hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA

hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA: Which Is the Better Choice for You?

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Wondering that when it comes to hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA, which service is the better choice for bot detection and spam prevention on your web forms?

Both hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA are great anti-spam and bot prevention tools for your online forms, but the security and features they provide differ greatly.

In this guide, we’ll go in-depth into both types of CAPTCHA services to help you determine the best option for your forms and website security.

hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA

hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA both serve a single purpose: to add an extra layer of protection against automated spam and bot threats.

Below, we’ll put the two services against one another. You can use the handy table of contents to navigate through the comparison.

1. Overview of hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA

The impact of your CAPTCHA depends on the type of service you choose, so to help you out, we’ve included a brief summary of hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA, detailing their key features and pricing information.


Headquartered in San Francisco, California, and founded in 2018, hCaptcha is a relatively new service in the marketplace of CAPTCHA services. However, it has quickly become famous, thanks to its anti-spam and bot detection measures.

the hcaptcha homepage

Owned by Eli-Shaoul Khedouri and his machine learning company, Intuition Machines, hCaptcha typically requires site visitors to label images to help distinguish between automated bots and actual humans submitting a form.

It follows a freemium pricing model that allows website owners to deploy hCaptcha for free (supporting over one million requests per month) or take advantage of more advanced features and requests with plans starting at $99/month.


Founded by none other than Google, reCAPTCHA was initially released on May 27, 2007. It is one of the best-known CAPTCHA services in the marketplace, which makes it quite recognizable and trustworthy in the eyes of most website owners.

the recaptcha homepage

Based on feedback from millions of users worldwide, reCAPTCHA deploys an advanced spam filtering system and algorithm to distinguish between bot and human traffic by analyzing user behavior like typing patterns, mouse movements, etc.

Similar to hCaptcha, reCAPTCHA can be deployed on websites for free to add a basic level of bit mitigation, but for more advanced features and usage limits, it offers reCAPTCHA Enterprise that follows a custom-quote pricing system.

2. Installation and Setup Process

Now that we’ve given a basic overview of hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA, how do they stand regarding setup processes? Let’s find out!


As a growing challenger in the field of CAPTCHA services, hCaptcha is designed with ease of use and integration in mind. Setting it up is incredibly simple, especially if you integrate it with a service like WPForms.

Once you’ve created an account on the hCaptcha website, follow the steps in this guide to set up hCaptcha on your WordPress forms. The whole process will take you about 5-10 minutes in total.

While configuring hCaptcha, you’ll also appreciate that the service allows you to select the Behavior and Passing Threshold for your CAPTCHA, despite being a free service. You can decide how difficult your CAPTCHAs should be!

hCaptcha passing threshold

For small-to-medium-sized businesses that receive a decent amount of traffic, selecting the Auto option should work fine. However, you can also tweak the threshold settings to boost the bot prevention measures on your site and form:

  • Easy: This option is great for basic spam and bot prevention measures and uses “easy” challenges to distinguish between human and bot form submissions.
  • Moderate: As the name implies, this mode creates a more robust challenge, which is slightly more difficult to solve to prevent bots on your website.
  • Difficult: This is the toughest and most secure method available, but considering how difficult it is to solve, you should consider if it’s effective for your users.


Since reCAPTCHA is a product of Google, the service is incredibly easy to set up and integrate on your website. With straightforward documentation and API access, Google reCAPTCHA is the most preferred option for many web developers.

It does require some technical know-how as compared to hCaptcha, but if you are using a form builder like WPForms, the process of setting up reCAPTCHA is incredibly simple and won’t require you to edit code on your website.

recaptcha versions

While configuring Google reCAPTCHA, you’ll also appreciate the availability of different CAPTCHA options, which range from a simple “I’m not a robot” checkbox to sophisticated challenges and more. Here’s a general guide to the options available:

  • reCAPTCHA v2: This version is currently deployed across 10 million+ websites and integrates an “I’m not a robot” checkbox, which most users will find easy to pass. If extra verification is required, the V2 may also ask users to solve a challenge.
  • reCAPTCHA v3: Compared to reCAPTCHA v2, this version is typically invisible to website visitors. It doesn’t require users to solve any challenges but instead monitors each visitor’s behavior to determine whether they’re a bot or human. reCAPTCHA v3 is currently in use on just over 1.2 million websites.
  • reCAPTCHA Enterprise: This reCAPTCHA version follows a custom-pricing model, but provides users with numerous features like ML Model Tuning API, 2FA support, enhanced risk scoring, etc. It is also adaptable to the needs of a website and can verify users with either an Invisible reCAPTCHA or the “I’m not a robot” checkbox.

