Compare Square card readers

Find out how Square card readers work to see if they are right for you and your business.

No reviews yet. Write a review
Square

The Square range

Square offers both card readers and point of sale (POS) for your business.

Name Product Initial cost Monthly cost Transaction cost Contract Networks Key benefits Link
Square Terminal
£149
£0
1.75%
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Go to site
View details
Square Reader
£19
£0
1.75%
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Go to site
View details
Square Virtual Terminal
Subject to status
£0
1.4%
american express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Go to site
View details
loading
Name Product Initial cost Monthly cost Transaction cost Contract Networks Key benefits Link
Square Online Premium
Subject to status
£20
1.4%
google pay iconapple pay icon
Go to site
View details
Square Online Free
Subject to status
£0
1.4%
google pay iconapple pay icon
Go to site
View details
Square Online Plus
Subject to status
£20
1.75%
google pay iconapple pay icon
Go to site
View details
loading

Compare other card readers

Name Product Initial cost Monthly cost Transaction cost Contract Networks Key benefits Link
Barclaycard Payments Flex Mobile
£0
£15 + VAT*
1.6%
18 month
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Read review
View details
Worldpay Mobile
£0
£17.50
1.5%
18 month
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Read review
View details
takepayments Plus
Subject to status
Subject to status
Subject to status
12 month
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Go to site
View details
Worldpay Countertop
£0
£17.50
1.5%
18 month
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Read review
View details
Stripe terminal (BBPOS WisePOS E)
£179
Subject to status
1.4% + 10p
google pay iconapple pay iconamerican express iconvisa iconmastercard icon
Read review
View details
loading
Table: sorted by transaction cost, promoted deals first

As rising numbers of people turn to card payments instead of cash, investing in a card reader for your business is becoming increasingly essential if you don’t want to miss out on vital sales.

Square offers 2 types of card reader: Square Reader which is a compact device and costs £19 plus VAT, and Square Terminal which is a larger device (but still portable) and costs £149 plus VAT. Here, we take a closer look at both of them to see how they compare.

More about Square card readers

Below are the key features for each of the Square card readers:

Square Reader

  • Upfront fee of £19 plus VAT
  • Compact device, making it ideal for transactions on the go
  • Connects wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth
  • Accepts Chip and PIN, contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay (customers must enter their PIN on your smartphone as there is no option on the card reader itself)
  • 1.75% transaction fee
  • Real-time inventory and reporting via the app
  • Add devices and team members as you go, with sales synced to 1 account

Square Terminal

  • Upfront fee of £149 plus VAT
  • Portable device with powerful battery
  • Accepts Chip and PIN, contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Touchscreen for ease of use
  • 1.75% transaction fee
  • Ability to print receipts and issue refunds
  • Real-time sales data and searchable transaction history
  • Ability to accept gift cards

How to order a Square card machine

After you have researched and chosen the best card reader for you or your business, you can start the application process.

To apply for a Square card reader, head over to Square's online application, which takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Once your application is accepted, your card reader will be couriered to you.

All you need to do is add the device to your basket, select any compatible accessories you require, such as a Square Reader dock (£15), paper receipt rolls (£19) or a Hub for Square Terminal (£29), and make your purchase.

Pros and cons of Square card readers

Pros

  • Portable devices, ideal for on the move transactions
  • Accepts all payment types
  • Advanced app to track payments and sales
  • Ability to print receipts (with Square Terminal)
  • Easy to purchase

Cons

  • Hefty upfront fee for Square Terminal
  • Transaction fees apply
  • Customers may be reluctant to enter PIN on your smartphone with Square Reader

Square Reader vs Square Terminal

There are a number of key differences between Square Reader and Square Terminal that you should consider.

For a start, Square Reader has no screen, no receipt printer, no PIN pad and no app features on the reader itself. Instead, you must connect it to the Square point-of-sale app on your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.

In comparison, Square Terminal connects directly to the Internet and customers can enter their PIN directly on the screen. It can also print receipts and carry out refunds. However, Square Terminal is a much larger device, which means it’s less convenient for on the go transactions.

Square buy now pay later

In 2022, Square started collaborating with Clearpay to provide buy now pay later (BNPL) functionality to sellers. The payment option allows customers to pay for their purchases in 4 interest-free instalments over a period of 6 weeks, whether they are paying in person or online.

