Square is a free point-of-sale (POS) system and payment processor used by many small businesses because it is an affordable, all-in-one solution. However, there are many alternatives to Square that may better serve your business’s needs. It’s going to largely depend on where you’re taking payments and how much you’re willing to spend for convenience.
Top 6 Square Competitors 2019
|Clover||Businesses needing an all-in-one solution with both a POS and payment processor|
|PayPal||Plug-and-play payment processing alternative with reduced prices for non profit organizations|
|Shopify||Ecommerce businesses wanting a POS and ecommerce platform with built-in payment processing|
|Loyverse||Small cafes and restaurants wanting a free POS with built-in loyalty program|
|Stripe||Online businesses that want a free customizable payment processing solution|
|Lightspeed||Bigger businesses that want detailed reporting and inventory management|
Which Payments Provider Is Right For You?
Who Square Is Right For
Square’s low cost and easy-to-use programs make it a great fit for new and startup businesses looking to keep costs down, businesses like market vendors and food trucks that need mobile payment processing, and cafes and small brick-and-mortar businesses. Square’s flat-rate payment processing fees also make it a great fit for any business that has average transactions below $20. It’s completely free to create a Square account and test the features for yourself.
What Does Square Offer?
Square is a free POS app with built-in payment processing. It can be used on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones for in-store and mobile payments. Everyone that signs up for a free Square account also receives a free magstripe card reader, so there are little to no upfront costs to run your business with Square. Square also comes with a free basic ecommerce store. Through the free POS system, businesses can manage products, inventory, customer directory, build an ecommerce website, and view analytics.
Square Payment Processing
Square has a built-in payment processing system that charges a flat-rate fee per transaction. With Square, businesses don’t need to apply for a separate merchant services account. Everything you need to process credit cards and receive funds is built right into the Square system. Here are some of the pros and cons of using Square to accept payments.
Square Payments Pros
- No monthly fee: Square Payments is completely free to set up
- Only pay for what you use: Square Payments doesn’t have a monthly fee or minimum; pay a percentage of whatever transactions you process
- Flat, predictable rate: Square has one flat rate, so businesses don’t have to worry about paying higher fees for certain types of cards
- Fast deposits: Square automatically deposits funds from transactions into your bank account within one to two business days
- Free card reader: When businesses sign up for a Square account, you receive a free magstripe card reader that can be used on an iPhone, Android, or iPad
- Easy set up: To use Square, business needs to download the Square app and connect the card reader
- Offline payments: If you lose internet connection, Square can still accept swiped payments while offline
Square Payments Cons
- More expensive: Square’s flat rates are not the lowest on the market so that businesses could get a better rate from another provider
- Flat rate: Many providers offer volume discounts for bigger businesses
- Limited support: Square’s phone support is not 24/7, so businesses that need immediate support may not be able to receive it
In addition to its free payment platform, Square also has a free POS system. When you set up a Square account, you receive both the payments and the POS system automatically. They work together in the same app. Here are some of the pros and cons of using Square’s POS system:
Square POS Pros
- Free: Many POS systems similar to Square have a monthly fee in the ballpark of $60. Square, however, is free to use
- Easy to use: Square has a minimalistic design with larger buttons and icons that make it super easy to use with no training
- Includes basic ecommerce site: Businesses that use Square can set up a free ecommerce website to sell online
- Customer directory: Square automatically tracks customer via its payment method; businesses can create profiles for customers easily, including phone numbers
- Gift cards: Square has free digital gift cards that businesses can sell online
- Multiple devices: Some POS systems have limited users or businesses pay per license for each account; with Square, businesses can use the POS and accept payments on as many devices as they want
Square POS Cons
- Add-ons add up: Square includes many free features, but there are also paid features like loyalty programs, email marketing, employee management, and more that each cost $25 or more per month
- Limited support: Again, Square has limited hours for phone support, so some businesses may not receive urgent assistance when they need it
- Limited customization options: Square does not have any options for businesses to customize or brand the POS to look or function in ways that are unique to your business
When to Use a Square Alternative
Square is great for new businesses, small businesses, and businesses with low average ticket sales. However, if you are an online business, you will want to use an ecommerce platform. If you sell more expensive products or have high average transactions, such as artists, cash-based medical providers, or high-end boutiques, Square might be too expensive. Additionally, if you have tons of inventory and different products, you may want a system that is specifically designed to handle a large number of stock keeping units.
