Square vs Stripe: Comparing Features, Costs, and Reviews
As the global payments industry continues to expand, the United States credit card industry has also racked up impressive growth. On January 3, 2023, market research firm Insider Intelligence reported that United States 2022 credit card volumes reached $3.089 trillion.
To process this huge volume of transactions, many businesses work with payment service providers (or PSPs) and financial institutions. Square and Stripe are both PSPs, but they each have a different market focus. They also offer different features packages and pricing.
Here, you can learn more about both brands’ offerings and decide which one is right for your business needs.
Square vs Stripe: An Overview
The Square and Stripe payment solutions enable countless American small businesses to accept digital payments. This Square vs Stripe overview will help business owners (including startups) to choose the right payment processor for their business needs.
The Square payment platform enables in-person sellers to offer point-of-sale system (or POS system) payment processing. Craft show vendors and mobile plumbers are good examples. Square also provides eCommerce businesses with customizable websites that can process online transactions from an online store.
Both Square payment methods process credit card payments and debit cards for the same affordable rate. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards are welcome. This rate structure also includes ACH payments.
The Square Payments package includes the hardware and software needed to process payments. The Square app can easily be downloaded onto an iPad, iPhone, or Android platform. Square’s magstripe card reader plugs into either platform’s headset jack. The Square payouts function enables a business to be paid on the next business day at no extra charge.
The Stripe payment platform processes payments for brick-and-mortar businesses and online businesses. Stripe also executes payments for subscription-based services, marketplaces, and software platforms.
Businesses with access to developer tools can configure Stripe to accept numerous payment methods. The developer-friendly Stripe payment platform is essentially an online payment API. Customizable payment plugins are available for billing, contactless payments, and international payments.
Finally, Stripe easily syncs with third-party websites such as WordPress, WooCommerce, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Shopify. Online businesses frequently use the Stripe API during checkout.
Square vs Stripe: Features
Square and Stripe are both payment service providers (or PSPs). This designation is different from a merchant account provider that handles payment processing services for a bank.
A payment service provider aggregates all card transaction proceeds into one large account. From there, the PSP transfers each client’s net proceeds into their business bank account (less the processing fee).
Both PSPs accept multiple payment options. Square and Stripe enable small businesses to process credit card payments, ACH payments, and digital wallet payments. Recurring billing transactions and Buy Now, Pay Later transactions are also supported. Both PSPs support online payments, eCommerce platforms, and eCommerce integrations. Each provider’s services can be accessed via a mobile app.
Clients can choose from pre-set checkouts or customize their own checkout experience. Square and Stripe both offer flat-rate pricing to businesses. Both providers’ transaction fees are in the average range but are not the lowest in the industry. Square and Stripe do not assess set-up fees or monthly fees to their users.
Both Square and Stripe offer PCI compliance for transaction processing. This means each PSP adheres to predetermined data security protocols. Therefore, the PSP’s software, hardware, payment gateway, and support infrastructure are configured to protect customers’ sensitive personal information.
What is the function of a payment gateway?
An electronic payment gateway passes card transaction details from the merchant to the participating banks. The specific card network facilitates the information transfer.
Besides transaction support, Square and Stripe both provide clients with invoicing tools. Developer tools enable clients to execute numerous software integrations.
Additional Square features
When clients open a Square account, they receive free POS system software. POS hardware is available at affordable pricing. Users also receive a free website integrated with Square online payment processing software. Other features include:
- Multiple budget-friendly hardware options
- Industry-focused software options
- Optional Square Online eCommerce store package
- A suite of inventory tools
- Customer management tools
- Project scheduling tools
- Multiple resources tools
Additional Stripe features
Stripe requires installation on a separate app or website. Stripe users should also have well-rounded technical knowledge. Other features include:
- Advanced payment security add-ons
- Support for non-U.S. local payment methods
- Acceptance of certain international cards transactions
- Support for multicurrency processing (135+ currencies)
- Advanced customization add-ons
Square vs Stripe: Integrations
Software integrations, or application integrations, help business owners to link related applications. With the key components in place, businesses should have optimal functionality.
Stripe is compatible with 710 business integrations. These include operations, finance, payments, and marketing applications. In fact, Stripe is renowned for its easy integrations with third-party apps.
Square is compatible with 150 applications in 16 categories. Although Stripe has far more integrations in its toolkit, Square incorporates its own POS software.
Stripe vs Square: Ease of Use
In the Stripe vs Square debate, it’s important to note that the two providers cater to different user types. Non-technical business owners should find Square software easy to use. Maybe the user wants to add credit card processing to their retail store. Square provides all-in-one POS solutions that accept all major payment types.
Alternatively, maybe the business owner wants to build an eCommerce website from the ground up. Square also makes this process simple and straightforward.
In contrast, Stripe relies on multiple third-party tools. This means non-technical users may be left scratching their heads during the set-up process.
However, Stripe is the clear winner in the developer tools category. Coding-savvy business owners will find that Stripe offers many more developer tools. In-house or contract developers will also appreciate Stripe’s varied offerings.
Stripe vs Square: Pricing Comparison
Stripe and Square differ in their pricing models. Stripe offers two options that cater to different user types. Square offers four plans with progressively higher-level features.
Stripe offers two primary pricing plans. The integrated plan serves eCommerce business owners who wish to take credit card payments. No monthly fees or hidden fees are charged to the users.
The Stripe customized plan invites customers to design their own features package. This may be a good option for larger companies with numerous international customers.
Square offers four pricing plans, each with different features:
- Free Plan: Ideal for quickly creating a website and selling online.
- Professional Plan: Offers a custom domain and no Square ads on the website’s free version. Password-protected pages are also included.
