Square Capital vs. PayPal Working Capital vs. Stripe Capital

We break down what’s great about these payment processing lenders—and what’s not-so-great.

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In the past few years, several credit card processing companies have gotten into the world of financing. Square, PayPal, and Stripe now all have their own working capital loan programs. They promise fast funds, affordable rates, and clear terms. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?

In this article, we’ll explain how Square Capital, Stripe Capital, and PayPal Working Capital work. We’ll show you what they have in common and what sets them apart. We’ll also give you a few warnings.

Let’s find out which—if any—of these new working capital loan companies is right for your business.

How Square Capital, Stripe Capital, and PayPal Working Capital compare

The application process may not be as effortless as you'd think, none of these three companies let you simply open an account and apply for a loan. They require you to have an established account and use their services to process credit cards for several months (at minimum). Then, if they like how your sales look, they might offer you a loan.

So if you’re not already using one of these companies, don’t expect to get a loan anytime soon. (We recommend checking out our rankings of fast and easy business loans instead.)

Likewise, if you’re trying to find out which of the three is the best to start using that payment processor, then buckle up for a long-term commitment.

With that out of the way, let’s go ahead and see how these lenders compare.

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The basics

Square, PayPal, and Stripe have a lot in common. They all approve you based on your credit card processing history. None of them check your credit, and they won’t affect your credit score. (To be clear, they won’t hurt your credit, but they also won’t build your credit profile either.)

Comparing Square Capital vs. PayPal Working Capital vs. Stripe Capital

Feature
Square Capital
PayPal Working Capital
Stripe Capital

Application type

Automatic offer

Application

Automatic offer

Funding time

1-3 days

In minutes

1-2 days

Repayment type

Percentage of credit card sales

Percentage of credit card sales

Percentage of credit card sales

Credit check

Icon No  Dark
Icon No  Dark
Icon No  Dark

Affects credit

Icon No  Dark
Icon No  Dark
Icon No  Dark

Early repayment

Icon Yes  Dark
Icon Yes  Dark
Icon Yes  Dark

And while all three companies like to call their financing “loans” and “working capital,” they’re really merchant cash advances (MCAS).

If you don’t know much about merchant cash advances, we highly recommend you read our guide to merchant cash advances. But put briefly, MCAs give you a sum of money upfront. Then, you repay that sum, plus a fixed fee, with a fixed percentage of your future credit card sales.

Info
Technical details
If we’re getting super technical, Square, PayPal, and Stripe say they offer loans because sometimes their funds come with a specific date they must be paid back by—MCAs don’t. But for practical purposes, these loans function like merchant cash advances.

On the one hand, merchant cash advances provide a source of funding to businesses that may not qualify for traditional business loans. On the other hand, the fees and APR (annual percentage rate) on MCAs are sky-high compared to the fees on other financing. Interest rates often get into the double and even triple digits. MCAs are notorious for their predatory nature, and they’re not subject to the same regulations as other types of financing. This could explain the extremely high APRs, fees, and interest rates. 

So you can see why Square, PayPal, and Stripe might not want to call their financing products merchant cash advances. Still, some businesses have found MCAs a valuable source of short-term working capital—say, to buy seasonal inventory so they can boost their profits. Just be careful out there.

Money
Don’t want a merchant cash advance?
No worries. You have other options. Check out our rankings of the best alternative business loans to find one that works for you.

So let’s say you understand how all this works, and you’re still interested. What can you actually expect to get?

Financing and rates details

Your financing amount and rates will, of course, depend on which company you borrow from.

Square Capital vs. PayPal Working Capital vs. Stripe Capital loans

Lender
Loan min./max.
Lowest listed rate
Min. annual revenue
Get a loan

Square Capital

$500/$250,000

10%

$10,000/yr. in Square sale

PayPal Working Capital

Up to $125,000

Unlisted

$15,000/yr. in PayPal sales

Stripe Capital

Up to $150,000

10%

$5,000/yr. in Stripe sales

Data effective 5/18/22. At publishing time, rates, fees, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

For example, Square Capital offers larger maximum loan sizes than PayPal Working Capital. On the other hand, Square Capital has lower revenue requirements to qualify for a loan. And then there’s Stripe Capital, which has the lowest revenue requirements, but otherwise uses mainly hypotheticals on their website (for their loan sizes and rates). In fact, none of these companies are super forthcoming with information.

