Mobile debit and credit card readers are growing in popularity, with many small to medium-sized businesses opting for these rather than traditional rented card terminals. They are compact and mobile and very practical for carrying out everyday card transactions.
Square was the first company to develop a credit card reader that works in conjunction with a mobile device. Since it’s launch in 2010, Square has found massive success in the States.
iZettle is sometimes hailed as the “European Square” and is amongst the top 4 mobile credit and debit card reader devices on the market.
iZettle and Square are both great choices. But which one should you go for?
Overview of iZettle vs Square
Square enjoyed great success in the US for eight years before they ventured across the pond, launching in the UK in 2017. By the time Square arrived, the market was pretty congested with iZettle, SumUp and PayPal jostling for the top spot. Despite this, Square has still proven itself as a worthy contender, garnering favour with small to medium-sized businesses.
The Square reader is very compact and differs from others on the market as it doesn’t have a screen or keypad. It simply takes a customer’s card via contactless payment or chip and PIN payment then asks them to enter their pin on the mobile or tablet device screen.
The Square free point of sale app is a fantastic piece of work. Its range of payment, inventory management, and reporting features are fantastic and it can adapt brilliantly to almost any industry, working to meet your particular business needs.
Both products have fairly low transaction fees — 1.75% for standard transactions and no monthly fee.
iZettle came to the fore in 2010 in Sweden. They are the only mobile card reader company on their second generation of card reader, making the iZettle Card Reader 2 one of the most sophisticated available.
The iZettle POS app has a really clean and easily navigatable interface, making for a user-friendly experience. It has rich features that cater to most industries.
Similarly, there are no monthly costs with iZettle aside from your transaction fees.
Which has the best product offering?
iZettle has ramped up its product range in recent years, part of its strategy to broaden their appeal beyond very small businesses.
You can pick and choose items like:
- iZettle Card Reader: iZettle is on its second generation of mobile card reader and it shows. The iZettle reader is one of the better ones available on the market. Pick between white and black and choose a charging dock to match.
- Cash Drawer: Make sure that your cash payments are secure with a cash drawer.
- Receipt Printer:iZettle offers a range of receipt printers at various price points, giving you the flexibility to offer customers physical receipts as well as electronic ones.
- Device Stand: Rest your card reader, smartphone, or tablet device on a stand to present a more professional set-up to prospective customers.
- All-in-one Kits: Go the whole hog and snap up a store kit with all the bells and whistles. Inclusive of most of the above products, its the ultimate point of sale set up.
Can Square match up to iZettle’s extensive offering?
- Square Reader: The Square Reader is unlike other readers as it doesn’t have a screen. It is a simple small square, much smaller than the PayPal Here and SumUp Air readers, with a slot for a credit or debit card to be inserted into. For Chip and PIN transactions, the customer enters their PIN on the POS app using a system called ‘PIN on Glass’.
- Combined Cash Drawer/Receipt Printer: Opt for a minimalist point of sale set up with the two-in-one cash drawer and receipt printer, ideal for lower volume merchants.
- Stand: Round off your POS system with an iPad stand and card reader dock.
- iPhone Case: Make it easier for customers to insert their card and enter their pin on the mobile device with an iPhone case, to which you can attach the Square reader. Available for different iPhone models.
The product offerings of iZettle and Square are very similar so it’s pretty hard to pick out a clear winner.
iZettle offer a full POS kit which Square does not, but many of Square’s items serve multiple purposes, reducing the need for lots of clunky equipment. While it’s a bit of a cop-out, I think it all comes down to your business and working out which is right for you.
Which card reader is easiest to use?
When iZettle ditched the Miura M010 card reader in 2016, they brought out the new and improved iZettle Reader 2.
The iZettle Reader 2 can support card payments from all popular debit and credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit, American Express, Union Pay, Discover, WorldPay, JCB, Diners Club, and V Pay.
It also has the capability to process NFC payments, specifically Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.
The iZettle can accept contactless, Chip and PIN and magnetic stripe payments via the reader.
The Square reader can support all the same card types and NFC payments as iZettle so they’re on a level playing field there. The only thing the Square reader can’t do is accept magnetic stripe payments but in the UK that isn’t much of a drawback.
Square can carry out contactless payments and chip and PIN payments too, but with the difference that customers must enter their PIN onto the mobile device, rather than the card reader as there is no screen or buttons on the reader.
This causes a bit of a stir with some customers who question the security of the system, but this “PIN on Glass” process has been at play amongst their US customer base for years.
The “PIN on glass” feature will still take some getting used to, and it’s a bit disjointed, whereas iZettle’s payment processing is all done on the single reader. Personally, I prefer the iZettle card reader as asking customers to use two devices in one transaction is a little unintuitive.
Which POS app is better?
With iZettle’s free point of sale app, you can create a product library with ease, customising it to include different price points, photographs, and descriptions. You can monitor your inventory, syncing sales with stock levels.
Refunds, email invoices, and receipts are all easy to distribute and you can even transform your mobile phone into a barcode scanner using the app. Sales data can be synced with bookkeeping software your business uses, helping to produce in-depth reports.
Square has one of the best POS apps around and it’s functionality really is second to none. Payment and checkout features are very comprehensive. Customers can carry out card transactions split amongst different credit or debit cards. Receipts can be customised and emailed directly to customers.
