Updated August 5, 2023

Square Alternatives

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Square is one of the most popular POS systems. But is it the best choice for your business? See how Square compares to top competitors and alternatives.

With pay-as-you-go pricing and no monthly fees, Square is the preferred option for many merchants and businesses.

But it isn't right for everyone. As a payment aggregator, there are risks of frozen funds and canceled accounts with little warning. The flat-rate pricing may also not be feasible for every business structure.

Read on to see how the most popular Square alternatives stack up.

ProcessorBest For
PayPal ZettleSmall physical vendors
Intuit GoPaymentLarge transactions
StripeOnline businesses
Clover GoRestaurants
SumUpNew businesses
Payment DepotHigh-volume retailers
PaymentCloudHigh-risk businesses
PayanywhereMobile businesses

Not Sure What's Right for You?

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Is Square the best option for small businesses? Square is a good option, but it's not always the best for small businesses. It has enough POS features ideal for a new business. You can even get a free card reader which makes payment processing convenient. But many of its alternatives offer cheaper transaction fees. It's best to pick an option good for your budget.

Best for Small Vendors: PayPal Zettle

PayPal's mobile credit card processing rates (via PayPal Zettle) are lower than Square's per-swipe rate. QR code transactions (over $10) even get a discounted rate. So it's great for small sellers that take cards in person.

Plus, being able to accept PayPal and Venmo payments could open you up to more customers.

It's an easy way to manage mobile, online, and in-person payments. You'll get instant access to the funds in your PayPal account once you are an established seller.


  • Accept PayPal and Venmo payments in person
  • Can manage sales, invoices, and process credit cards
  • No monthly, setup, or cancellation fees
  • Flat-rate pricing for all transactions


  • Higher online and invoicing processing rates
  • Funds may be held in reserve for up to 30 days
  • Customer service is lacking
  • Account may get canceled even after processing transactions

Who Should Use It

  • Indie sellers that process low volumes
  • New businesses wanting pay-as-you-go processing
  • Non-profits

PayPal vs. Square for Nonprofits
Both PayPal and Square have tools like donate buttons and support for recurring donations. But PayPal has the edge with discounted rates for confirmed charity accounts.

Best for Large Transactions: Intuit GoPayment

QuickBooks GoPayment seamlessly integrates with your QuickBooks Online account. While you will pay a monthly subscription fee, the amount of time saved can be worth it.

A QuickBooks Online subscription lets you process invoices just like you would with Square. Where it falls short, however, is in the fees. A $15 charge costs $0.61 with GoPayment vs $0.49 with Square. If you process a lot of small transactions, you may overpay with GoPayment.


  • Free mobile card reader (magstripe or chip)
  • No setup costs or monthly subscription fees
  • No long-term contract or cancellation fees


  • Hefty processing fees, especially for small transactions
  • QuickBooks needed for invoicing and sales reporting
  • Fewer POS system features
  • No e-commerce options

Who Should Use It

  • Mid-sized businesses with higher transactions
  • Current QuickBooks Online subscribers

QuickBooks GoPayment vs. Square for Large Transactions
GoPayment isn't the best choice for small transactions. But their fees beat out Square for transactions of $100 or more. A $100 charge costs $2.65 with GoPayment vs. $2.70 with Square—and you'll save even more with larger transactions.

Best for Online Businesses: Stripe

Stripe lets users create a completely customized checkout experience. It controls what customers see at checkout and on their receipts.

Because of its customization options, Stripe can be much more complicated to implement than Square. It's an ideal choice if you have a developer on staff to program these customizations.

Businesses with programming capabilities have the ability to build a powerful custom POS system that can accept a variety of payments, including credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments.


  • No monthly fees, subscription fees, or cancelation fees
  • Operate month to month
  • Exceptional developer tools
  • Accept international payments from 100+ countries


  • Programming needed for Stripe Terminal integration
  • Possible holds on funds or account cancellation for high-risk industries
  • No free credit card reader

Who Should Use It

  • Companies with a developer on staff
  • Businesses that take online and in-person payments

Stripe vs. Square for Online Businesses
Square might work for a brick-and-mortar business that's beginning to set up an online presence. But Stripe's customization options make it a stronger contender for online-only brands.