The good news? By the time you get an offer, you’ll know exactly what amount, fees, and payment percentage to expect. All three companies let you choose from a few different offers. So you might be approved for a $10,000 loan, but you’ll have options for higher and lower repayment percentages and maybe—depending on the percentage you choose—higher and lower fees.

As with any type of business financing, make sure you understand the cost of your loan before you accept.

What customers say

Another difference between the three companies? Their reputations. Of the three, Square Capital is the only one with Trustpilot reviews—it has rave reviews and a 4.6 (out of 5) rating.1 But even if you compare the reviews of their parent companies, Square Capital still comes out on top. Square has a 4.5 TrustScore, while Stripe has a below-average 2.8 and PayPal has an even worse 1.2.2,3,4

Our research found plenty of borrowers describing positive experiences with Square Capital and PayPal Working Capital, but we didn’t find anyone who’d used Stripe Capital. That’s likely because Stripe Capital is the newest of the bunch, having launched in September 2019.

Now you know how Square Capital, PayPal Working Capital, and Stripe Capital compare at a high level. But let’s dig into a few specifics about each one.

Square Capital: Best for Square users

There’s no way for you to apply for a Square Capital loan. But if you qualify, Square will let you know on your Square dashboard. Fortunately, Square reviews your eligibility daily. So if you’re eligible, you’ll know ASAP.

While Square doesn’t publish the exact algorithm it uses to determine eligibility, it does offer some general guidelines. For example, you need to process at least $10,000 in Square payments a year, have a steady stream of payments, and have a mix of new and old customers. Plus, you can expect a better offer if you’re processing more payments over time.

Square Capital financing details

Lender
Loan min./max.
Lowest listed rate
Min. annual revenue
Get a loan

Square Capital

$500/$250,000

10%

$10,000/yr. in Square sales

Data effective 5/18/22. At publishing time, rates, fees, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

If you qualify, Square will offer you financing, and you’ll get to choose what size loan you want. Your fees and the percentage of sales will change with your loan size.

Square doesn’t list its fees on its website, but Fortune reports that Square Capital charges between 10% and 16% of the loan amount—and that’s consistent with what we’ve seen business owners report.5

Note that Square Capital requires you to repay your loan within 18 months. To make sure that happens, Square requires you to pay off at least 1/18 of your loan amount every 60 days. Ideally, the percentage taken from your credit card sales covers that 1/18—but if it doesn’t, you’ll have to make extra payments. Likewise, at the end of 18 months, you’ll have to pay off whatever remaining amount you owe.

For a more comprehensive look at Square Capital, you can check out our Square Capital review.

PayPal Working Capital: Best for PayPal users

To qualify for financing with PayPal Working Capital, you need to have used PayPal Business or PayPal Premier for at least three months. After that, you can apply.

Note that PayPal has clearly defined revenue requirements, depending on your account type. For example, PayPal Business customers have slightly lower revenue requirements than PayPal Premier customers.

PayPal Working Capital financing details

Lender
Loan amount
Fee rates
Annual revenue requirements
Get a loan

PayPal Working Capital

Up to 35% of your annual PayPal sales;$300,000 max.

Unlisted;reports of 2%–25%

$15,000/yr. in PayPal Business sales;$20,000/yr. In PayPal Premier sales

Data effective 5/18/22. At publishing time, rates, fees, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

You can get loans for up to 30% of your annual PayPal sales, but your first loan will be capped at $97,000. If you successfully pay it back (and we know you will), your maximum loan size increases to $125,000 for future loans.

Frustratingly, PayPal doesn’t advertise its fees anywhere. That being said, in our research we came across business owners who said they had fees as low as 2% and as high as 25%—a pretty broad range.

Some of those business owners were on their third or fourth loan, and they claimed that they got better fee offers with later loans. So your fees will likely depend on everything from your loan amount to your repayment percentage to how many loans you’ve had with PayPal before.

So what kind of percentage can you expect? Well, on its website, PayPal says most people will pay either 5% or 10%. But we saw reports from business owners who chose to pay a much higher percentage, so you might have more options.

