Merchant service providers (MSPs) like Clover and Square offer payment processing services to both small and large businesses, allowing them to accept a variety of payments including credit/debit cards, mobile payments, and online payments via eCommerce channels.
With 1 in 5 U.S. consumers now using 7 different payment methods on average, these capabilities have never been more critical.
Additional features offered by Clover and Square include inventory management, customer management, and online ordering, enabling businesses to streamline operations through a single interface.
Both pricing and available features are important factors that merchants should consider when selecting either Clover or Square as their payment provider. Clover and Square offer similar rates, though there are differences in how their plans are structured.
Square charges a flat transaction fee of 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction for in-person payments and 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction for keyed-in and online payments. They offer a free plan, a paid plan, and a custom plan for large businesses. Clover offers monthly subscription plans that include software, Clover POS hardware, and advanced reporting tools, with transaction fees determined by the plan they select.
In this post, we’re going to explore the strengths and weaknesses of Clover and Square as payment providers, and which is the best option for different types of businesses.
- Both Clover and Square offer an all-in-one POS solution that’s highly rated by both small and large businesses. Pricing consists of monthly software fees, per-transaction fees, and hardware costs, as well as additional fees for add-on services.
- Square is an exceptional payment processing provider for new businesses with low transaction volumes that don’t want to lose valuable time to the payment process.
- Clover is a great option for larger businesses with multiple locations that want more flexibility and control over their payment processor and inventory management.
Clover vs Square Rates and Pricing
There’s more to the pricing of POS systems than just the monthly software fee. The cost of using either Clover and Square can be broken down into a mixture of ongoing and one-off fees for software, hardware, transactions, and optional add-on services. The cost-effectiveness of using either Clover or Square is therefore unique to each business, depending on what they require from their POS solution.
|Monthly software fees||Plans start at $14.95, up to $94.85 per month.||Plans start at $0, up to $60 per month, custom pricing plans available.|
|Transaction fees||Card-present processing fees: 2.3%–2.6% + 10c (depending on the plan chosen)
Online transactions: 3.5% + 10c
Keyed‑in transactions: 3.5% + 10c
|Card-present processing fees: 2.5% – 2.6% + 10c
Online transactions: 2.9% + 30c
Keyed‑in transactions: 3.5% + 15c
|Hardware costs||$49 – $4,097 (can be bundled with monthly software plan)
Options Include credit card readers, mobile POS systems, register, terminal solutions, and accessories including barcode scanners, cash drawers, receipt printers, stands, and weighing scales.
|$0 – $799
Options include credit card readers (magstripe and chipcards), Square Terminal, Square Register, Square Stand (iPad), and accessories including barcode scanners, cash drawers, and receipt printers.
|Additional services||Loyalty program: Included in all plans
Payroll: $0-$99 per month depending on the integration
Marketing: Included in all plans
Scheduling: Included in all plans
|Loyalty program: Starts at $45 per month
Payroll: Starts at $35 per month
Marketing: Starts at $15 per month
Scheduling: Included in some plans
Clover vs Square rates and pricing models compared
Square POS is most notable for its free plan for basic payment processing services. This affordability makes it an attractive option for small businesses. In addition, Square offers paid plans with features that are tailored to specific industries, Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants (for casual and full-service restaurants), and Square for Appointments. However, Square’s per-transaction fees are slightly more expensive than Clover’s. This is fine if for merchants with low transaction volumes, but could leave larger businesses paying more than necessary.
Clover POS’ pricing system is a little more complex than Square’s, with multiple industry-specific plans on offer that include a mixture of software and hardware options, as well as different payment processing fees. Business owners can either opt to pay for their Clover hardware outright and pay only the monthly software fee, or pay a higher monthly fee that combines the cost of both the software and hardware.
For example, their Professional Services category includes three separate plans, with options spanning from the Clover Flex handheld POS to the Clover Mini touchscreen terminal or the full Clover Station. The availability of additional capabilities, such as contactless payments or inventory management, will vary depending on the plan. These costs can add up quickly, so businesses need to evaluate carefully which features they require.
