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Updated May 21, 2024

Merchant One vs. Square: Comparing Two of Our Top Credit Card Processors

Merchant One and Square are two of the best credit card processors for small businesses. Here's how they compare.

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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Square company logo
Editor's Rating9.2/10
Merchant One company logo
Editor's Rating8.8/10
  • Merchant One and Square are popular payment processors that offer their services on a subscription basis. 
  • Merchant One is a great choice for budget-conscious small businesses or organizations that prioritize white-glove customer service. 
  • Square works well for professionals, freelancers, e-commerce businesses and small startups. 
  • This comparison is for business owners deciding between Merchant One and Square for their payment processing needs. 

As an increasing number of consumers embrace cashless transactions in the form of card, mobile and digital payments, more small businesses than ever are accepting credit cards, mobile wallets and additional payment methods. 

Merchant One and Square are among the best credit card processors that cater to small businesses. One or the other may be an ideal payment processing solution for your company. We looked at our detailed Merchant One review and review of Square and gathered information about each platform’s costs, integrations, e-commerce features and more. Our goal is to help businesses make an informed decision when choosing between these industry leaders.

Merchant One vs. Square

Merchant One vs. Square Compared

Criteria

Merchant One

Square

Costs

  • $6.95 monthly charge plus $99 annually
  • .29% to 1.99% per transaction
  • Monthly subscriptions range from free to $79
  • 2.6% to 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction 

Third-party integrations

Over 300, including QuickBooks, Salesforce, Zoho and HubSpot

Over 350, including QuickBooks, Wix and DoorDash

Hardware

  • Pax S80
  • Pax S500
  • FD130
  • Verifone VX-520 
  • Clover devices
  • Square mobile reader 
  • Square Terminal
  • Square POS Register

E-commerce

  • 175 online shopping carts 
  • Hosted checkout page
  • Virtual terminal
  • API
  • Online store
  • Payment links
  • Checkout page
  • Order fulfillment
  • Pickup and delivery
  • Subscriptions

Customer service

24/7 phone support, email and text support, online resources and a dedicated account manager 

24/7 support by phone, chat and email

Who Do We Recommend Merchant One For?

Merchant One is an ideal choice for businesses with high-volume sales. It’s also a great option for companies on a budget that prioritize excellent customer service. Merchant One’s subscription-based pricing model enables a reduced markup on its payment processing services. In other words, Merchant One charges you a smaller percentage of your sales, ultimately leading to more substantial profit margins.

Additionally, Merchant One’s white-glove customer service sets it apart from many other payment processors we reviewed. We like that the company provides 24/7 technical support and assigns a personal account manager to assist you. Merchant One accommodates all transaction types, whether your business conducts e-commerce or in-person sales via contactless payments, mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay, or EMV chips. You can also take advantage of a hosted checkout page so you can start selling online

Here are some pertinent Merchant One facts you should note:

  • Merchant One’s cost structure includes a $6.95 monthly fee and a $99 yearly fee. Processing rates vary between 0.29% and 1.99% per transaction. 
  • Merchant One’s approval process is fast and easy, which is helpful if you’re just starting a business
  • Merchant One requires a three-year contract commitment. In return, you get free equipment and enjoy its highly rated customer service. 
FYIDid you know
Merchant One allows businesses to accept recurring payments, helping them stabilize cash flow and streamline their customers' accounts payable processes.

Who Do We Recommend Square For?

Square is an ideal payment processing solution for startups, newer small businesses and e-commerce businesses. Its vast ecosystem of user-friendly hardware and software sets the vendor apart from competitors. For example, Square is considered one of the best POS systems for small companies. Square also integrates seamlessly with top e-commerce sites and over 350 third-party business apps. 

We like that Square is willing to provide credit card processing for high-risk businesses, which isn’t the case with every credit card processor. We also appreciate its application process, which is straightforward with no hidden fees. The free mobile app can turn your smartphone into a mobile POS system, and Square provides free card readers for new customers. 

Square stands out from competitors for the following reasons: 

  • Square’s free tier is impressively functional and provides excellent value for small businesses. 
  • Square’s POS hardware is durable and attractive, which makes it a great option for restaurants and in-person retailers. 
  • Square supports recurring billing and subscription payments.
Did You Know?Did you know
Credit card processing fees consist of several elements, including the processor's markup set by the credit card processing company.