Clover: Best Square Alternative for All-in-One POS & Payment Processing Solution
Clover is a flexible web-based POS system with a built-in payment processor for small businesses. With Clover, businesses can make sales, manage inventory, and view reports. Clover is very similar to Square, except for the fact that Clover has monthly software fees and Clover has proprietary hardware.
Who Clover Is Right For
Clover is best for businesses that want an all-in-one POS and payment processor similar to Square, but with extra features like loyalty programs and card pre-authorizations built-in. Like Square, Clover also has a sleek, modern interface that is easy to use. Overall, Clover is a great match for people who want a solution that is similar to Square and are willing to invest in hardware costs upfront.
With Clover, businesses have several hardware options to choose from ranging from a mobile card processing system to a full-blown desktop register system. Prices range from $59 to $1,199. Unlike Square, which operates on iPads, Clover has required proprietary hardware. Clover also has built-in payment processing, with rates comparable to Square that range from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents.
Clover Tiered Pricing
Clover is more expensive compared to Square since Square has no monthly fee. Square’s payment processing is 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction, which is higher than Clover, but not enough to be more than the monthly fee Clover charges.
Clover is a cloud-based, customizable POS system and payment processor owned by First Data. Clover has all the basic functions of a POS including employee management and payroll, the ability to process sales offer discounts, and real-time reporting. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that Clover POS only works on proprietary Clover hardware, which you purchase from its website and comes preloaded with the POS software. Whereas Square and Loyverse are free apps that can be downloaded on different tablets and smartphones.
Specific Clover features include:
- Built-in payment processing for debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, and mobile payments
- Next day deposits
- Process payments offline
- Touch screen POS system
- Inventory and order management
- Set item-level taxes
- Ability to create custom loyalty programs
- Access built-in marketing tools like feedback and promotions
- Pre-authorize credit cards for reservations, bar tabs, cancellation policies, and so on
- Create customer profiles with contact information, birthday, and so on
- Send custom promotions via text and email
- Manage employee schedules and shifts
- Set individual permission levels for each employee
- 24/7 phone support
- Add additional features with integrations from Clover’s App Market
What Clover Is Missing
Clover is a robust system. There are a lot of different apps that businesses can add on to their Clover system to customize it, so there isn’t a lot that is missing. However, investing in Clover hardware is a downside for some business owners, especially if you already own tablets from using another POS system.
Reviews for Clover itself are positive. Businesses like the sleek easy-to-use interface. However, First Data, the processing company behind Clover, does not have great reviews. Business owners report lengthy contracts and poor customer service. If you are happy using First Data, this will not be an issue. Visit our Clover reviews page for more feedback from business owners.
PayPal: Best Square Alternative for Flat-rate Payment Processing
PayPal is a free secure payment processing system. PayPal integrates with virtually all ecommerce platforms, its mobile solution comes with a free card reader, and businesses can set up PayPal to work with their POS system. All in all, PayPal’s payment processing solution is the closest direct alternative to Square’ flat-rate payment processing.
Who PayPal Is Right For
PayPal is best for verified charitable organizations and nonprofits because PayPal offers a discount for online payments. Instead of paying 2.9%, confirmed charity accounts only pay 2.2%. PayPal is also a good alternative for ecommerce businesses since many shoppers like having the option of paying via PayPal, instead of entering in their credit card information into sites directly. PayPal is also the best option or any business that want to accept PayPal payments.
PayPal has a fee structure that is very similar to Square. They both charge a comparable flat-rate transaction fee. However, PayPal is $.05 less than Square for basic swiped card payments and offers an even lower price for nonprofit organizations, which is unique.
PayPal vs. Square Payment Processing Fees
|Startup, monthly, cancellation fees|
|Fee per swipe|
|Fee for keyed sales|
|Fee for online payments|
|Fee for nonprofit online payments|
Note: Square has recently changed its flat-rate fee of 2.75% to 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. We will update the pricing and our ranking of providers in the next update of this article.