Pricing transparency and hidden fees
Overall, both Clover and Square are fairly transparent about their pricing, with both websites containing dedicated pages for their payment plans and how additional fees are calculated. However, there are some hidden costs to watch for.
While Square requires you to use its payment processor and associated merchant account, Clover offers compatibility with a wide range of different processors, giving merchants more choice and flexibility. Depending on your transaction volumes, this may give you the opportunity to shop around to find the best deal.
It’s worth noting that unlike Square, the cost of Clover hardware will vary depending on whether the POS system is purchased directly from Clover or via a third-party financial institution. However, Clover’s financing options for hardware may be appealing to brands that don’t have the upfront capital to purchase the equipment outright.
|Payment processing||Payments accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, check, Invoicing (one-off or recurring).||Payments accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, AfterPay, PayPal, ACH bank transfer.|
|Checkout features||Item or order-level discounts, Itemized returns and exchanges, tipping, bill splitting.||Discounting, order/sales notes, customized receipts, bill splitting, tipping, process returns.|
|Customer support||Live phone support, knowledge hub||Live phone support, email, live chat, community forum, knowledge hub.|
|Virtual terminal||Clover app comes pre-loaded on the Clover Web Dashboard.||Free Square POS app with every plan.|
|Analytics and reporting||Real-time sales tracking, Detailed sales reports, Tax reporting, Custiomized reporting.||Sales reports, Profit margin reports, Cost of goods sold, Vendor sales.|
|Inventory management||Item and category management, stock-tracking by item, itemized order creation.||Unlimited items, low stock alerts, GTIN and SKU bar codes, create item categories, cross-location stock counts.|
|eCommerce management||Single dashboard for online and offline sales, website builder, integrate with existing online store, BOPIS management.||Website builder, automatic inventory sync, BOPIS management.|
Comparison of Clover and Square features
Clover and Square offer users a wide range of checkout and management features tailored to different businesses and industries, though each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, Clover offers more options for specialized industries and businesses with larger transaction volumes. Its POS software and payment processing tools tend to be more flexible and customizable than Square’s, which is designed to maximize simplicity. Clover also boasts a wider range of hardware options, as well as more advanced reporting and employee management tools that come included with their software plans.
While the Square point-of-sale system is a bit more user-friendly and comes bundled with all the essentials, additional customer and business management tools such as customer loyalty programs and gift card processing come in the form of monthly add-ons. Subscribing to all of these features in addition to your main plan can be a bit cumbersome, making Square more suitable for businesses that require more basic credit card processing and in-person payment functionalities.
Compatibility with different business models
The Square terminal’s intuitive interface and wide range of features make it a popular choice for all kinds of small businesses, especially for those who are just starting out and don’t want to lose time on payment management. More advanced features, such as appointment scheduling and client management, can be found within their industry-specific plans or as optional add-ons, which allows Square to scale alongside merchants as their needs evolve.
With its more heavyweight inventory management systems and reporting tools, Clover software and POS hardware are well-suited to large businesses with multiple customer-facing and inventory locations. Features such as individual item tracking and multi-location inventory management make Clover an attractive option for those with more specialized needs.
Clover vs Square: Merchant Reviews
Payment processing is a critical business function, so you want to feel confident in your decision to choose a particular provider. Merchant reviews of payment processing companies provide valuable feedback from real-life users in your industry or niche, so businesses can get a good sense of whether it’s the right solution for their needs.
Comparing reviews can also shed light on a payment provider’s reputation and whether there are any recurring weaknesses/issues with their product. Negative reviews often highlight issues such as poor customer support, recurring technical problems with integrations, or hidden fees. In the reverse, finding lots of reviews that recommend a particular provider due to reliability, security, and ease of use helps to reassure businesses in their selection.
- Very fast and easy to set up
- Attractive price point for monthly plans
- Very simple interface
- High-risk merchants being kicked off the service with little warning.
- Reporting tools are too basic.
- Limited features included within plans.
- Ease of use
- All-inclusive monthly plans
- A high level of flexibility
- Poor Customer Service
- Fees vary based on the merchant provider
- Expensive hardware
Both Clover and Square have received positive and negative feedback from merchants about their payment processing services.
