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Square payments review

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A popular on-the-go payment processor offering flat fees.

Square revolutionized payment processing in 2009, introducing its small plug-in credit card reader now used at millions of small businesses around the world. But its payment processing is just the start — it offers so much more than its signature white card reader.

  • Choose this provider if you process up to $250,000 annually and want in-person and online support.
  • Consider something else if you run a large business and need a dedicated merchant account.

Details

SolutionsIn-store
Mobile
E-commerce
ProductsPayment processing
POS software
POS hardware
Website builder
Inventory tracking
Shopping cart software
Contract required?No
Prices start at2.6% + 10¢ for payment processing, POS software included
Processing timeNext day
High-risk merchants accepted?No
Best of 2020
Finder experts pick Square as a 2020 best brand for payment processing.

Square services

Square helps businesses sell products online or in person with a range of services:

  • Payment processing. Accept customer payments by card reader, tablet, mobile device or computer.
  • POS software. Customizable point-of-sale software to help you process payments, manage inventory, keep track of customers and schedule employees.
  • POS hardware. Its signature hardware lineup includes accessories like registers, terminals, card readers and barcode scanners.
  • E-commerce solutions. Sign up for a free online store with no monthly fees and integrated payment processing.

Features

You’ll get plenty of what you’d expect from a processor, including inventory management, payroll, employee scheduling and loyalty programs. But Square goes above and beyond the standard features:

  • Square installments. Offer customers the option to cover the cost of big-ticket items through monthly payment plans.
  • Multichannel selling. Integrate your online and brick-and-mortar stores with synced orders and inventory levels across selling channels.
  • Invoicing. Send invoices and automated payment reminders from the Square Invoices mobile app for iOS and Android.
  • Business debit card. Link a Square business debit card to your POS system for immediate access to transaction funds.
  • Gift cards and loyalty programs. Offer customers the opportunity to earn rewards and purchase gift cards online and in person.

What hardware is available?

Square’s proprietary hardware options include:

Type of systemConnectivityScreenAccepted paymentsCost
Reader for Magstripe

Reader for magstripe

Mobile POSPlug in or Lightning connector to phone or tabletNo screenMagstripeFree for eligible merchants (first reader)
Reader for contactless and chip

Reader for contactless and chip

Card readerWirelessNo screenChips, tap-and-go$49
Stand

Stand

Countertop POSWi-FiNo screenChips, tap-and-go$199
Terminal

Terminal

Card readerWi-Fi, EthernetL 5.6″ H 2.5″ W 3.4″Magstripe, chips, tap-and-go$299
Register

Register

Countertop POSWi-Fi, Ethernet13.25 in. (diagonal)Magstripe, chips, tap-and-go$799
Square offers more than 30 accessories and bundled hardware kits with everything you need to get up and running.

Square pricing and fees

Square clearly lists its products and pricing on its site, so you know what to expect when you sign up.

Square suggests its rates are best suited to businesses processing less than $250,000 annually at an average $15 transaction. For larger businesses, Square customizes its products and services based on payment volume and transaction size.

Each of Square’s four POS systems come with its own set of processing rates.

Square Point of Sale

For businesses that don’t need an industry-specific system, Square’s standard POS system comes with free software and transparent rates.

  • Payments. 2.6% + $0.10 for all tapped, dipped and swiped payments
  • Software. Free

Square for Restaurants

Those in the food service industry can sign up for software and processing rates.

  • Payments. 2.6% + $0.10 for all tapped, dipped and swiped payments
  • Software
    • Location. $60 monthly per location
    • POS system. $40 monthly for each additional system
  • Delivery
    • $0.50 per order for in-house delivery.
    • $1.50 per order for third party delivery.

Square Appointments

If your business requires appointments — like a hair salon, pet grooming or spa — give your customers an option to book online.

  • Payments
    • 2.6% + $0.10 for all tapped, dipped and swiped payments with one employee on file
    • 2.5% + $0.10 for all tapped, dipped and swiped payments with 2 to 10 employees on file
    • 3.5% + $0.15 for all keyed-in or card-on-file payments
  • Software
    • Individuals. Free.
    • 2–5 employees. $50 monthly
    • 6–10 employees. $90 monthly

Square for Retail

Manage inventory and your employees with payment processing for online and brick-and-mortar storefronts.

