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It’s safe to say that the goal of pretty much every business owner is to make money—but perhaps less top of mind is how to actually process that money at the point of sale (POS). Luckily, that’s a task you can outsource to your business’s point of sale system. And if you’ve done some research into the payment-processing space, you’re likely curious about how Clover vs. Square stack up, as they’re two of the leading names in payment solutions for small businesses.
As a quick reminder, your POS system refers firstly to your POS terminal, which is the hardware that physically accepts credit card payments, cash, and checks. But if you opt for an all-in-one payment processing system like Clover or Square, your POS system will also include software that can process those payments, as well as offer additional capabilities that help you run and manage your business, like inventory management, employee tracking, customer-behavior data, sales report generation, and more.
So, how do Clover vs. Square compare—and which one is right for your business? To answer those questions, we’ll give you an overview of both so you can make a side-to-side comparison of these two POS systems.
Clover allows business owners to build their ideal payment processing system with a combination of their hardware and software offerings. More specifically, Clover offers the following hardware:
All of these hardware devices can work alone, or together—choose whichever tools you need to serve your particular business.
In addition to its external devices, Clover also offers three service plans. The tier you choose depends upon the amount of credit card transactions your business processes per year, and the additional features you want from your Clover POS terminal:
Clover’s mix-and-match services come at a price, of course. Here’s how Clover’s costs pan out, for both their hardware and software options:
Keep in mind that in addition to paying for your Clover hardware and service plan, you’ll also need to pay a payment processing fee for each transaction. Rates start at 2.3% + $0.10 per transaction, and will vary depending on your software plan.
The real draw for a Clover POS system is that it’s highly customizable. As we mentioned, you can pick and choose among their hardware options, depending on how and where your business needs to process payments. If, for instance, you have a brick-and-mortar store but you also sell your wares at farmers’ markets or craft fairs, you can pick up either a Clover Mini or Clover Station for your store, along with a Clover Go for when you’re not tied to a countertop.
Clover Flex, their handheld POS system, is a particularly unique device. Flex can be especially useful for restaurants that want to settle up with their customers tableside, service-based businesses that make house calls, or any other business that wants the freedom to process payments (while accessing other management features) pretty much anywhere they go.
And as an all-in-one payment processing system, Clover can do much more than accepting and processing payments. For instance, Clover integrates with apps like MailChimp, QuickBooks, Shopify, and other software you use to run and manage your business. And depending on the service plan and hardware you choose, with your Clover POS you can perform additional capabilities like manage your inventory, track sales and produce reports, set employee shifts, and much more. You can also access the Clover app store, on which you’ll find tons of management tools that can integrate into your Clover POS system.
As you can likely tell, the major drawback to using a Clover POS is the price, as their hardware options don’t come cheap. Remember that you’ll need to pay transaction fees on top of the lump sum for your hardware, too. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to seek a POS system with lower-cost (or even free) hardware options.
Next up in our Clover vs. Square round-up is, of course, Square POS. Perhaps the best-known name in POS systems, Square offers business owners a range of hardware to physically accept payments, along with a payment processing software, which is available as an app for both Apple and Android. The app includes all the capabilities necessary for processing payments, along with employee management features, inventory tracking, invoicing, and next-day deposits into your business bank account.
You can choose whether to purchase an all-in-one POS terminal to process your payments, or to use your own iPad or smartphone as your POS terminal—in which case, you’ll need to download the Square POS app and purchase an external hardware that can accept card payments.
Here’s a quick rundown of Square’s hardware, and the types of payments each can accept:
The great news about Square POS? The Square POS app is totally free. But to accept and process physical payments at your point of sale, of course, you’ll need to purchase necessary hardware—though the exception is the Square magstripe reader, which you’ll receive for free.
Let’s go through those prices for each type of hardware:
Square Stand: $169
Square Terminal: $399
Additionally, you’ll need to pay Square processing fees for every transaction, and fees depend upon the type of hardware you choose and the type of transaction you’re processing.
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Where Square wins over Clover is its price-point, as all of Square’s hardware are less expensive than their respective, comparable Clover devices. On top of that, the Square POS software is free, while you’ll need to pay for Clover’s service plans (or two out of the three). You’ll also get the Square magstripe reader for free, which just might tide you over as your sole payment processing hardware until you want or need to upgrade.
Square also easily allows business owners to accept payments online or over the phone through Square Virtual Terminal, which turns your own computer into a POS terminal into which you can manually enter your customer’s credit card information.
Despite Square’s slightly lower price point than Clover’s, you always need to pay attention to transaction fees—and Square’s may surpass Clover’s on that front. Once again, fees vary depending on the hardware you’re using and how you’re processing each payment, but generally Square fees start at 2.75% per transaction (as opposed to Clover’s fees, which start at 2.3% +$0.10). Depending on the types of additional hardware you need to purchase, too, your total Square bill might end up being bigger than your Clover bill.
The Square app is fairly limited in its capabilities too, at least compared to Clover’s robust business-management features.
Now that you have an overview of Clover vs. Square, how do you know which of these POS systems will work best for your business?
Clover might be a better option for businesses that want some of the most business-management features available in a POS terminal. It’s also worth looking into Clover if you run a retail, restaurant, or service business, as Clover offers dedicated POS solutions for these industries.
In contrast, Square works well for businesses that need a no-fuss POS solution that reliably accepts and processes several types of credit payments in several formats—and which don’t need much in the way of additional features. Square might also be a better option than Clover for ecommerce businesses, as Square offers dedicated ecommerce solutions that include business website creation and online payment acceptance.
All told, you’ll need to take stock of what you want from your POS terminal and, of course, how much you’re willing to pay for it. Whether you choose Clover vs. Square, though, know that you’ll be taking advantage of some of the most advanced and secure all-in-one payment processing systems on the market—and if you find that neither option are right for your business, know that there are plenty of other top POS system options available to you.