As a small business owner in the online space, it’s important to have some way to take electronic payments. If you’re working solely with 1:1 clients, your CRM system will likely have a payment processing tool in place or one that they recommend.
However, if you plan to sell digital or physical products outside of your 1:1 work, you need some way to accept payments. And you’ve got plenty of options! Stripe vs Square vs PayPal vs Venmo … But which is the best one? There’s no true right or wrong answer, so let’s discuss the pros and cons of each of them.
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PayPal was the very first digital payment processor, so it’s got brand recognition in spades - which makes customers comfortable! And, since many people have their own personal PayPal account, it also makes it easier for them to simply pay through that instead of hunting down their credit or debit card in order to purchase from you. That’s a win-win if we’ve ever heard of one!
In addition to allowing customers to pay through their own PayPal accounts, PayPal Checkout also allows them to pay with their credit and debit cards and with Venmo. And accepting PayPal on your website is as simple as adding a PayPal button to your existing checkout page - no developer required!
Another major plus is that PayPal has its own mobile payment system (PayPal Zettle) that allows you to accept in-person payments as well.
But, with any business that’s got incredible brand recognition, that means they often have leeway in other areas. PayPal in particular, comes with higher payment processing fees, as well as higher fees for chargebacks (up to $20.00 per chargeback!).
Another common complaint is that due to PayPal’s strict terms and conditions, accounts can become suspended at any time, and customer service can be hard to reach. It’s not uncommon for funds to be frozen for months before things are settled.
If you’re a brick and mortar business, Square is likely the best option for you!
For those just starting out, square might be a great fit, as they’re one of the only providers that offers a free version of their POS system. In addition, its free plan comes with a wide range of features - including inventory management with unlimited product listings.
Its free plan also features offer pickup, delivery and shipping options, tools to improve your website’s search results, selling on Facebook and Instagram, managing orders from multiple business locations, calculating taxes automatically, printing shipping labels, and more!
A major downside to Square is that it’s not compatible with Windows devices. You can use it for both iOS and Android, but if you’re a Windows user, this probably isn’t the best fit for you.
It also has limited integrations with third-party marketplaces. So while you can sell through Instagram and Facebook, you cannot currently sell through Amazon, Walmart or eBay.
And if you’re a business to business or high-volume seller, Square is likely not going to be able to handle your own unique needs.
Stripe is a great fit for those that are strictly online businesses.
While most payment processors accept all major credit cards, Stripe goes above and beyond by also supporting PayPal and Cash App Pay, allowing integrations with buy now, pay later solutions like Klarna or Afterpay, and accepting over 135 currencies.
Stripes’ ease of setup and customization options (like branded payment pages) also help it shine and stand out from the rest in the Stripe vs Square vs PayPal vs Venmo debate.
That being said - those customization options? They’re pretty limited if you don’t have coding knowledge, or the ability to pay a developer. It’s also tailored to online sales, so if you’re someone that needs to accept in-person transactions, then Stripe likely isn’t the best fit for your business payment processing needs.
Venmo is another option with strong brand recognition, which again, makes customers feel comfortable. If you’re a service provider or need a payment processor simply for pop-up events, Venmo for Business is a great option.
If you’re a service-based business, the tips feature is a great feature to use. In addition, the QR code payment option makes it easy for customers to simply scan and pay right from their own phones.
Another huge benefit is that Venmo sends business owners receiving more than $600 in a year a 1099-K form, which makes it easy to account for the money made through that platform when you’re doing your taxes the next year!
That being said, Venmo is one of the few payment processing systems that does not offer free instant transfer, so you’ll have to be sure to plan accordingly.
It’s also not available outside of the US, which drastically limits your potential customer base if you’re not a brick and mortar business. Which, Venmo is not a point of sale system, so if you’re a brick and mortar, this probably isn’t the best fit for you anyways.
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Having a way to accept electronic payments is essential, and these 4 platforms make it easy and safe for you to take payments, and get paid. When it comes to Stripe vs Square vs PayPal vs Venmo, the only wrong choice is not having a platform in place for those electronic payments!
And while you’re busy getting the back-end of your business setup, you’ll likely run into some basic business setup needs along the way. Make sure you’ve got all of the foundational pieces in place with our No-Nonsense Checklist to Starting a Business! This free checklist will help ensure your business is legally legit from the start!
Amanda Warfield is a simplicity-focused content marketing and launch strategist, author of the book Chasing Simple Marketing, and host of Chasing Simple - a podcast to help creative entrepreneurs uncomplicate their marketing and business. She traded in her classroom lesson plans for speaking and educating creative entrepreneurs on sustainably fitting content marketing into their business, without it taking over their business - so that they have time to grow their business.
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