March 8, 2024

Best 6 Square Alternatives & Competitors for 2024

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Square’s appeal to users centers around its cost-effectiveness and ease of use. When evaluating Square alternatives, we focused on finding competitors with comparable features but offering more room for your business to grow. We looked into a number of POS, payments, and ecommerce platforms in our research and narrowed down our list to the following:

  • SpotOn
  • SumUp
  • Shopify
  • PayPal Zettle
  • Clover
  • Toast
  • Touchbistro
  • Helcim
  • Stripe
  • IT Retail   
  • KORONA POS
  • Loyverse
  • eHopper

We then hand-picked five stand out systems based on unique features or functionalities that exceed what Square has to offer. Our list will be regularly updated to ensure that we provide you with the best suggestions based on the latest information.

Square is one of the most popular point-of-sale (POS) systems in the industry, with its all-in-one business solution and forever-free plan. Businesses have access to free payment processing, ecommerce, and employee management features, plus a wide range of cost-effective hardware options. That said, some businesses might still feel Square’s features lacking or find themselves outgrowing its services and in search of alternatives.

Top Square alternatives 

If you are searching for alternatives to Square, consider these five competitors that offer comparable functionalities that may better match the way you run your business:

  • Lightspeed: Best for inventory management
  • Shopify POS: Best for ecommerce businesses
  • Toast: Best Square alternative for fast-growing restaurants
  • Clover: Best if you have a preferred payment processor
  • SpotOn: Best if you are looking for a free retail POS alternative
  • IT Retail: Best for retailers that have outgrown Square

Each of our suggested Square alternatives offer all-in-one solutions and dynamic range of POS features at reasonable price points. To choose the right one for your business, consider your current goals, operational requirements, and budget.

Company Monthly Fee From Transaction Fee Free POS Plan Hardware Cost Learn More
lightspeed logo.
$69–$399
2.6% + $0.10–$0.30
X
Not disclosed
Visit Lightspeed
shopify logo.
$0 or $89 + $39–$399*
2.4%–2.9% + $0.30
$49–$399
Visit Shopify
clover logo.**
$14.95–$185
2.3%–2.6% + $0.10 to
3.5% + $0.10
X
From $49
Visit Clover
toast logo.
$0–$165
2.49% + $0.15 to
2.99% + $0.15
From $0
Visit Toast
spoton logo.
$0–$25
Not disclosed
From $50***
Visit SpotOn
Callcentric logo.
$99–$1,999
Custom
X
Included in
monthly plan
Visit IT Retail

*Shopify ecommerce software plan
**Based on Fiserv rates
*** Average price of mobile card readers (actual price not disclosed)

Lightspeed: Best Square alternative for inventory management


Pros

  • Advanced management tools for complex inventory
  • Highly customizable reporting and analytics
  • Works with third-party payment processors

Cons

  • High price points
  • Limited shipping integrations
  • No free plans
lightspeed logo

Our Rating: 4.06/5

  • Monthly Account Fee: $69–$399
  • Transaction Fees: 2.6% + $0.10–$0.30
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Upgrade to subscription plans
  • Hardware Cost: Not disclosed
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: None, unless purchasing hardware on installment

Detailed inventory management

Lightspeed’s customizable inventory management feature is designed to handle complex product matrices, from raw materials and ingredients to spare parts and special crafts. It also comes equipped with thousands of vendor catalogs, work order management, and serial number/SKU tracking functionalities.

Third-party payment processing option

Aside from Lightspeed’s built-in payments feature, the system also includes the ability to work with third-party payment processors PayPal, Stripe, Klarna, Cayan, and Authorize.net. 

Customizable reporting and high-level analytics

Included in every plan is Lightspeed’s reporting function that comes with 50+ built-in customizable reports, multi-location sales and inventory tracking, and employee performance monitoring. Lightspeed also offers analytics in its upgraded plans where businesses can set performance goals and perform A/B testing.

Pricing: 3.44/5

Hardware: 4.25/5

Software Features: 4.5/5

Support & Reliability: 4.38/5

User Experience: 3.75/5

Average User Review Scores: 4.07/5

Like Square, Lightspeed provides all-in-one industry-specific POS solutions, complete with hardware, built-in payments and ecommerce tools, and omnichannel features. However, Lightspeed is clearly the better choice for inventory management, making it the perfect Square alternative for businesses that love Square’s ease of use, but have outgrown the software.

