Square dominates the mobile payment-processing industry, handling $26.8 billion in payments for the second quarter. It’s an industry titan, but Square isn’t the only mobile processing player in the game: There are Square competitors.
Indeed, mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems are on the rise. While certain industries, such as food trucks and fast-casual restaurants, utilize mobile payment processing more than others, the benefits of these systems are ideal for businesses in many industries.
Alternatives to Square
If you’ve ever swiped your credit card through a small white square device plugged into a smartphone, you’re already familiar with Square. But competition abounds.
Here are some Square alternatives:
Intuit’s QuickBooks Payments vs. Square
Intuit’s flagship accounting software QuickBooks has been a major player in the small business finance game. Besides advanced bookkeeping services, Inuit offers a mobile payment system called QuickBooks Payments.
In addition to downloading the app, users will need a card reader. Intuit offers two options:
- A chip and magstripe reader — the first of which is free, with additional units costing $19.
- A chip, magstripe and contactless reader, which costs $49.
The ability to integrate with QuickBooks accounting software is ideal for many small business owners, giving them the ability to do everything from tracking income to paying bills.
PayPal Here vs. Square
PayPal dominates the online payment realm, so it should come as no surprise the company launched its own mobile credit-card reader service, too.
Through Dec. 31, you can get a chip and swipe card reader for free (normally $24.99) when you sign up for PayPal Here. PayPal offers four different card reader options, including one that has a keypad that customers can use to enter their pin number.
If your business already relies on PayPal to process online payments, the card reader is easy to integrate. As with QuickBooks, PayPal offers a variety of easy-to-use tools for small business owners.
Verifone vs. Square
While not as widely known as Square or some of the other competitors, Verifone is indeed a contender. One big thing that sets Verifone apart is its sheer range of products. It does more than equip small business owners with smartphone-enabled POS systems: Verifone offers advanced payment processing and personal identification number (PIN) systems.
Some Verifone options include:
- Integrated POS
- Handheld mobile POS systems
- Counter systems and PIN pads
- Portable swipe and PIN pads
- Unattended payment systems
Several Verifone mobile payment services are self-sufficient, meaning that they won’t need to be integrated with a smartphone.
ShopKeep vs. Square
ShopKeep offers many of the same standard services you’ll find from the other mobile payment services. You can process payments as well as:
- Offer and process gift cards.
- Manage employee hours.
- Track inventory, including the ability to track raw goods, set up alerts for when your product stock is getting low, check your profitability for specific items and more.
One drawback; ShopKeep’s analytics app is only available on iPad.
Clover vs. Square
If you have employees running your POS system who would have to use their personal devices to make sales, or if you don’t want to use your personal phone for business purposes, you need an alternative. That’s where Clover Flex comes in. Clover Flex is a small, handheld system that can be used with all payment types. Its features include:
- Scanning barcodes
- Printing receipts
- Managing tables and guests at restaurants
- Accepting gift cards
- Promoting deals and discounts
Clover also offers the ability to fully customize their POS system to fit a company’s unique needs. For small businesses who don’t need these advanced options, there’s also Clover Go, a Bluetooth card reader for magstripe, chip and contactless pay.
Stripe vs. Square
Perhaps the only competitor on this list that’s as well known as Square, Stripe has been used by big corporate names, including:
While Stipe’s main industry is online payment processing, it has entered the mobile payment game with its own card readers. The company offers several mobile card readers and larger, independent systems.
Stripe’s optimized transaction acceptance system means that when a transaction is declined, the system automatically retries the payment through various different connections. Stripe also allows customers to cancel their accounts with no penalties or fees, a plus for small businesses.
However, customers have reported that account freezes or even cancelations are common — and often come with little notice. Stripe doesn’t offer a free card reader. Systems start at $59 per device.
Square Competitor Fees
Square’s fees are some of the most competitive on the market. For in-person transactions using the basic Square reader for magstripe, you’ll pay 2.75%.
If you are manually entering a credit-card number or using a card that’s already on file for a client for a recurring payment, you’ll pay 3.5% and 15-cents a transaction.
While these numbers clearly aren’t an issue for the millions of customers using Square, they aren’t the only affordable option out there.
QuickBooks Payments Fees
Compared to Square, QuickBooks’ rates are particularly competitive. For online transactions, the fees are:
- 2.4% plus 30 cents and a rate of 3.5% and 30-cents per manually entered transaction for the pay-as-you-go plan
- $20 per month and rates of 1.6% and 3.3% plus a 30-cent transaction fee for the monthly plan
The monthly plan is only available to customers utilizing the QuickBooks Desktop program. In the long run, QuickBooks’ fees beat out Square for businesses who frequently process large transactions.
PayPal Here Fees
These are similar to Square’s fees:
- 2.7% per card swipe
- 3.5% with a 15-cent fee per transaction for scanned or manually entered payments
Verifone doesn’t publish their fee structure. Instead, they operate on a quote system. Interested businesses can request a custom quote for their services.
ShopKeep handles its transaction fees differently than any other option on the market. Rather than charging for each individual transaction, they charge a monthly rate. You can choose from three options, ranging from a basic package to an advanced, multi-register system:
- $69 per month, per register for the Basic package, including basic reporting, unlimited employees, inventory and transactions, and 24/7 support
- $99 per month, per register for the Essential package, including advanced reporting, use of the mobile reporting app, QuickBooks-integrated accounting, online ordering, invoices, email marketing, e-commerce store, the ability to create and offer gift cards, and free training sessions
- $199 per month for the Advanced package, which includes everything in the Essential package, as well as unlimited registers, priority phone support, and online business listings
Clover’s processing fees are a bit different from Square’s, making them difficult to compare. With Clover, you’ll pay a monthly fee, which is $14 for the Clover Register Lite software and $29 for the Clover Register software. After that, you’ll pay:
- 2.7% and 10-cents per in-person transaction with the Lite software
- 3.5% and 10-cents per manually entered transactions with the Lite software
- 2.3% and 10-cents per in-person transaction with the Register software
- 3.5% and 10-cents per manually entered transaction with the Register software
Stripe’s fees are comparable to Square’s fees, at rates of:
- 2.9% and a 30-cent fee per transaction for online payments or manual entries
- 2.7%, with a 5-cent fee for in-person credit-card processing
Comparing Square Alternatives
When it comes to choosing a mobile payment system, there’s hardly a one-size-fits-all solution. Comparing Square with its competitors will help choose the mobile POS system best suited to your small business.