There’s a few final things to note about PayPal Working Capital:

  • Your repayment percentage will include tax and shipping costs.
  • You can have only one PayPal loan at a time.
  • PayPal will monitor your sales for unexpected drop-offs.

Stripe Capital: Best for Stripe users

Stripe is the latest payment processor to start offering financing—and it’s the tightest-lipped.

So we know the basics: if Stripe likes what it sees in your account, it will offer you financing. Sometimes that’s a loan with a set repayment term, and other times it’s an MCA without a specified term. Either way, your financing comes with a fixed fee, and you repay your funds with a percentage of your Stripe credit card sales.

Lender
Loan min./max.
Lowest listed rate
Min. annual revenue
Get a loan

Stripe Capital

$150,000 max

10%

$5,000/yr. in Stripe sales

Data effective 5/18/22. At publishing time, rates, fees, and requirements are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Stripe doesn’t list its fees anywhere, and we couldn’t find anyone who had used it to tell us. At best, we know that all its examples use a 10% fee—which is consistent with fees from PayPal and Square.

Likewise, Stripe doesn’t talk about loan amounts on its site. That being said, reports suggest that most loans are between $10,000 and $20,000.6

We wish we could tell you more, but that’s all there is for now. We’ll update this review if Stripe decides to become more forthcoming or if we find business owners who have used Stripe Capital.

The takeaway

If you process a lot of credit card payments and you already use Square, PayPal, or Stripe as a point-of-sale system, then one of these working capital companies might work for you.

They can all help you get cash flow for your business even if you have bad credit—but before you dive in feet first, make sure you understand the fees and repayment terms.

Want to consider some alternative financing options? Check out our rankings of the best small-business loans.

Related reading

FAQs

Do I need collateral for a Square/PayPal/Stripe loan?

No, you don’t need collateral.

Square, PayPal, and Stripe don’t ask about potential collateral as part of the financing process. They don’t even require a personal guarantee. (Of course, part of the reason these companies don’t require collateral is that they have access to your merchant account and will automatically remove a percentage of your incoming funds.)

If you’re using Square Capital specifically, though, Square may file a UCC statement on your business if your loan is over $75,000. This serves as a lien on your business, which you can get released after you pay off your loan. (Note that this is a standard practice for many online lenders, so it shouldn’t raise any red flags for you.)

Will Square/PayPal/Stripe affect my credit score?

No, using Square Capital, PayPal Working Capital, or Stripe Capital shouldn’t affect your credit score. None of these brands perform a credit check as part of their application process, and they don’t report to credit bureaus either.

Is Square/PayPal/Stripe financing a good deal?

Well, that depends on what you mean by a good deal.

Because on the one hand, Square Capital, PayPal Working Capital, and Stripe Capital all lend to businesses that might not qualify for traditional types of financing. If small-business owners can use that financing to grow and improve their businesses, then yeah, it’s probably a pretty good deal.

On the other hand, the fees on these types of financing are higher than what you’d get from traditional financing, and you have to pay them all in a short period. That makes the effective APR quite high, which isn’t such a good deal.

In the end, it largely comes down to how you use your money. If you’re using financing as a stopgap measure to keep your business from shuttering, then the high fees will probably do you more harm than good. But if you’re using your financing for a specific reason that will give you a good return on your investment—like purchasing enough merchandise to take full advantage of a seasonal rush? That’s a different story.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources
  1. Trustpilot, "Square Capital"
  2. Trustpilot, "Square US"
  3. Trustpilot, “Stripe
  4. Trustpilot, "Paypal"
  5. Fortune, "Square Capital Has Loaned Over $1 Billion to Small Businesses"
  6. Business Insider, "Stripe Is Launching Stripe Capital to Move into SMB Lending"
Chloe Goodshore
Written by
Chloe Goodshore
Chloe covers business financing and loans for Business.org. She has worked with many small businesses over the past 10 years, from video game stores to law firms. Those years watching frustrated business owners try to sift through their many options gave her a passion for breaking down complex business topics. She wants to help business owners spend less time agonizing over their businesses so they can spend more time running them.
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