Square is a free point-of-sale (POS) system and payment processor loved by many small businesses because it’s an affordable, all-in-one solution. Though the company once dominated the market, many Square competitors now offer comparable products and services. Depending on your business, you may find better functionality or a lower price point using an alternative.
The best Square alternatives are:
- Clover: Best low-cost Square alternative with fully integrated POS for retail, restaurant, and service businesses
- Lightspeed: Best for growing storefronts needing advanced inventory or multi-location management
- Stripe: Best Square alternative for highly customizable online payment processing
- PayPal: Best Square alternative for mobile payments
- Shopify: Best Square alternative for ecommerce and retail businesses
- Loyverse: Best free POS Square alternative for cafes and small shops
- Payment Depot: Best Square alternative for lowering payment processing fees
When to Use Square
|Free to get started||Some Square competitors have lower processing fees|
|Quick and easy setup||Not very customizable|
|Offline payments||Basic ecommerce functions|
|No monthly fee||Limited inventory management features|
Square is one of the best POS systems and best credit card processors, especially for new and small businesses. The first card reader is free, and it’s also ideal for mobile businesses like merchants who sell at markets and events, food trucks, or pop-up shops. Square offers flat payment processing rates, so it’s easy to predict costs.
Square also offers other business tools—like marketing, payroll, and email marketing—and has more powerful industry-specific POS software—namely Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, and Square Appointments with free and pro-level plans. So, for many small businesses, Square can grow with you.
In particular, Square is our top-recommended product for:
- Small business POS systems
- Mobile POS systems
- Mobile payment processing
- Merchant services
- Retail POS systems
- Food truck POS systems
To learn more about whether Square is right for you, read our full Square POS review.
When to Use a Square Competitor
It’s likely time to use a Square alternative once your business has started to grow and you’re in it for the long haul. There are Square competitors better suited to meet your growing needs.
Have a preferred merchant account and are ready to invest in hardware
Clover offers low-cost, fully integrated software bundled with proprietary hardware
Are planning on adding more storefronts or inventory
Lightspeed offers the best POS system for inventory management
Have complex billing needs
Stripe offers a highly customizable online checkout solution
Need a strong online sales component
Shopify is our recommended ecommerce platform, and offers a great multichannel POS
Consistently process over $10,000 in monthly sales
Payment Depot will likely offer you the cheapest credit card processing rates
If you haven’t grown beyond Square but are looking for a different solution that has similar features, Loyverse is a good free POS alternative (though it doesn’t come with built-in payment processing) and PayPal offers a popular mobile and online payment solution.
Clover: Best Square Alternative for Fully Integrated POS
Clover is a top Square alternative because it offers a lot of the same features and benefits. It features an advanced and all-in-one POS and payment processor plus customer loyalty programs, employee scheduling, and proprietary hardware.
Unlike Square software, which only works with Square Payments, Clover can be purchased through many different merchant account providers. So, it’s best for businesses that want to choose their own payment processor or have an existing merchant account. Clover also comes with a monthly fee that businesses should keep in mind when budget planning.
Like Square, Clover is cloud-based and offers everything that a standard POS does, including payment processing, inventory management, and analytics reporting. It also includes advanced customer loyalty, order management, and employee scheduling features, more comprehensive and integrated than what Square can offer. Other features include:
- Credit card pre-authorization
- Next-day deposits
- Offline payment processing
- Customer profiles and promotions
- User permissions
Read our side-by-side Clover vs Square comparison for more details on how Clover stacks up to Square.
Lightspeed: Best Square Alternative for Advanced Inventory
Lightspeed is the best Square alternative for businesses that have outgrown Square’s inventory management capabilities. It tops the list of our most recommended POS inventory solutions for its advanced inventory features that can handle multiple revenue streams and also makes our list of top multichannel POS systems. For its restaurant software, Lightspeed’s inventory tools make it an excellent choice as a bakery POS with multiple locations.
Lightspeed is a cloud-based POS software that sets the standard for inventory management. It comes with strong reporting features and analytics tools that every growing business needs as it scales. You’ll also find a suite of integrations to easily customize the system based on your requirements.
Lightspeed’s most notable features include:
- Advanced matrix inventory
- Multi-location management
- Ecommerce platform
- Built-in and customizable reports
- Automated data visualization
- Built-in purchase ordering
- Automated return management
- Over 3,000 pre-loaded vendor catalogs
Stripe: Best Square Alternative for Online Payments
Stripe is a solid Square alternative to process online payments for businesses of all sizes. It offers open API software that allows businesses with the technical resources to build and customize a branded checkout experience, making it a top payment gateway for its customizability. Stripe is also our most recommended B2B payment solution because of the variety of payment types and billing processes it is compatible with.
Stripe started as an online-only platform and is a popular choice for online custom checkout but has since released Stripe Terminal to accommodate in-person payments as well.
Stripe is the best Square competitor for businesses with the resources needed to customize the checkout experience. With open APIs and no integrated hardware, Stripe is meant to seamlessly connect to your existing tech stack and process payments. Unlike most of the other options on this list, Stripe is strictly a payment processor. As such, its POS features are extremely basic (pretty much non-existent when compared to most Square alternatives).
