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Square Review

By
Lori Fairbanks
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Aug 16, 2019
Home
> Finance
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Square is one of the biggest names in mobile credit card processing, providing its services to more than two million small business merchants and individual sellers in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and Japan. 

Square

Square

The Best Credit Card Processors of 2019

The Verdict

With no fees, competitive rates and pay-as-you-go service terms, Square is our pick as best credit card processor for low fees. It's also the best option for businesses that need a full-featured mobile credit card processing app.

We chose Square as the best low-fee credit card processing service because it doesn't charge any of the monthly or annual account maintenance fees that most companies charge, such as statement, payment gateway and PCI compliance fees. All you pay are its flat-rate transaction fees. It doesn't have a chargeback fee either, which is unusual, even among mobile credit card processing companies. 

We also picked Square as the processor with the best mobile credit card processing app, because even though it's free, it includes a full suite of point-of-sale features and can be augmented with add-on services and integrations. Also, it works on both Apple and Android phones and tablets. 

Visit our best picks pages to see all of our recommendations for credit card processing companies and mobile credit card processors. 

Pricing and Terms

A big part of Square's appeal is that it makes credit card processing accessible for all businesses, even microbusinesses and individuals. It has an application that can be completed in minutes, a free app and a free credit card swiper for each account, no contract, and simple flat rates. 

Although Square charges a variety of rates, and the one you'll pay depends on how and what you use to accept payments, the flat-rate pricing makes it easy to estimate how much you'll pay the processor each month. It has transparent pricing, and you can find complete details about its processing fees on its website. 

Flat-Rate Processing Fees

Square doesn't distinguish between card types; it charges the same rate for debit, credit, rewards and corporate cards. Card brands are treated likewise, so you pay the same rate whether your customer pays using Visa, Mastercard, Discover or even American Express. If your customers prefer to pay using rewards, business, international or American Express cards, you may save money by using Square. Here's how its processing fees work: 

Card-Present Transactions

For credit cards, debit cards and contactless payments that you accept in person, you'll pay one of the following fees: 

  • Using a Square Reader or the Square Stand: 2.75%
  • Using Square Terminal or Square for Restaurants: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Using Square Register, Square for Retail or Square Appointments (paid version) 2.5% + $0.10 

Card-Not-Present Transactions

For payments you accept without the card in hand, such as online, invoice and recurring payments, you'll pay one of the following transaction fees: 

  • Cards accepted using Square Invoices or the Square Online Store: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Cards accepted using the Square Online Store Premium Plan: 2.6% + $0.30
  • Cards you manually key in using Virtual Terminal or the Square Point of Sale App, as well as recurring payments using cards details stored in Card on File: 3.5% + $0.15 

Custom Rates Are Available

To qualify, you must process more than $250,000 annually, and your average sales ticket must be larger than $15. 

Terms

Square has a user agreement instead of a traditional payment processing contract, which means there aren't any termination fees and you can close your account at any time without penalty if the service isn't working out for your business. 

No Account Maintenance Fees

You only pay the processing costs with Square. You don't have to pay a monthly fee or a PCI compliance fee, nor must you meet any monthly minimums. If you opt to use Square's online store to create a website, you aren't responsible for payment gateway costs. Square's lack of fees makes it an attractive option if your company operates on tight margins and may not do enough in sales to justify the fees other companies charge. 

Here's a list of fees that you won't pay when you use Square as your processing company: 

  • No application or setup fee
  • No monthly fee (sometimes called a statement fee)
  • No monthly minimum processing requirement
  • No payment gateway setup fee
  • No monthly payment gateway fee
  • No annual fee
  • No PCI compliance fee or PCI non-compliance fee
  • No early termination or account closure fees
  • No chargeback fee 

Optional Fees

Although there are no additional fees for Square's regular processing plan, there are some optional services that cost extra. For example, if you choose to have your funds instantly deposited into your account instead of waiting the standard one or two days, it costs an additional 1%. If you choose to add extra services or third-party integrations to your system, there may be monthly subscription fees. 