Merchant One vs. Square Comparison

Cost

Merchant One

Merchant One charges a monthly subscription fee plus a small percentage of the transaction. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Subscription costs: $6.95 per month with an additional $99 annual fee 
  • In-person purchases: 0.29% to 1.55% for swiped, tapped or dipped card payments 
  • Keyed-in purchases: 0.29% to 1.99% for POS terminal or virtual terminal payments

To become a Merchant One subscriber, you must commit to a three-year contract. You may incur an early cancellation fee (a flat fee or a monthly fee) if you decide the service isn’t for you.

TipTip
Contact Merchant One directly to inquire about negotiating lower credit card processing fees.

Square

Like Merchant One, Square charges on a subscription basis. It also uses interchange-plus pricing, where the company takes a small cut of your revenue plus a small fixed fee. We were impressed by Square’s robust free tier — a rarity in the industry (though you’ll still have to pay for credit card processing). 

Here’s a breakdown of Square’s costs. Note that plan prices reflect a discount for annual billing. 

Plan

Monthly cost

Per-transaction rate

Features

Free

$0

2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.9% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered) 

Website builder, order fulfillment, Square POS and social tools 

Plus

$29 

2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.9% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered) 

All free features, plus website customization, QR codes, customer accounts, personalization, PayPal and subscriptions

Premium

$79

2.6% + $0.10 (in person); 2.6% + $0.30 (online); 3.5% + $0.15 (manually entered) 

All Plus features, plus lower processing rates, real-time data, advanced customer service and no delivery fees

Like many credit card processors, Square offers additional selling and e-commerce tools for merchants, including the following: 

Winner: Merchant One

Merchant One edges out Square on costs. Its monthly fee is significantly lower than Square’s paid plans, and its processing rates are also much lower. Even though Square offers a free version of its software, your subscription savings still won’t match Merchant One’s low processing fees in the vast majority of cases. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Whatever payment processor you select, carefully reviewing and understanding its credit card processing service agreement is essential.

Third-Party Integrations

Merchant One

Integrations are important for businesses that want to connect crucial business software. Merchant One facilitates 300-plus third-party software integrations. Additionally, Merchant One offers an open API to help organizations develop customized integrations. 

Here are some notable Merchant One integrations:

Square

Square offers 350-plus business software integrations, including the following: 

Winner

Although both providers offer comparable integrations, Square provides a better variety of well-known brands. That said, Square and Merchant One offer several unique integrations. Business owners should list the integrations they need and then check for compatibility on the Merchant One and Square websites.

TipTip
QuickBooks Online integrates with both Merchant One and Square. Check out our QuickBooks Online review for a more in-depth evaluation of this popular accounting solution.

Hardware

Merchant One

Merchant One is an authorized POS device reseller; it does not manufacture proprietary hardware. When you work with Merchant One, the company will provide credit card processing machines for free. You may get one of these handheld POS devices: 

  • Verifone VX-520
  • Pax S80
  • FD130
  • Clover devices (Clover Station, Clover Mini and Clover Flex) 

Merchant One PaxS80

Merchant One offers the Pax S80 handheld terminal for free. Source: Merchant One

Square

Unlike Merchant One, Square manufactures its hardware in-house. These devices are easy to use and budget-friendly, making them an excellent choice for merchants that must upgrade their credit card terminals

Top hardware options include the following: 

  • Square Reader for magstripe: This simple device plugs into a smartphone. You can use it to swipe credit cards. Square provides a free reader for all new customers.
  • Square Reader: You can pair this device with a smartphone or tablet to accept NFC contactless payments and chip cards.
  • Square Terminal: This handheld device can accept payment and print receipts.
  • Square Register: Square’s most advanced hardware offering features a customer-facing screen, built-in software and more. 

These devices range in cost from $49 for the Square Reader to $699 for the Square Register; in some cases, monthly payment plans are available. Square also offers various hardware add-ons, such as tablet stands, cash drawers and receipt printers. 

TipTip
Read our in-depth review of Square POS for a more detailed look at the vendor's POS hardware and software.

Square credit card processing hardware

Square’s hardware lineup is sleek, affordable and user-friendly. Source: Square

Winner

Square is the hands-down winner in the hardware category. The company offers a wide variety of devices and options for accepting payments, ranging from plug-in card readers, handheld terminals and iPad software to full-service registers. Square’s hardware lineup is renowned for its user-friendliness; it’s also less expensive compared to other credit card processing hardware. While we like that Merchant One offers free hardware, customers must sign a three-year contract. Its paid hardware options are also more expensive than Square’s lineup. 