Specific Stripe features include:
- Customizable in-app checkouts
- Recurring billing, payment plans, subscriptions, and memberships
- Receive funds from transactions on a two-day rolling basis
- Choose from a weekly or monthly deposit schedule
Read our side-by-side Stripe vs Square comparison for more details on how Stripe compares to Square.
PayPal: Best Square Alternative With a Quick and Easy Setup
PayPal is another well-known Square alternative, offering secure in-person and online payment processing options at a flat rate and with no monthly fee. It makes our list of best payment gateways as the most trusted option for small businesses. PayPal also integrates with several POS systems so merchants can use it in a retail environment as one of the easiest means to accept recurring payments. One differentiator for PayPal is that many consumers already have PayPal accounts, so it allows for easy one-click payments. Likewise, merchants with PayPal accounts can have instant access to their cash.
PayPal and Square are similar in cost, offering a free first card reader, no setup or monthly fees, and similar payment processing rates. Many know and trust PayPal because of its advanced security features and reliability. Both Square and PayPal have invoicing features and a companion mobile app, as well as the ability to accept a variety of payment types.
Other PayPal features include:
- No transaction minimums
- No application required for payment processing and merchant account services
- Receive funds from transactions within minutes
- Discounted rates and “donate now” button for nonprofits
Read our side-by-side Square vs PayPal comparison for more details on how PayPal compares to Square.
Shopify: Best Square Alternative for Ecommerce
Shopify is the Square competitor with the most robust ecommerce offering, making it our top recommendation for best ecommerce platforms. Small businesses can build and customize a complete online store and use Shopify’s payment processing and POS tools to build a well-rounded retail command center.
Shopify also includes integrated social selling, local delivery, and curbside pickup options. In comparison to Square, Shopify offers more advanced and comprehensive features at a higher cost. It’s also our top pick for multichannel POS systems for native online businesses.
Shopify and Square both offer tightly integrated online and in-person payment solutions, along with POS features including inventory management, customer profiles, and gift cards. You can also build automated cart abandonment emails, create custom promotions and discounts, and leverage Shopify’s suite of shipping tools and services. It’s a great way for retailers to get started on other channels.
Shopify’s other features include:
- Staff logins with secure PIN passcodes
- Supports existing barcodes and can create new ones
- Organize products by type, season, category, sale, and so on
- Detailed retail analytics and reporting
- Mobile dashboard app to track trends, manage inventory, and contact customers on the go
- 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat
- Full line of proprietary hardware and also integrates with third-party hardware
To learn more about how Shopify’s POS, payment, and online store features compare to Square, read our full Shopify vs Square comparison.
Loyverse: Best Square Alternative for Free POS Software
Loyverse is a free POS and inventory management software dedicated to helping small food-based businesses like cafes and restaurants. Its built-in customer loyalty program sets it apart from Square, though other features are comparable, including order management, kitchen display systems (KDS), and cross-device compatibility. Loyverse also comes as an open-source POS system and includes features dedicated to managing tickets, including split bills, saved tickets, and menu modifications.
While Loyverse doesn’t offer built-in payment processing (you’ll need to shop around for the best compatible third-party partner), it does have powerful POS and inventory management features ideal for new and small food-based businesses. It’s easy to get up and running with the mobile app. In minutes, you can be adding menu items, importing inventory, setting up employee accounts, and managing a customer directory.
More specific Loyverse features include:
- Free POS app for iOS and Android
- Barcode scanning
- Create, save, and edit tickets
- Import CSV files, low stock alerts, purchase orders, and inventory valuation reports
- Employee level permissions, access rights, time cards, and more
To see how Loyverse stacks up to Square and other free POS systems, read our guide on the best free POS systems.
Payment Depot: Best Square Alternative for Low Transaction Fees
Payment Depot is one of the Square competitors on this list that uses a subscription-based membership model. Essentially, merchants pay a monthly fee in exchange for discounted wholesale payment processing rates. As such, Payment Depot offers some of the cheapest credit card processing for established businesses that process over $10,000 in sales every month. Payment Depot doesn’t offer a dedicated POS solution; like Stripe, it’s dedicated strictly to payment processing.
Payment Depot Features
Because Payment Depot is a focused payment processor rather than a POS solution, it offers many advanced features for processing. This includes a variety of accepted payment methods, next-day deposits, and seemingly infinite integration options. Chargebacks are also included in your monthly subscription, so there are no added chargeback fees like those that other Square alternatives apply.
More Payment Depot features include:
- Affordable processing rates
- Month-to-month contracts
- Flexible hardware integrations
- Free virtual terminal when used with Authorize.net
To see how Payment Depot compares to Square and other top payment processors, read our guide to the best merchant services for small businesses.
There are many Square competitors to choose from when it comes to selecting POS and payment processing solutions for your business. The first step is determining your main sales platform (online, in-person, multichannel) and which features are most important to you—inventory management, marketing, and employee management. From there, you should be able to narrow down your best options.
Though there are scenarios when you would want to use a Square alternative, overall, it is our top-recommended POS and payment processing solution. Square has no monthly fee, is easy to set up, and is super simple to use. It’s 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 create a free account.