6 Square Reader Alternatives

Square Reader

If you’re a business who sells face to face to customers, it’s likely you’ve heard of Square and the Square Reader. More than likely you’ve used it as a customer at a farmers’ market. Square gives small businesses a way to swipe credit cards and take payments from customers. The device is known as the Square Reader. It’s a massive innovation because before Square, small businesses needed to buy expensive point-of-sale equipment. PayPal also offers a similar solution called PayPal Here. (Here is our comparison of Square Vs. PayPal.) But there’s more. We located about 6 other alternatives to Square that you might want to consider. But first let’s summarize what you get when you go with Square.

What does Square give the merchant? Here’s what you get:

  • The Square equipment plugs into your smartphone. You can take it anywhere. We’ve bought hotdogs on the beach with Square. We’ve paid for many taxi trips with Square.
  • The equipment is free and easy to use. We’v never seen anyone struggle to use Square. It’s really easy.
  • There is no monthly fee. That’s nice. If you make no sales you won’t pay a fee.
  • Square charges the merchant 2.75% of each transaction. So every time you swipe a credit card Square takes 2.75%.
  • Square payments are processed by Chase Paymentech. Chase Paymentech is a massive leader in the online payment processing space.

So Square is basically great. But there are some things that may make you want to think through other options. Square offers little in the way of customer service. You need to log into their website located here (https://squareup.com/help/us/en/article/4993-contact-us-with-your-customer-cod) to find their phone number. Square also offers support via Twitter and email.

Square is a great service. Doesn’t matter how big your business is. Square gets you mobile card readers, POS and online payments. Customers are used to Square. The service is really good. And reasonably affordable. They often run promotions and make it easy to get started. But Square is not the only game in town. There are more providers out there. Some of their offerings are very good. In some cases they do better than Square in our opinion.

For those who don’t have time to read, here is a table that shows the providers that we’ve been able to locate. The reviews of each follow under the table.

ProductMobile Reader FeePer Transaction FeeMonthly FeeSubscription PlanSelling PointSupport
PayPal HereFirst reader free2.70%NoneNoneCustomer SupportEmail, Phone, Twitter
Clover GoVaries with resellerVaries with resellerNoneNoneClover’s robust line of POS featuresEmail, Phone, Twitter
Intuit GoPaymentFirst reader free2.4% + $0.25 OR 1.6% +$0.25Only for specific plan$19.95QuickBooks integrationLive Chat
Inner FenceFirst reader freeVaries with resellerNone$39.00Bring your own merchant account, Pick from a number of payment providersEmail, Phone
Spark PayFirst reader free2.65% + $0.05 OR 1.99% + $0.05Only for Pro Plan$19.00Potential Cost savingsEmail, Phone
Vend POSFirst reader freeVaries$59 for additional options$59Potential Cost savingsEmail, Phone
iZettleFirst reader free2.75% OR 1.00%NoneNonePotential Cost savingsEmail, Phone

PayPal Here

PayPal Here LogoEveryone knows PayPal, however have you heard of PayPal Here?

PayPal Here is PayPal’s popular mobile payment handling service. They have a version very similar Square’s. You need a PayPal Business or Premier account, however the upgrade from an individual PayPal account is totally free. What’s also free is the application and card reader.

In addition to approving swiped, keyed-in charge card payments, PayPal Here’s merchants can also use picture capture (i.e., your smart device’s video camera) to accept checks. It works with most Apple devices as well as some Android as well as Windows devices.

PayPal Here features all the typical functions (mobile card processing, mobile POS, cost-free mobile app, free audio jack swiper), and the solution likewise offers the advantage of instant accessibility to funds through your PayPal account.

Why is PayPal Here better when compared to Square?

PayPal Here provides more functions and a general superior customer experience when as compared to Square, or as compared to a lot of any standalone mobile processing service. They also have reduced charges (2.7% each card swipe, with no regular monthly fee).

PayPal Here also has better customer support compared to Square. PayPal Here utilizes PayPal’s main support group, that includes several options, varying from phone assistance to a Twitter account. They run Monday via Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central Time. (You could tweet your inquiries to @AskPayPal.). This is a big advantage because PayPal has millions of merchants and knows how to support. Getting the same level of support is a big bonus and something to consider.

