universe or in the test universe, and this is how Stripe tells what universe you are interacting with. You should only use your test API keys for testing. This will make sure that you don't accidentally modify your live customers or charges.

In addition to live and test mode, there are also two types of keys secret and publishable keys.

Publishable API keys are meant solely to identify your account with Stripe, they aren't secret. In other words, they can safely be published in places like your Stripe.js JavaScript code, or in an Android or iPhone app. Publishable keys only have the power to create tokens.

Secret API keys should never be published, and must be kept confidentially on your own servers. These keys can perform any API request to Stripe without restriction.

Activating your account

Before activating your account, you can only interact with Stripe in test mode. With the exception of the ability to make a real charge to a credit card, all of Stripe's features are available in test mode.

Activating your account is a simple process: you fill out a form requesting some basic information about your product, your business, and your own personal relationship to your business. Once you've activated your account, you can immediately start using the live API and charge real cards.

Your account details are reviewed internally to ensure they comply with our terms of service. If we see a problem, we'll get in touch right away so that we can try to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Next up

Congrats! You've gone through the basics of using Stripe.