Updated February 5, 2021

Square Alternatives

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Square is one of the most popular POS systems. But is it the best choice for your business? See how Square compares to top competitors and alternatives.

With pay-as-you-go pricing and no monthly fees, Square is the preferred option for many merchants and businesses.

But it isn't right for everyone. As a payment aggregator, there are risks of frozen funds and canceled accounts with little warning. The flat-rate pricing may also not be feasible for every business structure.

Read on to see how the most popular Square alternatives stack up.

ProcessorBest For
PayPal ZettleSmall physical vendors
Intuit GoPaymentLarge transactions
StripeOnline businesses
Clover GoRestaurants
SumUpNew businesses
Payment DepotHigh-volume retailers
Payline DataHigh-risk businesses
PayanywhereMobile businesses

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Best for Small Vendors: PayPal Zettle

PayPal's mobile credit card processing rates (via PayPal Zettle) are lower than Square's per-swipe rate. QR code transactions (over $10) even get a discounted rate. So it's great for small sellers that take cards in person.

Plus, being able to accept PayPal and Vemno payments could open you up to more customers.

It's an easy way to manage mobile, online, and in-person payments. You'll get instant access to the funds in your PayPal account once you are an established seller.

Pros

  • Accept PayPal and Venmo payments in person
  • Can manage sales, invoices, and process credit cards
  • No monthly, setup, or cancellation fees
  • Flat-rate pricing for all transactions

Cons

  • Higher online and invoicing processing rates
  • Funds may be held in reserve for up to 30 days
  • Customer service is lacking
  • Account may get canceled even after processing transactions

Who Should Use It

  • Indie sellers that process low volumes
  • New businesses wanting pay-as-you-go processing
  • Non-profits

PayPal vs. Square for Nonprofits
Both PayPal and Square have tools like donate buttons and support for recurring donations. But PayPal has the edge with discounted rates for confirmed charity accounts.

 

Square

PayPal Zettle

 

Benefits and Features

EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.$79 for Zettle mobile reader ($29 for the first one)
$159 for Zettle iPad stand
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
2.29% + $0.09 per transaction
1.90% + $0.10 for QR code transactions $10.01 and above
2.40% + $0.05 for QR code transactions $10 and under
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
2.99% + $0.49 for credit and debit cards
3.49% + $0.49 for PayPal payment products
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
3.49% + $0.09
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business dayFunds available instantly in PayPal account
Chargeback Fee
None
$20

Best for Large Transactions: Intuit GoPayment

QuickBooks GoPayment seamlessly integrates with your QuickBooks Online account. While you will pay a monthly subscription fee, the amount of time saved can be worth it.

A QuickBooks Online subscription lets you process invoices just like you would with Square. Where it falls short, however, is in the fees. A $15 charge costs $0.61 with GoPayment vs $0.49 with Square. If you process a lot of small transactions, you may overpay with GoPayment.

Pros

  • Free mobile card reader (magstripe or chip)
  • No setup costs or monthly subscription fees
  • No long-term contract or cancellation fees

Cons

  • Hefty processing fees, especially for small transactions
  • QuickBooks needed for invoicing and sales reporting
  • Fewer POS system features
  • No e-commerce options

Who Should Use It

  • Mid-sized businesses with higher transactions
  • Current QuickBooks Online subscribers

QuickBooks GoPayment vs. Square for Large Transactions
GoPayment isn't the best choice for small transactions. But their fees beat out Square for transactions of $100 or more. A $100 charge costs $2.65 with GoPayment vs. $2.70 with Square—and you'll save even more with larger transactions.

 

Square

QuickBooks GoPayment

 

Benefits and Features

Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100Quickbooks users; small businesses with larger transaction size
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.Free mobile Bluetooth card reader for swipe, chip, and tap
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
2.4% + 25¢
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
2.9% + 25¢
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
3.4% + 25¢
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business day
Next business day
Chargeback Fee
None
$25

Best for Online Businesses: Stripe

Stripe lets users create a completely customized checkout experience. It controls what customers see at checkout and on their receipts.

Because of its customization options, Stripe can be much more complicated to implement than Square. It's an ideal choice if you have a developer on staff to program these customizations.

Businesses with programming capabilities have the ability to build a powerful custom POS system that can accept a variety of payments, including credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments.