Clover Go

Clover Go is the mobile version of the super-popular Clover suite of POS items. Clover Go is easy to use, chip card-compatible, and has a merchant account. It’s a mobile POS with all the regular features you get from Clover POS. For example, you get accessibility to Clover’s back office reporting as well as as email reciepts, and also inventory management. If you have pop-up store, kiosk in addition to your fixed retail store, you could use Clover Go as a payment alternative along with your key Clover Terminal. Here is a comparison of Clover Vs. Square.

While the other Clover POS systems (Clover Station and Clover Mini) needs you to buy proprietary equipment, Clover Go allows you use an apple iphone or Android phone, similar to Square. The expense of Clover Go’s EMV-compliant earphone jack card reader varies somewhat depending on the reseller, however you should have the ability to obtain it for less than $100.

What makes Clover Go better compared to Square?

The major advantage of Clover Go compared with Square is that you obtain a real merchant account with Clover Go. Square puts in you in shared merchant account or a pool of other merchants. Why does this matter? It means that you’re tied to the behavior of the other merchants in the pool. This may not matter because Square has many merchants and a few bad apples won’t cause problems with the rest of the group. However, if you want your own merchant account that you’re responsible for then Clover Go is a place to consider. Your merchant account provider has to use First Data as its backend processor. If you decide to invest in a fixed store location you’ll be familiar with Clover the company and all the services that they provide. Their POS software and hardware, for example, has a robust app marketplace where the merchant can get free apps to run in their Clover POS terminal.

Intuit GoPayment

Intuit is best recognized for its flagship software application: QuickBooks. QuickBooks is heavily used by small and medium sized businesses. However, you may not have heard of Intuit GoPayment mobile payments. If you need mobile payments, then Intuit GoPayment is also something to consider. Especially if you’re a business that already uses Quick Books. Unlike Square you’ll get the benefits of a merchant account. In addition to Quick Book functions, Intuit provides you advanced features like invoicing, electronic camera scanning to record card details (at a higher processing fee), recurring invoices, and the ability to process cards from a web browser. (e.g. Virtual Terminal)

How is Intuit GoPayment better than Square?

Unlike Square, Intuit GoPayment provides you your own merchant account. GoPayment’s price of 2.4% + $0.25 each swipe is more affordable except when it comes to extremely tiny transactions (and for a $19.95 monthly fee you get lower processing fee of 1.6% + $0.25). You’ll want to do the math to determine if the subscription fee makes sense. It won’t make sense unless you’re making enough sales to cover the cost of subscription with the money you’ll save from the reduced processing fee.Intuit GoPayment has extra innovative features compared to Square, including QuickBooks integration. There is also support with Live Chat. So if you’re already using QuickBooks and want to save some money Intuit GoPayment is a great option to consider.

Inner Fence

Inner Fence launched around 2007. Inner Fence was the initial developer of the mobile processing application and also online mobile terminal. What’s different about Inner Fence is that you can use their service even if you have an account with another provider.

Here are the providers that they work with: Authorize.Net, Beanstream, Bluefin, BluePay, Braintree, Element Express, First Data, MerchantWARE, NMI, PayPal Payments Pro, PayTrace, Pin Payments, Quantum, Sage Payment, Stripe, USA ePay, and Verifi. With Inner Fence, you can set up your own merchant account as well as gateway. This function uses merchants higher security yet has a greater price. If you don’t have a payment gateway you can get started with Stripe for the settlements and gateway. This will cost you about $39 monthly, plus 2.9% + $0.30 on each transaction. You get one complimentary card reader and also extra ones are $79.

What makes Inner Fence Better than Square?

If you already have a relationship with these guys or want to start one, Inner Fence may be the way to go. You’ll get the Inner Fence mobile processing service with a merchant account and gateway that you like. If you don’t have a payment provider you can get started with Stripe. (Authorize.Net, Beanstream, Bluefin, BluePay, Braintree, Element Express, First Data, MerchantWARE, NMI, PayPal Payments Pro, PayTrace, Pin Payments, Quantum, Sage Payment, Stripe, USA ePay, and Verifi.)