PayPal is a great direct payment processing alternative to Square. They have similar costs, and both come with a free magstripe reader. The main differences are Square has an offline mode, whereas PayPal does not. However, PayPal offers a secure online payment solution that integrates directly with virtually any ecommerce platform. Both Square and PayPal also let you create very similar invoices online and email them to your customers. Where PayPal stands out is with the discounted payment processing for nonprofits.
Specific PayPal features include:
- Accept debit and credit cards, PayPal and PayPal credit, Apple Pay, and more in-store, online, and over mobile.
- Free mobile POS app
- Free magstripe card reader for mobile sales.
- Flat-rate processing fees
- No monthly fees or transaction minimums
- No application required for payment processing and merchant account services
- Integrates with most major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify and WooCommerce
- Create invoices and collect invoice payments
- Receive funds from transactions within minutes
What PayPal Is Missing
PayPal’s POS system is not nearly as robust as Square’s. So, if you are looking for an all-in-one solution to help manage inventory and take payments, PayPal is not the best option for businesses that need an offline mode or manually type in credit card numbers. Otherwise, if you are accepting online payments or are a nonprofit, PayPal is a great option.
Reviews for PayPal are extremely positive. Both businesses and customers like that it is easy to use. Businesses like that PayPal accepts multiple currencies and that the payment processor can easily be set up on any website. Some negative reviews say that customer support can be lacking. Visit our PayPal Business reviews page to read more feedback from business owners.
Shopify: Best Square Alternative for eCommerce Businesses
Shopify is a POS system that lets businesses sell via multiple channels including in-store, online, and over social media. Shopify is a complete business management solution, including credit card processing, that offers multichannel sellers a more robust platform than Square, especially when it comes to selling online.
Who Shopify Is Right For
Shopify is known for being a robust ecommerce platform. Shopify also has built-in solutions to sell through social media. So, Shopify is a great fit for retailers that want ecommerce to be their primary sales channel or want to sell through multiple sales channels equally.
Shopify has several different plan options depending on the size and needs of your business. Shopify plans start at $9 per month, and all plans include the option to sell in-person. Shopify operates on iPads, which are purchased separately. Businesses can purchase other hardware like receipt printers and cash register through Shopify with free 30-day returns.
Shopify Tiered Pricing vs. Square
|Online Card Rates|
|In-Person Card Rates|
Note: Square has recently changed its flat-rate fee of 2.75% to 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. We will update the pricing and our ranking of providers in the next update of this article.
Shopify and Square both work best on iPads when it comes to in-store selling. With Shopify, businesses can also sell on websites, social channels like Facebook, on blogs, and over email. Shopify also helps businesses manage shipping and track inventory across the multiple sales channels seamlessly. Overall, Shopify is a great option for businesses that primarily sell online or sell both online and in-store.
Shopify’s features include:
- POS and built-in payment processing works on iPad, iPhone, and Android
- Accept all major credit and debit cards, gift cards, and create custom payment types like points or IOUs
- Online, in-store, mobile, and social media selling
- eCommerce features including abandoned cart recovery
- Shipping tools and discounted shipping prices
- Custom promotions, discounts, and tracking
- Integrate with popular accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero
- Create multiple staff logins with secure PIN passcodes
- Create customer profiles and automatically synch in-store and online customers
- Email marketing campaigns
- Supports existing barcodes and can create new ones
- Organize products by type, season, category, sale, and so on
- Manage all inventory from every sales channel all in one place
- Detailed retail analytics and reporting available
- Mobile dashboard app to track trends, manage inventory, and contact customers on the go
- 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat
What Shopify Is Missing
Shopify is an excellent online sales platform. However, it does not have an offline sale mode for in-store sales. That means if the internet goes out, or you are selling at a market without a solid internet connection, you may not be able to process sales. Square, on the other hand, can accept swiped card payments with no internet.
Overall, Shopify has excellent reviews. It is a very popular platform used by many businesses nationwide. Users love the inventory management functions on the ecommerce platform, and the ability to sell on social media channels easily. Visit our Shopify reviews page for more feedback from business owners.
