Square vs. Lightspeed

Square and Lightspeed both enable business owners to accept payments and manage their businesses. Once you get down to the details, however, there are clear differences between the two.

How Square works

The foundation of Square is a robust payment acceptance system. With Square, you can not only accept both payment cards and mobile payments, but also offer buy now pay later (BNPL) with Afterpay. Additionally, Square offers physical Point of Sale (POS) hardware at affordable prices while, with Square Online, you can use the Square payment system without hardware.

On top of that, Square has built a huge ecosystem of business tools, many of which are free or freemium. Additionally, it has over 5000 partner integrations ranging from cross-industry staples (e.g. accounting software) to niche tools for diverse business sectors, particularly retail and restaurants.

How Lightspeed works

Like Square, Lightspeed offers the option to accept payment cards and mobile payments. However, at present, it does not have a native integration with a BNPL service.
Officially, Lightspeed offers its services to businesses of all sizes. In practice, however, its pricing structure is unlikely to be attractive to small businesses. This means that its real target market is medium-sized businesses. With that said, it’s not really intended for either enterprises or franchises.

Square vs. Lightspeed – a direct comparison table

Here is a table showing the key features of Square and Lightspeed. As previously mentioned, Square’s services are suitable for small businesses as well as medium-sized and larger ones. Square also has a much broader range of additional tools and integrations. This makes it easier for businesses to customize how they use Square.

4.1/5

Square’s Trustpilot score

4.0/5

Lightspeed’s Trustpilot score

Cost comparison

  Square Lightspeed
Built-in
payment processing solution
Yes
*Integration with
Lightspeed Payments available
No chargeback fees
Yes
$15
Next day transfer as standard
Yes
Two Business Days
Instant transfer -
access funds in minutes (for a fee)
Yes
No

In-person payments

The systems begin to diverge in the range of options on offer once we start to look at what each provides for taking and processing in-person payments:

  Square Lightspeed
Free POS App with no monthly fees
Yes
No
All-in-one POS system with
customer display and built-in software
Square Register - $899
No
Portable EFTPOS machine
with built-in receipt printer &
free, pre-installed POS software
Square Terminal - $399
No
Countertop iPad POS stand with
built-in card reader
Square Stand - $249
No
POS hardware starting price Square Reader - $59
No
Physical gift cards
Yes
No
Afterpay acceptance in person
Yes
Yes
Built-in surcharge feature
Yes
Yes
Offline mode
(Process card payments
without internet access)
Yes, with Square Terminal
Square POS,
Square Retail,
Square Restaurant
and Square Register
Yes with some features unavailable offline

To summarise, both Square and Lightspeed offer cloud-based POS software. However, Square also provides a wide selection of first-party solutions, including payments and hardware, which all work seamlessly together. In addition to its comprehensive services, Square also offers bespoke partner integrations, which are available in the Square App Marketplace and also integrate smoothly with Square’s native solutions.

With Square, business owners have a convenient path to build a tech stack that works for their unique needs, powered by a reliable platform that is used and trusted by merchants in 6+ countries. With Lightspeed, the onus is on merchants to set up and manage their own integrations as necessary, often adding more cost and complexity to their everyday operations.

Online and remote payments

  Square Lightspeed
Free online store
Yes
No
Photo Studio app for
item library and online store
Yes
No
Payment links
Yes
No
Invoicing software
Yes
No
Virtual Terminal to take
payments over the phone
or on your computer
Yes
No
Afterpay acceptance online
Yes
Yes
e-Gift Cards
Yes
Yes

Solutions for retail stores

  Square Lightspeed
Retail POS System
Yes
Yes
Free monthly plan
Yes
No
Inventory management
Yes
Yes
Unlimited items
Yes
No
Auto-generate SKUs
Yes
No
Auto create from GTIN
Yes
No
Cross-location stock counts
Yes
Yes
Customisable Item Grid
Yes
No
Sell by weight / decimal
Yes
No
Item categories
Yes
Yes
Advanced item search
Yes
Yes
Inventory counting tool
Yes
Yes
Smart stock forecasts
Yes
Yes
Barcode printing
Yes
Yes
Cross-location returns and exchanges
Yes
Yes
Automatic purchase orders
Yes
Yes on Pro plan only
Order history
Yes
Yes
Vendor management
Yes
Yes
Digital receipts
Yes
Yes
Vendor sales reports
Yes
Yes
Multi-store management
Yes
Yes
CRM, Marketing & Loyalty Starting from $20/mo Starting from $229/mo
Team management software
including rostering and
time tracking
Yes
No
Sell on Instagram
Yes
Yes

