Stripe is well known as a powerful payment processing platform for e-commerce businesses, and as of 2019, the company also offers Stripe Terminal. With Stripe Terminal, you can integrate Stripe payments into your existing in-person checkout flow or build in-person payments into your existing mobile or web-based application. The software works both ways, but it’s best used by e-commerce merchants looking to add in-person payments. The company provides detailed instructions for integrating Stripe Terminal with an existing Stripe Connect platform as well as your point-of-sale application. To be clear, Stripe Terminal is not a point-of-sale (POS) solution but rather a way to capitalize on Stripe’s top-notch payment processing for in-person transactions.
If you’re already a Stripe user or are comfortable with advanced developer tools, it’s a worthy extension. If you have developer experience, you can integrate your payment processing with one of several hardware options through its software development kit, or use one of Stripe’s no-code POS partners. Several of these integrated partners are free to use.
But if you do most of your business in person, want a more user-friendly payment processing option or, especially, if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box POS solution, it’s best to go with a more straightforward POS system like Square or Shopify.
Stripe is a powerful payment processor
Stripe Terminal is best for businesses that:
Primarily sell online. Online-first businesses seeking optional in-person functionality may have great success with Stripe Terminal.
Have access to developer resources. Integration of Stripe’s strong payment processing capabilities with your online platform and/or POS requires coding experience.
Already have a strong POS solution or don’t require one. While Stripe Terminal can be integrated with either a no-code POS partner or your existing POS application with coding work, it is not itself a POS system.
Payment processing model
Payment processing fees
2.7% plus 5 cents for in-person transactions.
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.
3.4% plus 30 cents for manually keyed transactions.
4.4% plus 30 cents for international card transactions.
$59 for Stripe Reader M2.
$249 for BBPOS WisePOS E card reader.
$349 for Stripe Reader S700.
No set contract length and no fees for termination as long as there are no pending transactions.
24/7 phone, chat and email support.
Where Stripe Terminal stands out
If you (or someone on your team) has developer experience, you can take full advantage of Stripe’s customizable checkout flow. You can use its API to create a payment processing setup that works for your business and integrates into mobile and desktop applications.
For a more user-friendly option, Stripe also partners with platforms that provide no-code POS solutions, as well as companies that provide hired experts to do the customization for you.
Stripe’s pricing is fully transparent, and its payment processing fees are comparable to competitors like Square and PayPal. Unlike with many POS systems and payment processors, there’s no monthly subscription fee to use the software, so your only costs will be an initial hardware purchase and per-transaction payment processing fees.
Stripe Terminal works with Stripe Payments, Connect and Billing so you can manage online and in-person sales in one place. Stripe also integrates with outside applications, including digital wallets, Xero, HubSpot, Mailchimp and more, and can also integrate into your business’s own mobile app.
Where Stripe Terminal falls short
Stripe is geared primarily toward online businesses. Its in-person transaction capabilities are a fairly new extension and aren’t intuitive for users without a developer background.
If your business already uses Stripe and you’re looking to add in-person transactions, the company’s 24/7 support and no-code POS integrations can help you get through the integration process, but it’s not the best option for new or brick-and-mortar-only businesses.
Requires developer experience
Even if you’re only using Stripe’s online payment processing system, many of its advanced features and customization tools require some coding. To use Stripe with your POS system and process in-person payments, you’ll need to set up a Stripe Terminal SDK before you can connect to a card reader.
There are several ways to do this, and Stripe provides clear step-by-step instructions on its support website, but without developer experience, this process can be complicated and may take some time to learn before you can start taking payments.
However, Stripe does integrate with over a dozen no-code POS software options, so if you’re willing to add on an extension, you can bypass the SDK process.
Alternatives to Stripe Terminal
To use Shopify POS, you also must have a Shopify plan for e-commerce:
$29 for Shopify Basic when billed annually (or $39 when paid monthly).
$79 for regular Shopify when billed annually (or $105 when paid monthly).
$299 for Shopify Advanced when billed annually (or $399 when paid monthly).
Custom pricing for Shopify Plus.
Once you have a Shopify plan for e-commerce, add either:
Payment processing fees:
2.4%, 2.6% or 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.
2.4%, 2.5% or 2.7% for in-person payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.
$49 for Tap & Chip card reader.
$219 for Tap & Chip countertop kit (iPad not included).
$299 for Shopify POS Go mobile device.
$349 for Shopify POS terminal.
$459 and up for POS terminal countertop kits.
Why we like it: Like Stripe, Shopify is online-first and in-store second. It’s ideal for multi-channel sellers, either in multiple online locations (Amazon, Facebook, Etsy etc.) or both in-person and on the web. Its payment processing rates are comparable to Stripe’s, but Shopify makes it easier to integrate in-person and online sales without developer experience. And for businesses in need of a complete POS solution — with tools for tracking inventory, managing employees and viewing business reports — Shopify POS can do what Stripe Terminal cannot. Read our full Shopify POS review.
$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.
Payment processing fees:
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.
$0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional reader) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).
$49 and up 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.
Why we like it: Square POS offers both free and paid software options for restaurants and retail businesses. It’s easy to learn, mobile-friendly and comes with dozens of useful features, including reporting and inventory management, even in the free version. Hardware options range from free to $799 and up. It’s less customizable than Stripe, but much more user-friendly for businesses making in-person and online sales. Read our full Square POS review.
Compare POS providers
To compare POS options, check out NerdWallet’s list of point-of-sale systems that are best for small-business owners. Our recommendations are based on the provider’s pricing and transparency, software and hardware options, system functionality, customer support, software integrations and contract requirements.