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Square vs. SumUp

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Products and Services
Compatible Hardware
Fees and Rates
Sales and Advertising Transparency
Customer Service and Technical Support
Negative Reviews and Complaints
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
WinnerFinal Verdict
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If I’m being entirely honest, SumUp kind of reminds me of Square’s sophisticated European cousin who’s come to the US to stay. Lean, sleek, and refined, standing in contrast to Square’s large, colorful profile. But in the end, they’re both family — and by that, I mean they’re both mobile POS apps that let almost anyone take payments anywhere they can get data or Wi-Fi. It’s fair to say that Square has a LOT more on its plate lately, with its retail-focused app and several add-on services. But if you’re just looking at their mobile processing — a way to take payments on a smartphone or a tablet — which is the better option? I’m here to take a look at Square vs. SumUp to see how they stack up.

Products & Services

Winner: Square

I’m not counting Square for Retail or any of Square’s add-on services in this comparison because it’s unfair given that these services cost extra. Instead, I’m comparing the standard Square app to SumUp’s app. Even with that limitation placed, Square comes out ahead of the game.

Let’s start with the mPOS apps. Having used both, I find each very easy to navigate. They are fairly intuitive from the moment you first log in. There are a couple of features you’ll need to contact SumUp to activate, because you can’t do it from within the app itself (tipping, for example), and Sumup works just slightly different from most other mPOS apps. It’s not a hindrance. I think it’s more SumUp showing its European roots.

It’s when you start to get down to individual app features that Square shines brighter than SumUp. I don’t want to go into a whole complex comparison here. If you want to learn more, I encourage you to check out our individual Square and SumUp reviews, where we’ve detailed the features each app offers pretty well. However, I will say that both offer most of the standard features you’d expect: quick sale mode, item libraries, tips, disabling signatures for small transactions, etc.

I do want to draw attention to a couple of the core differences in the mPOS app, though. First and foremost, Square allows inventory counts and overall its inventory management features are more advanced. It also supports discounts by percentage or dollar amount. SumUp doesn’t offer any of these features. I’m also a little bit disappointed by the lack of invoicing support from SumUp. Furthermore, you’ll notice that there’s no customer database in the SumUp app. While the lack of these features is by no means a deal-breaker, it does give the upper hand to Square.

What might be a deal-breaker is the lack of keyed entry in the SumUp app. If the card won’t swipe, the chip malfunctions, or the NFC features won’t work, there isn’t a manual override. Again, I think this mostly stems from SumUp’s roots in Europe, though I do hope that this limitation might disappear in the future. For now, the closest approximation is SumUp’s SMS payments feature. If you don’t have access to a card reader, but your customers have their phones, you can send them a link in a text message (SMS). That will direct them to a site where they can enter their payment information.

Both services offer a virtual terminal for no monthly fee, but you will pay a bit more than you would for a transaction in the mobile app. Likewise, both do offer e-commerce capabilities, though Square’s is far more comprehensive, with a domain name, a free site, shopping cart integrations, and an API. SumUp’s is just an API.

That said, SumUp does offer one service that Square doesn’t: international processing. Granted, this is limited only to the 16 countries SumUp currently operates in. But if you are heading to the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Chile, Brazil, or one of the other nations in which SumUp already operates, you can contact the company and ask them to enable your account to process transactions abroad. And that’s pretty cool, since most US services (except the very-expensive Inner Fence) don’t even come close to offering this capability.

Compatible Hardware

Winner: Square

It’s no secret that Square works with a huge assortment of hardware, starting with the various card readers it offers. In addition to the basic magstripe reader it’s been sending out free for years, there’s a magstripe/EMV reader, an EMV/NFC reader (no magstripe capabilities), and a licensed third-party reader (Miura M010). Of course, don’t forget the attractive Square Stand with its built-in magstripe reader. And that’s just the card readers. Most of these readers are only so-so to me. I’ve seen worse designs, but apart from the simplicity of the Square Stand, most of them are awkward to use. My favorite of the bunch is the Miura M010, which is an iOS-exclusive for the Square ecosystem.

Check out our other articles on Square’s hardware for a more in-depth look: Unboxing the Miura M010 Reader, Square EMV Reader Unboxing and Review, and How Do Square’s Card Readers Compare to Competitors?

