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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.
Clover vs. Square: Head-to-head comparison
$0 or $60 for the Square Plus plan.
Note: These prices are based on using Clover’s parent company, Fiserv, as your merchant service provider. If you use a different provider, your costs may differ.
You can get a merchant account directly from Clover or through its partners, including Wells Fargo, PNC, Citi, Restaurant Depot, Sam’s Club and more. 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.
24/7 phone and email support.
Phone, email, live chat and social media support available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time for free users; 24/7 for Plus, Premium and Square for Restaurants on Square Register.
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, you can try the software for free using Square’s magstripe reader, so you can switch if it doesn’t suit your needs.
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.
With Clover, users buy POS hardware directly from Clover or from a variety of its partners — including financial institutions like Citi and retailers like Restaurant Depot. When you purchase a Clover POS, 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.
» MORE: What is a payment processor?
Square gets high marks for its transparent pricing. Square also charges businesses that process less than $250,000 annually the same flat rates for in-person and online transactions regardless of what hardware they’re using.
Clover has a standard fee schedule as well, although monthly fees and transaction fees vary by plan. Plus, the costs on Clover’s website aren’t necessarily the prices you’ll pay if you purchase Clover through a third party.
You can start using Square with its free, quarter-sized card reader that connects to cell phones. 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
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, or 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.
Clover vs. Square: Which one is 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.