3. User Experience of CAPTCHAs

Since CAPTCHAs can also lead to page, form, and checkout abandonments, it’s necessary to assess how hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA perform in terms of user experience.


In terms of ability to counter spam and bot activities on a website, hCaptcha is incredibly effective. However, most website visitors may find hCaptcha’s image recognition puzzles to be more time-consuming and challenging.

Especially if we compare it to reCAPTCHA, which is deployed across a huge majority of websites. Since users are more accustomed to solving simple challenges due to the likes of reCAPTCHA, hCaptcha might actually deter users.

As a result, there is some speculation that hCaptcha impacts the user experience and conversion rates negatively. However, this of course can be mitigated by choosing the Easy mode for the Passing Threshold.

hcaptcha verification example


Where hCaptcha proves incredibly useful against bot and spam activities on a website, reCAPTCHA may be a little less effective, mainly due to its widespread nature and easy-to-solve challenges, which even automated bots are trained to pass.

There are pros and cons to each option, of course, but Google reCAPTCHA does look and feel more user-friendly. Depending on your chosen version, reCAPTCHA may even be invisible to website visitors.

For instance, reCAPTCHA v3 deters bots and spammers by collecting user behavior information, such as typing patterns, mouse movements, and other interactions with the website. While this option does prove to be effective, there are still some bots that may be able to bypass it and result in increased spam.

Regardless, if the reCAPTCHA algorithm believes the user is human, they will be given access to a website. Or if you’re using reCAPTCHA v2, it will likely present them with a CAPTCHA challenge like the one below.

recaptcha verification example

4. Types of CAPTCHA Challenges

The most important aspect of selecting a CAPTCHA service depends on the selection of challenges available. So, let’s dive into the types at one’s disposal.


hCaptcha uses an image-classification challenge to distinguish between human and bot traffic, but the process is a bit different because the labeling and selection tasks are a little tougher than that of reCAPTCHA.

Apart from image selection, hCaptcha doesn’t offer any other types of CAPTCHA challenges, but similar to reCAPTCHA, if you upgrade to the Enterprise plan, you can use an invisible version of the captcha to auto-pass most low-risk users.

It’s important to mention that even if you use the enterprise plan of hCaptcha, users may still be required to solve a puzzle manually if the service cannot identify whether the user is a human or a robot correctly.


Google reCAPTCHA tends to be more diversified in the options available to distinguish between human and bot traffic. However, the type of CAPTCHA you deploy depends on the version of reCAPTCHA you’re using.

Therefore, website owners can easily tailor the reCAPTCHA to their specific requirements, and since most options are free, you don’t need to pay extra for an invisible captcha, unlike hCaptcha. Options include:

  • Checkbox: Low-risk users can often click on a checkbox that says, “I’m not a robot,” to prove they are human.
  • Image selection: If the algorithm cannot determine if the user is a human, reCAPTCHA can be configured to deploy an image selection challenge.
  • Audio challenges: This option urges the user to listen to an audio recording and then enter the words or numbers to prove they’re human.
  • Invisible captcha: Only available on reCAPTCHA v3; this option does not require users to solve any challenge and deters bots by analyzing user behaviors.

5. Advantages and Disadvantages

Both hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA come with their own advantages and disadvantages; let’s talk about them in detail below to help guide your choice.