E-Commerce

Merchant One

Merchant One’s valuable e-commerce features are notably more extensive than other processors’ offerings. These tools include the following: 

  • Integrations with over 175 shopping cart platforms
  • Personalized hosted checkout pages with “buy now” buttons
  • Open API for custom e-commerce solutions
  • Virtual terminal for manually entering credit card numbers for card-not-present transactions

Merchant One virtual terminal

Merchant One’s virtual terminal lets merchants enter credit card information manually. Source: Merchant One 

Square

We like that Square offers various e-commerce solutions for small businesses, even on its free plan. With Square, you can keep in-person and online transactions on a central dashboard. 

Some of the company’s best features include the following: 

  • Website: Square’s free tier includes a website builder. Paid plans include plug-and-play templates and customization tools. We like that Square makes it easy to set up an online store without technical skills.
  • Online ordering: Square offers several tools for businesses to sell products, take orders and set up appointments. These include logistics tools for order fulfillment, various payment options and tools for exchanges and returns. For restaurants, Square’s pickup and delivery system makes it easy for customers to place online orders.
  • Social media integration: Square integrates with Google, Facebook and Instagram, making it easy for customers to find your business and place orders.
  • Virtual terminal: With Square’s virtual terminal, you can manually enter credit card data.
  • Checkout: The Square Checkout feature allows you to redirect customers to a Square-hosted payment page. 

Square credit card processing software

Square’s software lets you view in-person and e-commerce transactions on one dashboard. Source: Square

Winner

Merchant One and Square provide a nice array of e-commerce tools. However, Square takes the win here with more advanced functionality. In our opinion, restaurants will find Square’s pickup and delivery system particularly useful. We were impressed by how easy Square makes it to set up a website, even for business owners without web design skills. While Merchant One offers an open API, this isn’t a benefit small businesses can leverage without a skilled web developer. 

Customer Service

Merchant One

We were impressed by Merchant One’s high-level customer service. You’ll have access to 24/7 phone, email and text support, as well as a dedicated account manager.

Merchant One scored a noteworthy score of 4.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot for customer support, which puts it far ahead of its small business credit card processing peers. 

Square

In an era where automated support systems are increasingly the norm, it’s noteworthy that business owners using Square can connect with a human for assistance. You can access phone support from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. The vendor also offers online resources like an FAQ page and a community forum.

Square scored 4.3 out of 5 on Trustpilot for its customer support, which is higher than many competitors in the credit card processing space. 

Winner

Both Merchant One and Square stand out in the industry with positive customer reviews for their technical support. However, Merchant One wins this category because it supports more customer support channels. Merchant One also offers a dedicated account manager for all users, while Square only offers advanced customer support on its Premium plan. Customer service hours are another point of comparison — Merchant One offers 24/7 support, while Square’s hours are more limited. 

Merchant One vs. Square Recap

Choose Merchant One if: 

  • You’re seeking a payment processor with a budget-friendly monthly fee.
  • You want the lowest payment processing rates possible.
  • You prioritize excellent, personalized customer service. 

Choose Square if: 

  • You want an integrated system of hardware and software. 
  • You need budget-friendly POS devices that are easy to use. 
  • You’re looking for a plug-and-play e-commerce solution. 

FAQs

Yes. Square's highly rated mobile app for iOS and Android allows you to process credit card payments with an iPhone and other devices.
Merchant One is owned by Fiserv, the same company that owns Clover.
Square may hold up to 30% of your funds for a designated period for chargebacks (known as a "reserve"). This is higher than the industry average.
Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Mike Berner is a finance expert who spent more than half a decade serving as an economic analyst for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He is experienced in conducting quantitative analysis and research to guide clients and companies through changes in the financial markets. With a bachelor's degree in economics and a bachelor of business administration in finance, Mike is adept at breaking down the complex financial topics that affect business owners, from business loans and accounting to payroll and credit card processing. He also tests and analyzes the latest financial software solutions and enjoys giving tips on matters ranging from tax forms to sales strategies to investing through platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Substack.
Square company logo
Editor's Rating9.2/10
Merchant One company logo
Editor's Rating8.8/10
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