Pros

  • No monthly fees, subscription fees, or cancelation fees
  • Operate month to month
  • Exceptional developer tools
  • Accept international payments from 100+ countries

Cons

  • Programming needed for Stripe Terminal integration
  • Possible holds on funds or account cancellation for high-risk industries
  • No free credit card reader

Who Should Use It

  • Companies with a developer on staff
  • Businesses that take online and in-person payments

Stripe vs. Square for Online Businesses
Square might work for a brick-and-mortar business that's beginning to set up an online presence. But Stripe's customization options make it a stronger contender for online-only brands.

 

Square

Stripe

 

Benefits and Features

Customer ServicePhone, Email, Live Chat Support, Seller CommunityPhone (by request), Email, Live Chat, IRC
Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100Online businesses; Customized checkout experience
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.Online Processing, Terminal, Stripe for Marketplace & Platforms, Billing Services (subscription & invoicing)
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
2.7% + 5¢
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
2.9% + 30¢
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business day7-14 days after the first successful payment
Chargeback Fee
None
$15

Best for Restaurants: Clover Go

Clover Go is a scaled down version of Clover's full POS. While it offers the ability to accept payments on the go, it doesn't offer full-fledged POS features. Even though Square is a mobile card reader, many can argue that it offers the full functionality of many full POS systems.

Clover stands out for its merchant account stability. With Square, you share a merchant account with hundreds of others while Clover offers exclusive merchant accounts. You have to qualify for your own account (no automatic enrollment for the credit card processor), but there is less risk of cancellation or frozen funds.

Clover Go doesn't run as well on its own, but it's a logical choice if you are already a Clover POS customer. If you haven't started processing credit cards yet and don't plan to purchase a full-fledged POS, opting for a payment aggregator like Square may be the better option.

Pros

  • No complicated setup or lag time
  • Customize discounts, tips, and taxes
  • Easy-to-use app store with powerful POS

Cons

  • Internet connection needed to process payments
  • Monthly subscription fee
  • Limited inventory options without larger software package

Who Should Use It

  • Current Clover users
  • Merchants that want their own merchant account

Clover vs. Square for Restaurants
Both systems are a good choice for restauranteurs. But Clover POS offers a bit more with their online ordering and table management features.

Best for New Businesses: SumUp

SumUp offers a good card reader, but it's not a full-fledged POS. Merchants can accept credit card payments for a lower fee than Square—but only with an internet connection. If you aren't looking for inventory, scheduling, or robust reporting options, SumUp offers a viable solution.

The SumUp card reader costs $19 and holds a charge for up to 500 transactions. Setup takes minutes and you can connect to your smartphone with Bluetooth.

Like Square, SumUp pays merchants daily but the actual transfer could take between 2 and 3 business days depending on your bank's policies.

Pros

  • Flat-rate pricing
  • Accept tap, chip, or swipe payments, all with one card reader
  • No monthly subscription fees, cancellation fees, or hidden fees
  • Accept all major credit cards and international credit cards for the same fee

Cons

  • No inventory functions in its POS
  • The list of restricted businesses is rather lengthy
  • SumUp doesn't offer an invoicing option

Who Should Use It

  • Merchants just starting out that don't need robust POS features

  • Merchants that process infrequent credit card transactions

SumUp vs. Square for New Businesses
Both systems keep things simple for new businesses. But SumUp has the slight upper hand for small transaction sizes. Its card reader is also cheaper, which is good if you're just starting out.

 

Square

SumUp

 

Benefits and Features

Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100Very new or small businesses with average transaction under $50
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.
$19 for a SumUp card reader
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
2.75%
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
2.90% + 15¢ for invoices
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
3.25% + 15¢
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business day
1-2 business days
Chargeback Fee
None
$10

Best for High Volume: Payment Depot

Payment Depot offers payment processing options for in-person, online, or over-the-phone payments. Many of their pricing plans include a free mobile reader.

However, you are charged for their service whether you use it or not. That means seasonal merchants or fledgling businesses may overpay for credit card processing services that they don't use or need.

The platform offers a dedicated merchant account from First Data, so you have a lower chance of frozen funds or canceled accounts. However, the underwriting process is a bit more rigorous.