Features

Even though it's primarily known as a mobile credit card processing company, Square offers processing solutions to brick-and-mortar and online businesses as well. Here are some of the features it offers. 

Easy Application and Setup

It only takes a few minutes to sign up online for Square's processing services. All it requires is some basic information about you and your business. There aren't any credit checks, and you don't have to submit any documentation, such as your previous processing statements or marketing material. It approves applications quickly, and you can start processing the same day you register, sometimes in as little as five minutes. 

Keep in mind that until you receive your card reader, you pay the higher, keyed-in rate. It can take up to 10 days for your free Square card reader to arrive, but if you need it in a hurry, you can purchase one at a local electronics or office supply store. 

Free Point of Sale Software

The company's payments app, Square Point of Sale (formerly Square Register), is compatible with both Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. It's free to download and includes a full suite of POS features to help you run your business. 

Here are some of the things it can do: 

  • Accept debit and credit cards, mobile wallets, cash, paper checks, and gift cards
  • Open and split tabs
  • Set discounts and taxes
  • Issue refunds
  • Prompt customers for tips with suggested tip amounts
  • Manage customer information and feedback
  • Print, email or text receipts
  • Send invoices and accept credit card payments online
  • Use the inventory management feature to track quantities in real time
  • Show sales data and create reports
  • Integrate with third-party business solutions, such as your accounting software and e-commerce platform 

Processing Equipment Options

You can choose from several Square card reader models and purchase your processing hardware a piece at a time or as a bundle. At minimum, you need a mobile device with the free Square POS app installed and the free card swiper to accept cards, but you should upgrade to an EMV-compliant reader that accepts chip cards to protect yourself from counterfeit fraud liability. 

Here are the card readers Square offers: 

  • Square Reader for magstripe: The first one is free. Additional mobile credit card readers cost $10 each. The company mails this card reader to you when you open your account. It connects to your phone or tablet via the headphone jack or Lightning connector. With it, you can accept magstripe cards.
  • Square Reader for contactless and chip: $49, or $78 with charging dock. This is a wireless device that connects via Bluetooth. With it, you can accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, contactless cards and EMV chip cards. It ships with a free magstripe reader, so you can accept every type of payment.
  • Square Stand for contactless and chip: $199. This stand turns your iPad into a countertop checkout station. A magstripe card reader is built into the unit, and it connects to the included contactless and chip reader and dock.
  • Square Terminal: $399, or $99 with current promotion; rates are discounted to 2.6% + $0.10. At time of review, Square is offering a promotion for its newest card reader, giving new Square readers who purchase the unit a $300 processing credit. This is an all-in-one terminal. It has a built-in screen so you don't need to use your own smartphone or tablet. It also has a built-in card reader and a receipt printer.
  • Square Register: $999; rates are discounted to 2.5% + $0.10. This countertop model has one touchscreen for you and one for your customer. It also has built-in card readers that accept every payment type: magstripe cards, chip cards, contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Square's POS software is preinstalled on it.
  • Accessories: Pricing varies. You can connect accessories to your card reader to create a countertop point-of-sale system. Options include barcode scanners, cash drawers, receipt printers, docks, cases and stands. 

Instant Deposit

Square normally takes one or two days to transfer the money from your transactions into your bank account. However, it gives you the option of instantly depositing your funds for an additional 1%. Alternatively, you can schedule deposits, which also costs 1%. 

Chargeback Protection

Square doesn't have a chargeback fee but will assist you in resolving the issue. If a customer initiates a chargeback, you must promptly respond to Square's information request with appropriate documentation. It will put a hold on the disputed funds, and it can take 90 days for your customer's bank to review the claim and issue a verdict. 

Additional Considerations

Add-On Services

You can augment the Square Point of Sale mobile credit card processing app with additional business services. Third-party integrations are available through the App Marketplace, and the company offers several apps of its own as well. 

Here are some of the ancillary services available from Square. 