Loyverse: Best POS Square Alternative with a Built-in Loyalty Program
Loyverse is a free POS app that includes a decent amount of sales, inventory management, and payment features including a loyalty program. Loyverse can be used on any Apple or Android phone, tablet, or desktop. Loyverse POS is comparable to Square and includes many POS functions for managing food orders, making it a good Square alternative for cafes.
Who Loyverse Is Right For
Loyverse is a good alternative to Square for businesses and cafes that are looking for a free POS system that has a built-in loyalty program. If you have a high volume of transactions, shopping around for a more affordable credit card processor can save a lot of money. Loyverse also has cafe- and restaurant-specific functions such as a free kitchen display app, the ability to assign tickets to tables in your cafe in one click and manage open tickets by splitting, merging, and moving items between tickets.
Loyverse is free to download and use. Since it can be used on any Apple or Android device, businesses don’t necessarily have to purchase any hardware. If you need hardware like cash drawers, printers, or tablet stands, you can purchase devices wherever you find a good deal. Unlike Square, Loyverse does not include credit card processing, so business will need to find a separate merchant services provider.
The free Loyverse app is packed with features including inventory management, sales analytics, and order customization options for cafe and restaurants. Setup is quick and easy – businesses need to download the Loyverse app. In minutes, you can be adding menu items, importing inventory, setting up employee accounts, and managing a customer directory.
Other than appearances in the interface, the main difference between Loyverse and Square is that Square is an all-in-one solution that provides payment processing whereas Loyverse does not. Selecting a separate payment processing solution allows business to shop around for a better rate.
Specific Loyverse features include:
- Free POS app for iOS and Android
- Choose your own payment processing solutions
- POS has inventory management with easy barcode scanning, and the ability to create, save, and edit tickets.
- Quickly import thousands of inventory items through CSV files, track inventory, create low stock alerts, built purchase orders, and run inventory valuation reports
- Set employee level permissions, access rights, time cards, and more
- Create a customer database, point-based loyalty program, and add notes to customer profiles
- Free Back Office app for sales analytics and reports
- Free Kitchen Display app for displaying order tickets in restaurant and cafe kitchens
- Free Customer display app for showing order details, pricing info, and reward points at the time of purchase, and collecting email addresses.
What Loyverse Is Missing
There is not a whole lot missing from Loyverse. However, it does not have nearly as many third-party integrations as Square. For example, Square has more solutions for ecommerce, bookkeeping, and email. If you are considering Loyverse, check to see if any programs you are currently using will integrate.
Reviews for Loyverse are very positive. Users like that the inventory functions are easy to use, and that businesses can choose what hardware, if any, they want to use with Loyverse POS. However, some negative reviews say the program is now user-friendly. Visit our Loyverse reviews page for more feedback from business owners.
Lightspeed: Best POS Square Alternative for Growing Businesses
Lightspeed POS is a robust POS system with advanced inventory features and capabilities for multilocation management that make it an ideal system for larger businesses. Lightspeed’s advanced inventory features handle thousands of products, bundled items, vendor catalogs, and more in detail.
Who Lightspeed Is Right For
Lightspeed is a good fit for any larger retail or restaurant business. Lightspeed is also great for businesses with multiple locations because business owners can manage inventory and views sales data from every location right on the same desktop screen. However, at $99 per month, a new business that is starting out, or a business that doesn’t have a ton of different products probably wouldn’t need Lightspeed.
Lightspeed starts at $99/month, which is a far-cry from Square’s $0 monthly fee. Lightspeed does not have built-in payment processing, so businesses will have to use a separate provider such as Cayan. That also means businesses can shop around for lower rates. Lightspeed works on iPads, iPhones, and Android devices plus Macs and PCs.
Lightspeed is a pricey POS compared to Square and does not have built-in payment processing. But features like advanced reporting and inventory management and the ability to manage multiple locations from one dashboard make it a good investment for larger businesses.
