Zettle vs Square: Battle of the Free EPOS Systems

Someone using a Zettle till

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When choosing your EPOS system between Zettle and Square, we think Square is the best choice because it packs payment and growth-fostering tools along with a killer low price. Small businesses, especially those focused on retail and hospitality, are primed to be well-served by it due to Square’s features tailored to these industries.

However, Zettle offers more options for you to assemble your till and will appease business owners who like their EPOS systems with more hardware kit variations. Plus, it also offers its software for free, like Square.

We understand choosing an EPOS system can be tricky, but we can help. By using our free comparison tool, we’ll match you up with trusted providers, who will contact you with obligation-free quotes.

If you’re still torn between Zettle or Square, read on as our independent research scores Square with an overall 4.8/5 against Zettle’s 3.7/5. To get to this, we looked into features such as price, till, and usability, backed by our experience and users’ feedback.

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Zettle Go


Best For


Best For





£0 – £69/month

Key Features
  • Free software
  • Versatile till
  • Several payment integrations
Key Features
  • Free software
  • Ecommerce integration
  • Retail and restaurant versions
Free Trial/Plan
Free Trial/Plan
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Zettle vs Square: Head-to-head

Zettle’s till system trumps Square’s, because it allows for more configurations and gives business owners greater freedom to assemble their own EPOS kit. However, Square offers better business management and business development tools than Zettle, while Square’s help and support is more comprehensive than Zettle’s.

The fact that the two services have slick and simple interfaces puts them on par with each other in usability. Stock management features are also similar among these providers. Both Zettle and Square offer their software for free – a key cost-reducing feature in the EPOS arena.

However, when it comes to hardware, it’s worth noting that Square has a cheaper entry point than Zettle. Square’s cheapest card reader costs £16 + VAT, while Zettle’s costs £29 + VAT.

Read our in-depth review of Zettle to find out more about it’s pros and cons.

Square website
Square allows you to natively sell online

Square: Best for growth

Square is an EPOS system that’s big on business growth, offering strategic features which are designed to widen the clientele base of a business, like marketing campaigns and loyalty programmes.

Unlike Zettle, Square allows for the creation and integration of a webstore, as it doubles as an ecommerce platform – a major plus for business owners who want to grow their online footprint. It also enables sales via social media. However, it offers integration with less third-party services than Zettle.

Its retail features make it a solid choice in this category, but, as a provider paid by transaction fees, large businesses are likely to incur in big costs.

Someone using a Zettle till
Zettle's till scored highly in our research for its versatility

Zettle: Best for till

Zettle (formerly iZettle) is an EPOS system focused on the till experience. One of the provider’s main strengths is there are plenty of hardware set-up options.

In our research, Zettle’s till versatility scores 4.5/5 against Square’s 4/5 – the only category in which it came out better than Square. This result puts it on par with competitors such as Lightspeed and Shopify – and its high usability befits the industry standard.

The pricing of its software benefits small businesses, but there are two catches: its hardware is more expensive than Square’s, and the scarcity of business development tools will make it an odd fit for businesses wanting to expand.

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Zettle vs Square: Pricing & plans

Both Square and Zettle offer their software for free, with no monthly fees. Instead, the costs incurred are from transaction fees and once-off hardware purchases. Transaction fees are similar for both providers: 1.75% for in-store payments, and 2.5% for card not present ones.

Square also has an ecommerce platform, but its native payment platform charges slightly higher transaction fees for its online services: 1.9% for European cards, and 2.9% for non-European cards.

Square also offers two paid variations focused on retail and restaurant industries. Their cheapest plan costs £49 + VAT and £69 + VAT, respectively – and both come in more expensive, bespoke plans as well.

Hardware costs are, unlike the credit card fees, by and large, once-off. Of the two, Square’s reader is cheapest at £16 + VAT, while Zettle’s costs £59 + VAT.

Both providers charge £149 + VAT for their terminals. However, Square’s terminals print receipts, while Zettle’s terminal requires a printing dock, which costs £89 + VAT (or £50 + VAT if you buy them together).

Zettle is also currently offering a limited edition reader and dock bundle made from recycled plastic, which costs £98 + VAT. It’s more expensive than what a non-recycled bundle would cost (£68 + VAT), but it’s a green option that Square lacks.

On the other hand, Square offers some pieces of hardware which Zettle doesn’t – namely, the Square Stand (£99 + VAT) and the Square Terminal (£599 + VAT).

Zettle vs Square: Which has the best free plan?

Even though neither of these two providers offer free plans, Zettle and Square both provide their software for free.

However, they do both charge transaction fees, and their hardware also needs to be purchased.

Free plans usually come with limited features and restricted scalability, so growing your business with them can be tricky.

Square sample website

Best for business features: Square

When it comes to features, Square really stands out. While it packs less variations on EPOS kits than Zettle, it does offer more pieces of hardware to furnish your till.

Square also allows you to build an online shop and integrate it with its EPOS system. It has built in features that enable you to run custom email marketing campaigns as well as loyalty programmes.

You do have to pay extra for these but, since none of them are included with Zettle, this gives Square an edge.

Not coincidentally, Square scores 5/5 and 4/5 in business management and business development in our research, respectively. This puts it ahead of Zettle, which scores 2.8/5 and 2.5 in these categories, respectively.

