Accepting Credit Cards with Square

Square credit card processor makes it easy for anyone in the U.S. with a smart phone* to accept and process credit cards.

The Square credit card processing device plugs in the top of my iPhone.

Steps to Accepting Credit Cards Using Square

  1. Apply for a Square reader at SquareUp.com. The reader is FREE.
  2. Wait for the reader to be sent to your home. (No shipping charges.)
  3. Download the Square app for your phone.
  4. Complete your profile on your Square account.
  5. Get an order, swipe the card, enter amount, and email receipt to your customer. I did a couple of $1 tests before my first anticipated use.

There are a lot of articles out there that will review Square more in depth. I want to focus more on my personal experience.

Benefits

There are many things to love about Square. Among them:

  • The reader is free, small (about 1″ square), and portable. In fact, Square is so small that you might forget it, as I did on a recent trip. I’ve recently to keep it in my purse at all times. I want to be prepared to make a sale at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, why have such a portable device?
  • The ONLY charge is 2.75% on swiped-card purchases. (It’s 3.5% + $.15 on manually-entered transactions.) There are no monthly fees!
  • Purchasers can sign on your phone with their finger and receive their receipt instantly via email.
  • You can accept MasterCard, VISA, Discover, and American Express.
  • You can use Square to track cash and check sales as well. (I have yet to use this feature.)
  • You can process unlimited transactions. (See below for the downside.)

On the Downside

  • Square relies on connectivity. If you don’t have good wireless broadband (wifi, 3G, 4G), you’ll have a hard time completing transactions. I suggest having a backup way to capture the customer’s information to process later.
  • You must have an iPhone, Android, iPad, or iPod Touch.
  • As of this post, Square can only be used in the 50 U.S. states (+ D.C.) with U.S.-friendly credit cards. No U.S. territories or international locations.
  • I’ve found it difficult to connect the receipts I receive from Square with buyers’ names because I’m only sent buyers’ email addresses. Perhaps there’s a way to fix this in the settings that I’m unaware of.
  • While you can process unlimited transactions, Square will only deposit up to $1000/week immediately for new users. This can change as build trust with Square and you can also petition them for a better deal (so it says on their site). But this could be limiting for artists who sell large purchases through credit card transactions.

There are downsides to every form of accepting credit cards, but I’m quite pleased with Square and see little risk in encouraging you to give it a try.

*Available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Androids.

Send to Kindle

37 comments to Accepting Credit Cards with Square

  • Sounds great! Can’t wait until it crosses the pond!

  • I found out about the square a few weeks ago. I contacted them about the $1,000/week limit that would be deposited while they held on to the rest for up to 30 days. Square said that is only for new users when manually entering credit card info. But if you are swiping, even for new users, there is not a weekly limit.

    I have been processing credit cards for years, and my rate always varies depending if the card is a rewards card (the vendor pays for those rewards), a corporate card, or foreign card. With the Square, it’s all the same (unless it’s manually entered). So that’s a great advantage.

    I just used it at an outdoor event where the wifi was flakey. So that was a little annoying. But with my old terminal, I would have issues with getting a signal from cell phone towers depending on the type of building I was in or where I was geographically.

    I do wish there was a way that the square wouldn’t move around while trying to swipe the card. It makes it a little harder to swipe.

    But so far, I’m really impressed with it. I’ve e-mailed Square with questions and gotten a reply fairly soon.

    • Traci: That (manual only) isn’t what it sounds like on their site or in other reviews. I’ll have to look more into that.

      • I know, so I asked several times to be sure. I initially saw that if you want more deposited to e-mail and tell them if you’ll be manually processing the cards or swiping. So I did that, and their response was that as long as I was swiping, there was no limit. So I’m assuming that what they told me in the e-mail is correct.

  • Alyson, I have enjoyed using Square . Another pro is you can also use it for cash transactions and keep a tally that way. So far I have had great sucess using Square. Oh, best part is there is no monthly charge!

