Zettle vs Square: which is better for 2024?

Zettle and Square are two of our top-rated POS systems - but there are also some significant differences that impact what you'll get for your money. Find out which one is best for your business.

Our Research

Our expert team of writers and researchers worked to identify the best payment processing and merchant account providers by focusing on the factors small businesses care about most – value for money, including fees and hidden extras; security protocols and fraud protection; customer support, and ease of access across platforms including mobile.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers.

Our analysts have spent months researching the pros and cons of the top POS systems on the market. Square and Zettle are two of the biggest rivals. They share many traits like having modern, sleek hardware and cheap POS pricing with no upfront fees.

But these platforms also differentiate in some key areas including till features and business development. According to our research, Square gets an overall score of 4.7 out of 5. It's a much more functional system that can serve both virtual and in-store vendors – plus, the Square card reader costs just £19 + VAT.

Zettle (previously known as iZettle) gets, in comparison, just 4.3 out of 5. Still, it surpasses Square in one key area; till features. Amongst its smart user offerings is an intuitive app where you can manage your customer payments from your phone.

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Square

Zettle

Monthly fees:

Zero

Monthly fees:

Zero

Card reader cost

£19 + VAT

Card reader cost

£29 + VAT

Card present transaction fees

1.75%

Card present transaction fees

1.75%

Free trial?
Free trial?
Customer Support

Email, live chat, and phone support (only available during working hours)

Customer Support

Email, live chat, and phone support (only available during working hours)

Keep reading for an in-depth comparison between Zettle and Square. By the end, you'll know which has the best value for money, which is best-suited to retail or hospitality, and which came out on top during our extensive user testing.

Compare POS Costs with Ease

To save yourself time and money, we've developed a simple 🔍POS cost comparison tool, which you can use for free. You just need to answer a few simple questions about the needs of your business, and you'll be given personalised quotes from top brands in the POS market.

Zettle vs Square: A summary

We carried out a mix of user testing and consumer research to reach a conclusion on these two POS systems. Both are easy-to-use software products with brands that carry out consistent updates – although we gave Square a much higher score for backend, customer support than Zettle.

The biggest difference between the two, however, is in their primary consumer base. Our full Square POS review details how the platform is much more focused on ecommerce stores and website integration, while Zettle is all about designing the perfect customer experience for face-to-face shopping.

Affordability is of course, a big concern for small business owners at the moment when it comes to small business POS systems. Neither Square nor Zettle charges monthly fees which means users only have to pay an initial set up cost.

Square just takes the crown here with a card reader that costs just £19+VAT. The Zettle hardware, in comparison, starts from £29+VAT.

Square review

The Square card reader at “I Got That Crystal Healing” in London

To gather authentic user experience and insight for a 360 review, we hit the streets and interviewed multiple Greater London small business owners.

We found the Square card reader happily at home at I Got That Crystal Healing store (pictured) and Scoobys Coffee, a small cafe stall based in North London. We talked to Anthony the owner who uses the Square POS card reader.

“The Square card reader is pretty easy to use and a nice bit of kit. Because it's so small, it's ideal for my setup because I have a limited amount of space. Plus, the money goes into my account the next day.

“My customers seem happy with it. The charge also lasts for ages. One charge will last for three days. I charge it every night and it never drops below four bars.

The biggest problem is the signal, however. Square randomly disconnects every hour and a payment won't go through. I have to wait a minute for it to connect back up again.”

