A crucial aspect of starting a new business is finding a credit card processor to handle card and digital payments. The best credit card processors have reasonable fees, high levels of security and integrations with popular applications. They also allow you to accept a wide variety of payment methods.
Stax Payments and Square are popular payment processing solutions that work well for new and established businesses. We’ll compare these two vendors’ notable features side by side to help you find the best fit for your organization’s needs.
Stax and Square help businesses accept credit card payments as well as digital payment methods like mobile wallets and ACH (direct drafts from customer bank accounts). Both vendors provide payment processing hardware, including card readers and POS systems, and integrate with various software applications. However, their distinct differences may make one platform a better solution for your company’s sales needs than the other.
High-volume and established businesses
Lower-volume and seasonal businesses
QuickBooks, Salesforce, Slack, Zoho, Mailchimp and more
BigCommerce, QuickBooks, Shopify, SalesVu, WooCommerce and more
Third-party hardware from Clover, Dejavoo and SwipeSimple
Proprietary Square mobile reader, Square Terminal and Square POS Register
Online checkout, virtual terminal, invoicing, recurring billing, POS hardware, Apple Pay, Google Pay and ACH
Online checkout, virtual terminal, invoicing, POS hardware, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Cash App, ACH, Afterpay and Square Pay
Phone, fax, email; self-help online knowledge base
Phone, chat, social media and email; self-help resources via online support center and on YouTube
Stax is ideal for established and high-processing-volume businesses because of its low wholesale processing rates and all-inclusive software features. We like that it provides transparent pricing and a slew of features that make payment processing easy and accessible for businesses. We were impressed that it only charges a small per-transaction fee beyond the established interchange rates credit card companies charge. Stax also provides an excellent mobile app for iOS and Android that allows for in-person, online, and over-the-phone payment processing. Read our in-depth Stax Payments review to learn more about this vendor’s features and capabilities.
Square’s feature-full free subscription plan makes it ideally suited to low-volume or seasonal businesses. We were impressed by the functionality and value of Square’s free tier. Higher-level paid tiers add additional capabilities for growing and higher-volume businesses. We also liked Square’s functional and attractive POS hardware, which makes the platform an excellent choice for brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants. It’s also ideal for companies that want one software solution to manage their business and businesses that use recurring billing or scheduled payments for memberships or subscriptions. Read our Square review for more details about its features and use cases.
Here’s a closer look at each provider’s services and how they stack up against each other.
Stax offers two plans that depend on your processing volume. Both plans grant access to the platform’s full suite of features. If your processing volume is more than $500,000, contact the company for custom pricing.
Each plan involves a monthly fee, but there’s zero markup on the interchange-plus processing rate — a highly unusual practice in the industry that impressed us.
Monthly cost and processing rate
Growth (processing for up to $250,000 annually)
Ultimate (processing for between $250,000 and $500,000 annually)
Same features as the Growth plan
Optional add-ons include ACH processing, a one-click shopping cart, digital gift cards, next-day funding and more. Note that the vendor imposes a $25 chargeback fee for disputed transactions.
We were impressed that Square’s basic plan has no monthly fee. Higher-level paid tiers add additional functionality. We also loved that Square doesn’t impose chargeback fees — a rarity in the industry.
Pricing is as follows (prices for higher-level plans reflect annual billing; you’ll pay more for monthly billing):
2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.9% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered)
$29 per month (billed annually)
2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.9% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered)
Everything in the Free plan, plus:
$79 per month (billed annually)
2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.6% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered)
Everything in the Plus plan, plus:
Additionally, Square offers add-ons that can help your business run more smoothly:
Stax wins this round. While these vendors have similar capabilities, Stax includes more features without additional charges. It costs more per month, but the price is offset by its wholesale interchange pricing with no markup. Stax’s pricing model is especially beneficial to high-volume businesses. However, low-volume and seasonal businesses will likely benefit more from Square’s lower monthly costs.
These vendors tie in payment processing capabilities. Both allow you to accept various payment types and methods and arrange for next-day payouts.
We’re calling a tie in the security category. Both Stax and Square take online payment security seriously.
Stax provides customers with the same features regardless of processing volume.
Square’s intuitive software interface has modules that can help you manage your entire business.
Square wins the software category. Both Stax and Square have easy-to-use, full-featured software interfaces. However, Square gives you a greater number of features, including employee management, scheduling and loyalty tools. This additional functionality puts Square over the top in terms of software.
Stax does not have its own proprietary equipment. Instead, it resells hardware from other companies. Below is an overview of the hardware it offers.
Stax hardware options include the Clover Station Solo, which acts as a POS system. Source: Clover
Stax can provide you with a handheld Dejavoo QD4 Desktop Android reader for mobile payments. Source: Dejavoo
Square designs and builds its own proprietary payment processing equipment:
The Square Reader can be used by different Square accounts and locations. Source: Square
The Square Terminal accepts chip and NFC payments. Source: Square
The Square POS register is a fully integrated POS system with a customer-facing display. Source: Square
With its sleek and functional proprietary hardware, Square wins in this category. However, if you want versatility, you may want to go with Stax because its hardware can be used with other processors down the road.
The best POS systems can help track inventory, personalize customer emails, generate sales and employee reports, and monitor customer loyalty programs.
Stax makes it easy to set up an online store or integrate with e-commerce platforms, including BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce — even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy. For more complex integrations that require a developer, Stax provides an API.
In addition, Stax has built-in integrations with the following:
Square shines when it comes to software integrations. Its app marketplace lists all apps the platform can “talk to.” Additionally, Square Bridge allows merchants to tie their Square payment processing into Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Square app integrations include the following:
Square wins this category hands down. Square has many more helpful software integrations compared to Stax.
Generally, customers rave about Stax’s customer support.
Our research revealed that Square’s customer service record is mixed.
For customer service, Stax is the winner. Customers rave about its support, and its dedicated account manager setup impressed us.
Square wins this category because its application process and timeline for taking payments are shorter than Stax’s.
There is no monthly fee for Square’s basic plan, which includes features such as a POS system, invoices, an online store and more. Some additional features incur a monthly fee; you can select these a la carte.
Stax only charges the wholesale interchange rate — the rate set by the card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express). Each brand has its own interchange rate, and rates may vary by card type (e.g., debit, credit, reward card, business card or personal card).
It depends on how your business runs. Businesses with a high processing volume (i.e., lots of monthly credit card sales) would benefit from using Stax because its processing rate is very low. On the other hand, companies with low processing volume or seasonal business would be better off with Square, since there is no monthly fee.