Square Reader

Our Rating:  4.5 /5 

  • First keypad-less, mobile card reader (connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone
  • Competitive, flat transaction fee
  • Extensive functions and app features

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CARD READER PRICE

£29 + VAT

TRANSACTION FEE

1,75%

MONTHLY COST

£0

 

Review Summary

All in all, Square provides a robust system by which any individual or business can easily accept card payments. Above all, the system is highly secure and easy to use, although it does require a little time to personalize the POS for your business needs.

Certainly, for small businesses and sole traders that require a simple, clear cut system by which to take card payments, Square offers a straightforward option that compares well with its competitors.

Our Rating:     4.5 / 5.0

 

Pros

  • Low cost card reader
  • There’s no tie in contract period or fixed monthly fees
  • Compared to its competitors it has the fastest pay-out to your bank account

 

 Cons

  • Has a higher transaction fee to one of its competitors (SumUp)
  • It can’t be used abroad
  • It’s necessary to hand the phone or tablet to the customer for PIN entry. This could be a cause for a security concern.

 

Square Reader – Full Review

Ready?

The Square card reader is a combination card reader and app that allows anyone to easily accept card and mobile payments without the need to set up a merchant account.

Furthermore, its simplicity of use, invoicing function, flat rate fee and affordability have made it a popular choice for individuals and businesses alike.

In this review we take a look at the functionality, costs, its competitors, pros and cons,  and important aspects such as security and ease of use.

So let’s just dive right in.

SQUARE REVIEW – JUMP TO:

  1. 1. What is Square?
  2. 2. Costs & Fees
  3. 3. How it works?
  4. 4. Getting started with Square
  5. 5. Square alternatives in UK

What is the Square Card Reader [UK]? 

Let’s get to the point.

The Square card reader is, as the name suggests, a method by which a person or business can accept debit and credit card payments.

Fact is, it supports chip and pin, contactless and mobile payments, and also features an app that’s compatible with both Android and Apple. But it doesn’t stop there…

Some of the other key benefits of Square are:

  • Accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and most major international cards
  • No need to set up a merchant account
  • Payments are processed in real time and the funds deposited in your bank account the following day
  • Simple, fast set-up that allows you to accept card payments within minutes
  • Accepts payments in-person, online, over the phone and via invoice
  • No set up or monthly fees. Each payment incurs a simple transaction fee
  • Includes full reporting and analytics
  • Includes an app based Point of Sale (POS) system
  • Integrates with eCommerce stores

 

Can anyone get a Square Card reader? 

Yes. A Square card reader makes it possible for any business or individual to accept payments via debit or credit card. It’s that simple.

 

Is Square good for small businesses? 

Yes. Square is a good choice for a small business, especially if you don’t want to sign up for a merchant account.

Why?

Whilst such merchant accounts can allow for card payments at a lower transaction fee than that of Square’s (1.75% for debit cards), they often come with monthly fees and a tie in period.

The result?

For small businesses that take less than £1,000 per month in payments (or ones that take a lot of credit card payments), the Square option is currently one of the most cost-effective on the market.

What about bigger companines?

For high volume users a merchant account with lower transaction fees and a monthly fee might offer better value.

However, the fact that Square offer an extremely clear pricing structure and no commitment to a contract makes it a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

 

Is it possible to use Square without a reader? 

Yes, by keying in card numbers to your mobile device or by using the Virtual Terminal on a computer. However, to accept contactless, chip and pin, or mobile payments you do require the reader. 

 

Square – Costs and Fees

What does it cost to use Square? 

The basic Square system only requires you to purchase the Square card reader to get started. This currently retails at £29.00 (+ VAT) and can be purchased via the Squareup.com website.

What else must be considered?

  • A flat rate transaction fee of 1.75% for a chip and pin, contactless or mobile payment. The fee is the same for all major cards
  • Typed in card payments (for example, over the phone) or by using the invoicing facility or eCommerce payments attract a 2.5% fee
Square card reader     £29 + VAT
Transaction fee – card payment1.75%
Transaction fee – virtual terminal2.50%

 

Is there a monthly fee for Square?

No. There are no set up fees, monthly fees or any other costs for the basic service.