Best for Restaurants: Clover Go

Clover Go is a scaled down version of Clover's full POS. While it offers the ability to accept payments on the go, it doesn't offer full-fledged POS features. Even though Square is a mobile card reader, many can argue that it offers the full functionality of many full POS systems.

Clover stands out for its merchant account stability. With Square, you share a merchant account with hundreds of others while Clover offers exclusive merchant accounts. You have to qualify for your own account (no automatic enrollment for the credit card processor), but there is less risk of cancellation or frozen funds.

Clover Go doesn't run as well on its own, but it's a logical choice if you are already a Clover POS customer. If you haven't started processing credit cards yet and don't plan to purchase a full-fledged POS, opting for a payment aggregator like Square may be the better option.


  • No complicated setup or lag time
  • Customize discounts, tips, and taxes
  • Easy-to-use app store with powerful POS


  • Internet connection needed to process payments
  • Monthly subscription fee
  • Limited inventory options without larger software package

Who Should Use It

  • Current Clover users
  • Merchants that want their own merchant account

Clover vs. Square for Restaurants
Both systems are a good choice for restauranteurs. But Clover POS offers a bit more with their online ordering and table management features.

Best for New Businesses: SumUp

SumUp offers a good card reader, but it's not a full-fledged POS. Merchants can accept credit card payments for a lower fee than Square—but only with an internet connection. If you aren't looking for inventory, scheduling, or robust reporting options, SumUp offers a viable solution.

The SumUp Plus card reader costs $35 and holds a charge for over 500 transactions.[1] Setup takes minutes and you can connect to your smartphone with Bluetooth.

Like Square, SumUp pays merchants daily but the actual transfer could take between 2 and 3 business days depending on your bank's policies.


  • Flat-rate pricing
  • Accept tap, chip, or swipe payments, all with one card reader
  • No monthly subscription fees, cancellation fees, or hidden fees
  • Accept all major credit cards and international credit cards for the same fee


  • No inventory functions in its POS
  • The list of restricted businesses is rather lengthy
  • SumUp doesn't offer an invoicing option

Who Should Use It

  • Merchants just starting out that don't need robust POS features
  • Merchants that process infrequent credit card transactions

SumUp vs. Square for New Businesses
Both systems keep things simple for new businesses. But SumUp has the slight upper hand for small transaction sizes. Its card reader is also cheaper, which is good if you're just starting out.

How many credit card transaction does your business process in a month?

Best for High Volume: Payment Depot

Payment Depot is a subscription based merchant account provider. You pay a monthly membership price, and in-exchange, you only pay a small flat-rate fee with no added percentage markup on interchange rate for each transaction.

However, you are charged for their service whether you use it or not. This model works well for high volume merchants that process at least $25,000 per month. But it's not ideal for small businesses with unsteady sales.

It offers payment processing options for in-person, online, or over-the-phone payments.

The platform offers a dedicated merchant account from First Data, so you have a lower chance of frozen funds or canceled accounts. However, the underwriting process is a bit more rigorous.

The Payment Depot membership fee starts at $79 per month plus per-transaction fee with no additional markup.[2] Funds are deposited in your account within 24–48 hours of processing the credit card.


  • Month-to-month contract with no cancellation fees
  • Low fixed per-transaction markup
  • Can reprogram your equipment for you
  • 24/7 customer service for subscribers


  • Monthly subscription fee starting at $79
  • Multiple fees
  • Won't accept high-risk merchants

Who Should Use It

  • High volume merchants
  • Established businesses that know their monthly processing volume

Payment Depot vs. Square for High-Volume Retailers
A subscription plan like Payment Depot makes the most sense for businesses with a large volume of transactions.

Best for High-Risk Businesses: PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud is a good option if you're a high-risk merchant and have been struggling to find a merchant services provider. It boasts a 98% approval rate for high-risk merchants.

PaymentCloud offers payment options for mobile, like Square, as well as retail payment processing options. Unfortunately, PaymentCloud doesn't publicly disclose its fees so you need to call them to get a quote. While Square has simple and transparent pricing.

Like Square, low-risk merchants won't need to sign a long-term contract. There is no commitment and you can use it month-to-month without having to worry about early termination fees. However, high-risk merchants are typically required to sign a long-term contract.