  • I have used Square for 9 months now and love love love it. I have only had one hiccup with it that it was not processing some cards at one show, but I found if I kept trying it eventually went through. I have never had a card not go through. People ask me about it all the time and I always feel like I am a sales person for square… they should do a referral program. The down side that you said about matching up customer to receipt… you can put in notes of what the item is during the process that way you will be able to easily match them up. I highly recommend square. I am surprised that it has not taken off faster…. other merchant services better watch out. Square rates and service can’t be touched…. see, I feel like a sales person again. lol.

  • Does anyone know of a UK equivalent? I would love to have one

  • Alyson,
    Again perfect timing…I have had square for some time now…but have not used it much…I have an Samsung Galaxy (Android) and it does not work on it…I shall be calling them today..but it works great on my husband’s IPod touch…
    Two things I wanted to share..
    1. There is an option to take a picture of the product you just sold…so that way you have an image of the item sold.
    2. You could probably add the customer Name and Phone No: in the Description area, so that way you can keep track of the name too.

    Yesterday my husband and me were trying hard to make it work on Android…so all I am thinking since yesterday is square and how to make it work on my phone…and here I see your post just on that…
    Thank you for sharing your experience…

    • Forgot to mention that…manual entries works perfectly fine on my android..(Just want to skip that extra charge and want to look cool with a tiny card swiper..;})

      • Xan

        Oh no! I *JUST* ordered a Galaxy Tab JUST so I could use it with the Square, in anticipation of an outdoor event at the end of the month. :P I’d love to hear if you work it out, and how.

        I also emailed about the $1000 cap, and this was the reply:
        “Xan,

        Thanks for writing in! I went ahead and approved your account for accelerated payout. As long as you swipe cards using the Square card reader, we will payout all payments to you immediately. Deposits to your bank account normally register within 1-2 business days.

        Square may hold payments in cases of unusual activity on your account. This is to protect you, your customers, and Square. In these rare cases, we will contact you immediately to resolve the hold. To learn more about our deposit policy, please refer to the link below.

        https://help.squareup.com/customer/portal/articles/11863

  • I’ve been looking at Square for a while but haven’t yet acquired one. I have a question for those who are using it: Do you encounter any resistance from people who don’t want to or are unsure how to sign with their finger on my phone? I’m also concerned about uneasiness with e-mail receipts. I have people at shows who don’t even want to give me an email address for my mailing address. Is that a problem? I guess I could always keep the old-fashioned knuckle-buster as a back-up in case someone’s uncomfortable. But I don’t know if I’m imagining problems that aren’t real or frequent. Because it looks really appealing otherwise!

    • Margaret: I haven’t had those issues, but it’s really no different than buying something online. And people think it’s pretty cool to get their receipt as they’re standing in front of me.

      Maybe others here have more experience than I.

  • I have only used my square at a few outdoor shows so far. I was thrilled to find a simple solution to accepting credit cards. I have had a couple of instances with bad connectivity so I keep my knuckle buster just in case and then run the card when I get home. Even though the percentage is a little higher there is still no monthly charge when I’m not using it. Overall I have been very happy with it.

  • Thanks for another great article! Since I haven’t yet needed “in person” cc transactions, may not need this until future, but always good to know what’s available. Currently I’m needing to set up, probably paypal, with a bank account attached for anyone anywhere to use with online purchases…any comments/experiences with pp or similar and national/international banks would be appreciated.

  • I’ve used the square at several open studios. I love it and my customers seem to be impressed with it’s shape and the ease of use. It is a little tricky signing with your finger.

