Square vs Stripe

Equip yourself with everything there is to know about these two leading merchant services.

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Both Square and Stripe offer up useful solutions for your businesses' payment processing needs. They have already caused a stir with their welcomed fixed-rate payments and speedy payout times. In saying this, both products and services differ considerably from each other and pander to different corners of the market.

In this comparison, we delve into the world of merchant services and break down exactly what Square and Stripe have in store for you.

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What do Square and Stripe offer users?

Square and Stripe offer payment solutions for businesses. As third-party processors, they take care of customer payments, whether it be via credit, debit or other payment services, and send it into your bank account. In simple terms, they act as the middle man between customers and merchants.

Learn more about Square's services in our in-depth review.


Key differences between Square and Stripe

  • Square is an all-in-one service that appeals to smaller businesses looking for a quick payment process solution.
  • Stripe appeals to any business comfortable with coding and techy customisation.
  • Stripe's payouts are slightly slower than Square, taking around two days to reach you.
  • Square offers POS software and various hardware solutions, Stripe sells its Terminal product in the USA and Canada but is yet to offer it in Australia.
  • Stripe's services integrate into an already existing website, whereas Square offers an all-in-one solution for website building, hosting and payment processing.

What are the key features of the POS app systems?

Despite being payment processing solutions, Stripe and Square serve different types of businesses. Originally designed for brick and mortar stores, Square's payment services are based around a POS system that can be used both in-store and online. Stripe, on the other hand, concentrates primarily on providing a customisable online payment solution for a business.

Here's a quick overview of both companies' key features.

Cost and compatibility

Stripe

  • In-person payments aren't available in Australia, only online payment solutions.
  • Billing functions allow you to send customers email invoices.
  • Payment systems can be integrated into most websites or applications.
  • Stripe card reader costs $299 for the Verifone® P400 reader
  • Extensive API documents allow you to build complicated payment systems, subscriptions services and loyalty apps.
  • Transactions are automatically processed to your bank account.
  • Accepts Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • The first payout is settled after two weeks and then automatically every two days.

Square

  • Offers two-card terminals that connect with the Square POS app.
  • Hardware needs to be purchased at an additional fee
  • Square reader costs $59
  • Square terminal costs $439.00 or as low as $37/month for one year.
  • Invoice abilities made easier with a dedicated Square invoice app.
  • Recurring charging available.
  • Square virtual terminal allows you to take mail order and telephone payments.
  • Square online checkout is a pay-by-link solution that allows you to embed payment links for certain products.
  • Transactions automatically process to your bank account.
  • Accepts Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and EFTPOS.
  • Payouts settled one to two days after transactions take place.

Additional services

Stripe

  • Stripe Radar is an integrated fraud detection service.
  • Physical or virtual cards that can be used for mobile wallets.
  • Corporate credit cards are available.
  • Stripe Relay can create mobile marketplaces.
  • Stripe Sigma provides detailed transaction reports.

Square

  • Square For Retail helps stores track inventory.
  • Square for Restaurants is a specialised system for full-service businesses.
  • Detailed transaction reports.
  • Gift card functionality.
  • Email marketing tools.
  • Loyalty programs.
  • Payroll management.

How does pricing work?

Pandering to the modern economy of start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, both Stripe and Square offer a fair and flexible payment system. Neither demand monthly fees or lock-in contracts but instead charge customers a percentage on pay-as-you-go transactions.

Here's a quick rundown of how pricing between the two service providers compares.

StripeSquare
Credit and debit cards1.75% + $0.30 on domestic cards

2.9% + $0.30 on international cards

1.9% on Square POS app

1.6% on Square terminal

Domestic bank transfers1% + $0.30 with a $3.50 capFrom 2.2%
Integrated payment methodsFrom $0.80From 2.2%
Billing (on recurring payments)0.5%N/A
PayoutsFreeFree
Currency conversion2%Free
Chargebacks$25 per chargebackFree

The rates you see here reflect the companies target customers, with Square relying on businesses that incur the majority of their sales in-person.

Stripe can be an option to consider if the majority of your sales are in Australia. Otherwise, you may pay more with the higher international card charges. The same can be said for its recurring billing charges, something that some companies can fall foul of.

While these fees and rates may seem small, they quickly add up and can make or break a business. Before you settle on one service or the other, it's important to look at your business and see which rates will work best for its industry and audience.


How do Square and Stripe compare as e-commerce solutions?

E-commerce services are where Square and Stripe differ the most. Square offers an all-in-one e-commerce platform, complete with a website builder, web hosting and payment system, perfect for a hassle-free introduction into selling online.

Stripe offers a software solution that you can integrate into an existing website, making it a useful option for the tech-savvy entrepreneurs amongst us in need of a customisable checkout page.

Cost

Stripe: N/A

Square: Starts at $0 per month with 2.2% fee for each transaction

Key features

Stripe

  • Checkout page that integrates with an existing website.
  • Compatible with big-name website builders including Wix and Squarespace.
  • Customisable checkout page.
  • Allows APIs (application programming interface).

Square

  • Website building platform.
  • Website hosting.
  • Payment integration systems.
  • Beginner-friendly.
  • Limited customisation.
  • Integrates with popular website building platforms like Wix, Weebly, and BigCommerce.

What support do Square and Stripe offer?

Stripe and Square both offer multiple ways to get support.

Stripe

Stripe provides 24-hour support every single day of the year. However, customers are limited to email, live chat or call back requests. There isn't a direct phone line to call when you need immediate assistance, but you can take a look through the self-service knowledge base to see if your query has already been answered.

Square

Square limits its customer service to 9 am to 5 pm (AEDT) Monday to Friday. It does, however, provide customers with a number of different support channels including a phone number and email address. Square also has a Support Centre with guides, help articles and troubleshooting tips along with a YouTube channel full of useful videos. As a customer, you'll also get access to a Seller Community where you can interact with other business owners.


Pros and cons of Stripe

Pros

  • Fixed-rate pricing
  • Customisable
  • No lock-in contracts
  • 24/7 support channels

Cons

  • Higher chargeback rates
  • Knowledge of coding necessary
  • No website building functionality

Pros and cons of Square

Pros

  • User friendly
  • Website builder and payment processor solution all in one
  • Fixed-rate charges
  • No lock-in contracts

Cons

  • Not very customisable
  • Limited customer support hours

Bottom line

Square and Stripe are both innovative disruptors in a space that was traditionally dominated by big banks, and choosing between them isn't easy. At the end of the day, it should come down to individual features, and finding those that suit your business needs the most.

Square is an all-in-one platform that's useful for businesses dealing with in-person transactions looking for an easy and hassle-free payment processing solution. Stripe is useful for businesses that work with online sales only and are happy to spend the time customising and coding their way to a unique payment system.

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