Nevertheless, optional add-ons are priced as follows:

Square Add-ons (optional)
Employee Management*£3.00 per employee per month
Instant Deposit**1% of the deposit amount
Partner apps (for eCommerce etc.)Price varies depending on the platform
Square Reader Dock***£19.00 (+ VAT)
Square Stand for an iPod POS£96.00 (+ VAT)

* Gives employees different permissions
** If you require funds faster than then next working day
*** Positions the reader on a counter and keeps it charged

 

How do Square’s fees compare with its competitors?

All in all, Square’s main competitors are:

It turns out, SumUp charges a flat fee that’s slightly less than that of Square, at 1.69%. However, they hold onto your money for longer, paying out to your bank account in 2-3 days.

iZettle charges the same 1.75% fee per transaction as Square and deposits funds in 1-2 days.

 

How does Square work?

One of the biggest plus points about Square is its simplicity. The Point of Sale app is the heart of the product, and can be downloaded to your phone or tablet.

You’ll be glad to know it’s easily customizable to your business needs, and your customer can pay via contactless, chip and pin or a mobile payment method. You also have the ability to create and send invoices and to fully integrate the system with your eCommerce store.

And one more thing, the funds are debited from the client’s account and deposited in your bank account the next working day.

Other features include:

  • Create either digital or printed receipts
  • Inventory management
  • Easily customise your Point of Sale with simple drag and drop
  • Store payment details for regular customers
  • Can be used at multiple locations with a single account

Square have created the following video that gives an overview about how the system works.

 

 

How to accept payments with Square reader? 

It’s simple. Payments can be accepted in multiple ways:

  • Contactless
  • Chip and pin
  • Mobile payments (Apple Pay & Google Pay)
  • Via an invoice either online or in person. You can also set up recurring charges and save card details for repeat clients
  • Take card details over the phone through the computer based virtual terminal
  • eCommerce payments through the Square online store service or integrating with your current eCommerce store provider
  • Integrate for in-app payments for both iOS and Android

 

Does Square accept online payments? 

Yes. You can process these in multiple ways according to your business needs:

  • Single transactions
  • Recurring transactions
  • Multiparty transactions

In addition, you have the choice of creating a custom experience that matches the rest of your website by utilising the Square Payment Form and Transactions API.

Or you can integrate the pre-built Square Checkout, or connect using plug-ins for existing integrations, such as OpenCart, Magento and WooCommerce. 

 

And what credit cards does it accept?

Square accepts most UK and international chip or magnetic stripe cards.

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Maestro
  • Visa Electron
  • Vpay

The following card types are accepted:

  • Debit
  • Credit
  • Corporate
  • Prepaid
  • Rewards

Be aware that Square doesn’t currently accept Union Pay, JCB or Discover cards. 

 

What if I don’t have Wi Fi or internet? 

Your Square reader communicates with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. The payment is processed over Wi Fi or internet.

It’s not possible to take card payments whilst offline, although you can accept cash payments. The system will store these and sync when back online. 

 

What about the all-important issue of security? 

The complete Square system is designed to protect both you and your customers. All information is encrypted and submitted securely to the Square servers. The company meets the Level 1 PCI Data Security Standards.

Here’s how:

  • No payment card data is retained
  • Encryption is ensured throughout the complete transaction
  • No remote connectivity is permitted to the Square app
  • Requires two-factor authentication and password controls for admin access
  • All access is strictly logged
  • Security settings are constantly reviewed and updates and patches installed in a timely fashion
  • Square have a strict security and privacy policy, and guarantee that information will never be released to third party vendors

 

Getting started with Square

Square is designed to be very simple to use and you can be up and started within minutes.

You’re required to set up an account, which takes around 5 minutes, and to download the Point of Sale app to your phone or mobile device.

This is available for both Android and iOS. Once this is done you’re able to begin taking payment via all major debit and credit cards. The money will be deposited in your account the next working day.

 

Square app and other features 

The app provides you with your Point of Sale, and this is the core of your system. You’ll need to spend a little time customising this to suit your individual needs. You can easily set up the products you sell grouped into categories.

