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Square vs. Clover

The best choice comes down to whether you want to open an online store.

Square offers more robust e-commerce support, while Clover’s hardware can be used with third-party payment processors. But before you decide, also consider monthly fees, point-of-sale (POS) packages, customer support options and software integrations.

Which one is better?

Square is better for small businesses that want to establish an online presence, since it includes tools to build an e-commerce storefront. We also like Square for first-time entrepreneurs and folks with a side hustle, since a card reader is included for free when you sign up — a low-risk way to start accepting in-person transactions.

Clover, on the other hand, is best if you need hardware but not payment processing, because you can pair its POS services with a third-party processor. It's also better for restaurants, with a bundle of rich POS offerings designed specifically for the service industry.

How do Square and Clover compare?

Which should I choose?

Choose Square if you want to take your store online and don’t mind using Square as your processor. Its free proprietary card reader and all-in-one processing service can be a practical choice for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce merchants.

Choose Clover if you’re seeking an in-person POS system with 24-hour tech support. It's well suited to small- to medium-sized brick-and-mortar businesses.

Overview

Square offers payment processing, POS systems, an online store builder and the ability to link a debit card to your merchant balance.

Clover is best known for its sleek POS systems. To purchase its hardware directly from its website, you have to sign up for Clover Payments — powered by a First Data merchant account. But purchasing Clover hardware from third-party providers gives you the flexibility to use a different payment processor.

Products

  • Payment processing
  • POS software
  • POS hardware
  • Inventory tracking
  • Website builder
  • Payment processing
  • POS software
  • POS hardware
  • Inventory tracking

Monthly fees start at

Free

$9.95

Processing fees start at

2.6% + $0.10 for payment processing, POS software included

2.7% + $0.10 for in-person payment processing

Contract required?

No

No

Hardware

Proprietary

Proprietary

Industries

  • Restaurant
  • Retail
  • Restaurant
  • Retail
  • Service

Pros

  • Free card reader. All new merchants that sign up with Square receive a free card reader.
  • Free service tier. Its standard POS software includes payment processing, inventory management, invoicing, gift cards, loyalty programs and multi-channel selling.
  • Online store builder. Access its online store builder with the free service tier, for a resource-rich tool for e-commerce merchants looking to sell online.
  • Industry-specific systems. Offers three distinct POS packages designed for those in the restaurant, retail and service industries.
  • Well-reviewed. Square's Trustpilot reputation highlights personable customer support experiences.
  • 24/7 tech support. Get round-the-clock access to its tech support team.
  • Free service tier. The Clover Payments Plus software plan is free and includes payment processing, employee management, customer management and rewards programs.
  • App market. Offers access to a variety of free and paid apps in inventory management, employee tracking and more.
  • Niche restaurant offerings. Those in the restaurant business can benefit from a POS app for table-service restaurants and a hardware bundle designed for counter-service restaurants.

Cons

  • Limited tech support. Unlike Clover’s 24/7 tech support, Square’s support team is only available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., PT.
  • Square advertising. The free online store builder can be an attractive feature, but you’ll need to upgrade to its Professional service tier if you want to remove Square ads from your site.
  • Required processing. While Clover’s hardware can be sourced from a third-party processor, a Square account requires you to use Square as your processor.
  • Potential contract. Clover doesn’t disclose whether its merchants are required to sign a contract on its website, but several reviewers reported being roped into a contract when they applied.
  • No free hardware. Unlike Square, Clover doesn’t offer any free hardware when you sign up.
  • Poorly reviewed. A majority of the feedback on both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot is negative, with complaints targeting its PCI-compliance fees and lackluster tech support.

Tools

  • Loyalty programs. Offer customers the opportunity to purchase gift cards and earn loyalty program incentives.
  • Business debit card. Apply for a Square business card for same-day access to transaction funds.
  • Square installments. Increase conversions by offering customers monthly payment plans for large purchases.
  • Invoicing. Send customers automated invoices from your mobile device using the Square Invoices app.
  • Website builder. Create an online store with beginner-friendly design templates and app integrations.
  • Inventory management. Keep track of in-store and online inventory levels.
  • Social media integration. Market and sell your wares across Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
  • Product reviews. Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews and display feedback directly on your website.
  • Abandoned cart emails. Follow up on abandoned carts with emails urging customers to complete their purchase.
  • Offline payments. Process payments even when you experience an occasional lapse in Internet connectivity.
  • Staff management. Manage your team with time clocks, sales reports and payroll features.
  • Customer management. Create a customer rewards program, build your marketing strategy or launch a social media campaign.
  • Virtual terminal. Log into your Clover Web Dashboard to accept credit and debit card payments from your mobile device, tablet or computer.
  • App market. Customize your software with a variety of free and paid apps in the Clover App Market.
  • Clover Go. A compact card reader and app that syncs with your web dashboard so you can process transactions, track inventory and manage employees on the fly.