You, as the business, still get paid in full as soon as the next working day. However, a processing fee of 6% + 30p will be deducted from each order. This is only charged at the time of the sale; there are no further fees on the remaining customer instalments. There are also no subscription or start-up fees to pay if you want to enable Clearpay with Square.

To see if you are eligible for Clearpay and to enable it for your business, log into your Square Dashboard and review your payment methods. You’ll need to be in an approved merchant category and be based in the UK. If you’re eligible, you can process Clearpay payments:

  • With Square Online. Your website will automatically be enabled for Clearpay transactions between £1 and £2,000.
  • With Square Online Checkout. You can create payment links allowing customers to select Clearpay as a payment method for transactions between £1 and £2,000.
  • In-person. This is available straight away. Your Square hardware will automatically allow for customers to pay for in-person goods and services using their contactless Clearpay card via digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.
  • Invoices. With Square Invoices, you can enable Clearpay acceptance when sending digital invoices and estimates via your online Square Dashboard, Square POS app or Square Invoices app.
  • Virtual Terminal. With Virtual Terminal, you can send payment links directly to your customers via text message and customers can choose to checkout via Clearpay.

Case study: Alaina loves using the Square Reader for her small business

Alaina Davies profile pic
Alaina Davies

Peterborough

I've been using my Square Reader for almost a year now for craft markets and have no complaints. I've found it to be really easy and quick to set up and it's user friendly. If the Wi-Fi in the area cuts out temporarily, the fact I can still receive a payment is very handy. The Square app is great for small businesses like myself, so I'd definitely recommend it for that reason. I like that I'm able to keep track of stock, download sales reports and receive my payments the same day if I wish to. For a relatively inexpensive piece of hardware, I've found the Square Reader to be very reliable and a staple of running my small business.

If there's one thing you'd tell a friend who's thinking of getting this, what would it be?

The fact you can now also take contactless payments via your phone using the Square app. This is ideal if you forget to bring your reader to an event or if it runs out of battery.

Square Online

Square Online is Square’s ecommerce platform made to make online sales, including social media, easier to accept and manage. By integrating a Square POS with Square Online, you can oversee both online and instore sales through a single system.

FreePlusPremium
Price£0£20 per month (billed annually)£20 per month (billed annually)
Transaction fee (UK)1.4% + 25p per UK card1.75% + 25p per UK card1.4% + 15p per UK card
Transaction fee (non-UK)2.5% + 25p per non-UK card2.5% + 25p per non-UK card2.5% + 15p per non-UK card
Features
  • Website builder with SEO tools
  • Sync with Square POS and more
  • Pickup and delivery
  • Sell on social
  • Accept multiple payment types
  • All Free plan features
  • Create a custom domain, upload custom fonts, embed custom widgets
  • Remove Square branding from your site.
  • Personalised ordering
  • Offer logged-in customers a personalised ordering experience; easy three-tap reordering, item recommendations and loyalty and reward status.
  • Accept PayPal
  • Free domain for one year
  • All Plus plan features
  • Lower processing rates
  • Real-time delivery rates
Go to siteGo to siteGo to site

Our verdict

Square card readers certainly have a lot to offer, but you’ll need to consider your business needs before deciding whether they could work for you. Due to its compact nature and low cost, Square Reader is likely to be particularly handy for tradespeople, market traders and pop-up stores, or even start-up businesses who don’t want to fork out expensive monthly fees.

In comparison, Square Terminal is likely to be well suited to restaurants, cafes and small retailers who might rely on portability and need functions such as the ability to print receipts and issue refunds with ease, as well as track transactions.

Square customer reviews

On the whole, Square scores well on Trustpilot, with a rating of 4.1 stars out of 5, based on over 2,000 reviews. This is considered a “great” rating overall (updated August 2023).

A total of 82% of Square customers gave it an “excellent” rating, with positive comments focusing on the ease of use, low cost and efficient customer service. However, other customer reviews reported poor customer service, delivery delays and issues with accounts being deactivated without warning.

The Square point-of-sale app scores 4.8 stars out of 5 on the App Store, based on more than 9,000 ratings (updated August 2023).

Customer support

You can contact Square’s customer support on 0800 098 8008. Lines are open from Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

More guides on Finder

Go to site