Clover receives high praise for its ease of use and customization options, in particular customizable reporting and choice over payment processors. The combination of software and hardware in its monthly plans also enables merchants to get a good understanding of the costs upfront, which many businesses appreciate. However, Clover commonly gets criticism for poor customer service, with no channels available other than live phone. Moreover, merchants frequently cite confusion over pricing, due to resellers including hidden fees which are not disclosed by Clover.
Users of Square cite its affordable entry-level plans and overall simplicity in positive reviews, as well as minimal maintenance or training needed to process payments. However, larger businesses complain that Square’s transaction fees are higher than competitors, while its plans include less specialized features. Moreover, high-risk merchants have found their accounts frozen or dropped with no prior warning, even though they initially qualified for the service.
Bringing It All Together
Both Clover and Square offer a comprehensive and all-in-one POS solution that is highly rated by small and large businesses. The pricing for both systems consists of monthly software fees, per-transaction fees, and hardware costs, as well as additional fees for select add-on services. Square’s payment processing services offer a free software plan for small businesses and paid plans containing additional features, while hardware is purchased separately. Clover’s pricing system includes multi-tiered, industry-specific plans which bundle both hardware and software options.
It’s important that merchants carefully evaluate their business needs and the costs involved before committing to either Square or Clover to avoid the opportunity costs of an ill-suited payment solution.
When to choose Square
Square is an exceptional payment processing provider for new businesses with low transaction volumes that don’t have much experience in managing the payment process. It’s a cost-effective solution that can be set up quickly and doesn’t require a separate merchant account, which is ideal for busy owners who don’t want to spend a lot of time configuring a new system. For less specialized businesses that don’t require a lot of extra features, Square’s intuitive interface is a clear winner.
When to choose Clover
Clover is best suited to larger businesses that run multiple locations and require a strong set of inventory management and end-to-end order management solutions. It’s a good fit for businesses that want more flexibility and control over their payment processor, as Clover offers better transaction fees and the ability to choose a merchant account independently. Its bundled and unbundled software and hardware plans also offer merchants more choices over how to finance their payment needs.
Who is cheaper: Square or Clover?
Whether Square or Clover is cheaper will depend on a business’s specific needs. Square offers a free plan with basic payment processing features, but per-transaction fees for credit card payments do work out as slightly more expensive than Clover’s pricing. Because Square and Clover use different fee structures, it’s important to compare what features are available with different plans to understand which provider offers the best value.
Is Clover more expensive than Square?
Clover’s plans are all-inclusive of software and Clover devices, as well as a variety of non-payment processing services such as employee management and loyalty program management. Square’s hardware and software come unbundled, so merchants have to buy their chosen Square reader separately from their monthly plan. Services such as invoicing and payroll also come as separate add-ons at Square, rather than being included in paid plans. Businesses need to evaluate their transaction volumes, hardware needs, and other factors to determine which service is most cost-effective for them.
How much does Clover charge per transaction?
Clover’s transaction fees do vary depending on which plan a business subscribes to, with the more expensive plans offering businesses lower transaction fees. For example, Clover’s retail Starter plan offers customers 2.6% + 10¢ for card-present transactions, while their Standard and Advanced plans offer a rate of 2.3% + 10¢ per card-present transaction. These fees are subject to change, and there may be additional fees for certain types of transactions or services.
How many transactions does Clover allow per month?
Clover does not impose any specific limits on the number of transactions a business can process per month. However, their pricing plans and features are tailored to different sizes of businesses. For example, their cheapest Clover Go plan costs $49 per month and includes a BlueTooth paired mobile card reader, which won’t fit the needs of larger businesses with multiple storefronts. Plans including the Clover Flex or Station Duo system have a higher monthly cost but are better suited to merchants who need to accept a wider variety of payments.
What does Clover charge for each transaction?
Clover charges transaction fees based on the plan that the business chooses. Transaction fees range from 2.6% + 10c for the Starter Clover Go plan to 2.3% + 10c for the full Clover Station system. For the virtual terminal system, all transactions are charged at the keyed-in transaction rate of 3.5% + 10c. In addition to transaction fees, Clover also charges a monthly fee for its services, starting at $14.95 per month.