The Definitive Guide to the Best Square Alternatives

July 1, 2020 / Posted in Payment Processing

Any company that seriously wants to compete in today’s market has to enable its customers to pay with credit cards for their goods or services. Even more, it should provide an opportunity for payments to be made from mobile phones via specially designed readers. One giant has dominated that market for a while, but the search for Square alternatives is well underway. There are many companies and services that want to secure their niche, and we’ll present you with our picks. But let’s start from the beginning.

What Is Square

Square is a company that deals with financial services and mobile payments. A brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, it launched the first app in 2010. Its main product, Reader, accepts payments by connecting to the audio jack of a mobile device. Over the years, it has improved its software, adding more options and services to become the most popular provider on the market.

So, what makes it so popular? Firstly, it charges a flat rate to its clients, per each credit card transaction. Next, it provides a separate reader for both Android and iOS devices.

Transactions are charged at least 2.6% + 10 cents if the card is swept, and 3.5% + 15 cents if the information is manually keyed in. If you use Square’s apps specially designed for restaurants and retail enterprises, you can expect to pay a monthly subscription fee as well.

So Why Go for Square Alternatives? Is Something Missing?

Being the most popular or the most significant player in the market doesn’t mean there are no downsides. For starters, you can’t contact Square’s customer service unless you’re already their client and receive a specific confirmation code for every call. But since every business is in large part about money, there lie reasons to look elsewhere.

Square’s recently changed pricing model meant that smaller players took the hit. The precise percentage is no problem, but the added fixed amount meant that Square no longer offered the best credit card processing for small business in terms of fees. So, the time had come for many to seek an alternative.

Also, whether Square’s services are adequate for your business, much depends on the industry. As we’ve mentioned, restaurants and retail stores have to pay an additional monthly fee for the relevant application.

What Square Alternatives Might Be the Better for Your Business

Given that cashless transactions are a part of everyday life for all merchants nowadays, they have to find eCommerce payment options that suit them the most.

CDGcommerce Has a Way With Prices for Larger Businesses

Our first pick is CDGcommerce. It is an excellent option for merchants who process more than a couple of thousand dollars a month and are ready to move a step further. For them, Square’s much less beneficial than a merchant account. With a merchant account, processing fees are usually lower, and service is better. CDGcommerce provides online merchant accounts and also does mobile sales, eCommerce, and retail POS transactions.

It offers two pricing models. One is well suited for businesses that process from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars a month. Such companies pay a monthly fee of 10 dollars, while payment processing rate is 1.7% and 25 cents for each transaction. Most cards fall into this pricing category while using more luxurious ones is charged more.

The other pricing model is suitable for high-volume merchants (those who process more than 10,000 per month with interchange-plus rates. However, quotes for this one are personalized and received upon contact.

There are other reasons why applying for a merchant account at CDGcommerce is beneficial to companies. CDGcommerce charges no fees for setup, gateway, or PCI compliance, but also some of the sneakier ones, like the early termination fee. That is to say, all contracts with CDG are short-term.

Also, merchants are provided with a free reader with the option of upgrading to a wireless terminal for NFC.

PayPal Here

PayPal is a giant in the world of online paying but has also made significant steps in the field of cards. In fact, PayPal Here is among Square’s fiercest competitors. It offers several different readers, but only the first, standard one is free. With it, you can accept paying with credit and debit cards with a magnetic stripe. If you wish additional units, they come for 14,99 USD. However, PayPal offers a device that combines all others, for 149 dollars. PayPal Here works for Android, iOS, and even Windows ran phones and tablets.

For 2.7% per each payment, PayPal Here allows check processing, as well as calculating discounts and refunds.

PayPal doesn’t charge monthly for its software and hardware, but it’ll do a background check on a would-be client before it approves the deal. Once it does, money from sales will be transferred to the merchant’s account almost immediately.


Unlike the previous pick, Clover offers a system with many different options, many of which don’t require a smart device. Clover Go is a Bluetooth reader that costs 59 dollars to get, while Clover Flex can accept all payments and scan barcodes, which is not bad for a handheld device, albeit at 449 dollars. Clover’s software can work with all processors who operate under the First Data platform, one of the biggest processors in the world.

When it comes to the structure of Clover’s credit card transaction fees, they can be either flat rate or interchange plus. The price for the Register Lite POS software is 14 dollars a month, plus costs per transaction. Those are 2.7% and 10 cents for in-person paying, and 3.5% and 10 cents for keyed-in paying.

With Clover Go, you get multiple useful features, like customizable sales tax, refunds, options for tipping, discounts, and more. There are also loyalty programs, pre-authorization options, and features that allow merchants to organize their workforce and inventory.

ShopKeep – Perfect for Coffee Shops and Bars

If you’re in the food- or drink-serving industry, ShopKeep offers all the necessary features. Among the elements highly beneficial for restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are tracking the inventory and raw goods, reporting on profits, but also alerting you if the stocks are low. On the serving side of the deal, ShopKeep sends orders to the chefs and can, if and when necessary, split checks, as well as updating them.

