Stripe vs. Square: Which Is Right for Your Business?

Maddie Shepherd

Contributing Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current freelance writer. Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. Maddie has a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Latin American cultures from Barnard College.
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Two of the most recognizable payment processing companies on the market today are Stripe and Square, and as a result of this brand recognition, the question of Stripe vs. Square comes up for many small business owners.

Though Stripe and Square might seem like one in the same—just two tech-driven payments startups with geometric names—their products can actually be remarkably different in practice. As a result, distinguishing between Stripe vs. Square is a crucial step in finding the right payments solution for your business’s needs.

We’ll go through all you need to know in deciding between Stripe vs. Square—and even provide you with another top payment option beyond this two-pronged decision. Here is your guide to understanding Stripe vs. Square and figuring out whether or not either is right for your business.

Where Stripe Wins in Stripe vs. Square

Before we dive into the details on each option, we’ll deliver the foundations of what makes Stripe vs. Square two viable—but distinct—options. Both Stripe and Square have unique things going for them, so choosing between Stripe vs. Square for your business will mean choosing which unique product offers more of what you need. First, let’s see where Stripe beats out Square in the Stripe vs. Square debate:

More Developer-Friendly

Once you peer in the Stripe documentation for developers that they provide on their website, you’ll understand—this is truly a payment platform meant for tech professionals. More specifically, Stripe is a payment platform made primarily for businesses that have at least one developer on their team.

Their brandable custom UI toolkit is one of their most noteworthy features, and it’s used by some of the biggest brands out there—like Glossier and Slack. Plus, Stripe offers an in-app payment platform option, so developers will be able to integrate a custom checkout experience into your business’s app.

More to this theme, a Stripe payment platform is better for higher-volume online transactions, so most fully online companies will rely on Stripe for their payment platform. As a result, many will already have developers on their team, and they’ll be eager to take advantage of easily customizable checkout platform.

Accepts More Payment Methods

Additionally, Stripe wins out in Stripe vs. Square when considering how many payment options your customers will have. The list of payment options available through Stripe is vast: from ACH to pretty much any mobile wallet you can name, if your customer uses it, Stripe probably processes it.  

Having so many payment options can seriously improve your business’s bottom line by increasing conversion rates significantly. When customers are able to pay exactly how they want, they’re more likely to actually end up following through with a purchase.

stripe vs. square

Where Square Wins in Stripe vs. Square

Overall, you’ll notice that Square’s upsides are more focused on the small business side of things. For instance, if you’re looking to expand your brick-and-mortar business by starting an ecommerce store, then Square’s online payments solutions might be more suited for your needs.

Accepting online payment through Square will be more intuitive for business owners who are split between in-person business and online payments, but aren’t entirely web-based.

Let’s look at the two places where Square outperforms Stripe to get a better idea of how it stacks up in the Stripe vs. Square debate:

Weebly Store Setup Option

For business owners who are taking the first steps toward setting up their ecommerce presence, the Weebly store setup option for Square payments is an absolute game-changer. You will be able to access professionally designed online store templates and set up your shop, all without a professional developer. Plus, you’ll be able to access a custom domain for free for a year.

Beyond aesthetics, though, choosing Square payments and tacking on the Weebly online store setup option will avail you to some incredible functions. Namely, you’ll be able to access integrated shipping labels to send your goods to customers, manage inventory to a tee, and market your new Weebly store. For a monthly price starting at $8, this is pretty remarkable and opens up a lot of possibilities for businesses without access to web developers.

Easily Integrates With In-Person Payments Systems

Finally, Square certainly wins out over Stripe with their in-person payment offerings. So, if you do most of your sales face-to-face, then Square will probably be your winner in Stripe vs. Square. It’s ideal to have all of your payments—online and in-person—running through one account. And if you need a powerful in-person payment system, then opting for Square over Stripe is a no-brainer.

The Rundown on Stripe Online Payments

If you’ve ever made a payment online or through a mobile app, odds are you’ve made a payment through a Stripe payment platform. Although you probably didn’t realize it—and that’s the whole point of Stripe: They’re a white-label online payment service that’s meant to take on your brand and desired checkout experience.

That said, Stripe payments won’t go much further than the screen—they’ve newly released their Terminal for in-person payments, but it’s currently only available by invite, which you can request on their website.