In recent years, Lightspeed has developed solid industry-specific software to rival most popular POS providers. But what makes Lightspeed stand out most is its advanced inventory management features. Lightspeed makes it possible to easily track ingredient-level inventory with tools like customizable matrices, omnichannel ordering, and serial number tracking. The range of its advanced inventory tools makes it possible for Lightspeed to support niche businesses such as jewelry, sporting goods, bike shops, vape shops, golf courses, and more.

Shopify: Best Square alternative for ecommerce


Pros

  • Free POS software available
  • Native ecommerce platform
  • Can run on desktops and iPads

Cons

  • Limited features in the free POS plan
  • Requires a Shopify ecommerce plan
  • Charges commission on third-party payment processing
Shopify logo

Our Rating: 4.06/5

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0 or $89 (for Pro), plus $39–$399 for ecommerce software plan
  • Transaction Fees: 2.4%–2.7% (in-person), 2.4% + 30 cents to 2.9% + 30 cents (online)
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Included in software plan upgrades
  • Hardware Cost: $49–$399
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: $0

Omnichannel selling 

Shopify’s POS software comes with omnichannel selling features that allow businesses to manage multichannel inventory and sales from a single platform. This seamless integration provides businesses with real-time data on stock levels, sales, and even employee performance.

Third-party payment services 

Switching to Shopify is easy for businesses with a preferred payment service. Aside from its built-in payment processing feature, Shopify also works with a number of third-party payment processors like Adyen, PayPal, WorldPay, and more.

Social channel integrations 

As a leading online selling platform integrates with popular social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. Businesses can also advertise and collect payments in the various messaging apps. 

Pricing: 3.44/5

Hardware: 4/5

Software Features: 4.25/5

Support & Reliability: 4.38/5

User Experience: 3.75/5

Average User Review Scores: 4.57/5

Shopify ecommerce is clearly miles ahead of Square in online selling features. With Shopify, businesses can sell internationally, customize their checkout with multiple languages and currencies, and accept payment through third-party payment processors. Businesses that primarily sell online and are looking to expand to in-person sales will find Shopify POS the best alternative to Square.

As one of the leading ecommerce platforms, Shopify stands out from its competitors by expanding to in-person sales. The advanced ecommerce features and multichannel capability make Shopify a strong alternative to Square for ecommerce businesses. Shopify offers easy inventory management and payment processing across multiple channels and compatibility with a long list of third-party business software.

Clover: Best Square alternative for flexible payment processing


Pros

  • Compatible with other payment processors
  • Sleek and easy to use hardware
  • Industry-specific POS software

Cons

  • Terms and pricing depend on payment processor
  • Hardware can be expensive
  • Complaints of poor customer service
clover logo.

Our Rating: 4.05/5

Businesses can purchase pre-programmed Clover hardware and software from their preferred payment processor, and Fiserv has little oversight over pricing. The fees below are based on Fiserv terms and rates. 

  • Monthly Account Fee: $14.95–$185
  • Transaction Fees: 2.3%–2.6% + $0.10 to 3.5% + $0.10
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Upgrades tied to higher software subscription plans 
  • Hardware Cost: From $49
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: Not specified but depends on hardware purchased on installment (2-year contract)

Ease of use

While there are mixed user reviews for Clover, real-life users agree that Clover’s hardware and software are easy to use. The hardware is pre-programmed with Clover software, so it is ready out-of-the-box with a step-by-step guide to set up your account. Larger setup requirements can be requested for Clover’s on-site technical support. 

Flexible payment processor

There are a number of popular payment processors that partner with Clover, selling the system along with its payment processing services as an all-in-one solution. For this reason, most real-life users switch to Clover’s hardware and software without leaving their preferred payment processor. 

Hardware variety

Clover is also a great alternative to Square in terms of hardware variety. From simple contactless mobile card readers to full-service dining POS systems complete with a kitchen display system (KDS) software and hardware solution. Clover’s hardware is also available for purchase on installment for businesses on a budget.

