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Stripe and Square are both payment processors that allow businesses to accept credit and debit cards, digital wallets and more. The main difference is that Square prioritizes in-person payments, while Stripe is better for online sellers.
Stripe accepts a wide variety of currencies and international payment methods and offers a fully customizable checkout experience, but it has relatively limited hardware options for point-of-sale systems. Square, on the other hand, offers specialized software and point-of-sale hardware to support brick-and-mortar businesses’ needs.
Stripe vs. Square: Comparison at a glance
Chip reader: $59. Countertop and handheld reader: $249.
Supported currencies and countries
135+ currencies; 47 countries.
Cannot charge customers in other currencies; eight countries.
24/7 live chat, email and phone support for all customers.
Phone, email, live chat and social media support available from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. PT for free users and 24/7 for Plus and Premium users.
Want to consider another option? Compare Stripe vs. Paypal vs. Square.
Where Stripe wins
Stripe accepts an impressive number of payment methods and currencies. Additionally, customers can make payments in their home currency, and Stripe will convert that amount into your currency for an additional transaction fee of 1% (paid by the customer).
Online customization options
For users who have coding experience, Stripe Elements allows you to use pre-built UI components to design your checkout flow and customize it using CSS. These elements include features like credit card autofill (similar in concept to Shop Pay) and location-responsive input fields, making checkout easy for your customers. If you have a software developer on your team, you can really take advantage of Stripe’s make-it-your-own features using its open API.
Stripe charges a competitive 2.9% plus 30 cents for all online sales and doesn’t have a monthly fee. The prices for other services — ACH debits, currency conversions, in-person sales using Stripe Terminal and more — are spelled out clearly on Stripe’s website.
Stripe offers custom packages to high-volume users or those with unique needs, but it doesn’t limit features by price tier.
» MORE: Read our full review of Stripe
Where Stripe falls short
Can be complicated
If you don’t know how to code, Stripe may feel overwhelming. In particular, you might find it easiest to work with one of Stripe’s third-party partners, such as WooCommerce or Squarespace, to build your website.
Less flexible e-commerce options
Stripe doesn’t offer a free website builder like Square does, so you’ll need to build your own website, either on your own or using one of Stripe’s third-party partners.
Where Square wins
More checkout experiences
Square’s POS options range from a quarter-size card reader that you can use alongside your cell phone to a large register with two touchscreens. This allows businesses to accept payments almost anywhere: You can set up a traditional checkout counter, restaurant customers can pay at their table and retailers can swipe cards at pop-up events or while making deliveries.
Square offers valuable features for both retailers and restaurants. In both industries, you can pay an additional $60 per month for Square Plus, which comes with advanced features and slightly lower pricing for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents).
Square Restaurants users can:
Create a menu that hosts and servers can use to input orders for in-person dining or takeout.
Remove items from the menu when you run out for the day.
In Plus, create a floor plan of the restaurant and use it to track where people are sitting.
In Plus, automatically add gratuity to checks for large parties.
Square Retail users can:
Create barcode labels.
In Plus, process exchanges.
E-commerce with brick-and-mortar in mind
Square lets users set up an e-commerce website for free without knowing any code. For $12 a month, you can add a custom domain. Restaurants can accept online orders for pickup or delivery or create a QR code for in-person ordering. If you already have a website, you can embed Square’s Online Checkout to take payments..
Where Square falls short
Fewer payments capabilities
Square’s payment methods are more limited than Stripe’s are. Square can process most domestic and international Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB or UnionPay cards. But some coding knowledge is required to accept digital wallets online, and you can’t charge your customers in other currencies.
You may need to pay a subscription fee to access special features. And Square notes that its pricing is meant for businesses with an average ticket size of less than $15 and less than $250,000 per year in receipts. If you process larger transactions or have more revenue than that, you could pay a different rate via custom pricing.
Stripe vs. Square: Which one is right for your business?
For businesses that make most of their sales online, Stripe is likely the better choice. It also handles international transactions with ease, and every business can make the checkout flow their own. E-commerce businesses may also want to compare Stripe vs. Paypal, as the latter offers a simpler setup compared to Stripe.
For mostly in-person businesses, however, Square comes out ahead. If credit and debit cards and digital wallets are sufficient for your business’s in-person transactions, you may not need Stripe’s huge library of payment methods. And Square’s software features for retailers and restaurants set it apart: You can manage tables or inventory from the same dashboard you use to track your sales revenue.