- Performance Plan: Allows PayPal payments. This plan also includes abandoned cart tools, higher-level reporting tools, and product reviews.
- Premium Plan: Offers reduced credit card processing fees. Customers benefit from lower shipping fees and real-time shipping data. This plan is ideal for larger companies that require advanced features.
Stripe vs Square: Transaction fee structure
Stripe and Square have relatively similar transaction fees. However, there are a few subtle differences:
Stripe transaction fees
- Stripe online payment fees: 3.40% + $0.30 for each credit card
- Stripe in-person payment fees: 2.70% + $0.10 for each credit card
- Stripe ACH payment fees: 0.80% for each ACH transfer
Square transaction fees
- Square online payment fees: 2.90% + $0.30 for each credit card
- Square in-person payment fees: 2.60% + $0.10 for each credit card
- Square ACH payment fees: 1.00% for each ACH transfer
Stripe vs Square: Other applicable fees
Both Stripe and Square advertise their lack of administrative fees. There are no Stripe charges for a set-up fee or monthly fee. In addition, Stripe doesn’t assess an extra charge for mobile payments including Apple Pay and Google Pay. However, Stripe assesses chargeback fees for business owners who get hit with a chargeback.
Square doesn’t charge a fee for using the Square POS app. Each user receives their initial Square reader free of charge. Business owners who desire to create a Square online store will pay a monthly fee and related charges.
Square vs Stripe: Pros and Cons
Square and Stripe each have their upsides and downsides. By objectively evaluating each payment service provider, a business owner can decide which option better suits their needs.
- Possesses an impressive suite of features
- Facilitates coordination of retail and eCommerce sales channels
- Allows creation of detailed customer invoices
- Enables inventory tracking from a mobile device
- Offers short learning curve for non-technical business owners
- Startup-friendly pricing plans don’t suit larger, higher-volume businesses
- Lack of timely customer support means longer response and resolution times
- Limited customer support for international transactions
- Lack of single-account support for numerous currencies
- Instant payment notifications and short deposit time frames
- Seamless credit card processing refunds and chargebacks
- Top-tier developer, reporting, and subscription tools
- Integration with most premier websites
- The customizable system works with hundreds of API settings and integrations
- Geared to international merchants who desire multicurrency support
- User must have technical skills or third-party software
- No discounted rates at a lower volume threshold
- Inadequate ways to input data from non-Stripe payments
- Heavy use of advanced features brings higher costs
- Complex, confusing reporting can result in reconciliation issues
- Barely adequate POS system support
Square vs Stripe: Customer Support
Good customer support can be worth its weight in gold. When business owners encounter a credit card processing problem, they want it resolved immediately. Ideally, their service provider offers phone support or chat support during all the business’ operating hours.
Stripe offers 24/7 phone and chat support. Business owners can also send an email, access the Stripe knowledge base, or browse the educational blog.
Square offers Monday through Friday phone support. The company also offers automated chat support and a knowledge base.
Customer Ratings and Reviews
Independent customer reviews help prospective clients to evaluate a company before deciding whether to work with them. Square’s Trustpilot reviews and Stripe’s Trustpilot reviews report customers’ experiences with their respective payment providers. While Square has a rating of 4.1 based on 3,758 reviews, Stripe has a rating of 3.3 based on 11,298 reviews on Trustpilot.
Square vs Stripe: Which Is the Better Overall Solution?
Certain businesses may find that Square best suits their needs. Other companies may think Stripe is the better choice. Here’s how they stack up based on four different criteria:
Best in-person hardware and POS system solution: Square
Hands down, Square is the better choice. The company was designed to provide small businesses with in-person payment processing services. Although Stripe is upgrading its in-person services, Square is the winner.
Best for online payments: Stripe
Stripe provides businesses of all sizes with custom eCommerce solutions. Stripe also offers hundreds of APIs to help developers meet clients’ needs. Although Square is making inroads here, Stripe is the better choice today.
Best for quick set-up and easy use: Square
Square is the clear winner here. Non-technical business owners will find it easy to set up their systems and process payments. Although Stripe provides basic functionality, business owners without a technical background may have a steep learning curve.
Best for software integrations: Stripe
Square offers a well-rounded suite of integrations that may suit many business needs. However, Stripe is a developer-friendly platform that syncs with a wide selection of third-party software. Stripe has hundreds of integrations in its toolkit.
Where Square and Stripe are tied
- Acceptance of multiple payment methods: Both providers accept standard and alternative payment methods
- Security: Both providers advertise their PCI compliance
- Affordability: Flat-rate pricing is about even; the most affordable option depends on transaction processing habits and volume
Is Square or Stripe Better than PayPal?
Small businesses that process in-person transactions will find that Square is a better option than PayPal. Smaller merchants will see that a hefty PayPal transaction fee eats up their in-person payments profits.
Stripe and PayPal are both designed for an online payment structure. PayPal may be the better choice for a smaller eCommerce business. Stripe is a better payment option for enterprise-level companies.
Square vs Stripe: 8 Factors to Consider
When choosing between Square and Stripe, companies should keep these eight factors in mind. Businesses of different sizes and stages will likely have varied priorities.
- Acceptance of multiple payment methods
- Hardware and software suitability
- Business integrations and APIs
- Ease of use for non-technical business owners
- Pricing fit with business goals and budget
- System scalability for projected business growth
- Customer support quality and availability
- Positive reviews from similar businesses
Selecting the right payment service provider is a major decision. Budget-conscious small businesses can benefit from a full-service PSP that saves them money. Larger, high-volume companies want a PSP that can support their scale and growth. Payment Depot easily meets both groups’ needs. Even better, the company is known for its second-to-none customer service. To learn how you can save more on credit card processing every month, contact Payment Depot today.