Pricing: 3.44/5

Hardware: 4.5/5

Software Features: 3.75/5

Support & Reliability: 4.38/5

User Experience: 4.38/5

Average User Review Scores: 3.87/5

Clover resolves Square’s limitation of working with a single payment processor. But much like Square, Clover also offers a wide range of business solutions so you have hardware and software that can match your business as it grows. This means that business owners can shop for the best transaction rates and keep this payment service while getting all the hardware and software features that Clover provides.

Clover is a popular POS software and hardware provider that offers industry-specific solutions for retail, restaurant, and professional services. Although owned by Fiserv, the system can be programmed to work with several different payment processors. This means businesses can keep their preferred payment processing service while upgrading to Clover’s software and hardware features.

Toast: Best Square alternative for fast-growing restaurants


Pros

  • Free basic restaurant POS software
  • Free hardware with pay-as-you-go plan
  • Easy-to-use platform

Cons

  • Very limited basic POS software
  • Expensive add-on features
  • 2-year long-term contract
toast logo

Our Rating: 4.05/5

Toast software pricing plans start at $0 with options to upgrade to paid plans based on your restaurant’s size. Free hardware is available with the starter kit program that allows you to own (not rent) a complete set of basic POS hardware in exchange for higher transaction fees.

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0–$165 per month
  • Transaction Fees: From 2.49% + $0.15 to 2.99% + $0.15 for in-person payments
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Add-on business tools from $50 per month
  • Hardware Cost: From $0–$1,234
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: $0 

Note that while there are no cancellation fees for long-term contracts, Toast users will be expected to pay the remaining balance of their monthly fees should they decide to cancel early.

Software plans to match your business size

Toast’s software plans are designed to match restaurants of all sizes starting with a free-to-use option for startups to growing, independent restaurants that need more than two terminals to keep up with customers. Custom plans are also available for multi-location, high-volume restaurants.

Free POS hardware

Toasts offers a starter kit program that allows businesses to own a set of POS hardware for free. The starter kit includes a Wi-Fi router and a desktop or handheld POS terminal. 

Online ordering and delivery

Toast expands your restaurant’s reach to online customers with its ordering and delivery management features. You can design an online menu and ordering platform while also managing delivery with either Toast’s native delivery management tool or third-party delivery app integrations.

Pricing: 3.75/5

Hardware: 4.25/5

Software Features: 4/5

Support & Reliability: 4.38/5

User Experience: 3.75/5

Average User Review Scores: 4.2/5

Among all the restaurant POS systems we evaluated, we chose Toast as the top alternative for Square. Toast’s restaurant features, particularly its high-volume inventory and delivery management tools, are far more efficient for growing businesses compared to Square’s restaurant POS software. Toast’s available integrations, such as Zero-in for menus and ExpandShare for restaurant staff training, are also more restaurant-focused and its POS hardware is designed to be more durable.

Toast is an all-in-one business solution for restaurants, making it the best Square alternative for this type of business. Though not as easy to set up as Lightspeed, Toast makes up for it with a suite of restaurant management features and native add-on programs, along with industry-grade hardware that can withstand the heavy demands of a busy restaurant environment. Toast’s software and hardware are the best competitors to Square among established and fast-growing restaurants.

SpotOn: Best Square alternative for free retail POS


Pros

  • Free and affordable paid subscription plans
  • Loyalty and marketing tools are included
  • Built-in payments and ecommerce features

Cons

  • Transaction fees for retail plans are not disclosed
  • Basic product catalogs in free plan
  • Limited reporting functionality
spoton logo

Our Rating: 3.85/5

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0–$25 per month (custom plans available)
  • Transaction Fees: Not disclosed
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Upgrade to paid software subscription 
  • Hardware Cost: $200–$800 (financing options available), SpotOn mobile card reader pricing not disclosed (average cost of similar device is $50)
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: $0

Note that like Toast, SpotOn users who signed up for a hardware financing plan will be required to pay off the remaining balance of the hardware cost should they decide to stop using SpotOn.

Customer engagement

SpotOn’s free POS plan comes with loyalty and marketing management tools, plus an online reputation management dashboard. This is a standout feature, as most POS providers, including Square, charge extra for these features.  