Square reader on grass
Square's reader, pictured here resting on the grass after a day of payments

Zettle vs Square: Card readers

Square’s reader is cheaper than Zettle’s: the former costs £16 + VAT, while the latter costs £29 + VAT. That said, Zettle does accept 10 different card types – three more than Square. Overall, both are solid choices and are among the best credit card machines for small businesses.

If you’re in a rush to get started, Zettle’s reader is delivered to you in one to two working days, while Square’s takes three to five working days to get to you.

Square’s reader can ensure that money from payments reaches your account on the next business day, whereas Zettle’s transfer can take up to two business days.

Square also offers a longer warranty on its reader: two years against Zettle’s one year. Overall, Square’s reader comes out as the best of the two.

Zettle's reader and terminal against white background
Zettle's terminal (right) and reader (left)

Zettle vs Square: POS terminals and more

Unlike readers, terminals allow you to work on 3G/4G if needed, as well as run several tasks, like stock control or sale history analysis, from the palm of your hand. The terminals of both Zettle and Square tick these boxes, though Square’s includes a printer – something that Zettle sells as an added extra.

Square’s terminal offers more features than Zettle’s, mainly because its software is more comprehensive. Another positive that Square users can benefit from is that it has two industry-specific variations: one is for retailers, the other is geared towards restaurant owners.

Square also offers two extra pieces of hardware that lack a Zettle counterpart: the Square Stand and the Square Terminal, which widen the choice for business owners.


Unsure how you’d even use a Square POS if you got your hands on it? Read our easy guide on how to operate a Square card reader.

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Zettle vs Square: Which is easier to use?

Backed by our in-depth research, Square is easier to use than Zettle. Both Zettle and Square seem to hit the ground running, foregoing talks to banks or installation visits. In our research, both score a perfect 5/5 in usability – this is because of their intuitive layout and set up.

Square offers better support, as their team is available 24/7 while Zettle’s is only active from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. Square even offers to replace malfunctioning hardware by the next business day (if an issue remains unresolved), while Zettle doesn’t specify a timeframe for this. This was also reflected in the research we conducted: Square scores another perfect 5/5 in help and support, while Zettleis is above average with 3/5.

Zettle vs Square: How do they compare to the competition?

Both Square and Zettle place themselves strongly against other UK EPOS systems – especially the former, which tops our ranking in all sections of our research. With the cumulative effect of bulk transaction fees, we would highly recommend Lightspeed and Talech to large businesses.

Square’s business management tools and price make it better than providers like Vend or Shopify.

Price also is a key factor to be taken in consideration if you’re choosing Zettle. While it lacks the business development tools that many of its competitors have, the allure of free software makes it a good fit for those looking to grow their business.

Square’s restaurant features are comparable to those of TouchBistro, but its price gives it an added edge for restauranteurs. On the retail side, Square’s combination of features specific to this type of business, its comprehensive help and support, and low price puts it in a better position to serve retailers than Clover or Vend.

Overall, the fact that both Square and Zettle offer their software for free allows them to trump competitors that offer similar features

Our methodology

To find the best EPOS system between Zettle and Square, we conducted a thorough research into providers in this field in the UK so we could compare them and let you in on our takeaways.

In total, we surveyed 12 EPOS system companies, analysing them across seven categories: till, business management, stock management, business development, usability, price, and help and support/customer score.

Apart from a general score, we applied different weights to some criteria while assessing each EPOS system’s suitability for a particular type of business, such as small businesses, large businesses, retailers and restaurants.

With this additional angle, we were able to pinpoint why Square and Zettle top our list for best EPOS systems for small businesses, for instance. In this analysis, Square scored 4.8/5, while Zettle scored 4.2/5.

It also shed a light on how Square’s business model impacts large businesses. Here, Square ranked 4.4/5, lower than Lightspeed (4.5/5). It tied with Talech (4.4/5), but Talech’s scores in business development and price were higher and that bumped it up in the ranking.

And who wins is... Square

With its numerous features, cheap price and user-friendly layout, Square is one of the best EPOS systems in the UK. This combination puts it in a better position than Zettle to serve small business owners because they can start taking payments and growing their business quickly and at a low cost.

It’s worth mentioning that Square’s transaction fee-based business model could increase costs for large businesses, making it an odd fit for those.

Whether you’re a small business, a retail outlet, a restaurant, or any combination of these, our thorough research suggests Square is a solid option for you.

However, if you’re still not sure whether Zettle or Square will serve you better, just fill in our free comparison tool to get bespoke quotes sent your way. It’s super quick and hassle-free!

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Zettle vs Square FAQs

Does Square work with Zettle?
No, they don’t integrate with each other.
What percentage of sales do Square and Zettle take?
Both services charge 1.75% for in-person payments, and 2.5% for card not present ones. On its ecommerce iteration (which Zettle doesn’t have), Square charges are 1.9% for European cards, and 2.9% for non-European ones.
Are there cheaper options?
In terms of software, since both Zettle and Square are offered for free, getting cheaper than that would be tricky. As for hardware, Square is the cheapest option among the ones we surveyed, as it charges only £16 + VAT for its most basic hardware (the reader).
Which is better for small businesses?
According to our research, Square’s tools for business growth makes it the best option for small businesses. However, both Square and Zettle share two traits that are important to this segment: low initial cost and flat rate charging on transaction fees.
Written by:
Lucas Pistilli author headshot photo
Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions.
Reviewed by:
Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.