Square (POS)
4.7
Square helps millions of sellers run their business – from secure credit card processing to point of sale solutions to setting up a free online store.
  • Price Reader - £16 Terminal - £149 + VAT Stand - £99 + VAT or £17/mo for 6 months
  • Fees 1.75% 2.5% POS, payment links, Square Invoices and Virtual Terminal
  • Highly rated for customer support
  • Easy to use
  • Great for stock and business management
Summary Since we first opened our doors in 2009, Square has expanded from simple card readers to software and integrated, omnichannel solutions to help a wide range of businesses, including retailers and restaurants. With embedded financial services tools at the point of sale, merchants can access a business loan and manage their cash flow all in one place. Today, they are a partner to sellers of all sizes – from SME's to large, enterprise-scale businesses with complex commerce operations. Square supports sellers from Australia to the UK, Canada to Japan and across the United States.
Show moreless
Pros
  • Users can add a tip with Square, and split tenders make it easy to split a bill between a table of customers (unlike Zettle)
  • European ecommerce payments are charged a fee of just 1.9% with Square - this rises to 2.5% with Zettle
  • Square has four plans to choose from covering three industries (retail, hospitality, and services). Zettle is less flexible and has only one payment plan
Cons
  • Some of Square's more advanced features, such as CRM and loyalty management, cost extra (£40)
  • No training mode available on tills to help new staff (not available with Zettle either)

Zettle review

Our lead writer Len Young talking with Frederico of “The Rugged Bunch” about Zettle

We gathered some exclusive insights on Zettle in our journey out into the Greater London community. 

Here, our Lead Writer Len Young talked to Frederico, the owner of Rugged Brunch, a cafe in North London. He opened the cafe in 2020, and has had the Zettle card reader since then. He said:

“I find Zettle easy-to-use and straightforward. It has everything we need. I haven’t considered switching to a different device and don’t plan to any time soon.”

“That said, to make it even more customer-centric, and like the Square card machine, the Zettle could have a larger display screen. Some of my customer’s also prefer buttons to input their data rather than a touch-screen.”

“The money comes into my account the next day if a payment is made Monday to Friday. However, if a transaction takes place over the weekend, it won't appear in my account until the next Wednesday. I've not looked into other transaction fees but I am happy with Zettle's.”

“Another sore point is battery.” He stated. “If the machine is new, it will last for days, but I have had this for three years and it now only lasts about one hour when charged fully.”

Zettle Zettle is best for businesses that want an easy way to accept in-person payments - and full control through the Zettle Go app.
  • Pricing from Free
  • Free POS app
  • Easy-to-read sales reports
  • Zettle reader easily integrates with other POS systems
Summary Zettle Go is fairly basic EPOS software – but that’s what makes it so great. This fancy-free software offers business owners exactly what they need to get going, from making transactions to managing stock. It’s intuitive to use, simple to set up, and best of all, it’s free. It’s also really easy to track and add stock, whether that’s notebooks or blueberry muffins. It’ll even flag up when you’re running low on something. You can also provide Zettle gift cards to help you with cash flow by keeping money in the business.
Show moreless
Pros
  • Some Zettle merchants qualify for a small business cash advance paid off through future sales - a form of finance that Square lacks
  • The Zettle Go mobile app allows you to scan barcodes through your tablet camera, whereas Square POS does not
  • Zettle has a repeat payment option, unlike Square. This is useful if you're a street vendor selling just one product
Cons
  • Zettle mainly integrates with ecommerce add-ons, while Square users can build up a library of business development tools like marketing and accounting
  • Both brands can give you next-day settlement in your bank account, although Zettle is known to take 2-3 working days depending on the type of card used.

Zettle vs. Square: which is better value for money?

So what do you get for your money? Compare the total combined cost of card machines, software, small business point of sale, and e-commerce offerings from each of these providers using our 🔍free quote comparison tool.

Or, take a look at the table below for an at-a-glance understanding:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Square

Zettle

Best for

Small businesses wanting a feature-rich free ecommerce plan.

Best for

Small businesses needing card reader integration with other point of sale software.

Suitable for retail and hospitality?
Suitable for retail and hospitality?
Card reader cost

£19 + VAT

Card reader cost

£29 + VAT

Card present transaction fees

1.75%

Card present transaction fees

1.75%

Terminal pricing

£149+VAT

Terminal pricing

£149+VAT

Cards accepted:

All major credit or debit cards as well as mobile wallets such as Apple, Google, and Samsung Pay.

Cards accepted:

All major credit or debit cards as well as mobile wallets such as Apple, Google, and Samsung Pay.

Minimum sales volume:

None, although there is a minimum payment amount of £1 (maximum £1,000)

Minimum sales volume:

None, although there is a minimum payment amount of £1 (maximum £2,500)

Free trial?
Free trial?
Ecommerce payments:
Ecommerce payments:
Payment links:
Payment links:
Refunds?

