Clover vs. Square: Which Is Right for Your Business in 2023?

Square is an all-in-one solution with simple pricing, but Clover allows you to set up your own merchant account, which could be more cost-effective for your business long-term.
Karrin Sehmbi
Rosalie Murphy
By Rosalie Murphy and  Karrin Sehmbi 
Edited by Sally Lauckner

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Point-of-sale systems from Clover and Square can help you accept credit card and mobile wallet payments at your brick-and-mortar business or online. The biggest difference between Clover and Square is that Square puts payments into a merchant account that it owns before passing them along to business owners, but Clover requires merchants to set up their own merchant account — either through Clover’s owner Fiserv or a supported third party.

Although Square’s costs are consistent for most businesses, Clover’s can vary depending on the merchant account and hardware you choose. Some business owners might appreciate that level of customization and control. But if you want a simple, all-in-one solution, Square may make more sense.

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Clover vs. Square: Head-to-head comparison



Monthly fees

  • $14.95 for Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter, Professional Services Starter and Standard and Home & Field Services plans.

  • $49.95 for Retail Standard, Personal Services Standard and Advanced and Professional Services Advanced plans.

  • $54.95 for Quick-Service Dining Starter and Standard plans.

  • $64.90 for Retail Advanced plan.

  • $69.90 for Quick-Service Dining Advanced plan.

  • $84.95 for Full-Service Dining Starter plan.

  • $99.90 for Full-Service Dining Standard plan.

  • $114.85 for Full-Service Dining Advanced plan.

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square Appointments Plus plan.

  • $60 for Square Restaurant and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Transaction costs

  • 2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.

  • 3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.

  • 3.3% plus 30 cents for invoices.

Hardware costs

  • $49 for chip, swipe and contactless Clover Go card reader.

  • $599 for Clover Flex mobile POS with printer.

  • $799 for Clover Mini POS.

  • $1,699 for Clover Station Solo.

  • $1,799 for Clover Station Duo.

You can get a Clover POS system directly from Clover or through its partners, including Wells Fargo, PNC, Citi, Restaurant Depot, Sam’s Club and more.

  • $0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional reader) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).

  • $49 for Square Reader contactless and chip card reader.

  • $149 for Square Stand iPad POS or Square Stand Mount (iPad not included).

  • $299 for Square Terminal mobile card reader with built-in printer.

  • $799 for Square Register two-screen system.

  • $659-$1,479 for various bundles of stands, cash drawers, printers and card readers.

Payment processing

You may be able to use an existing merchant services account with Clover devices.

All Square users are added to Square’s merchant account — no need to work with a separate merchant services provider.

Customer service

Phone and email support available 24/7.

Phone, email, live chat and social media support available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.

Where Square stands out

Square is simple, plug-and-play software that can run on iOS and Android devices. Because Square users are automatically added to Square's merchant account, you don’t have to shop around for merchant account providers. Plus, the base software plan is free (and you can even get a free magstripe reader) so commitment is low. You can easily cancel your plan if it doesn’t suit your needs. Read our full Square POS review.

Square POS

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on Square's website

Payment processing and merchant account included

With Square, users buy hardware from the company and become sub-merchants under Square’s merchant account rather than having to open their own accounts. This shortens the startup time since no credit check or lengthy application is needed. It also means faster funding times, with transfers into your bank account typically happening within 24 to 48 hours.

When you purchase a Clover POS, however, you have to apply for a merchant account. If you already have a merchant account and don’t want to switch, this may be a plus — provided your existing account is supported. But if you’re just starting to accept payments, it may introduce extra confusion.

Easy-to-understand pricing

Square gets high marks for its transparent pricing, listed clearly and in multiple places across its site. Square follows a flat-rate pricing model, meaning you pay a flat fee plus a percentage of the total sale amount for each transaction. Fees vary by payment type (in-person, online, manually keyed and invoiced) but not by payment method (swiped, dipped or contactless) or credit card tier, which makes it easier to estimate your total monthly fees. Square also offers volume discounts: If you process more than $250,000 per year, you may be eligible for lower transaction rates.

Clover also lists its flat-rate pricing on its site, but it’s often a bit buried and certainly harder to navigate since Clover varies monthly software fees and transaction fees by industry and plan tier. Plus, the costs listed on Clover’s website aren’t necessarily the prices you’ll pay if you purchase Clover through a third party.

Cheaper hardware

You can start using Square with its free, quarter-sized card reader that connects to smartphones. Clover doesn’t offer any free options.

Free support for e-commerce

Businesses that already have an online store can embed Square’s Online Checkout on their existing website for free (but remember that there’s a fee to process those transactions, noted above). Square also lets users set up an e-commerce website for free without knowing any code. With Square Online, for example, restaurants can accept online orders for pickup or delivery and create QR codes for in-person ordering. Square Online has its own set of monthly plans and fees, however.

Clover can also enable online transactions, but to set up a website, you’ll have to use one of Clover’s app integrations or build it yourself.

Where Clover stands out

With a variety of plan tiers and hardware solutions designed for different industries, Clover is likely to offer a solution that fits your needs. With Clover, you secure your own merchant account through a separate merchant services provider, which affords you flexibility to shop for your preferred provider (if you don't already have one) and possibly secure better rates than you'd get through a payment services provider such as Square. Like Square, Clover's software can run on both iOS and Android devices. Read our full Clover POS review.


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on Clover's website

Flexibility in merchant processing

If you value having your own merchant account or working with a particular provider, Clover can likely support that. More than 3,000 retailers sell Clover products, many of which also offer merchant accounts. If you already have a merchant services account, you can call Clover to see whether it’s supported.

There are pros and cons to using your own merchant services provider rather than working with a payment services provider (PSP) like Square. In particular, PSPs may be able to get you your money faster. But because they control the merchant account you’re using, PSPs may also be able to lock you out of your account if they suspect risky activity.

When you have your own merchant account, you don’t cede control of your funds in that way.

Lower transaction fees for some users

If you work with your own merchant acquirer, your transaction fees may be lower than what’s quoted on Clover’s website. The larger your business is, the more you stand to benefit from opening your own merchant account because the per-transaction savings can add up over time.

If you’re looking for the most affordable POS solution, do some math to see whether Square or Clover would be cheaper for your business over time — particularly when you also compare merchant services providers.

Is Clover or Square right for your business?

Square can support the bulk of a business’s payments and point-of-sale needs, from its reasonably priced hardware options to the entities that make payment processing possible.

With Clover, you’ll have to have your own merchant services account, which makes the shopping process more complex but could save you money on transaction fees. Plus, it’s less likely your transactions will temporarily be suspended, which has been a source of frustration for some Square users.

If you’re looking for straightforward pricing, Square is the better choice. But which will be more affordable in the long run depends on your business, which Clover system you’re considering and which merchant services provider you work with.

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