  • Grace E Calleja

    Square is the one product I vehemently detest. My swiper never worked, when I requested another one I was given a “trouble shooting” guide. After the next show with no working swipe, I emailed another request for a replacement and didn’t receive a response for 3 weeks! I got the lame “we are very busy and will get back to you soon.” – John D. No last names does not instill confidence. The lack of customer service and the fact that you can only communicate via twitter, because it’s impossible to find a simple contact email on that site were extremely frustrating. Now on to the fact that they “hide” the customers email address “for their privacy” is pure crap. Don’t get me started on the fact they hold your money for one month!!! To cancel it took another two weeks for them to respond. Do not use square! Go with Go Payment by Intuit instead.

  • Wow this is really cool!!! I always wanted to have credit card processor when I am selling my paintings in art shows but it seemed difficult to find something like this before. Now my wish came true! I hope that they will have something like this to use internationally soon. Thanks for this great post!

  • Claudine Intner

    Oooh! Aaaah! I am building up to doing a arts festival. So glad you shared this!

  • Xan

    Possibly off-topic, but to use a “knuckle buster”, does it have to have your merchant info on an impress plate, or can you just get a device and some forms to use for back-up, and hand-write your info if necessary?

  • I haven’t had my Square long but so far it works wonderfully!

  • […] Square Credit Card Reader from Squareup.com. Artist Gail Mardfin mentioned it in the comments, and Art Biz Coach Allison B. Stanfield wrote about it in her blog. just note that for payment to work, you must have a network connection, either 3G or […]

  • Diana D

    Can you capture your customers’ name, address and phone number with square? We are trying to build our mailing list

  • Diana: There’s no place to get this info on the square – unless you text the receipt to someone. Then you might have their phone # for the receipt, but I don’t know how you could retrieve it. You’d probably need to get it separately from the Square itself – like on a piece of paper.

  • Diana,
    You cannot currently retrieve or retain your customers email address from when you email them a receipt, I’ve already tried. Although I did read recently that it might be a feature that will be added on. The customer would have to agree to give you their address or subscribe to your list.
    Hope that helps.

    • Diana D

      Thanks Sue!

      • This is a huge issue for me. Considering that it makes more sense for me to have the email addresses than Square since the person is buying my products or services, why can’t we have their email addresses? It also makes it hard to reach out after the fact regarding the transaction that occurred.

  • Hey All
    I’ve been using Square for a few months now and it will post over $1000 to my bank within two days. Just had $1200 posted 2 days after I ran the credit card. So no worries there! It’s been exceptionally handy and I use it on my iPad all the time without wifi using the 3g on the ipad. Additionally, you can just take the person’s cc info and manually input it later if you have no connectivity. Love this!!

    • Tesia, I switched from Square to Intuit’s GoPayment and have been very happy with it (much happier than Square). Square is great . . . until you have a problem and have no way to contact them other than through e-mail. I had a chargeback that was a mistake (the chargeback itself was a mistake). I had to do a lot of paperwork to prove it was a legit charge. Even though I had all of the proof, the money was withdrawn from my bank account. I was basically at the mercy of Square–they often wouldn’t reply to my e-mails. It took 3 months to get my money back. Granted, I’m sure some of this was standard procedure with a chargeback (I’d never had one, so I’m not exactly sure), and some of the waiting might have had to do with the customer’s bank. But I didn’t like that I couldn’t just call Square to talk about it, and that I had to repeatedly send e-mails about it before they would respond. Luckily it was a small amount of money. It reached a point where I had decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and gave up contacting Square. Luckily, I did get the money back. But in the meantime, I switched to Intuit’s GoPayment and like it much better. For one thing, they actually have real people (In the U.S.) you can call if you have questions or problems, and they are very helpful (I’ve called several times–and their follow up with e-mails and calls is excellent). Plus, you have access to so much more information about the sales transactions than with Square. If I remember correctly, with square, you basically could only see the amount of the sale & the date–not customer’s names.

  • We have launched a complete Mobile based Point of Sale (POS) for Indian market which has Square kind of device for payment processing. We are already working with retailers to get this into their mainstream.

    Cheers,
    Bharat