Beyond the card readers, there’s plenty of other hardware to consider for businesses that want a countertop solution as well as a mobile one. Square is happy to bundle kits consisting of tablet stands, cash drawers, receipt printers, and optional tablets. You can choose from multiple printers and cash drawers as well as stands, and all for a fairly reasonable price. Plus, you can add a Bluetooth scanner if you need it. Hardware compatibility depends on which device you use to run the Square app. Square maintains separate lists for iPads, iPhones, and Android devices if you want to know which specific printers and cash drawers work.

By comparison, SumUp offers just one reader: an all-in-one device called the SumUp Air. Check out our unboxing review of the reader for more, but I do like this device. I like that it supports all three forms of transactions, and I like its heft in my hand, even if I found it just a smidge too large in my hand. Again, you’ll see the big difference here is that SumUp doesn’t even offer a free magstripe reader. Instead, the Air reader runs for $69 plus tax, with free shipping.

As far as other devices, there’s no dock for the Air reader. SumUp doesn’t currently offer a stand in the US, either. The app doesn’t support scanning, so there’s no need for a Bluetooth scanner. But at least the app is compatible with multiple receipt printers, according to a help desk article.

SumUp also supports cash drawers, though it must be compatible with the receipt printer you’ve chosen if you want it to function automatically. (Otherwise, you should be able to use any old manual drawer.) But the company doesn’t sell any sort of printer or cash drawer directly. You’ll have to find them yourself from another source.

While I like the SumUp reader better than most of Square’s hardware, Square wins this round. The diversity of card readers aside, the fact that Square offers pre-bundled kits and all the hardware you could need in one place is super-convenient for merchants.

Realistically, though, do most merchants need all that? If you’re only a mobile business, then no. You most likely have no use for all the bells and whistles. If you want to run a countertop system and a mobile one at the same time, Square is the clear winner. But for merchants who just want mobile processing, I honestly think you’ll be served equally well by either of these options.

Fees & Rates

Winner: Tie

Pricing for Square vs. SumUp is quite comparable, which is nice. For most transactions, you’re going to pay 2.75%. Neither requires any monthly fees or minimum processing amounts. You only pay for what you use, which is why processors like this are great for new merchants, mobile businesses, and those that only process infrequently.

I’ve personally written a LOT about the cost of using Square. For context into both Square and SumUp’s pricing schemes and how they compare to, say, an interchange-plus plan, I recommend checking out our analysis article: Is Square the Cheapest Processor for Your Business?

With Square, you’re going to pay one of three fees:

  • 2.75%: For all swiped, dipped, or contactless transactions in the Point of Sale app
  • 2.9% + $0.30: For all eCommerce transactions and invoices
  • 3.5% + $0.15: For all virtual terminal and keyed-in transactions

Square means it when the company says “No other fees” — it’s even started waiving the chargeback fee, which is unheard of in the payments industry.

SumUp has two rates depending on the type of transaction:

  • 2.75%: For all swiped, dipped, or contactless transactions in the SumUp app
  • 2.9% + $0.15: for all virtual terminal or SMS payments transactions

There’s also a $10 chargeback fee for transactions decided in the customer’s favor. However, there are no other fees.

SumUp actually offers better pricing than Square on its additional services, but unless the virtual terminal makes up the majority of your transactions, you probably won’t see much cost savings. And SumUp doesn’t have an invoicing capability at all, making that a moot point, much to my dismay. So, all things considered, I’m going to call pricing a draw because for most of you transactions you’ll pay the same price either way.

Sales & Advertising Transparency

Winner: Tie

With both companies requiring no contract, no monthly fees, and no monthly minimum on top of their clear pricing strategy, it’s easy to say SumUp matches Square perfectly in the sales and advertising transparency. Both are third-party processors with a small inherent risk of an account termination, but they overall seem to be very stable.

That said, if you want some coaching and tools to better manage your business, Square definitely outshines SumUp concerning informational resources. The Townsquare blog is a great resource for all sorts of business-related topics, from payroll to marketing. SumUp’s US site has no blog, but the UK site does — though it’s not updated with nearly the frequency of the US site. I suppose that might be a result of SumUp’s large international reach.

