Square Review

Pros:

  • pros No contracts
  • pros Available to use immediately
  • pros Inexpensive
  • pros Free magstripe reader
  • pros Dedicated dispute management team
  • pros Great POS software

Cons:

  • cons Not suitable for large companies
  • cons Lacks 24/7 customer support
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Score: A

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Product Overview

While navigating  the vast and often confusing world of payment processors, you’re bound to come across Square. Our Square review outlines the many reasons why this is one of the most popular credit card processing companies on the market. 

Square’s key selling points include low markup fees, no contracts, and easy-to-understand pricing. We’ll closely examine its pricing plans, applicable fees, free and paid features as well as contract length and other relevant metrics you should have in mind when choosing a processor.

Special Promotion for Contactless Hardware September 8-22! Promo code: SQUARE20

As businesses are slowly opening up across the US and we’re trying to figure out what the new ‘normal’ is, there is still a number of precautions we need to take to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Contactless payments are a great way of reducing risk since neither money nor cards change hands. This is one of the reasons Square is offering a significant discount for their contactless hardware.

For two weeks, September 8-22, Square is offering a 20% discount on the Square Chip Reader, Square Stand, Square Register (X2), and Square Terminal (T2). Getting yourself a contactless reader with this hefty discount is a great way to start the new business season, especially when coupled with cheap Square credit card processing fees.

Use the promo code: SQUARE20 at checkout!

(Offer expires September 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm PST or while supplies last, whichever comes first. Offer for 20% off total cost of Square Reader for Contactless and Chip, Square Stand for Contactless and Chip, Square Register and Square Terminal, excluding tax. Limited to 5 of each type of Square hardware per person. Each code is limited to one redemption per account holder. Valid for new Square customers located in the US only. Offer not valid with guest checkout. Square reserves the right to modify, revoke or cancel the offer at any time. Offer cannot be combined with any other coupon. Void where prohibited, not redeemable for cash, and non-transferable.)

Fees & Rates

Square relies on fixed interchange-plus pricing. This is generally regarded as the most transparent model. But it has some obvious disadvantages compared to subscription-based pricing. With subscription-based credit card processors, it’s much easier to predict your monthly costs due to fixed rates. Subscription-based pricing also tends to be cheaper because the fixed rates end up being lower than a percentage markup if you have several thousand dollars in monthly transactions.

However, the pricing model used by Square payment processing ends up costing less if you’re running a smaller business with a lower transaction volume or if your individual transactions are low. This is because markup rates are charged on a percentage basis, meaning the higher the transactions, the more you’ll pay in fees.

Square Pricing

The question of how much you’ll be paying with Square depends largely on the type of credit card transaction being processed. Transactions are divided into two main categories – card-present and card-not-present. 

Card-present transactions include tapped (mobile) payments, swiped (magstripe), and dipped (chipped card) payments. Card-not-present, on the other hand, triggers higher Square fees. This method encompasses online payments through Square invoices or API integrations, card-on-file, and keyed payments both through the virtual terminal and in the Square POS app.

The distinction between card-present and card-not-present transactions isn’t exclusive to Square. Credit card networks and other processors use the same system to distinguish between different kinds of transactions. As a rule, card-present transactions are more cost-efficient and come with cheaper processing fees.

At Square, each card-present transaction will cost you 2.6% of the transaction amount + $0.10.

Square credit card processing fees for card-not-present payments differ by sub-type.

Type of transaction

Fee

Square invoice transactions

2.9% + $0.30

Keyed payments in POS app

3.5% + $0.15

Virtual terminal keyed transactions

3.5% + $0.15

Card-on-file payments

3.5% + $0.15

Square online store payments, API, eCommerce integrations

2.9% + $0.30

The aforementioned pricing structure is reserved for businesses using Square’s readers and software. They offer their services to businesses who wish to use their custom POS and apps to make payments.

Type of payment

Fee

Terminal API and reader SDK transactions

2.6% + $0.10

App payments via Square SDK

2.9% + $0.30

Online API payments

2.9% + $0.30

Square also offers custom packages for businesses processing over $250k in card sales and with an average ticket size of over $15.