Retailers can use ShopKeep, too, for its CSV spreadsheet option for inventory and Bluetooth barcode scanner.

The great thing about ShopKeep as Square’s alternative for small businesses is their free starter plan. Whether a merchant qualifies for it will depend on a personalized quote, and if he does, he can expect very reasonable prices. Also, Square’s software for restaurants offers fewer features.

ShopKeep uses an interchange-plus rate that is set for each client separately. Another good thing is that you don’t have to use their processor if you already have a merchant account.

Competitors on QuickBooks

Our next pick is linked with QuickBooks, an accounting software best suited for medium-sized businesses.

QuickBooks GoPayment

GoPayment is a service best suited for medium-sized companies. It can benefit the small ones, too, but only if they don’t process many small transactions; otherwise, they’ll pay a lot of money on fees. To put it into perspective, while one 15 dollar sale costs 61 cents on GoPayment, Square’s cut is 49 cents.

On the other hand, the GoPayment app costs nothing (though it works only for iOS and Android devices), there are no setup costs, and early termination fees are out of the game. Also, GoPayment doesn’t go for long-term contracts, so there’s a space to save money. With the subscription to GoPayment, you’ll acquire a full merchant account.

On to prices. GoPayment offers two models – per payment or monthly subscription. First is a flat rate of 2.4% and 25 cents for swipe, and 3.4% plus 25 cents for keyed-in cards. With a monthly subscription, you pay 20 dollars every month, but the rates for each transaction are lowered.

The biggest downside, besides the costs mentioned above, is no option for eCommerce. Still, if you are already a client of QuickBooks, GoPayment may be the right choice for you.

The basic reader accepts chip and magstripe cards, while the device with all options costs 49 dollars.

NCR Silver: A Very Good Alternative

NCR was ever an innovator, from the cash register in the 19th century to today’s mobile POS service. NCR Silver allows not only payment processing but also features tools for marketing. With it, restaurants and retailers can make different announcements, like those about sales or specials, and share them on social media to get to more customers.

NCR Silver provides POS packages for both Android and iOS devices, with a free trial that lasts for two weeks. On the system can be added a card reader, scanner, receipt printer, and more. Its customer support works non-stop, and you can contact NCR’s agent at any time.

With NCR Silver, the payment processor determines the transaction cost. Merchant also pays the monthly fee (99 dollars for the Basic plan and 169 dollars for Pro plan), as well as 50 dollars for additional iPads.

Restaurants can install a special version, with many features suitable for that kind of business, like check splitting or inventory. These features are invaluable for entrepreneurs who run more than one location.

Square’s prices are lower, indeed, but additional services are what sets NCR Silver apart.

A man swiping a card on a POS machine

Square’s Best POS Competitors

Now we will spare a few words for Square’s competitors in the field of POS services.

Try Many Features of TouchBistro

The first pick is TouchBistro. It was created for restaurants and cafes, and it turns iPads into POS terminals.

It allows an employee to bring a tablet to the customer and receipt to be sent by mail. Software is regularly updated at no cost, and numerous features will make your life as a merchant much easier.

When it comes to paying for it, there’s a monthly fee, but it’s charged once per year. The cost depends on the number of linked iPads, from 69 dollars a month for one to 399 dollars for six or more. You’ll also have to pay to the chosen merchant processing company.

Lightspeed Retail

Next come Lightspeed, full system ideal for retailers. For 99 dollars a month, you get much more advanced software than Square’s, which is cheaper. If linked with iPads, Lightspeed can be used on any device connected to the internet. Store credit, buying inventory, and managing it are only a few of its benefits.

Lightspeed’s processing rate is 2.6% and 10 cents.

Still, it’s quite a complicated system and maybe not adequate for very small companies.


Shopify is a well-known eCommerce entity that chose to enter the market with its own system and expand into new niches. The monthly cost for a lite mode is 9 dollars, and for it, you get a button on websites that cooperate with Shopify.

Besides the monthly fee, there are transaction costs, 2.7% for swiping or tapping a credit card, and 2.9% and 30 cents if someone plays online via Shopify Payments service. A Shopify reader costs 29 dollars in the store, but as a client, you’ll get one free of charge.

If you are new in eCommerce or prepare to step into that field, Shopify may be the best option.

Verifone Carbon

Verifone Carbon is an excellent option for any business because it provides specific apps that each helps one particular field, and it works with virtually every credit card on the market.

Its portable unit can be used as a countertop register as well.

One of the finest additions to this system is that you can continue with the same device even if you change processors.

There Is Lot to Choose From, So Find the One That Suits You

Businesses compete for the slices of market share all the time. In that game, the choice of mobile payment operators is as vital as choosing the right credit card processing services. Square may still be the largest, but more and more merchants seek other ways, be it for lower fees, additional features, or specialized services for specific businesses. Whatever your reason may be, don’t hesitate to make the step in the right direction for your business.


It never hurts to know how much you can save.

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