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Stripe vs. Square: How to Choose One 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.
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.

Two of the most recognizable payment processing companies on the market today are Stripe and Square, and as a result of this brand recognition, business owners frequently wonder about the differences between the two, asking, “Stripe vs. Square?”

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

We’ll go through all you need to know in order to decide 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.

Stripe vs. Square: Stripe Wins

Before we dive into the details on Stripe and Square, we’ll explain what features make them viable—but distinctly different—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:

Stripe Win: Developer-Friendly

Once you take a look at the Stripe documentation for developers that they provide on their website, you’ll understand—this is truly a payment platform meant for the tech-inclined business owner. 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 payments 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.

Stripe Win: Accepts More Payment Methods

Additionally, Stripe wins out in the Stripe vs. Square debate when considering how many payment options your customers will have. The list of payment options available through Stripe is long and diverse: from popular credit cards 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 follow through with a purchase.

stripe vs. square, stripe or square

Stripe vs. Square: Square Wins

Overall, you’ll notice that Square’s upsides are centered around small businesses and their needs. For instance, if you’re looking to expand your brick-and-mortar business by starting an ecommerce store then Square’s online payment solutions might be better suited for your needs.

Accepting online payments 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:

Square Win: Weebly Store Setup Option

For business owners who are taking their 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 one year.

Beyond aesthetics, though, choosing Square payments and tacking on the Weebly online store setup option will give you access to other key features. Namely, you’ll be able to access integrated shipping labels to send your goods to customers, manage inventory, 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.

Square Win: 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 when comparing 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.

Stripe vs. Square: 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.

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Stripe vs. Square: 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. Since then, the Stripe vs. Square dilemma has only grown for business owners.

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

Square Setup

Setup for Square online payments will work much like Stripe’s, 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 place.

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 are added to the list 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 only 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 online 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 Alternative to Stripe or Square

Having dug into all the intricacies of Stripe vs Square, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one other online payment option that you should consider. To be sure, Stripe and Square aren’t the be-all and end-all of online payment options. PayPal is another main contender for small businesses looking for online payment processing. PayPal is actually one of the other online payment options available that is small business-friendly. 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: 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 in a different way because each was made with a different kind of business in mind. With that said be sure that you’re choosing the right online payment experience that fits your business’s and your customer’s needs when considering Square vs. Stripe.

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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