Square vs. Intuit GoPayment: Mobile Credit Card Systems Compared

At a Glance
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iPad Apps

The Square iPad app shows a shelf of items at the bottom.
Both payment apps on the iPad take advantage of the tablet's large screen, although only the GoPayment app will work in both portrait and landscape modes (Square’s app is limited to portrait orientation). The GoPayment app requires your password each time it opens, whereas Square saves your information until you choose to log out.

Each has a system of "items" to which you can add pictures, descriptions, and prices for the things you sell. The items appear on the main screen, and a simple tap will add an item to the invoice. Square makes entering custom amounts much faster with an easy-to-access keypad; in GoPayment, you have to create an item for the special amount you want to charge.

Once you have the items and charges ready, simply tap the Charge button to proceed to swiping the card. Each app also offers the option of manual card entry in place of swiping, and Square will allow you to record a transaction as cash.

The next step is the signature, if one is required. (Square has added the option to skip the signature for transactions under $25.) The Square signature pad is laggy, and my already messy signature came out worse than usual. Intuit’s app records much smoother-looking signatures.

Receipts from Square say they're from Square, while receipts from Intuit say they're from the email address you have registered with Intuit. As a result, my email program (Gmail) tagged the receipt from Intuit as a potential phishing attack.

A note about Android tablets: The Motorola Xoom is the only tablet on Intuit's list of supported devices, and Square does not offer a tablet version of its Android app.

Mobile Phone Apps

GoPayment on an iPhone (left) and Square on an Android-based Motorola Atrix (right)
Square’s Android and iOS apps look identical, as do the GoPayment apps. Similar to their iPad counterparts, Square will stay logged in while GoPayment will ask for your password, and you’re stuck in portrait mode with Square.

With the Square app, you get no option to create and save items, but you can add an image and description to the amount you’re charging. The GoPayment app will give you the option to create a list of items with preset amounts to add to an order, or you can scan a card first and then enter the amount.

Getting Your Money and Paying Fees

Both apps transfer money automatically into your registered bank account. Intuit takes that information at sign-up and treats each credit card transaction as a bank transfer, promising funds in your account within two or three business days. Square pulls money into your Square account, and, after verifying your bank account, pays out every evening.

Square is easier to track when it comes to fees. If you swipe a card, you're charged a flat 2.75 percent with no transaction fee. If you manually enter the numbers, it's 3.5 percent with a transaction fee of 15 cents.

For no monthly fee, Intuit GoPayment charges swipes at 2.7 percent with no transaction fee except on American Express cards, and at 3.7 percent if you key the number in. For higher-volume businesses, Intuit offers a plan that takes only 1.7 percent swiped and 2.7 percent keyed in, for a $13 monthly fee; if you do more than $1300 in sales a month, you'll prefer this plan.

Security and Software Integration

All of the apps require an Internet connection to work. You have no option to take information and run it at a later time. Make sure that you always have a stable and secure Internet connection, especially if you take payments in the field or at events. Although I find such a restriction annoying in my line of work, since I’m frequently at events with no Wi-Fi, this limitation is actually a security measure: Neither app will store credit card information on the phone or tablet.

Square is PCI-compliant and VeriSign trusted. Square is transparent about security, and you can read more about the methods the company uses to keep your information secure at the Square website. The service will export your transaction history as a CVS spreadsheet for import into the tracking software of your choice.

Downloading GoPayment transactions in QuickBooks.
Intuit, being the parent company of QuickBooks, offers the option to import GoPayment transactions into QuickBooks (Pro, Premier, and Enterprise, 2009 or later), in addition to offering a CVS export. GoPayment is also PCI-compliant, with similar encryption standards to Square's.

Which Should You Choose?

Finding the best payment option for your business requires weighing several factors. If your business is already reliant on QuickBooks, if you're currently using other Intuit merchant-services products, or if you frequently run over $1300 in sales monthly, then GoPayment is a good choice. If you're looking for simplicity and ease of management, the Square system fits the bill. Square's website is quick to navigate, and its mobile apps are straightforward and easy to get going.

In my case, it comes down to a question of connectivity and hardware. I need to be able to take payments at my studio with its spotty Wi-Fi, as well as at outdoor weddings and other events with no Wi-Fi. However, despite being partial to Intuit's hardware and pricing (I could benefit from the higher-volume plan during the school year), I'll have to go with Square to be able to use my smartphone.

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