Customer Service & Technical Support

Winner: Tie

I’ll be honest: Square does get a bad rap for customer service. Most of that, I believe, stems from the way it handles account terminations. If Square closes your account, it will shut you down via email, with no reason given, and no chance of appeal. If you are only dealing with a freeze or a hold, there’s a bit more leeway.

For a long time, Square also got a lot of grief for its lack of phone support. A couple of years ago, it finally added phone support, but with a caveat: first, you have to obtain a code to be able to call in. This continues to be a source of frustration from merchants who have account troubles, but others seem fine with it.

Square also offers Twitter support, a ticket-based system, a very thorough self-service knowledge base, and even a community forum. All of this seems pretty sufficient. Like I said just a moment ago, most of the complaints about Square’s service seem to extend specifically to account terminations and holds rather than unhelpful customer service reps or even response times.

SumUp doesn’t have a dedicated Twitter account for customer support, and it doesn’t have a community forum, but it does have phone support, a ticket-based support system, and a fairly comprehensive knowledge base. It also has phone support and, unlike Square, you don’t need to obtain a customer code to call in.

It’s difficult to find recent complaints about SumUp’s customer service. Most complaints are more than four years old at this point, and they don’t relate to SumUp’s services in the US since the company has only been stateside for about a year. I will say that my personal experiences with SumUp’s customer support have been good and that the chatter on Google play is mostly positive. The company is even responding to some reviews with tech support.

I’m going to call this one a draw. Square has a wider array of support options, but SumUp has cut through some of the red tape by not requiring a customer code for its phone support.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

It always feels a bit weird to call a winner in this category. How do you really decide who comes out on top when comparing the worst of the worst comments about each company? Who has fewer complaints? Whose complaints are less awful? My approach kind of fluctuates depending on who I’m discussing because context absolutely matters.

Here, we’re dealing with one service that is enormous in the US and another that’s still quite small in the States but has a larger following abroad. We don’t have hard numbers for either. So judging by complaint volume, even adjusted for relative size, is difficult. Therefore, this time I’m looking more at content.

SumUp and Square complaints have many similarities: a handful of complaints about customer service, a handful about account terminations, an occasional complaint about glitchy hardware. Square’s biggest source of complaints is terminations, without question. People tend not to like their accounts being terminated, which is completely understandable. But I think part of the frustration comes from how the company handles terminations: a simple email, with no reason, no appeal, and no chance to reach anyone on the phone.

SumUp has far fewer complaints overall, but, again, it has a much smaller customer base, especially in the US. It’s also still fairly new here. I’ve looked at the complaints about the service internationally too, to get a broader sample.

My gut says, based on the research I’ve done, that it’s really a draw in this category.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Again, how do you call a winner here? Square is a media darling, to be sure. And that’s not to mention its various partnerships or the implicit praise given by a merchant’s continuing use of the service. SumUp is smaller, but it’s established some partnerships across Europe already. It has a smaller customer base, but I see the same sort of positive reviews I see from Square users.

In the end, customers like how easy it is to get signed up. They like the easy to use hardware and the intuitive app. That’s all it boils down to.

Final Verdict

Winner: Square

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Square and SumUp are very similar at their hearts. Yeah, sure, Square has a very American “let’s try a bit of everything!” mentality whereas SumUp is leaner and more selective. But in the end, the family resemblance is still strikingly clear.

There are a lot of ways in which Square and SumUp are on level footing. Ultimately though, Square stands out in terms of features as well as hardware options, and that’s why in the end I have to declare Square the winner in the Square vs. SumUp debate. Square can adapt easily to countertop and mobile environments, it has more features (especially as far as inventory goes), and a great assortment of compatible hardware you can purchase directly. SumUp is a very capable mobile app, but it can’t do countertop. It doesn’t support invoicing, and its e-commerce support is limited strictly to an API.

That’s not a bad thing. It just means that SumUp is really meant to be mostly a mobile processing app, whereas Square can be an entire ecosystem for a business. If you need everything, that’s great. Square will serve you well. If you just need a mobile option, I have no hesitation in recommending either option for you.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out our full SumUp and Square reviews for more information about each service. Feel free to check out our other favorite mobile payments options as well!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson has been writing about payment processing and mobile payments since 2014, and has been quoted in articles for Credit Karma and The Next Web, among others. She graduated from The University of Kansas in 2010 with bachelor's degrees in English and journalism.
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