If you're comparing Square vs. Stripe vs. PayPal, you're probably searching for the best payment processing solution for your business. Payment service providers (PSPs) are vital for small business owners and e-commerce businesses, allowing companies to accept various payment methods (such as credit card payments, in-person payments, magstripe payments, contactless payment, debit cards, gift cards and ACH payments), online, in-person, or via a mobile app.
Square, Stripe, and PayPal are all popular payment processing options. They all accept different types of online transactions and offer merchant services, diverse payment solutions, and robust security features.
But how do you find the best payment gateway for your business needs or online store and how do you ensure that they streamline payment and invoicing processes? Our unpaid review explores the pros and cons of each, helping you to make more financially savvy business decisions.
Overview of Square, Stripe, and PayPal
Before we delve into the specific features of each payment processing tool and unpack the pros and cons, let's take a brief look at each.
Square is a simple, pretty low-maintenance PPS that works well for retailers and smaller businesses. Square allows business owners to accept in-person payments via its point-of-sale system (making it a great in-person payment tool thanks to its virtual terminal). It also enables businesses to accept online payments, take payments over the phone with key-in details, or accept payments via invoice with the Square Invoice tool. Overall, it's a great credit card and debit card processing option for smaller companies and offers flat-rate pricing rather than monthly fees. Unfortunately, cross-border payments are not supported by the platform, making it tricky for those who do business on the move.
Stripe is a great payment system for online companies, small start-ups, B2B providers, and business owners who travel and need to accept cross-border transactions online. Since Stripe accepts over 130 international currencies, it offers great international flexibility. It's favored by many ecommerce stores as it's easily linked to checkout when users pay for their shopping cart. Unlike Square, it's not as well-suited for in-person payments. It also offers flat-rate pricing.
PayPal is an online payment processing platform that facilitates online and credit card transactions between individuals and businesses. Users can send or receive money securely using either the website or the app and PayPal checkout is simple. Like Stripe, PayPal offers greater flexibility for cross-country transactions. Its rates, however, can be higher than the other options in terms of pricing making it more costly in certain instances.
Features and Benefits Comparison
Let's explore the features of each of the three platforms.
- Great for in-person payments: Square's point-of-sale system via the app makes it ideal for in-person payments. It's a good option for in-person consultations or for practitioners who travel to clients thanks to the virtual terminal through the mobile app. The POS has several functions, including email, print, or text receipts, generated QR codes, prompted tips, and inventory tracking with custom alerts.
- Add-on services available: If professionals enjoy using Square, they can add on specific services for an extra charge. This includes things such as an email marketing service for $15 a month, Team Management Plus for $35 a month, and employee payroll for $29 a month plus an extra $5 for every employee. These services are handy but can add up fast.
- Quick payout: Payouts usually happen within two days, and funds go to your business-linked bank account. Square has a pay-out cap of $500 a day. This payment cap makes it better suited to smaller businesses.
Square pricing might also not be the most effective solution for companies with high payment volumes each month, and some users do report certain issues with account stability or freezing due to irregular use. Nonetheless, it offers great e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce so sellers can synchronize sales.
- Customization solutions: Since it is developer-friendly, Stripe can be easily customized for online payments with Stripe's API feature. Change the look and feel of checkout to suit your brand and customize the checkout flow.
- Internationally friendly: Stripe's special Stripe Connect feature means it can process 135 currencies from 30 plus countries; this makes it ideal for those doing business with many countries. It also works in 25 different languages to make payment more accessible for clients from all over the world.
- Third-party integrations: Stripe can be easily linked to many applications like Shopify, DocuSign, MindBody, and Apple Pay.
Nonetheless, while developer friendly and customizable, it might be too complex for those without a coding or developer background. Stripe is, however, the best option for online businesses that prioritize customization or recurring payments.
- Great as an international selling tool: Supports a wide range of currencies and countries, making it great for businesses operating with a diverse customer base. Various payment methods are also permitted, enhancing user ease.
- Vast integrations: PayPal can be easily integrated with various apps like Gmail, Zoom, Google Sheets, Zapier, Discord, and Venmo. These integrations add to user ease and accessibility.
- Accepts crypto: If you work with cryptocurrency, PayPal is a great option. It accepts more payment options and currencies than Square.
Fees and Costs Comparison
All the systems – in their basic functionality – work on flat rate processing fees. Let’s break down how transaction fees and processing fees are calculated below.
Square is a popular option for smaller businesses since the basic plan doesn't have monthly fees. It's also great for companies making in-person sales who need an easy mobile-based POS system. Square has both hardware options and software ones. Square charges users a flat rate of 2.6% per transaction plus 10 cents for all in-person card-present payments and 2.9% plus 30 cents for purchases through ecommerce stores or online apps. Key-in card details are charged at a higher rate of 3.5% plus 15 cents. Nonetheless, businesses that earn over $250,000 do not get the same rates, and there are some transparency issues in terms of payment structure with more lucrative businesses.
Stripe also has a pretty straightforward payment structure, charging 2.9% plus 30 cents for all online transactions, 2.7% plus 5 cents for all in-person transactions, 3.4% plus 30 cents for manually typed-in payments, and 3.9% plus 30 cents for currency conversions and international cards.
PayPal can work out pricier than Square and Stripe when calculating costs on a transaction basis. PayPal charges a transaction fee of 2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person transactions and 2.59 – 3.49% plus 49 cents for online transactions. This makes it costlier than the other platforms for online transactions. PayPal payments pro also costs users more and merchants will incur a monthly fee. It also has higher chargeback fees at $20.
User Interface and Ease of Use Comparison
When it comes to Square vs PayPal, both are pretty simple to navigate. They each offer customers great user ease thanks to their quick and simple interfaces. Stripe can be more complex for those without a development background, especially when it comes to customization options.
Customer Support Comparison
Square offers customers a live chat option and provides online support through its website and blog. It also offers phone support between 9 am and 5 pm.
Stripe offers an online live chat, information via its website and blog, and 24/7 phone support for customers (on request). This makes it the best option when it comes to real-time, 24-hour communication. When it comes to Stripe Vs Square or PayPal, Stripe has the best communication options.
PayPal has a call center and can be contacted via live chat. Customer support isn't available 24/7 like with Stripe, making regular contact a trickier process.
Security and Fraud Protection Comparison
All three apps offer high security for those with a merchant account or small business. Each adhere to payment card industry data (PCI) standards.
Square offers end-to-end encrypted payment processes so that confidential details don't get into the wrong hands.
Stripe's specialized Radar systems scan every transaction, detecting fraud and offering real-time protection before it hits business.
PayPal offers users two-factor authentication and high-level encryption systems that monitor all transactions.
Choosing the best payment processor will largely depend on the ways in which you manage invoicing and the type of payments you process. Simply put, Square is the best payment processor for in-person and retail transactions, Stripe is best for ecommerce stores and subscription plans, and PayPal is best for smaller businesses working with international sellers.
If you're looking for a service provider that offers more than just a payment platform, including client relationship management, invoicing, a client portal, and integrated scheduling — check out Practice. Practice integrates directly with Stripe for easy payment processing, while having more specific payment features like selling packages. Get started for free.