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Square vs. Guardian Inspection Payments: Which Payment Processor is Best for Home Inspectors?

The technology available to home inspectors is vastly more diverse, more functional, and (in many ways) harder to choose than it ever has been. The paradox of choice confronts ambitious inspectors whenever they go looking for a software solution to…

  • Create and deliver inspection reports
  • Manage client communications
  • Schedule jobs (and manage schedules)
  • Handle business branding
  • Keep track of essential documents and paperwork
  • Manage business finances

… and, of course, process payments for completed inspections, without which there wouldn’t be a business to speak of.

Asking your clients if they want to pay by “cash or check” might have flown in the 20th century, but today’s homebuyer is a connected consumer, and they often prefer to manage their money and pay their bills digitally.

In some cases, this might involve swiping your client’s card through a card reader you can plug into your phone or tablet. In other cases, you might generate an invoice and your clients will pay online. Many home inspectors choose Square for these use cases, whether it’s because they view Square as the best solution to process inspection payments, or because they don’t know of any better alternative.

But is there a better payment processing service for home inspectors?

Square vs. Guardian Payments: user reviews

The fundamental difference between Square and Guardian Inspection Payments is that Guardian focuses on serving home inspectors exclusively, while Square was built to be a “one stop shop” payment processor for all kinds of small businesses.

Because it must act as a one stop shop, Square tends to lack the inspection experience many on the Guardian team bring to payment processing. This lack of industry focus can show up in the form of less adept customer service and higher rates, which are somewhat reflected in the difference in rating between Square and Guardian on some popular service review sites:

  • Square: 1.4 rating on Reviews.io or 4.1 rating on Trustpilot
  • Guardian: 4.3 rating on Reviews.io

Of course, these reviews can be skewed by unhappy customers. To avoid dissatisfaction, both Guardian and Square have easily accessible pricing structures you can use to evaluate each option. Let’s take a look…

Square vs. Guardian Payments: fees

No one wants to be charged fees whenever they get paid for their invoices, but unfortunately, such fees are typically a fact of life. However, a small difference in rate can have a big impact on your bottom line, especially as your business grows and you find yourself processing larger payments from more clients.

Here are the publicly-listed fees and rates for Square and Guardian:

 

Square

Guardian

In-Person Card Fee

2.6% and $0.10

N/A (see below)

Online Payment Fee

2.9%+ and $0.30

N/A (see below)

Debit Card Fee

2.9%+ and $0.30

1.7% and $0.30

Credit Card Fee

2.9%+ and $0.30

2.69% and $0.30

Rewards / Corp. Card Fee

2.9% and $0.30

3.29% and $0.30

ACH Fee

1% (minimum of $1)

$2.25*

Chargeback Fee

None

None

Refunds

None

None

Hardware

$10 – $299

None

Monthly Fees

$0 – $29+

None

Annual Fees

None

None

Setup Fees

None

None

* Does not include a $20 monthly fee for ACH functionality.

As you can see, Square tends to have higher fees than Guardian Inspection Payments across different transaction types. Square’s “one-stop-shop” approach is likely contributing to its higher fees, as the company is less able to offer customized service for different types of businesses, such as home inspectors.

One thing to note here is that, while Square has lower fees for in-person transactions, these payments must be processed through the Square card reader attachment. Manually keying a card number into your online payment portal will incur a 3.5% fee through Square, which is one of the higher card-processing fees you’ll find for online transactions. However, if you send an invoice through Square and receive payment that way, you’ll be charged 2.9%, regardless of whether your clients choose to pay with a credit card or a debit card.

Square also levies a 1% fee on ACH transactions, which Guardian counters through a flat $2.25 fee on every ACH transaction. Effectively, any invoices worth more than $225 will save money using Guardian ACH payments rather than Square ACH payments – below invoice values of $225, Square’s ACH transfers might be more cost-effective.

Here’s a quick chart showing the impact of different fee structures on your potential earnings as a home inspector:

 

Guardian Debit (1.7%)

Square Online (2.9%)

$5,000 invoiced

$85

$145

$10,000 invoiced

$170

$290

$15,000 invoiced

$255

$435

$25,000 invoiced

$425

$725

$50,000 invoiced

$850

$1,450

$100,000 invoiced

$1,700

$2,900

 

As you can see, a difference of 1.2% can add up over time – an inspection business billing $100,000 each year will wind up paying $1,200 more in fees for that year, which is usually worth at least a couple of higher-value jobs.

But higher fees can occasionally be worth it if they’re backed up with superior service and functionality. Is that the case for home inspectors using Square? Let’s investigate…

Square vs. Guardian Payments: features and integrations

Square does offer a couple of features that Guardian doesn’t, but it’s worth examining whether or not these extra features make a difference in an inspector’s workflow, or if they’re just superfluous.

 

Square

Guardian

Point-of-Sale

Virtual Terminal

Invoicing

Payroll Management

Online Storefront

Integrates w/ Preferred Inspection Software CRM

Integrates w/ Report Writers?

Live Phone Support?

 

Square has a great range of features for businesses that need an online storefront, but a home inspector isn’t likely to need this sort of functionality.

What matters more is a payment processor’s ability to integrate with the tools a home inspector uses every day – tools like ISN for business management and Home Inspector Pro or Palmtech for report writing. Guardian integrates with all the top inspection software on the market, which is pretty important when you want to be able to handle your payments without jumping through a bunch of extra hoops.

Square’s point-of-sale functionality can be helpful for processing payments in person, but you can manage this just as well through Guardian’s online portal – and unlike Square, Guardian doesn’t charge more for payments processed online. Guardian does provide point-of-sale and virtual terminal options as well.

One feature Guardian offers that you won’t find on Square is Pay-At-Close, which gives inspectors a way to bundle their fees into a homebuyer’s closing costs. Guardian handles this option for participating inspectors in exchange for a flat fee per invoice. Click the link in this paragraph to learn more about Pay-At-Close.

When it comes to support, Square tends to be fairly hands-off. Its customer support resources are fairly extensive in the form of help-desk and knowledge-base articles posted on its website, but there’s no easy way to contact a human being. Most users will have to go through Square’s automated support assistant before even being given the option of talking to a person. Guardian’s contact info is much easier to find, with both fax and toll-free numbers available for inquiries throughout the business day. It’s also important to remember that Guardian ONLY works in the home inspection industry. This means that if/when you do need to contact their customer support, the team will be knowledgeable about your industry and the preferred home inspection software that your payment processing is integrated with.

In the end, the best payment processor will be the one that gives you everything you need at the lowest possible cost. For home inspectors, Guardian should simply be less costly and more usable right out of the box.

Want to learn more about Guardian Inspection Payments, or put our solutions to work for your inspection business? Give us a call at 1-800-608-7363 or email us at sales@inspectionpayments.com today!