Square Fee Structure

So what do Square transaction fees actually cover, and do you have to pay extra for equipment and other essentials?

One of the great things about Square’s pricing plan is that it covers all bases. The listed fees include both interchange fees, processing and additional feature fees as well as fees for anti-fraud measures and industry certificates. 

According to most Square merchant services reviews, having only one set of fees to worry about makes it easier to understand and predict your monthly payments. While markup fees are still harder to predict than fixed/subscription-based ones, Square certainly took a step in the right direction of transparency and clarity.

Your biggest expenses are interchange fees – an unavoidable price of each transaction, collected by credit card networks and issuing banks. Interchange fees account for more than half of your total fees.

Other fees relate to features such as inventory management, fraud prevention, and everything else that comes with the Square credit card processing service. In addition, Square’s website claims that the company has a team devoted to negotiating with banks and card networks in order to ensure low interchange fees for customers.

Setup Process and Ease of Use

One very important thing to note before we delve deeper into the setup process is that Square does not offer a traditional merchant account. Instead, Square is a third-party payment processor. This can be a substantial advantage for those setting up credit card processing for a small business. 

You won’t have to file a bunch of documents, including previous processing statements, and there is no delay involved because you don’t have to wait for the bank to greenlight your request for a merchant account. As such, the set-up process only takes a few minutes. 

You just need to provide Square’s team with a few basic details about your business and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You’ll be able to process transactions right away through Square’s POS software. But while you’re waiting for your free magstripe reader to arrive, which takes around ten days to be delivered, you’ll have to rely on keyed transactions.

Signing up for Square credit card processing or any other third-party processor definitely has its advantages. However, it can lead to account holds and terminations. This is especially hazardous for businesses deemed high risk. There are a number of factors that determine whether a business qualifies as high risk, including a high rate of chargebacks and bad credit.

Luckily, Square’s team will handle all cashback disputes for you. Square will cover all the fees for each dispute and handle all the communication with the bank, saving you time and effort. 

Additionally, when a customer successfully secures a refund, you’ll also be refunded the transaction fees.

Features and Integrations

During our Square review, we discovered a wide range of additional features that are covered by the basic fee without any additional costs. With much of the competition, customers are charged for those features. Of course, Square has its own set of features and equipment that come with an extra cost.

Hardware

Free magstripe reader: Magstripe readers are your main tools for in-person credit card payments. The first magstripe reader is free when you open an account with Stripe and will be sent to you via mail. Subsequent ones will cost you $10 each.

Square reader for contactless and chip: Just like any other best credit card processing service, Square offers a wireless device for accepting Google Pay, Apple Pay, EMV chip cards, and contactless ones. This device connects via Bluetooth. It will cost you $79 with a charger and $49 without one.

Square stand for contactless and chip: The stand turns an iPad into a countertop checkout with contactless/chip and magstripe capabilities. The device costs $199.

Square terminal: This is the best reader you can get. Costing $299, it possesses all the reading capabilities and has a screen of its own. 

Square register: This is an all-in-one countertop model with two screens – one for you and one for your customers. The register comes with Square point of sale software preinstalled. It reads both magstripe and contactless/chip cards and serves as a mobile reader. This piece of hardware costs $799.

Included Features

No additional fees: A lot of providers charge startup fees, additional fees for PCI compliance, and different cards. Square bundles all of those services into a single fee.

Square Point of Sale App: The Square package includes its proprietary POS software, which is immediately available to use once you sign up. It has a string of features – tracking of sales, loyalty programs, discounts, customer profiles, and fast checkout. Furthermore, the Square credit card processor POS app comes with reports, analytics, inventory, and team management – everything you need to run your business efficiently.

Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants: Square offers additional software options that can help enhance your business. The Retail option tailors to more complex retail stores and comes with advanced management capabilities. It costs $60/month per location, and transaction fees are 2.5% + $0.10.

Square for Restaurants comes with all features that a full-service restaurant needs, including seating, reservations, customer profiles, discounts, and 24/7 tech support. The cost for this POS is $60/month + $40 for each point of sale. Transaction fees are 2.6% + $0.10

Next-business-day transfers: Through the Square POS app you get access to next-business-day transfers. This feature groups your payments and transfers them to your account the next business day. By default, the day ends at 5 p.m. PT or 8 p.m. ET, but you can  customize the closing time of your business. Additionally, you can link your debit card to your account for instant or same-day transfers.

