Looking for an online payment processing provider? There are plenty to choose from, but if you do your homework, you’ll realize it’s pretty much a toss-up between Stripe vs. Square.

Although Stripe and Square provide both versatile and similar products, there’s a clear difference between the two. Here’s everything you need to know about Stripe vs. Square.

Stripe vs. Square: A Quick Comparison

Square vs. Stripe fees? They’re similar. Stripe charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per card charge. Square’s fees range from 2.6% plus 10 cents to 3.5% plus 15 cents, depending on the payment type. You won’t have to worry about getting hit by a higher card processing rate by choosing one over the other.

It’s free to create an account on both platforms, but you may need to pay a one-time charge or subscription fees to obtain their additional software. Square’s in-person payments also require you to buy their hardware.

There are 3 key differences between the two:

  1. Ease of use
  2. The ability to accept online vs. in-person payments
  3. The number of payment types they accept

Stripe is only available for online payments (although the company does feature a programmable in-person option for an extra fee), while Square can be used for both online and in-person payments.

In addition to accepting major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), both services accept mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay.

However, Stripe can accept Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments, some cryptocurrencies, and some other forms of payment, including multiple national currencies. Through its Sources application programming interface, Stripe can even accept payments from overseas processing platforms such as China’s AliPay and WeChat Pay.

Stripe offers a developer-friendly format.

Why Stripe?

Formed in the San Francisco, Stripe is a payment processor for technology-focused companies and tech professionals. It is developer-friendly, making it easy for companies with developers to customize, brand and integrate the service in their business operations.

Customizable User Interface

Stripe comes with a custom user interface (UI) toolkit. If your company has a smartphone app, you can even integrate Stripe with it to enable seamless purchasing within your app itself. This makes Stripe a much better option for larger operations that have some technical know-how and can use the solution to their advantage.

More Payment Methods

Perhaps its most winning feature, Stripe accepts more payment types than Square. Why is this important? Consumers are using more payment types every year. According to a study by Fiserv, the average number of payment methods in 2016 was 3.6, up from 2.9 in 2014.

Having multiple payment methods can improve your business’s bottom line: You’ll reduce or eliminate the risk of losing customers over a lack of payment options. It’s a better solution for larger volumes of payments, too.

Stripe Pricing and Fees

Stripe’s fee structure is pretty straightforward if you’re only accepting credit and debit cards. There’s no upfront fee and you can set up an account in minutes. It’s comparable to Square in this regard.

But there are some complexities in Stripe’s fee structure for different types of payments. Here’s how pricing and fee structure breaks down:

  • Credit and debit cards: 2.9% + 30 cents
  • Local payment methods: 2.9% + 30 cents
  • International cards: +1% (and any additional currency conversion fees)
  • ACH credit: $1.00 per payment and…
    • $7 for payments $1,000 and under
    • $14.50 for payments between $1,001 and $100,000
    • $24.50 for payments over $100,000
  • ACH direct debit: 0.8% capped at $5
  • Billing: 0.4% (free for your first $1 million on recurring charges)
  • Stripe Premium Support: Starts at $1,000 a month

Stripe offers a number of platforms to help you build and protect your business, including:

  • Connect: A marketplace platform
    • Standard: No platform-specific fees
    • Custom or Express: Starts at 0.25% of account volume
  • Radar: An integrated service for fraud protection
    • Machine learning: 4 cents a transaction
    • For fraud teams: 6 cents a transaction (or 2 cents for accounts with standard Stripe pricing)
    • Chargeback protection: 0.4% per transaction
  • Terminal: A programmable point of sale service, Stripe’s in-person payment solution (starts at $59)
  • Sigma: A business analytics tool (starts at 2 cents a charge)
  • Atlas: A platform for starting a business ($500 one-time fee)

Stripe Features and Functionality

Stripe has dozens of features, the most important of which include:

  • Optimized checkout tools
  • Can accept global payments with a single integration
  • Data security and regulatory compliance
  • Total payout control from your business bank accounts
  • Financial reconciliation and reporting
  • 24/7 support via phone, chat, and email
  • Automated dispute handling
  • A unified business dashboard
  • A developer platform for third-party integrations

Consider Square if you're taking your business online.

Why Square?

Square is a great solution if you’re trying to move beyond brick-and-mortar operations into the online realm or if you’ve just started a small online business. While it’s perfect for small businesses, any type of business can use Square.

Ease of Use

Square is user-friendly for small business owners. Services are designed to be intuitive so people without developer skills or knowledge can start using them immediately.

An Option for E-Commerce

You can set up an online storefront through Weebly. Simply select from a list of professionally designed templates and launch your website. You don’t even need a web designer. Through your Weebly store, you can access integrated shipping labels, manage inventory, and even do some online marketing. The Weebly component does come with a fee, starting at $8 a month.

POS Integration

Most notably, Square integrates seamlessly with your in-person point of sale (POS) system. This keeps your online and in-person payments running through a single account, making bookkeeping a snap.

Square Pricing and Fees

Square’s pricing and fee structure is simpler than Stripe’s. That said, the pricing depends on how you use Square and whether you want any add-on features. Here’s how it breaks down.

Square’s processing fees:

  • In-person and mobile card payments: 2.75%
  • Online payments: 2.9% plus 30 cents
  • Invoice payments: 3.5% plus 15 cents

Square’s software fees:

The company also provides the hardware* you’ll need to accept payments in-store:

  • Card reader (magstripe): $10 per reader (but first reader free)
  • Chip card reader (more secure than standard card readers): $49
  • iPad stand: $199
  • Square Register: $799 or $39 a month for 24 months
  • Square Terminal: $399 or $37 a month for 13 months

*Some hardware might available at better prices through resellers.

Square Features and Functionality

Square’s payment processing offerings have enough digital features to get your business online, but it’s not as versatile as Stripe and can’t accept as many payment types. Square shines in its ability to build a bridge between in-store and online purchasing.

Some of Square’s most notable features:

  • App integrations
  • Application programming interface
  • Customer profiles and feedback
  • Reporting and analytics
  • POS hardware compatible
  • Integrated payment processing
  • Real-time inventory management, sales data, and sales history
  • Discounts and refunds
  • Text or email receipts
  • Invoicing and invoice tracking
  • Employee management
  • Some marketing features

Stripe vs. Square: Which is best? That depends on your needs. 

Stripe vs. Square: The Verdict

It’s difficult to declare which solution is “the best,” as both serve different types of businesses. That said, we lean toward Stripe, which is more customizable and is capable of accepting more types of payments.

Whichever service you choose should depend on your situation. Know your business needs.

When to Use Stripe

If you’re running an online operation and you want to be able to accept more types of payments worldwide, you’re going to want Stripe. It is a better choice if you’re anticipating high dollar transactions or a large volume of transactions online.

Although it’s easy to get started with Stripe, you may need some technical skills to rebrand and customize the service to your liking. If you can manage that, there’s almost no limit to what you can do with the platform.

When to Use Square

If you’re a small business owner running a brick-and-mortar operation, Square is your best bet, especially if you don’t have a developer on hand who can integrate more complicated payment services into your technology. Square has plenty of easy-to-use tools to get you up and running quickly. Also, if this is your first time branching into e-commerce, Square can help you with that.