Online payment processors – PayPal vs Stripe vs Square

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Online payment processors are dynamic and evolve fast courtesy of ever-changing payments trends, and companies are forced to adjust quickly to remain competitive.

Luckily, global eCommerce sales are on a steep upward trend and are expected to surpass $4.8 trillion in 2021, so there’s enough cake to go around.

Not all payment processors are worth your consideration, but PayPal, Square, and Stripe are at the top of their games. As online payment platforms, they are similar in many ways, but we can still point out some major differences.


PayPal through its Braintree subsidiary is a payment service provider that connects eCommerce platforms to different payment networks on mobile and web devices. Some businesses that use PayPal include; Pandora, Expedia, and eBay.


Stripe is a suite of payment APIs that helps users manage their online businesses by accepting payments and sending payouts. Customers use it to pay for services or products via credit cards or other online payment options.

Stripe works as a payment processor and a payment gateway. Some top companies using it include Amazon, Dribble, Slack, Foursquare, and Shopify.


Square is a mobile merchant services payment platform. It offers an array of business software, including payment hardware, Square Cash, and other services for small businesses. It’s most popular for its mobile application that allows users to process payments through smartphones. Some companies using it include Acuity Scheduling, Fuzz, and La Colombe Coffee Roasters.

How do they compare?

Availability and methods of payment

PayPal is available in 200+ countries and supports 25 currencies, allowing businesses to expand their customer reach. On the other hand, Stripe supports 135+ currencies but is only available in 39 countries.

Square is available in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and Japan and only accepts payments in currencies from these countries. Customers paying in a different currency incur currency conversion costs from the banks. Square users can process internationally issued cards, but only use Square when they are in the country they setup their Square account.


Payment gateways have excellent security protocols and tools for users. Stripe, PayPal, and Square use end-to-end encryption to secure your data and comply with PCI regulations. Moreover, they each have an extra layer of privacy, internal security, and fraud protection tools to prevent unauthorized access and reduce chargebacks.

Refunds and chargebacks

Chargebacks can cripple a business, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of how they are handled and how to prevent them. If you need help handling chargebacks, visit the Acrocharge website.

Aside from the payment reversed, PayPal and Stripe charge refundable $20 and $15 dispute fees, respectively. PayPal has a Seller Protection Policy that protects eligible transactions against reversals, chargebacks, and associated fees. Despite the protection policy, merchants still need to be wary of PayPal chargeback scams.

In contrast, Stripe has Stripe Radar, a real-time fraud protection service based on machine learning technology that helps reduce chargebacks due to fraud. However, it does not address service-based chargebacks.

Square doesn’t charge extra fees for disputes, and they have a chargeback protection program that covers merchants for up to $250 of eligible sales every month.

eCommerce and website integration

PayPal works well with WordPress, Google, eBay, and Shopify integrations. The integration and set-up process is fairly easy for app and web developers with detailed guides, plugins, tools, references, and a developer community available for assistance.

Stripe outshines for its developer friendliness. It’s evident it was designed with app and web developers in mind. Like PayPal, it has extensive references, documentation, plugins, extensions, and developer tools available. However, it has an edge since it provides developers with more customization options than PayPal or Square.

Square offers businesses POS systems and an easy way to complete online transactions. But they’ve taken a simple approach at the expense of developer customization abilities. It has interactive APIs, tools, documentation, a developer dashboard, and plugins but not as extensive as Stripe’s or PayPal’s.

Customer support

Stripe, Square, and PayPal aren’t all known for having the best customer support. But they partially redeem themselves by offering a range of support options, including email and phone support, developer support, live chat support, community forums, and social media.

Which is the best?

Fundamentally, payment processors enable businesses to accept payments, and offer convenience, data security, a larger customer base and help saving time. Over time, PayPal, Stripe, and Square have differentiated their products and services and now serve different market segments. As such, your choice comes down to your business needs and customer base.