Free

Refunds?

Free

Customer Support

Email, live chat, and phone support (only available during working hours)

Customer Support

Email, live chat, and phone support (only available during working hours)

In terms of pricing, there's not much that divides these two platforms. Their terminals are both exactly the same price. Square has zero chargeback fees (Zettle covers chargeback fees up to £250). Both user bases also get completely free refunds.

You can see why people have a hard time choosing between Square and Zettle for pricing. Our own testers gave them both full marks as proof.

Zettle’s equipment does come out a little more expensive than Square’s, which could be enough to sway some people. But the best way to work out which platform has the best value for money is to think about your own business operations.

Our analysis found that Square is absolutely the better choice for online sellers – an area where Zettle still lags behind. Square's virtual terminal lets you accept payments through a desktop browser, while the email invoice app is useful in service sectors. The Square app’s keyed entry option is also ideal for card-not-present transactions.

It’s worth bearing in mind is that Zettle customers do have the the option to pay with PayPal, meaning you benefit from a 2% transaction fee with every PayPal purchase, rather than 2.5%. However, this is only available as an integration with your existing website – Square allows you to build your online store from scratch.

Simply put, we recommend Zettle for taking basic, in-person payments. Square is a complicated system that will bring more value to online sellers that need a powerful virtual payment option.

Zettle vs Square: business features

Squares extensive features showcased at the “I Got That Crystal Healing” store

POS and business features are the two points where Square clearly pulls away from the competition. Its huge arsenal of tools was one of the biggest selling points for our testers, who gave it a near clean sheet for our top research areas of till management, business management, stock management, and business development.

Zettle, meanwhile, comes out on average at seventh place for these factors, based on its stripped back approach to payment taking. Its focus is on selling, and other criteria – particularly business development – suffer as a result.

Till management

Zettle does not bowl us over in this category – but then, neither does Square. In fact, this is the latter's lowest-performing section.

However, while both providers give businesses the means to process payments, it’s only Square’s free plan that offers payment management features, like splitting bills. This, in addition to its integrations from customer relationship management to appointment booking software means Square is best suited to businesses that are looking for a more sophisticated setup. 

That’s not to say that Zettle’s software isn’t the best option for other businesses. Fuss-free, Zettle’s system is perfect for small retail businesses and counter service hospitality businesses. And with the option to activate its repeat payment option, it’s not a bad choice for buskers and nightclub entry booths, either. 

Business management

Zettle covers all of the core business management features, but it lacks the cherry-on-top that is Square's reporting capabilities. Small business users can get information on almost every aspect of their business, including:

  • Sales summary
  • Sales trends
  • Payment trends
  • Item sales
  • Employee sales
  • Discounts
  • Void sales
  • Taxes
  • Gift cards

Comparatively, Zettle has two: sales by product and top-selling items. It's similarly thin for staff management – you'll be able to track sales, but that's it. Meanwhile, Square is better for commission-selling as it can also track breaks, employee activity.

Zettle devotees should not be dismayed as these areas are by no means necessary for sellers – HR software is an easy alternative – but they are helpful for keeping costs down.

Every extra feature that Square has reduces the amount you'll have to spend on other software products – the main reason we gave Square a higher score for value for money than Zettle.

Business development

This area is all about scaling and so it's an important feature if you want to grow your business and audience base. Continuing the trend, Zettle scores much more poorly here than Square to achieve eighth position overall in our ranking (versus Square's first place).

A key area where Zettle falls down is customer loyalty. Square users can integrate with a CRM for a monthly cost of £35. For this, no additional software or hardware is needed and businesses can easily identify the most loyal customers and even offer rewards – crucial to stand out in today's competitive retail market.

Our tester particularly liked being able to compare average spend and visits from loyalty vs non-loyalty customers, so they could analyse where their incentives were going wrong and push the more successful programs.

Zettle's insights are strictly limited to internal use, with you able to track staff sales – but not by customers. There is also the returning issue of integrations.