If you’re looking for a way to seamlessly integrate online payments onto your business’s website, learn more about what Stripe would entail for your business.

Stripe Setup

Setting up a Stripe checkout experience on your business’s website can range from simple to intricate, depending on what you need from your payment platform. If you don’t have a tech professional at your disposal, you can simply copy and paste a line of JavaScript to your business’s website to install the Stripe embeddable checkout. If you have a developer to help you, then you can access the Stripe custom UI toolkit for creating your own payment platform.

On the other hand, if you’re selling through a technology like WordPress or Shopware, installing a Stripe payment platform will be even easier—you’ll simply need to install the open-source Stripe plug-in that these ecommerce platforms offer.

Stripe Features

One of the most notable features that Stripe offers is their nearly universal payment options. If your customer wants to pay in a certain way, then your Stripe payment platform will almost certainly allow them to. Payment options as diverse as ACH payments to Discover to Microsoft—and pretty much anything in between.

Plus, for you Stripe offers up unified financial reporting, built-in reporting, and customer reporting. Stripe will also offer accounting support, with QuickBooks and tax reporting integrations to boot.

Stripe Fees

Finally, to access a Stripe payment platform for your business’s website, you’ll simply have to pay the Stripe payment processing fee of 2.9% of the transaction amount, plus $0.30. That’s right, you won’t have to pay any setup or monthly fees to use Stripe payments on your business’s website.

stripe vs. square

The Rundown on Square Online Payments

Square made their debut with in-person payments solutions and changed the game with their iPad POS system. But in 2016, Square came out with their very own online payment solution, pitting them against other online payment services. Thus, the Stripe vs. Square question has become more and more relevant over years since.

So, how does Square stack up to Stripe? Let’s zoom into the details on this contender before we draw any conclusion.

Square Setup

Setup for Square online payments will work much like Stripes, with less emphasis on developer resources. For instance, Square provides ecommerce plugins on much of the same technology as Stripe does. Plus, they provide an embeddable checkout option along with a customizable online payments API, though the developer documentation for these will be less thorough than Stripe’s.

One upside to Square setup, though, is their new Weebly offering. In April 2018, Square acquired Weebly, the ecommerce platform, to allow Square customers to easily set up their online store on their own. So, using Square and Weebly together will mean setting up your retail website and your payment platform, all in one fell swoop.

Square Features

Square online payments come with most of the draws that Square in-person payments boast—they offer fast deposits, reporting tools, and PCI-compliance. Even more upsides start to roll in if you choose to build your online store through Weebly and accept online payments through Square. You’ll be able to access customizable website themes, a top-rated mobile app for backend reporting, and a free custom domain for a year. Plus, you’ll be able to access shipping labels, inventory management, advanced analytics, and marketing tools through Weebly and Square.

Square Fees

If you’re simply using Square to accept online payments, then you’ll simply have to pay Square payment processing fees of 2.9% of the transaction value, plus $0.30 per transaction. Looks familiar, right? That’s because Square vs. Stripe fees for payment processing are exactly the same. That said, if you decide to also build your ecommerce store with Weebly, you’ll also have to pay a monthly fee that will start at $8, but could be more expensive based on what you need for your online store.

Online Payment Processing Beyond Stripe vs. Square

Having dug into all the intricacies of Stripe vs Square, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one other online payments option that you should consider. To be sure, Stripe vs. Square isn’t the be-all and end-all of online payment options. PayPal is another main contender for online payment processing for small business. PayPal is actually one of the most small business-friendly online payment options available. Their entry-level checkout experience—Payflow Link—will only cost you $0.10 per transaction.

That said, it’s only a payment gateway, and will require you to come to the table with your own merchant account. But if you already have your own merchant account for your business, then PayPal could be another viable option for online payments. If you’re eager for more details on how PayPal compares to Stripe and Square, check out our review on Stripe vs. PayPal to get a better idea.

Stripe vs. Square: Some Final Thoughts

As you move forward with all of this information about Stripe vs. Square, keep it top-of-mind when choosing your online payment platform. Each will serve your business differently, because each was made with a different kind of business in mind, so be sure that you’re choosing the right online payment experience that fits your business’s and your customer’s needs.

Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.

Maddie Shepherd

Contributing Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current freelance writer. Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. Maddie has a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Latin American cultures from Barnard College.

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