  • Chargeback monitoring and fraud prevention tools
  • Integrate with popular eCommerce platforms
  • Accepts new businesses
  • Dedicated merchant support


  • Need to call to get a quote and details about fees
  • Application and approval process is usually lengthy and can take a while for some businesses

Who Should Use It

  • Mid-to-High-risk merchants

PaymentCloud vs. Square for High-Risk Businesses
Many processors, like Square, won't provide services for high-risk businesses. PaymentCloud will consider riskier businesses. But be prepared to pay higher fees for your high risk merchant account.

Best for Mobile Business: Payanywhere

Payanywhere offers a powerful POS similar to Square. However, the mobile processing fees are slightly lower, which makes it a great option for those who only process mobile payments.

The platform doesn't offer an online store. If a majority of your business comes from online sales, it isn't the best option.

Payanywhere offers a free mobile card reader for swipe and chip payments (additional readers cost $29.95 each). You can upgrade to a reader that also accepts contactless payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay for $59.95.[3]

Payanywhere offers a wide variety of equipment, though you'll pay monthly fees for each device. Read the fine print carefully before making a purchase decision.


  • A powerful POS
  • Accept payments offline
  • Track inventory, set up recurring invoices, and manage your POS from any device


  • High invoicing pricing: 3.49% plus $0.19[4]
  • Monthly inactivity fee of $3.99 for businesses without activity for 12 months
  • Monthly software fees for each device

Who Should Use It

  • Mobile businesses that take fewer online payments
  • Businesses that have at least a few credit card transactions each month

Payanywhere vs. Square for Mobile Businesses
Payanywhere and Square are both great options for low volume and small transactions. Square is better if you accept both online and mobile payments. Payanywhere has slightly lower swiped fees, but higher online fees.

Other Credit Card Processors to Consider

Here are a few more payment processors to consider:

  • Shopify Lite
    Shopify Lite is a cloud-based POS system that offers a mobile POS system for a small monthly fee. While you only get Buy buttons for your website, landing page, or social media pages, it's great for those that only sell small amounts online. Shopify has its own Shopify Payments processor that integrates all aspects of your business into one system.

  • Lightspeed
    Lightspeed offers payment solutions, an integrated POS system, and stellar customer support to help you with any problems. Lightspeed charges monthly fees for its POS as well as interchange-plus pricing. This makes the cost of their payment processing similar to Square.

Cost Comparisons

Here's a look at how Square's fees compare against other flat-rate providers:

Swipe RateOnline Rate
Square2.6% + $.102.9% + $0.30
PayPal Zettle2.29% + 9¢3.49% + 49¢ (PayPal Checkout)
2.99% + 49¢ (Credit/Debit cards)
Quickbooks2.4% + 25¢2.9% + 25¢
Stripe2.7% + $0.052.9% + $0.30
SumUp2.75%2.90% + 15¢ for invoices

These next tables compare processing costs for different transaction amounts. This helps you decide which provider is best for you. For example, PayPal Zettle is better for in-person payments, while SumUp is better for online transactions.

Processing Cost Comparison - $20 Transaction

PayPal Zettle$0.548$1.188
Processing Cost Comparison - $50 Transaction

PayPal Zettle$1.235$2.235

Processing Cost Comparison - $100 Transaction

PayPal Zettle$2.38$3.98
Processing Cost Comparison - $200 Transaction

PayPal Zettle$4.67$7.47

Why does Square cost so much? Unlike its alternatives, Square Payments doesn't offer monthly or annual subscriptions. Instead, they make money through credit card processing fees. If you're a small business and you don't have steady sales, it can be a good option. But larger businesses will save more with a fixed subscription fee and lower rates.

What the Experts Say

As part of our series on small businesses and entrepreneurship, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions.

Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Before you choose a credit card processor, consider what your business needs. Will the payment processor need to integrate with your existing POS? Are you starting from scratch and need the full gamut of services?

Once you know what you're looking for, compare the pricing to your estimated monthly sales to determine if Square or an alternative is the better fit for your business.


  1. ^ SumUp. SumUp Plus Card Reader, Retrieved 12/4/2022
  2. ^ Payment Depot. Pricing Plans, Retrieved 12/4/2022
  3. ^ Payanywhere. 3-in-1 Bluetooth Credit Card Reader, Retrieved 12/4/2022
  4. ^ Payanywhere. Pricing, Retrieved 12/4/2022
Payment Depot

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