It is safe to say that hCaptcha is an alternative to other services, prioritizing privacy while efficiently distinguishing between humans and bots. When deciding whether to implement hCaptcha on your website, consider these factors:

  • Privacy-Oriented: Unlike some services, hCaptcha does not track user behavior, making it a more privacy-conscious choice, especially for those websites that want to comply with GDPR policies.
  • Customizable Difficulty: Website owners can adjust the captcha difficulty level, allowing flexibility based on their specific needs.
  • Easy Implementation: hCaptcha only needs to be integrated on pages you want to protect, not on every site page, like reCAPTCHA v3.
  • Monetization Opportunity: Users can earn rewards for completing captcha challenges, providing an incentive for engagement.
  • API Integration: Simple API integration allows easy customization and implementation on various websites.
  • Less Recognized: hCaptcha is not as widely recognized as some other captcha services, which might affect user familiarity and trust.
  • Limited Accessibility Options: While offering various challenge types, it might not be as accessible as other more established services, especially for users with disabilities.
  • Potential User Inconvenience: The adjustable difficulty level, if set too high, can lead to user frustration and inconvenience.


Since reCAPTCHA is Google’s own technology, it is a reliable option, and you’ve probably encountered it yourself many times already. However, if you want to decide if it’s the right fit for you, consider these factors:

  • Widespread Recognition: reCAPTCHA, being a Google product, is widely recognized and trusted by users.
  • Advanced Security: Uses sophisticated risk analysis to distinguish between human and bot traffic effectively.
  • Multiple Challenge Types: Offers various types of challenges (checkbox, image selection, audio) to verify users.
  • Ease of Integration: Simple API integration and straightforward documentation make it user-friendly for website owners.
  • Free Service: Google provides reCAPTCHA at no cost, which is one of the reasons why most web developers prefer it.
  • Privacy Concerns: reCAPTCHA tracks user interactions and behavior, which raises privacy issues, specifically for those in the EU.
  • Less Customization in Difficulty: The challenge difficulty is set by Google’s algorithms, offering less control to website owners.
  • Potential Accessibility Issues: While it offers alternative verifications, its widespread adoption doesn’t necessarily imply optimal accessibility for all users.

Final Verdict: hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA

When deciding the better choice between hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA, you’ll need to consider the needs of your website. Remember that persistent spammers constantly find new ways to bypass filters and get their messages into your email account.

Both hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA are reliable and effective options for blocking bots and spammers from submitting forms on your website. However, since automated bot and spamming technologies constantly adapt and improve, you may have to try both options to see which works for you.

This is mainly because of the fact that the bot and spam affecting your website will require a specific solution, which may be either in the form of hCaptcha or reCAPTCHA. In some circumstances, it may even require you to extend your website or form’s anti-spam prevention measures beyond hCaptcha and reCAPTCHA.

More Questions about hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA

CAPTCHAs are a popular topic of interest among our readers. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about hCaptcha vs reCAPTCHA:

Which CAPTCHA is best for preventing bots?

The best CAPTCHA for preventing bots depends on specific needs. reCAPTCHA by Google is highly effective due to its advanced risk analysis and is widely recognized. hCaptcha, focusing on user privacy, is another strong option. The choice should balance user experience, privacy concerns, and the level of security required.

Is hCaptcha HIPAA compliant?

hCaptcha focuses on user privacy and does not track individual user data, which aligns with HIPAA’s emphasis on protecting personal health information. However, for specific HIPAA compliance, it’s recommended to consult with legal experts or directly with the hCaptcha team.

What are the differences between reCAPTCHA and hCAPTCHA?

reCAPTCHA, developed by Google, tracks user behavior for security analysis, while hCaptcha, created by Intuition Machines, prioritizes user privacy and offers cryptocurrency incentives. The difficulty level in hCaptcha can be adjusted by website owners.

What are the three types of CAPTCHA?

Common CAPTCHA types include text-based (distorted text the user must decipher), image-based (selecting images based on a prompt), and audio CAPTCHAs (listening to and transcribing a sound clip).

What is the most commonly used CAPTCHA?

The most commonly used CAPTCHA is likely the text-based CAPTCHA, where users type in distorted text from an image. This method has been widely adopted due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

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