Each Payment Depot plan has a surcharge for credit card transactions ranging from $0.05–$0.15. Funds are deposited in your account within 24–48 hours of processing the credit card.

Pros

  • Month-to-month contract with no cancellation fees
  • Can reprogram your equipment for you
  • 24/7 customer service for subscribers

Cons

  • Monthly subscription fee ranges from $49–$199/month
  • Multiple fees
  • Won't accept high-risk merchants

Who Should Use It

  • High volume merchants
  • Established businesses that know their monthly processing volume

Payment Depot vs. Square for High-Volume Retailers
A subscription plan like Payment Depot makes the most sense for businesses with a large volume of transactions. The company also offers discounts if your transaction volume is high enough.

 SquarePayment Depot
 Visit SiteVisit Site
 

Square

Payment Depot

SPECIAL OFFER
Free Mobile Credit Card Reader - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Save 40% or More - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Customer ServicePhone, Email, Live Chat Support, Seller CommunityPhone, Email, Ticket Center, Social Media Platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100Businesses processing $20,00 or more per month
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.POS (EMV, Magstripe, NFC, Contactless, Smart Terminals), Mobile Payment Processing, Online Payment Processing
Pricing Model
Flat rate
Subscription
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
Interchange + 15¢ (for processing up to $25,000/mo; discounts for larger volume)
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
Interchange + 15¢ (discounts for larger volume)
Monthly Fee
No monthly fees
$49/month (process up to $25,000/mo)
$79/month (up to $75,000/mo)
$99/month (up to $150,000/mo)
$199/month (over $150,000/mo)
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
Interchange + 15¢ (discounts for larger volume)
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business day
Next day deposits
 Visit SiteVisit Site

Best for High-Risk Businesses: Payline Data

Unlike Square, Payline Data isn't a payment aggregator. Although they don't directly process the transactions, they provide individual merchant accounts. This lowers your risk of frozen funds and canceled accounts.

Payline Data offers mobile credit card processing, like Square, as well as in-person and online payment options. They charge additional monthly fees for the payment gateway and virtual terminal.

The fees are higher than Square's. If you want an individual merchant account and faster deposit times (two business days), the higher fees may be worth it.

Pros

  • Transparent interchange-plus pricing with free PCI compliance
  • Month-to-month pricing
  • No cancellation fees
  • Offers equipment for in-person, mobile, online, and over-the-phone transactions

Cons

  • $25 monthly minimum
  • Virtual terminal and each payment gateway costs an additional $10/month
  • No inventory capabilities

Who Should Use It

  • Merchants that want their own merchant ID and account
  • Merchants wanting a month-to-month contract

Payline vs. Square for High-Risk Businesses
Many processors, like Square, won't provide services for high-risk businesses. Payline will consider riskier businesses. But be prepared to pay higher fees for your high risk merchant account.

 SquarePayline
 Visit SiteVisit Site
 

Square

Payline

SPECIAL OFFER
Free Mobile Credit Card Reader - Learn More

SPECIAL OFFER
Free 1st Month of Processing - Learn More

 

Benefits and Features

Customer ServicePhone, Email, Live Chat Support, Seller Community
Phone, Email
Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100Businesses processing $5,000 or more per month
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.POS (EMV Chip & PIN, Magstripe, NFC/contactless), Mobile Payment Processing, Subscription Billing, ACH Payments, Online Processing
Pricing Model
Flat rate
Interchange-Plus
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
Interchange + 0.2% + $0.10
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
Interchange + 0.40% + $0.20
Monthly Fee
No monthly fees
$10 per month for in-person processing
$20 per month for online processing
$10 per month for virtual terminal
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
Interchange + 0.40% + $0.20
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business day
1-2 business days
Chargeback Fee
None
$15 - $25
 Visit SiteVisit Site

Best for Mobile Business: Payanywhere

Payanywhere offers a powerful POS similar to Square. However, the mobile processing fees are slightly lower, which makes it a great option for those who only process mobile payments.

The platform doesn't offer an online store. If a majority of your business comes from online sales, it isn't the best option.

Payanywhere offers a free mobile card reader for swipe and chip payments (additional readers cost $29.95 each). You can upgrade to a reader that also accepts contactless payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay for $49.95.