As you might suspect, Square permits accounting, restaurant management, delivery and order management, and inventory management to build a full-functioning library of apps and add-ons. Some capabilities are underserved, such as marketing. You'll need to purchase Square's add-on for this area.

Still, it's a big improvement to Zettle's offering, which is limited to accounting and ecommerce. This means that, unlike Square users, Zettle fans won't be able to woo their customers with clever features like TapTable's contact-free menu, for example.

Stock management

While it's not a standout product in this area, Zettle does have inventory management and (like Square) it sends you alerts if you're stock is getting low. That's a feature we particularly recommend SME users look out for as it can help you identify the products that are proving most popular when starting out.

We also like that Zettle lets users carry out bulk-product imports which is a big benefit if you're a small seller with miniature product lines.

Square does take the cake overall for stock management, however. Its automatic restock feature is a huge time-saver for businesses, particularly dropshippers that sell at odd hours.

Taking Zettle's stock alert function one step further, the Square platform is also smart enough to be able to forecast sales – so you can think long-term about your product lines and sales strategy.

Zettle vs Square: ease of use

A picture of the Zettle card reader at “The Rugged Bunch” coffee shop in London

For ease of use, we have to highlight Zettle as the better option over Square. Both platforms have a painless set up process but the former's is much quicker than the latter's. You can get going and accepting payments in just a few minutes using Zettle Go, the mobile app.

Anthony from Scooby's coffee did say of Square: “It was simple to setup and cheap to buy.”

But Frederico from The Rugged Bunch was more effusive about Zettle: “I love that it is small and easily transportable so that customers can pay at their tables. The software is also really easy-to-use, and accessible for my customers.”

In terms of day-to-day usage, both platforms also boast intuitive and modern backends where you can have complete control over your payments and get an uncomplicated look at revenues via a financial reporting dashboard.

If you do encounter an issue, Square and Zettle have online knowledge centres that can be accessed at any time – helpful if you trade during odd hours. However, actual customer support is only available during working hours (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

Our experts ranked Square as slightly better for customer support overall. It also has the higher customer score from the real-life users we spoke to.

Zettle vs Square: hardware

A Square Card reader at Scooby's Coffee in London

While the lack of keypad makes Square’s card reader look modern and stylish, it does mean that processing chip and pin payments is much more difficult.

Rather than keying in their pin number on the card reader device itself, customers need to type their pin into the device hosting Square’s point of sale software in other words, your mobile phone or tablet. This could create an accessibility issue for customers (optician businesses are an extreme example).

As we outline fully in our Zettle review, the Zettle card reader is slightly more functional – although at the expense of looking a little less modern. For example, there are little rubber sections on the back which make it less likely to slip off surfaces, and the green tick button makes the whole payment taking process feel seamless. 

Both providers offer complete hardware kits are available for small businesses that aren’t sure on what equipment they may need.

That said, Square one ups Zettle with a few branded products of its own these include the Square Stand, Square Hub, and Square Terminal. Having these products means Square gives its customers more flexibility when it comes to choosing how their point of sale setup will work. 

Zettle vs Square: set up

The Zettle Card reader at Shrubs & Dubs in London

Zettle and Square payment systems are equally as easy to set up. All you need to do is order your point of sale products from their online stores, download the app, and follow the instructions. 

Initial setup

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be asked to fill in some basic information about your business. You’ll also be asked to provide your business bank details for payments. 

Both Square and Zettle require you to have a business bank account, or a bank account in the name of the company director. They’ll also run a credit check. If you or your business is deemed high risk if you operate in an industry with a high rate of expensive refunds, for example then they may not accept you. 

Pairing your equipment

Pairing either card reader with its respective app is really intuitive. Just follow the simple directions on the app, and you can get set up within under five minutes. 

Because both systems communicate via Bluetooth, connecting receipt printers is simple too. For both Zettle and Square, simply head into the settings tab of your app and select the piece of equipment you’d like to connect. 

Zettle vs Square: security

Both Zettle and Square are at the top of their games when it comes to security. While some people may have reservations about Square’s pin entry (entering into a mobile phone or tablet, rather than into the card reader itself), it’s gone a long way to reassure people that its payment system is safe.