Native website builder

SpotOn also includes free access to its website builder that integrates directly with other SpotOn POS tools. The website builder is easy to use with a step-by-step guide and drag-and-drop function for creating website menus and designing pages.

Omnichannel selling

Similar to Square, SpotOn also supports omnichannel sales. The inventory settings include options for customizing which channels each product is available. Stock levels are tracked in real time and alerts can be set for reorder points.

Pricing: 3.75/5

Hardware: 4.25/5

Software Features: 3.75/5

Support & Reliability: 4.38/5

User Experience: 3.75/5

Average User Review Scores: 4.4/5

SpotOn has to be the closest to Square when it comes to affordability for retail businesses. Not only does SpotOn offer a forever-free plan similar to Square, but its paid plan is among the lowest in the industry at $25 per month. The paid plan already includes payment processing, inventory, ecommerce, omnichannel tools, and marketing and loyalty management (which are paid add-ons with Square).

While other providers in this roundup are alternative solutions for growing businesses, SpotOn’s retail POS services are best for startups and small businesses much like Square. Although not as extensive, SpotOn also offers a range of affordable POS subscriptions. Businesses can choose between a basic free plan and paid plans that start at $25 per month. And considering SpotOn is also an all-in-one solution, its price point is among the most cost-effective for businesses on a budget. 

IT Retail: Best Square alternative for high-volume retailers


Pros

  • Advanced inventory management
  • Native tools for managing age-restricted products
  • Built-in payment processing

Cons

  • Pricey software/hardware plans
  • Does not allow for third-party payment integrations
  • Complicated setup
it retail logo

Our Rating: 4.00/5

  • Monthly Account Fee: $99–$1,999
  • Transaction Fees: Custom quote
  • Paid Upgrade Options: Included in subscription plan upgrade
  • Hardware Cost: Included in monthly subscription
  • Early/Cancellation Fee: Depends on subscription plan

Advanced inventory management

All of IT Retail’s plans include its advanced inventory management features. The system allows businesses to customize how they prefer to track inventory and set automations for alerts and reporting. IT Retail also comes with built-in purchase order tools and a free mobile app for inventory counts.  

Customizable rewards program

IT Retail is designed to provide a personalized checkout experience by creating custom rewards based on a customer’s buying habits. The system comes with automation tools for maintaining customer profiles and setting alerts at checkout when customers are qualified for rewards.

Built-in payment processing

IT Retail provides its own payment processing service. Aside from credit card and digital wallet payments, IT Retail also accepts debit, EBT Food, EBT Cash, gift cards, and checks.

Pricing: 3.13/5

Hardware: 4/5

Software Features: 4/5

Support & Reliability: 3.75/5

User Experience: 4.38/5

Average User Review Scores: 4.77/5

Square is the perfect retail POS software for startups and small stores. However, as soon as business picks up, its inventory management tools will not be able to keep up with growing product volume. This is where IT Retail comes in. IT Retail is the best Square alternative for mom-and-pop shops that have grown into busy grocery and convenience stores. Its advanced inventory management feature and custom loyalty programs will be a better fit for efficient stock control and customer engagement.

IT Retail is a retail POS software designed for grocery stores and convenience stores that carry large quantities of fast-moving products. The advanced inventory management feature can track products based on different categories such as location, FIFO/LIFO, and shelf life. The system also comes with built-in tools for age-restricted products. IT Retail offers an all-in-one POS solution with subscription plans that cover payment processing and hardware in one monthly payment.

Advantages of using Square: Why it’s so popular 

Simply put, Square is an all-in-one POS system that offers easy and affordable setup, making it popular with startups and businesses operating on a tight budget. Square’s pricing scheme makes it possible for businesses to start selling with zero initial investment and transaction fees as the only ongoing monthly cost. 