Specific Lightspeed features include:
- Robust POS system for iPad or desktop
- More than 40 sales and inventory reports including for best-selling products, profit margins, and more
- Employee performance reports to identify top sales staff and plan for rush hours
- Inventory management, including easy import and export functions
- Product catalogs to place orders directly through Lightspeed
- Customer directory with profiles, purchase history, lifetime value, and more
- Compare store locations, transfer stock, and view data across all locations
- eCommerce platform that integrates with POS
- One-on-one onboarding session, webinars, and 24/7 support, all of which are included
What Lightspeed Is Missing
Lightspeed is robust. However, there are some features like loyalty programs that are an additional fee. Retailers that have more than five employees will also have to pay for additional logins. Since Lightspeed starts at $99/month, these extra costs can add up. However, Lightspeed does not have a built-in payment processor, which in this case could be a benefit, because retailers can search out providers that offer volume processing discounts.
Overall, Lightspeed reviews are positive. Business owners like the inventory management features and the level of detail and consideration that went into designing some extra features, however, some reviewers say that the program is not customizable, and business owners would like the ability to adjust minor things. For full details and more feedback from business owners, visit our Lightspeed reviews page.
Stripe: Best Square Alternative for Online Payments
Stripe is an industry-leading online payment processing solution used by high-volume enterprise sellers and small businesses alike. Stripe focuses exclusively on online payments and offers a wide variety of payment options than Square, including automated clearing house (ACH) credit and debit payments, wire payments, and global online payments such as AliPay. Overall, Stripe is a great Square alternative for online-only businesses that want a variety of options to collect payments.
Who Stripe Is Right For
Overall, Stripe offers many more online payments features than Square, especially if you are looking to build custom solutions or have a business model that requires something more complex like subscriptions or memberships. However, if you are looking to sell and products in-person or want a basic online solution that offers both an ecommerce platform and payments processing, Stripe is not for you.
Stripe pricing structure is similar to Square’s in that businesses only pay a flat-rate fee for the transactions it processes as there are no startup, monthly, or cancellation fees. Stripe’s standard transaction fee is 2.9% plus 30 cents is equivalent to the online payments’ fees for Square and PayPal, except for PayPal’s nonprofit discount. Because Stripe is online-only, there are no hardware fees. Stripe’s ACH and echeck fees are .80%, capped at $5 per transaction.
Stripe vs. Square Payment Processing Fees
|Startup, monthly, cancellation fees|
|Fee for online card payments|
|Fee for ACH & echeck payments|
Stripe is a good online payment solution for small, medium, and large businesses that want a custom solution. The biggest difference between Square and Stripe in terms of features is that while Square is geared toward in-person selling, Stripe is exclusively for online businesses. Stripe also accepts ACH payments, which is not a feature Square offers.
Specific Stripe features include:
- Accepts all major credit can debit card payments, ACH payments, AliPay, and international cards
- Customizable payment solutions including the ability to store payment info for recurring billing, payment plans, subscriptions, and memberships
- Can create in-app payment solutions
- Receive funds from transactions on a two-day rolling basis
- Can opt for a weekly or monthly deposit schedule
- Does not offer any kind of POS or user interface; Stripe is meant to be coded into or integrated with another website, app, or ecommerce platform
What Stripe Is Missing
Stripe is a very robust online payment processor but does not have any in-person payment processing options for mobile or brick-and-mortar retailers. Stripe is also purely a payment processing solution and does not have any POS functionality. Businesses looking for an all-in-one solution would be better served using Square.
Reviews for Stripe are very positive. Users like that the platform is flexible, easy to use, and can work with nearly any ecommerce platform or website. Some negative reviews say that customer support can be slow to respond. Visit our Stripe reviews page for more feedback from business owners.
The Bottom Line
There are many options to choose from when it comes to selecting POS and payment processing solution for your business. The first step is determining your main sales platform (online, in-person, multichannel) and which features are most important to you like inventory management, marketing, and employee management. From there, you should be able to narrow down your best options.
Our top choice for small business POS and payment processing solution is Square because it has no monthly fee, is easy to set up, and is super simple to use. It is a great fit for new businesses, mobile businesses, and businesses with small average transactions. Plus, businesses are never locked into any long-term contract. Visit Square to set up your free account today.