Square's payment system adheres to PCI Compliance Level 1 the strictest security standards out there and all its hardware has been installed with end-to-end encryption. 

Zettle’s payment system is super-secure too. It’s PCI DSS compliant, and it’s been approved by Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. Add to that a self-destructing tamper-proof card reader, and you know your customers’ card details are going to be kept safe.

Square and Zettle alternatives

There is a reason that Square and Zettle score so similarly in our research – they are both excellent POS choices that perform their roles well for users.

Still, there are a few brands out there that will be more-suited to certain types of small business users. For example, Lightspeed.

As an incredibly powerful software product – it can even be used to create customisable receipts. But it comes with a matching price tag that only ambitious SMEs will be able to afford of £39 per month. Tellingly, we gave it 4.9 out of 5 for its till management features – the only area where Square does not get full marks.

Service-based firms will prefer Clover. At just £4.10 per month, our researchers found it to be a great option for SMEs, but is tailored towards business development and financial reporting.

Hairdresser businesses, as an example, can use insights about their customers and what they bought to intelligently promote your hair care products. Neither Square nor Zettle excel in this area.

Here's how the brands compare in terms of cost:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Lightspeed

Clover

Epos Now

Vend

Pricing from

£39 per month – retail essentials plan

Pricing from

Plans start from £4.10 per month

Pricing from

£25 per month

Pricing from

£69 per month

Final verdict

In a game of Square versus Zettle, there’s no clear winner. The payment provider you choose will be based heavily on what you think your business’ biggest priorities are. 

Both are on an equal footing when it comes to the payment services they offer with the exact same transaction fees (1.75%), refund charges (none), and terminal cost (£149+VAT).

Still, they definitely have their USPs. Square is our ultimate choice for ecommerce and online sales, as a platform that streamlines accepting digital payments and integrates with other virtual business functions like marketing and accounting tools.

Zettle, in comparison, has a user-friendly app that makes it easy for business owners to monitor their sales and get started quickly. Its hardware is more pointed towards in-person sales, with useful tools like its repeat payment option bringing the most benefits for brick-and-mortar stores.

square-online-logo-su
Get started with Square

Trial our top-rated POS for ecommerce sales.

Try Square for free It's 100% free to get set up.
Zettle by PayPal logo
Get started with Zettle

Trial our top-rated POS for brick-and-mortar selling.

Try Zettle for free It's 100% free to get set up.

Our methodology

Over a month-long period, we dedicated our entire research team to finding out which POS system best suits the needs of a small business retailer – based on over twenty years of working with them.

We used feedback from our small business readers to compile a list of what we know are the biggest considerations when choosing a payment solutions provider:

Pricing is obviously a big factor for SMEs. Today's cost of living crisis means entrepreneurs need to find ways to save money where they can. But cheaper does not always mean more cost-efficient. We also looked at the hidden fees, and what you get for your money such as the number of integrations available and the revenue streams.

Ease of use is important for small business owners, who won't have a large tech team or IT support to help out if you encounter any issues. This goes hand-in-hand with customer support, so we also looked at the channels available for expert advice and guidance in the event of a fault.

Security always needs to be mentioned when you're discussing finance. We also looked at each provider's PCI-compliance and their data storage to ensure that small business users can build trust with their customers.

Finally, we looked at the business, till, and management features available with each platform. This can have a big impact on value for money as well as which type of business the app is best for – service users, for example, should not use Zettle as you can only send and settle invoice payments to customers via the app.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Square good for small business?
    Square is our top-rated small business POS system. Our analysts gave it full marks for pricing, business development, and stock management, and its low start up costs also make it one of the cheapest brands available for new users to get started with.
  • Are there cheaper options than Square & Zettle?
    No. Square and Zettle have zero monthly fees. You'll only need to pay for set up costs of under £20 per month to get started. Because of this, we rank them as the two best providers for cost.
  • What percentage does Zettle take?
    Both Square and Zettle charge the same transaction fees for card-present payments of 1.75%.

Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
Back to Top