Businesses that sign up for Square’s free plan get:

  • Instant merchant account approval
  • Basic industry-specific POS software
  • Standard inventory features
  • Mobile POS app
  • Basic ecommerce platform
  • Standard invoicing tools
  • Virtual terminal
  • Omnichannel sales
  • Shipping and delivery management
  • Starter team management plan
  • First magstripe mobile card reader
  • Waived chargeback fees of up to $250/month

Upgrades for Square are also affordable. Advanced software plans start at $60 per location monthly for restaurants, $89 for retail, and $29 for appointments. Hardware costs start at $10 for an additional magstripe reader and $49 for a contactless mobile card reader, while more expensive POS hardware is available in installments.

Square’s payment processing service is also among the most versatile in the industry. Users can accept most payment types and process payments for specific industries such as healthcare (Square is fully HIPAA-compliant) and CBD (Square offers a CBD program). Square also comes with the native buy now, pay later (BNPL) service Afterpay, and peer-to-peer payment service, CashApp.

Square is also popular for its ease of setup and use. Square hardware is ready to use out of the box, and all users need to do is log on to their account and create their store with Square’s step-by-step guided prompt. The software itself is intuitive and requires very little training to learn how to use. 

Finally, most businesses also like Square for its mobility. Users can access their product catalog and ring up sales from the mobile POS app downloaded on a smartphone or iPad. It can even accept payments offline.

Square disadvantages 

Square does fall short in some areas. 

For one, Square’s flat-rate transaction fees are not the most affordable. By default, businesses that process more than $10,000 a month will be upgraded to a paid plan that offers slightly lower rates. Custom discounted rates are available for transaction volume above $250,000 a year. However, as businesses grow, even a discounted flat-rate fee can quickly eat up funds when transaction volumes are high. 

For example, a supermarket with an average sales volume of $200,000 a year can have the choice between IT Retail’s custom quoted interchange-plus rate of 2.06% + 15 cents/transaction plus $99/month for POS software, and Square’s discounted 2.5% + 10 cents/transaction plus $89/month for POS software.  

Another key drawback of using Square is its inventory management limitations. Most of our recommended Square competitors, such as Lightspeed and Toast, have better inventory management features, handling complex product matrices, tracking the movement of large volumes of products, and having custom catalogs for vendor orders.  

Lastly, there are a number of complaints from Square users about frozen funds and accounts. While this happens more to businesses that end up, in one way or another, violating Square’s terms of service, it’s important to note that Square’s subscribers share a single merchant account (divided into sub-merchant accounts). 

This means that after a while, a Square user’s merchant standing can be affected by issues committed by other sub-merchants, making them susceptible to card network sanctions like merchant accounts (and, of course, funds) being frozen.

Finding the right Square alternative for you 

Finding the right Square alternative can be tricky with all the available options in the market. Follow these simple guidelines to help you get started:

Identify your business goals

There are generally two types of businesses that look for alternatives to Square and these are most often than not tied to their business goals. The first are small businesses that find Square lacking some business functionality they need. The second type is those that have outgrown the Square’s features. Identifying your business goals helps to narrow down your list of alternatives by looking for the specific features that Square could not provide. 

Consider your budget

Budget is a big factor when choosing a POS software. Once you have identified your goals and Square’s features that no longer match your business requirements, create a short list of Square competitors that can offer the most cost-effective solution. Not the cheapest as it’s unlikely to grow a business without investing in better equipment and advanced software tools. 

Apart from these outright costs, also keep in mind ongoing expenses. For example, consider an alternative that offers better transaction rates for your growing sales.

Understand your customers

Before making a decision, it may be a good idea to identify your customers. How do they like to shop? How do they prefer to make payments? Is there room for better customer engagement that can potentially boost your sales? When you know the answers to these questions, you can quickly identify Square alternatives that could help grow your business the most.

Still looking for the latest in POS solutions? Check out our Retail POS Software Buyer’s Guide.

FAQs

Square is an outstanding all-in-one POS solution that works great with startups and small businesses. However, if you find that your business has outgrown Square’s available features, then it’s time to find an alternative that can keep up with the demands of your growing business.

There is no one specific biggest competitor to Square as it all boils down to a user’s business type, business goals, and the most cost-effective solution available based on their working budget.

Stripe did not make it in our list of recommended Square alternatives since we focused on all-in-one solutions that also offer POS systems. However, as a payment processor, Stripe is a strong contender to Square Payments, with each provider excelling in certain features.


Anna Lynn Dizon Avatar

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