Square Invoice: The POS app also allows you to send custom invoices to your customers. This grants you a lot of leeway in how you structure your pricing and therefore presents a great asset for any business.

Gift Cards: Square’s POS software integrates with plastic gift cards that you can sell, redeem, track, or reload.

PCI compliance and fraud prevention: Square is already fully compliant with the PCI DSS, meaning that your transactions through its service meet the required standards. Furthermore, Square’s payment system uses a combination of machine learning models and live teams to monitor for any fraudulent transactions.

Security: One of the reasons there are so many positive Square cc processing reviews is the level of security employed to protect you and your customers. All Square accounts come with two-factor authentication preventing unauthorized access. Meanwhile, customer transaction data is encrypted to ensure sensitive information isn’t leaked.

Contract Length and Termination Conditions

One of Square’s main advantages is the absence of contracts. You can start or stop using Square whenever you wish without any sign-up or cancellation fees. 

Furthermore, there are no minimum transaction volume requirements, and during our Square review, we found this to be highly beneficial for businesses with tight budgets. The absence of contracts also grants you the freedom to change your processor whenever you like without any repercussions – you pay only for the transactions that Square processes.

There are no monthly fees either unless you opt for Square’s advanced POS software.

BBB Rating

Square’s Better Business Bureau standing isn’t exactly stellar. The company has been in business for ten years but isn’t rated by BBB. Square has an active alert on its BBB page – a result of negative Square credit card processing reviews and complaints. The complaints stem from the lack of proper customer support and the company’s failure to provide timely responses to urgent inquiries. This could pose a significant problem because retail businesses do not have the luxury of  waiting for hours or days for an issue to be resolved. BBB contacted Square concerning these complaints, but the latter is yet to respond.

Square’s BBB user reviews have a one-star average. The majority are about customer service problems, unauthorized charges, and fraudulent transactions. Thankfully, most of the complaints, especially the more recent ones, appear to have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. This might be a good sign that Square’s customer service is improving.

Customer Service

While Square credit card reviews paint the support staff as the operation’s weak link, we didn’t run into any issues. Square customer service is available via live chat, phone, email, or social media. Their working hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The lack of 24/7 support, which is only available for Square for Restaurants, is problematic especially since businesses have varying working hours.

Nevertheless, the multi-channel availability of its support staff is commendable, and there are signs of improvement on all fronts.

Conclusion

Square is a great choice for businesses looking for straightforward and instantly available credit card processors. Some of the things we liked most while compiling our Square card readers review were the low fees, the absence of contracts and cancellation fees, free equipment, and a slew of additional features. Unlike its competitors, Square doesn’t have transaction volume limits, so it’s suitable for businesses of all sizes.

However, fixed interchange-plus pricing can be expensive for big businesses that process large transactions. Moreover, the lack of a merchant account can lead to more funds being held by the bank. Luckily, Square has a dedicated dispute management team to help you with those problems.

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FAQ

Is the Square reader really free?

Yes. Our Square card reader review explains that you receive the first magstripe reader for free, and each subsequent one costs $10. Square charges for other contactless and mobile readers, but there is a discount on those items at the moment.

Is Square safe for customers?

Square is an extremely popular and reputable company with ten years of experience and is therefore considered safe. The company receives a substantial number of complaints, but most are successfully resolved.

Is Square a good company?

The answer to this question depends on the needs of your business. If you need a quick and efficient credit card processor and you don’t conduct huge transactions, then Square is definitely the right choice.

Is Square terminal worth it?

Yes, if you plan on fully utilizing its capabilities. It’s cheaper than the Square Register and allows you to accept all kinds of payments. It’s definitely worth the one-time fee of $299.

Is Square the cheapest?

The costs are considered relatively low when compared to most competitors with fixed interchange-plus pricing. In our Square review, we concluded that it’s definitely the cheaper option if you have a smaller transaction volume. Bigger companies might prefer subscription-based pricing instead.