Solutions for restaurants

  Square Lightspeed
Restaurant POS System
Yes
Yes
Free monthly plan
Yes
*Free plan only available
when processing payments
through Lightspeed Payments
First party hardware built for restaurants
Yes
No
First party online & QR ordering
Yes
No
First party Kitchen Display System
Yes
No
Mobile POS
Yes
No
Auto-menu creation
Yes
No
Kitchen performance reports
Yes
No
Floor plan customisation
Yes
No
Course management
Yes
Yes
Seat management
Yes
Yes
Restaurant inventory management
Yes
Yes
Advanced reporting
(close of day, shift, live sales)
Yes
Yes
Team management software
including rostering
and time tracking
Yes
Yes
CRM, Marketing & Loyalty Starting from $20/mo Starting from $229/mo

*Competitive data on this page was collected as of 15 Oct 2022 and is based on information found on lightspeedhq.com. This information is subject to change or update without notice. Square does not make any representations as to the completeness or accuracy of the information on this page.

Why businesses choose Square

Many businesses turn to Square purely because they want a secure payment system that’s also easy to use and affordable. In particular, they appreciate the fact that Square offers POS hardware to suit all situations and budgets. Options range from the basic but effective Square Reader to the feature-rich Square Register via the all-around workhorse of the Square Terminal.

Once they’ve connected to Square, they have access to the wide range of useful products and services in the Square ecosystem. There is also a huge selection of vetted integrations. Some businesses choose Square precisely because they want access to a solution that is guaranteed to work out of the box but is still customizable.

Other businesses choose Square because of its attractive cost structure. For example, Square offers free plans for both retail POS and restaurant POS. In both cases, these free plans will provide most, if not all, the features most smaller businesses need. Lightspeed, by contrast, currently does not have a free plan for retail POS and only has a very limited free plan for restaurant POS.

Offsite and online options

Some retailers now operate purely online. Even if that’s not the case for you, it’s highly advisable that you have at least one online option. In fact, it’s quickly becoming almost mandatory. Restaurants too, despite having to have physical premises, can still benefit from expanding their online booking, pick-up and delivery options.

If you’re really not ready to commit to running a website, then Square paylinks allows you to send shoppable links directly to your customers (e.g. via email). Square also offers free invoicing software.

On the other hand, if you do want to run an online store, Square Online makes it easy. You don’t need any technical skills and it integrates seamlessly with the Square virtual terminal as well as all other Square digital services.

Having an online store also allows you to leverage shoppable posts in social media including on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Social selling can really expand your reach, especially with younger adults.

Square ecosystem offerings

Square is so much more than just a secure, easy-to-use and cost-effective way to accept payments. It’s a whole suite of tools and services designed to help all businesses to succeed on their own terms. For example, Square can help you to manage appointments, run a loyalty program or even get a business loan.

Everything you need to run your business, anywhere, anytime.

Square has all the tools you need to reach your customers and grow your business, whether in person, online or both.

Set up a free online store that seamlessly syncs with your in-person sales, items and customer management.

Send an unlimited number of invoices, estimates or recurring invoices to request payments for goods & services.

Square Point of Sale is simple to set up, easy to use and has no monthly costs, you only pay processing fees.

Keep new and existing customers coming back with Marketing and Loyalty tools that grow your business.

Simplify your day with our web-based appointment scheduling software and app.

Streamline your operations with Square for Retail’s advanced Inventory & vendor management, reports, purchase orders, barcode label printing, and more.

Our restaurant POS system is built for speed. From menu management to coursing, every tool helps your team move faster.

Get your money deposited in your bank account as fast as the next day or instantly for a fee.

Hardware for selling anywhere.

Square Reader

The fastest and most secure way to pay. Accept chip and PIN cards, contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay. An easy solution for your on-the-go business.

Square Terminal

The all-in-one portable EFTPOS machine that lets you accept all kinds of payments easily and print (or email) receipts – the perfect solution for tableside services.

Square Register

The fully integrated touchscreen point-of-sale that lets you start selling right out of the box. Manage card and contactless payments, online sales and more, all from one POS register.

Square Stand

Turn your iPad into a powerful point of sale with payments built in. In a swivel, Stand becomes a customer display, so you can sell accurately and customers can confirm their total and pay.

Frequently Asked Questions