Square vs. PayPal vs. Intuit

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Square’s low rates and Intuit’s broad offline reach make them both serious competitors to the dominant Web player in PayPal. So, who will win the hearts, minds and business of retailers? Website Magazine has taken on the task of comparing these vendors’ features but it hasn't been an easy task.

Accepting payments through mobile card processors, which makes it possible for retailers (or anyone really) to use their smartphone to accept credit/debit cards without expensive, bulky point-of-sale systems, is quite appealing. Smartphones provide a convenient platform, the providers (such as Square, Paypal and Intuit) offer free hardware (and software) and for the most part the rates are quite affordable (read “reasonable”).

Square started the craze several years ago but it has since been picked up by other big players including PayPal and Intuit – two entities with very close ties to the small business community (those most likely to use the solutions). When examining which platform is right for your enterprise (and its clients), it’s important to know something about the hardware quality and any support that’s provided, but for most the processing fees, or what you pay for the privilege of accepting payments on the go, will prove to be the primary consideration.

PayPal Here: PayPal offers a 2.7 percent processing fee – regardless of sales volume or item pricing. Technically, the fee is only 1.7 percent but only if the money is used with PayPal’s debit card (which is free and offers 1 percent cash back). Square: Square offers a 2.75 percent processing fee on all sales regardless of price or volume, but also offers a flat-rate option - $275 per month with a zero percent processing fee. That averages out if you’re selling more than $10,000 per month.

Intuit GoPayment: Two pricing structures exist which are similar in nature to Square (see above). Intuit charges 2.75 percent on all swipes, or, sellers can opt-in to a $13 monthly plan which makes the per swipe rate just 1.75 percent. That averages out if you’re selling $1500 per month.

Payment processing fees aren’t the only considerations you’ll need to make – hardware/software and support are additional, important considerations. Fortunately, the decision won’t be too complex on the hardware front. If you’re a current QuickBooks users (like many small business users) then Intuit’s GoPayment (which also offers the lowest rates) is ideal. If you’re processing a low volume of payments and will use (or can use) the proceeds with a debit card, PayPal’s Here solution is a good one. Square of course provides a reliable device but doesn’t come with any support per se.

The decision is yours. There’s no one “right” payment processing solution for smartphones – but Paypal, Intuit and Square are most definitely your leading contendors – or should be.

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ChrisF 08-05-2013 1:28 PM

I refuse to use Paypal. The only time I ever used them was for an eBay purchase--also the first and last time I bought there. When the vendor failed to ship the product--then shipped and billed me for double the number I'd bought after several complaints, neither eBay or Paypal would do anything to help me. I finally had to turn to my credit card issuer for help. So I'm glad to know there are alternatives on the market. Thanks for the info. I may check them out.

KatieH 08-05-2013 2:26 PM

I have used all of these over the last 3 years. Beware that intuit charges a fee to automatically import the data to QuickBooks and you must set it up before you start collecting payments. Lesson learned! Additionally, Intuit Go payment does allow you to save the user information, but it just saves it to your device, not to a spreadsheet. That can be frustrating if you want to follow-up with customers afterwards.

TanaT 08-14-2013 7:32 PM

Square DOES have support! You just need to contact them via Twitter @SqSupport.

Michael Gier 08-21-2013 12:12 PM

I agree with ChrisF, Paypal is awful.  They do not stand behind their customers when someone takes advantage of you. I've had two issues where clearly the seller was at fault and the problem and I should have been refunded.  Paypal didn't refund me either time. I'm not sure if they ever do. Since they don't stand behind their customers, I recommend not using them.

TRo 08-30-2013 11:51 AM

So I guess I'm the only person PayPal has gone to bat for. I had three separate instances where customers falsely claimed the charges were unauthorized. I disputed the chargebacks with thorough documentation, statements and detailed records and got my money back each time, in full, with no problems whatsoever.

TomN 05-15-2014 10:39 AM

I like using Square for my mobile transactions.  I like that I don't have to log in to manually transfer the funds to my bank account.  I feel like they are more customer friendly.  Although I do use Paypal for transactions on my website, I feel they are almost like Wal-Mart.

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