  • Payments
    • 2.5% + $0.10 for all tapped, dipped and swiped payments with 2 to 10 employees on file
    • 3.5% + $0.15 for all keyed-in or card-on-file payments
  • Software. $60 monthly for each location

Additional processing rates

Square’s rates also depend on how you accept payments.

  • Square Invoices. 2.9% + $0.30 for processing each invoice
  • Square Virtual Terminal. 3.5% + $0.15 for all payments made through your computer
  • Square Online Store. 2.9% + $0.30 for all payments processed through your online store.
  • Square Point of Sale app. 3.5% + $0.15 for all card numbers entered manually through the app
  • Card on file. 3.5% + $0.15 for all payments using stored card information

Software features

Square systems come equipped with free features that include reports and analytics, customer directory, team management and e-gift cards. You can add on features for a monthly fee:

  • Employee payroll. $29, plus $5 a person
  • Contractor payroll. $5 a person
  • Loyalty programs. Starting at $45
  • Email marketing. Starting at $15
  • Gift cards. Starting at $0.80 a card

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Upfront pricing. Square’s site breaks down fees for its products and services, so you won’t be fooled by hidden costs.
  • Free features. Sign up for a Square account and get a free card reader and access to Square’s online store-building software.
  • Monthly billing. With no contract, you’re free to leave with no cancellation fees.

Cons

  • Limited support. Unlike major competitor Stripe, Square doesn’t offer 24/7 tech support.
  • Transaction holds. Since Square is a payment aggregator, its acceptance rate is high — but so are reported transaction holds. If you run a high-risk business, read Square’s terms of service before you apply to reduce your risk of sudden account closure.

Customer reviews and complaints

Square reviews are mixed. It’s accumulated a staggering 2,941 complaints with the Better Business Bureau over the past three years. But on Trustpilot, it boasts an impressively high TrustScore: 4.8 out of 5 based on 1,682 reviews.

The discrepancy between Square’s high TrustScore and unfavorable BBB reputation could be the result of complaints lodged against Square’s Cash app. Despite complaints about the app, Square customers praise an easy onboarding experience and personable customer service.

How do I open an account with Square?

Sign up with Square in minutes online:

  1. Go to Square’s site and click Start a Square account.
  2. Enter your email address and create a password.
  3. Review Square’s terms, privacy policy and e-sign consent form. Click Continue.
  4. Select your business industry and indicate whether you plan to sell in person, online or both. Click Continue.
  5. Enter your full name, business address, date of birth, phone number and Social Security number. Click Continue.

What other products will I need?

None. Square offers what you need to accept customer payments, including payment processing, POS systems and a business checking account to immediately access your funds.

What is Square?

Square is a merchant services aggregator founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco. In addition to its proprietary white card reader, services include POS systems, payment processing, business checking accounts, small business loans and e-commerce support for online merchants.

How do I contact Square support?

Touch base with Square by:

  • Phone. Call 800-474-3398 weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.
  • Email. Complete an online form for a response from the support team within one business day.

Compare other providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Contract required? Prices start at Processing time High-risk merchants accepted?
Chase Merchant Services
No
2.6% + 10¢ per swiped credit card
Next day when you deposit into a Chase business checking account
No
Accept, process and deposit customer payments in your store, online or on-the-go.
Fattmerchant
No
$99/month + interchange + 8¢/transaction
Next day for qualified businesses
No
Businesses that process more than $10,000 monthly can save with Fattmerchant's interchange+ pricing.
Square
No
2.6% + 10¢ for payment processing, POS software included
Next day
No
Square is a one-stop shop with both e-commerce and in-person solutions.
Helcim
No
0.10% + $0.10 per transaction
Two business days
No
Conveniently packaged into three service tiers for in-person and online sales.
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Bottom line

Square’s merchant services can help you run your small business with integrated payment processing, industry-specific POS systems and a free online store builder. But its tech support isn’t available on weekends, and many of Square’s features cost extra. And because Square is a payment aggregator, high-risk businesses will want to look out for transaction holds and potential account termination.

If you’re not sure if Square is right for you, compare other payment processors to find a fit with your business and budget.

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