Stripe vs. Square: Which Is Better, and How to Choose

Stripe is best for online retailers, while Square is a better fit for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Rosalie Murphy
By Rosalie Murphy 
Edited by Ryan Lane

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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

Stripe

Square

Price

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.

  • 2.7% plus 5 cents for in-person transactions.

  • 3.4% plus 30 cents for manually keyed transactions (starting 11/10/22).

  • 3.9% plus 30 cents for international cards or currency conversion.

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file (2.6% plus 30 cents with Premium plan).

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Monthly fee

  • $0 for standard Stripe Connect.

  • $2 per account for Stripe Express (for marketplaces) or Stripe Custom (the white-label option).

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

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Plus plan.

Hardware

Chip reader: $59. Countertop and handheld reader: $249.

  • $0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional) 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-$1,439 for various bundles of stands, cash drawers, printers and card readers.

Supported currencies and countries

135+ currencies; 47 countries.

Cannot charge customers in other currencies; eight countries.

Customer support

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

International transactions

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.

Pricing

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.

Stripe

Stripe
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Stripe's website

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 POS

Square
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Square's website

Industry-specific features

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).

  • 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:

  • Track inventory.

  • Offer discounts.

  • 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.

Pricing

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.