Tracking your inventory is straightforward, with alerts for low or sold-out stock, and its reporting capabilities are great. You can easily hook up your sales data with your chosen bookkeeping systems, such as Xero and QuickBooks.
Square offer different packages tailored to your industry. For example, hospitality businesses can print kitchen receipts and manage reservations, going beyond purely carrying out transactions.
The iZettle POS app has great features, but when compared to Square, Square definitely takes the lead. The ability to gear it towards your business needs in your industry gives it more value.
How do they compare price-wise?
There are two cost facets to explore when comparing iZettle vs Square: the cost of the card reader and the transaction fees.
Card Reader Costs
Normally, it’ll cost you £59 for the iZettle Card Reader 2, but you can bag one on their website right now for £29, before VAT. Alternatively, you can use our Cardswitcher affiliate deal to snag one for just £25, before VAT.
The Square reader costs £19 before VAT. It’s cheaper than the iZettle reader but it’s also a more basic device. The iZettle reader is worth the higher investment in my option, especially since it’s a more complex device with a screen and keypad.
iZettle and Square are both highly transparent about their pricing and they offer almost identical pricing models.
Neither of them charges a monthly fee for their service. Instead, they both charge a flat transaction fee of 1.75% per card payment.
Square facilitates keyed-in transactions, which iZettle does not, and these are charged at 2.5%.
Both companies offer email invoicing which is also charged at 2.5%.
How quickly are funds deposited into my bank account?
With both iZettle and Square, you can expect your funds to be deposited into your bank account in 1 to 2 business days.
If you just can’t wait that long, Square offers an Instant Deposit service which ensures your money is deposited within 20 minutes of the transaction. However, it’ll cost you an extra 1% on top of your ordinary transaction fee. For Square’s Instant Deposit feature, the payment must be between £50 and £1,000.
Square should be your first choice if speedy deposit time is a high priority for you.
Which is safer?
When transitioning to new modern technologies, particularly ones that involve the transfer of private information, your business should have security at the forefront of its mind.
iZettle have put a heavy emphasis on security and are fully transparent about their efforts. They’re PCI DSS compliant (card data handling security standard) and approved by EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa).
All card details passed through the card machine are encrypted. They’ve also developed tamper-proof elements into the card reader design so that it “self-destructs” on detection of tampering.
Square adheres to PCI Compliance Level 1, the strictest of PCI’s security standards. Their hardware is all kitted out with end-to-end encryption too.
They advertise that they have in-house teams and recruit public bounty researchers to test out their security systems on a regular basis, looking for bugs, glitches, and loopholes that would compromise their security systems.
Both iZettle and Square provide £250 chargeback protection, which is a great bonus.
Their approaches to security are both so thorough that it’s hard to determine who has the “safer” app. I think both are outstanding and regularly trust my bank details to merchants using both Square and iZettle.
Which has the best customer support?
On the iZettle website, they have an incredibly thorough online resource section. The solutions to the most common issues customers experience are all outlined here.
If you’re still having trouble, they operate a ticket-based email system and their phone lines are open on weekdays between 9 AM and 5 PM.
For an extra £29 a month, you can sign up to iZettle Go PLUS which gives you access to phone lines until 8 PM on weekdays and Saturday support.
Square favour email, phone, and their Twitter support account (@sqsupport) as their primary points of contact. Whilst their Twitter and email support are good for lower-pressure issues, the phone line is your port of call for urgent problems. Their phone lines are open 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and there’s no option to pay extra for extended support hours.
The Square Support Centre is filled to the brim with an impressive array of self-help articles to keep you afloat should you run into any issues.
I think iZettle is better here in terms of customer support purely because they offer the option of paying for extended hours. Besides that, the two are very similar, and there aren’t many negative customer reviews attacking their level of support.
iZettle vs Square: who is the best?
Both have great product ranges. All of their equipment and accessories are well-thought out and expertly designed, so each can offer something to meet your business needs.
I really prefer iZettle’s card reader. It’s simpler to use and many customers are still deterred by Square’s “PIN on glass” function, though this is becoming more accepted. Go for Square if you need magstripe payment support, but if not, iZettle is my choice.
The free point of sale apps that come with both are fantastic. They’re user-friendly, customisable, and comprehensive. Square is the more advanced and can be geared towards your industry, perfect for busy kitchens and front of house in the hospitality sector.
Price-wise, they are practically identical and their settlement delay periods are also the same, with Square offering instant deposit for an extra fee.
There are no issues with security with either of them. Both approach security in different manners but no matter which one you pick, they both have teams at the ready, on the lookout for system breaches and scam artists.
Customer support is great for iZettle and Square. For the basic packages for both companies, phone support is limited to weekdays, though you can pay extra for extended support from iZettle.
What do industry experts say?
- G2: iZettle (5 / 5) vs. Square (4.6 / 5)
- Capterra: iZettle (4 / 5) vs. Square (4.5 / 5)
- TrustPilot: iZettle (4 / 5) vs. Square (4.5 / 5)
It’s a very, very close call between the two, but by taking everything into account, Square is the better card reader. The available features for the POS app elevate it far higher than other competitors.