  • ✓ Choose from a list or grid overview
  • ✓ Switch between interfaces
  • ✓ Add individual products to your library and tap to add them to the shopping cart
  • ✓ There’s the option to add an amount to the final bill for custom services or if an item isn’t currently in the inventory
  • ✓ Split the bill if needed allowing partial payment via card and the rest with cash
  • ✓ For chip and pin option, you hand the mobile device to the customer to tap their PIN into the on-screen keypad
  • ✓ Send a receipt digitally (text or email) or print out via a connected printer

Square App

But it doesn’t stop there. Other features include the following:

  • ✓ Simple, free refund option
  • ✓ Set up, schedule and send invoices from the app and track payments. You can also create automatic reminders to be sent if a payment is overdue
  • ✓ There’s the ability to create multiple employee accounts (cost of £3.00 per month per employee) so you can track different staff  members, store working hours, or create timesheets
  • ✓ Create and sell gift cards with a choice of designs (birthday, get well, thank you etc)
  • ✓ Robust reports and analytics. These are recorded in real time so can be accessed at any time. Reports are exportable to Excel or Xero
  • ✓ Use Square in multiple locations with a single account – ideal if you have more than one shop or point of sale. Different location transactions can be sent to separate bank accounts if needed
  • ✓ Square provides an inventory tracker and management system. Not only does this allow you to know when items are low in stock, but you can easily analyse what is selling (and who is selling what, in the case of multiple employees).
  • ✓ Keep tabs on open orders (ideal for the hospitality industry) and the ability for customers to add tips

 

What accessories are available? 

The following accessories are currently available to purchase (all prices are ex VAT). Some are more useful than others, and their value will depend on individual requirements. Let’s look at it in detail:

Square Accessories
mPOP Cash Drawer and Receipt Printer£319.00
mPOP Receipt Printer Paper (20 rolls)£19.00
Infinite Peripherals Case for Square Reader£65.00
Dock for Square Reader£19.00
OtterBox universe Case for iPhone 6/6S£9.99
Heckler Windfall Stand for Apple iPad Air, Air 2 & Pro 9.7£19.99
USB Wall Charger£14.99
Printer-Driven Cash Drawer£59.99
Ethernet Receipt Printer£199.00
Receipt Printer Paper (25 rolls)£29.00

 

Can I rely on them for Customer Support? 

Square customer support does, unfortunately, follow the what’s become the standard industry norm of trying to get you NOT to call them.

When using the system for the first time you get prompts that walk you through the process.

And whilst Square is rather self-explanatory to use, this is a pretty good feature.Of course, there are the ubiquitous customer support pages that cover most FAQs.

For anything else you can get help via email or by phone. However, this is only available Monday to Friday, from 09:00 – 17:00. Run into an issue outside of these hours and you’ll have to wait until the next working day.

Phone number (Sales Department)     0800 098 8099
Email     Yes, via contact form
Online Help Center     Yes
Availability     Monday to Friday,
09:00 – 17:00

 

What are the alternatives to Square in UK

When it comes to real alternatives to Square, SumUp and iZettle are the two closest competitors.

 

1. SumUp

 

Pros:

  • Accepts more card options, including Diners Club, Discover and Union Pay
  • Telephone customer support is available on a Saturday
  • Has a lower card transaction fee, at 1.69%
  • Can be used overseas
  • Keypad is on the reader, unlike that of Square’s where you have to hand the customer the mobile device to enter it

 

Cons:

  • Slower to deposit funds in your bank account. Takes up to 3 working days
  • Charges a higher rate for Virtual Terminal (customer not present) payments
  • Doesn’t have an option for tipping
  • No option to export reports to Excel or Xero

Read full SumUp review

 

 2. iZettle 

 

Pros:

  • Has their own fully integrated eCommerce platform (additional monthly cost)
  • Accepts more card types, including Diners Club, JCB, Discover and UnionPay
  • Keypad is on the reader

 

 Cons:

  • Again, slightly slower than Square to transfer funds to your account. They say 1-3 working days, but in reality it’s usually 2
  • Customer support only available Monday – Friday, the same as Square
  • Can’t be used overseas (but neither can Square)

Read full iZettle review