BBB letter rating

A+

B+

Trustpilot rating

★★★★★

4.7
Based on 3,129 reviews

★★★★★

1.2
Based on 355 reviews

Reputation and customer reviews

  • Reviews are: Mostly positive — a majority of its BBB complaints are about its Cash app and it boasts an impressively high TrustScore of 4.7 out of 5.
  • Customers praise: Easy onboarding and friendly customer service reps.
  • Reviews are: Mostly negative — both its BBB feedback and TrustScore reveal frustrated customers.
  • Customers praise: Customizable software through the app market and quick onboarding.
  • Customers complain about: Frustrating tech support experiences and transaction holds.

Support

  • Phone. Call 800-474-3398, weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., PT.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form from your Square account
  • Phone. Call 866-330-3392 if you don’t have a account. Account holders can find the number in the Clover Go app. Support is available 24/7.
  • Live chat. Available on its website weekdays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Square vs. Clover inventory tracking

Both Square and Clover offer free integrated inventory management with their point-of-sale software. And each platform’s approach is designed to help you quickly and painlessly organize and manage your inventory on the go.

Square’s inventory tracking software can be accessed from the Square Dashboard. The setup process is fairly straightforward and can be completed by importing products in bulk with CSV spreadsheets. Once you’re up and running, you’ll discover that the software is equipped with plenty of standards, including downloadable reports, daily stock alert emails and stock levels that can be exported to printable spreadsheets.

And if your business requires something a little more sophisticated, Square for Retail offers premium tools like multi-location inventory management, cost of goods sold, projected profit reporting, purchase orders and more. But keep in mind that while Square’s standard POS software is free, Square for Retail’s software costs $60 monthly per location.

Clover’s inventory management program is also free to use and comes standard with the Clover point-of-sale software. Products can be uploaded in bulk by downloading Clover’s spreadsheet template. Once uploaded, inventory can be sorted into categories, stock is automatically tracked across in-person and online sales and modifiers can be created to alter orders or transactions on the fly.

And in the event you want something more robust than Clover’s boilerplate inventory tracking, Clover also offers free and paid inventory management apps in its app market, including SimpleOrder and stockIt.

Clover vs. Square hardware

Both Clover and Square offer proprietary hardware for accepting and tracking payments.

Card reader

Square Reader for contactless and chip

Square reader for contactless and chip
  • $49
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Accepts chip and contactless payments

Clover Go

Go clover
  • $69
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Accepts chip and contactless payments

Card reader with screen

Square Terminal

Terminal
  • $299
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet
  • 5.6″ touch screen
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Clover Flex

Flex clover
  • $499
  • Wi-Fi, optional LTE connectivity
  • 5″ touch screen
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Small countertop POS

Square Stand

Square Stand
  • $169
  • Connects to an iPad
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Clover Mini

Mini clover
  • $749
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet, optional LTE connectivity
  • 7″ touch screen
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Countertop POS

Square Register

Square Register
  • $799
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet
  • Merchant-facing and customer-facing screens
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Clover Station

Station clover
  • $1,349
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet
  • 14″ touch screen
  • Accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments

Magstripe-only card reader

Square Reader For magstripe

Square Reader For Magstripe
  • Free for eligible merchants (first reader)
  • Plugs in to a headphone jack or Apple Lightning port
  • Accepts magstripe payments

N/A

Bottom line

Square and Clover have a lot in common and are good for businesses just getting started. They both offer hardware, a free POS software tier and have similar processing rates. Square shines when it comes to hosting your online storefront, while Clover's flexibility when it comes to choosing a payment processor may come in handy for some.

Not sure about either yet? Review your options with other merchant services providers.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to host my own website with Square?

No, Square’s websites are hosted by Weebly.

Can I lease Clover hardware?

No. But if you purchase hardware through Clover’s online store, you’ll have the option of selecting an interest-free installment plan.

Do I have to use Clover as my processor?

If you purchase your hardware through Clover, you’re required to process payments using Clover’s parent company, First Data. But Clover systems are also available through a number of third-party processors if you don’t want to use First Data as your processor.

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