Spark Pay

Spark Pay, the mobile processing arm of Capital One, has gotten very little attention since it re-launched and rebranded a few years ago in 2013. (Spark Pay was formerly SAILby VeriFone). Be that as it may, it’s a simple service that might save you some money.

Spark Pay handles debit as well as bank card handling via a magstripe card reader that links into your phone’s earphone jack (subsequent readers will cost you $13/reader). By adding a $250 wired payment terminal you can do NFC payments and EMV chip cards. NFC is near field communications or Apple Pay, Samsung Pay using your customer’s smartphone. They offer 2 different fee plans. There is a pay as you go plan, and the Pro Plan (monthly fee). If you’re a higher volume merchant, you will want to consider the Pro Plan. The benefits of the higher-volume Pro Plan are that you pay much less per each deal– 1.99% + $0.05 per swipe for the paid strategy vs. 2.65% + $0.05.

What makes Spark Pay much better than Square?

Spark Pay’s Pro Plan could possibly save higher-volume merchants some money over Square, given that your typical sale goes to the very least $7 or so. Even if you select Spark Pay’s complimentary “Go” plan (no regular monthly fee), the 2.65% + $0.05 per-transaction fee is still lower than Square’s for purchases $50 and also larger.

Customers of Spark Pay also get strong client assistance, provided over the phone during company hrs. Combined with prompt email support (one-day turn-around or much less) and also responsive Twitter support.

Vend POS

Vend is an effective, full-fledged POS system, such that you can use it to replace a typical Windows-based POS system at your brick-and-mortar shop. Vend is also a sensible option to Square if you presently utilize the Square Stand iPad configuration. In addition to running on an iPad, you could also use Vend from a web internet browser.

Fees with Vend depend upon the payment processor you utilize; for example, if you use Vend with PayPal, you’ll obtain a rate of 2.7%. Vantiv is an additional payment processing alternative. Vend has a monthly service fee unless you choose its limited complimentary plan. But the many POS options that come with Vend make its $59/month worth considering. These functions consist of sophisticated inventory administration, 24/7 e-mail assistance, offline mode, eCommerce performance, loyalty program features, client management, and more.

Why use Vend instead of Square?

For really low-volume companies that process all sales from a smart device, Square might be the much better option. Nonetheless, iPad-based Vend is a sensible Square option for expanding services that wish to update from an informal “mobile POS” like Square. At the very same time, Vend is a more economical middle-of-the-road option compared to others in the iPad POS space.


iZettle is a chip card-based mobile payment solution that currently offers payment processing to merchants in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and also Brazil. Nope. It’s not yet available in the US yet. But we reckon that it’s probably coming over here.

To process mobile repayments, iZettle offers 2 separate mobile charge card viewers, including one that collaborates with chip and also PIN cards, and another for chip as well as signature cards. In the UK market, card readers vary from ₤ 20 to ₤ 59– about $30 to $90.

The main draw of iZettle is its reduced ultra-low processing fees, which start at simply 1.00% for high-volume vendors. While the lowest quantity sellers will pay 2.75% per purchase, as soon as you struck ₤ 2,000 in card repayments in a month, your fee starts to go down, going as reduced as 1.00% if you accept greater than ₤ 40,000/ month in repayments.

Here are some other features of iZettle

  • Cash money drawer
  • Receipt printer connection or send receipts by email
  • Cash and credit card acceptance

As for customer support, iZettle has e-mail assistance as well as phone support.

What makes iZettle better than Square?

Compared with Square, iZettle offers cheaper rates. But it’s not in the US. So we give it an “Honorable Mention” for US merchants. But if you’re in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and or Brazil, you’ll want to consider them. They’re cheap and you’ll save some money.

As a local business, it’s always excellent to have options when it involves mobile settlement approval. If it’s not satisfying your needs adequately, the variety of different mobile settlement as well as mobile POS service providers suggests that you don’t have to remain with Square. The best part is that you do not have to stick to just one mobile payments processor. None of the firms reviewed in this article have contracts or early termination fees.

Square Receipt Printers