Payanywhere offers a wide variety of equipment, though you'll pay monthly fees for each device. Read the fine print carefully before making a purchase decision.

Pros

  • A powerful POS
  • Accept payments offline
  • Track inventory, set up recurring invoices, and manage your POS from any device

Cons

  • High invoicing pricing: 3.49% plus $0.19
  • Monthly inactivity fee of $3.99 for businesses without activity for 12 months
  • Monthly software fees for each device

Who Should Use It

  • Mobile businesses that take fewer online payments
  • Businesses that have at least a few credit card transactions each month

Payanywhere vs. Square for Mobile Businesses
Payanywhere and Square are both great options for low volume and small transactions. Square is better if you accept both online and mobile payments. Payanywhere has slightly lower swiped fees, but higher online fees.

 

Square

Payanywhere

 

Benefits and Features

Good ForMobile & small businesses with average transaction over $100New small businesses with average transaction under $100
EquipmentFree magstripe card reader; $49 for contactless + chip reader; Stand, Terminal, and Register available for purchase.Free swipe + chip card reader; $49.95 for three-in-one card reader; Terminal and POS available for purchase
Swipe Rate
2.6% + 10¢
2.69%
Online Rate
2.9% + 30¢
3.49% + 19¢ for invoices
Monthly Fee
No monthly fees
No monthly fees; $3.99/mo inactivity fee for merchants with no transaction for 12 months
Keyed-in Transaction Fee
3.5% + 15¢
3.49% + 19¢
Deposit TimePayments before 5PM PT / 8 PM ET is available the next business dayNext day funding; 1% fee for same day funding

Other Credit Card Processors to Consider

Here are a few more payment processors to consider:

  • ShopKeep
    ShopKeep offers features similar to Square, but their hefty monthly fees and payment processing fees can add up quickly. It integrates with other payment processing systems, which may be viable for existing businesses that already have a processor.

  • Shopify Lite
    Shopify Lite is a cloud-based POS system that offers a mobile POS system for a small monthly fee. While you only get Buy buttons for your website, landing page, or social media pages, it's great for those that only sell small amounts online. Shopify has its own Shopify Payments processor that integrates all aspects of your business into one system.

  • Lightspeed
    Lightspeed offers payment solutions, an integrated POS system, and stellar customer support to help you with any problems. Lightspeed charges monthly fees for its POS as well as interchange-plus pricing. This makes the cost of their payment processing similar to Square.

Cost Comparisons

Here's a look at how Square's fees compare against other flat-rate providers:

Swipe RateOnline Rate
Square2.6% + 10¢2.9% + 30¢
PayPal2.7%2.9% + 30¢
Quickbooks2.4% + 25¢2.9% + 25¢
Stripe2.7% + 5¢2.9% + 30¢
SumUp2.75%2.90% + 15¢ for invoices

These next tables compare processing costs for different transaction amounts. This helps you decide which provider is best for you. For example, PayPal is better if you have small tickets, while Quickbooks is better if you have larger tickets.

Processing Cost Comparison - $20 Transaction

In-StoreOnline
Square$0.62$0.88
PayPal$0.54$0.88
Quickbooks$0.73$0.83
Stripe$0.59$0.88
SumUp$0.55$0.73
Processing Cost Comparison - $50 Transaction

In-StoreOnline
Square$1.40$1.75
PayPal$1.35$1.75
Quickbooks$1.45$1.70
Stripe$1.40$1.75
SumUp$1.375$1.60

Processing Cost Comparison - $100 Transaction

In-StoreOnline
Square$2.70$3.20
PayPal$2.70$3.20
Quickbooks$2.65$3.15
Stripe$2.75$3.20
SumUp$2.75$3.05
Processing Cost Comparison - $200 Transaction

In-StoreOnline
Square$5.30$6.10
PayPal$5.40$6.10
Quickbooks$5.05$6.05
Stripe$5.45$6.10
SumUp$5.50$5.95

What the Experts Say

As part of our series on small businesses and entrepreneurship, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions.

Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Before you choose a credit card processor, consider what your business needs. Will the payment processor need to integrate with your existing POS? Are you starting from scratch and need the full gamut of services?

Once you know what you're looking for, compare the pricing to your estimated monthly sales to determine if Square or an alternative is the better fit for your business.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Read Next:

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