  • Appointments – This app comes with a booking website that syncs with your personal calendar, so your customers can schedule and reschedule appointments with you online. It's free for individuals, and in-person transactions cost 2.75%. Businesses with employees pay 2.5% per transaction and $50 per month for 2-5 users or $90 for 6-10 users.
  • Invoices – With this app, you can digitally send invoices to your customers for free. Your customers can then pay online using a credit or debit card. It costs 2.9% + $0.30 for each payment you receive.
  • Loyalty – This add-on makes it easy to enroll customers at the checkout. To apply rewards, you enter the customer's phone number when you're ringing up a sale. It then automatically texts customers to notify them about the points they earned. Pricing starts at $45 per month per location.
  • Marketing – You can promote your business by sending email marketing campaigns to your customers using this app. It also tracks your results. Costs start at $15 per month for up to 500 customers.
  • Payroll – Square's payroll services include time tracking, direct deposits and automatic filing. If you're only paying contractors, it costs $5 per contractor per month. If you have employees, you pay $29 per month plus $5 per employee.
  • Team Management – Square's employee management tool has a time clock that you can use for timecard reporting and break tracking. It integrates with Square POS and exports to Square Payroll. The basic tier is free, and the Team Plus tier costs $35 per month, per location. 

For Square's retail and restaurant merchants that need advanced, industry-specific solutions, it offers the following alternatives to its point of sale app. 

  • Square for Retail – This app is for merchants that need retail-specific POS software with advanced management tools. It costs $60 per month per location and 2.5% plus $0.10 per transaction.
  • Square for Restaurants This restaurant-specific POS software has advanced features for managing both the front and back of house. It costs $60 per month per location and 2.6% plus $0.10 per transaction. 

Online Processing Solutions

If you want to accept credit cards online, Square gives you multiple options. 

  • You can accept payments through the Square Appointments booking website and from online invoices that you send from the dashboard of the Square POS or the Square Invoices app.
  • You can create a website using Square Online Store. There are multiple service tiers, including a free tier that only requires you to use Square as your payment processor.
  • If you already have a website, Square has integrations for many popular e-commerce platforms and shopping carts, or you can use Square's API to connect to your account and add a Square checkout button. 

Business Financing

Once you've established a processing history with Square, it gives you access to Square Capital, which can provide your business with a merchant cash advance and fund it as soon as the next day. 

Square also offers a Mastercard business debit card called Square Card that makes it easy to access the money from your transactions. There are no signup fees, annual fees, monthly fees, minimum balance fees or overdraft fees. One nice perk is that you receive an instant discount of 2.75% when you use this card to shop with other Square sellers. 

Customer Support

Square merchants can call the company during extended business hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. If you like to research solutions yourself, you'll find Square's website helpful, as it offers multiple resources. It has a searchable knowledgebase that provides detailed information with step-by-step instructions. It also has how-to guides, FAQs, articles on popular small business topics, a blog and a community forum. 

Drawbacks

Square lacks some of the customer service features we looked for. It doesn't offer a dedicated rep or 24/7 phone support. If your business keeps irregular hours and you run into an issue, you'll have to email the company instead, which may be frustrating. 

Some merchants report having their funds or accounts frozen. This is a fairly common complaint for mobile credit card processors that are merchant aggregators, since they tend to be more risk-averse than the full-service processors that provide merchant accounts. If the company deems something about a transaction suspicious, such as an abnormally large sales ticket, it may hold your funds. If your business offers items on Square's list of prohibited goods and services, your account may be closed without notice, as it violates the company's user agreement. 

To reduce your likelihood of experiencing these issues, read Square's terms of service before you sign up for an account to make sure the processor is a good fit for your business. Then, once you begin processing, follow its best practices for accepting credit and debit card payments.

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Square

Square

The Best Credit Card Processors of 2019

The Verdict

With no fees, competitive rates and pay-as-you-go service terms, Square is our pick as best credit card processor for low fees. It's also the best option for businesses that need a full-featured mobile credit card processing app.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.