What You Need to Know About Square's Credit Card Readers and POS Systems

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    With the growing popularity of online sales, the need for secure payment options is more important than ever. Square is one of the top merchant account providers in the market, providing a range of payment options and POS systems that can help businesses accept and manage transactions with maximum efficiency.

    To learn more about whether Square’s POS systems are suitable for you, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of using each type of hardware. 


    The Benefits of Working With Square

    Square was initially founded in 2009 to provide omnichannel solutions for merchants. Since 2019, Square has processed payments with over 2 million businesses from around the world.

    There are plenty of benefits that come with working with Square, including a free Square register chip card reader and the lack of long-term contracts. It is relatively easy to set up the Square payment system anywhere, even without technical knowledge. In addition, they provide offline methods of accepting mobile payments when there is no signal. 

    Square’s POS Hardware Equipment 

    Depending on your budget and business needs, Square’s POS hardware equipment comes at a range of price points and different portability options that can serve a variety of purposes. 

    Magstripe Readers

    Cost: Free or $10

    The most affordable POS hardware system from Square is their magstripe reader that accepts magnetic stripe cards. If you wish to purchase more than one, they cost $10. You can also receive one for free within 7-10 business days after you sign up and activate your Square account. 

    It comes with a lightning port connector or a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is also compatible with the majority of Apple products and Android devices.

    Contactless and Chip Card Readers

    Cost: $49

    If you’re looking at accepting contactless payments and credit cards with a chip and mobile payments from platforms like Apple Pay, Square offers readers who work with this function. As well as the upfront cost, you’ll need to pay 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction.

    Square Stand 

    Cost: $169 or $16 per month with financing

    For brick and mortar stores, you may be comparing a Square stand vs register. The stand allows you to transform your iPad into a POS system and accept every kind of payment since it includes a reader and a dock. It comes with a USB hub and is easy to use for multiple team members with no extensive training required. 

    Square Terminal

    Cost: $299 

    The Square terminal is a good fit for retail stores that want to accept payments and print receipts from the same device. You can process chip cards in two seconds and receive your money as soon as the next business day. One benefit is that it can be used wirelessly with the built-in battery, which can last all day. 

    Square Register

    Cost: $799 or $39 per month with financing

    At a higher price point, the Square register comes with two touchscreen displays — one for the customer and one for the business — and easy-to-use software options. It comes with a 3-foot display cable, but you can add an extended 6.5-foot one for customers. Square register setup is easy straight from the box.

    Square Stand Kit 

    Cost: $639

    The Square stand comes with the stand for an iPad and a Square reader to take both contactless and chip payments, a cash drawer, receipt paper, and a dock. It is a complete payment solution for retail shops looking to set up a system quickly and efficiently. 

    Square Register Kit 

    Cost: $1,269

    If you don’t have a tablet, the Square register kit comes with everything you need to get started processing payments, including a cash drawer, printer paper, and USB receipt printer. It has a detachable customer-facing display and comes with a two-year warranty and 24/7 customer support. 

    Square’s POS Software 

    There are plenty of benefits of using a POS system, and Square’s range of software is entirely free to use apart from transaction fees. 

    Basic Square POS Software

    Pricing: Free, processing rate of 2.6% + 10¢ per transaction

    To get a better idea of Square’s POS software, there is a free demo available that shows you how the system works. You only pay when you process payments, but there is also custom pricing available for businesses that process more than $250,000 in card sales and have an average ticket size of over $15.

    Some basic features allow you to accept payments remotely, take mobile payments, generate reports, manage inventory, and more. 

    Square for Restaurants

    Pricing: Free, $60 per month, or custom pricing 

    Free 30 trial availability for Plus users

    Square offers specific plans for restaurants with helpful features such as QR code ordering and the ability to accept online and mobile orders from third parties. Tablets can be easily integrated with the Square system, and you can quickly schedule delivery and pickup orders with their free online sites.

    As you expand your business, they offer custom pricing if you process more than $250,000 per year.

    Square for Retail 

    Pricing: Free, $60 per month per location, or custom pricing 

    Free 30 trial availability for Plus users

    For retail stores, Square offers an inventory counting system that integrates with your mobile phone or tablet. Another useful feature is their smart stock forecasting that predicts when stocks will run out and tells you which pieces you should restock and when. Bar code scanning, a free website builder, and item search are other key features for stores. 

    Square for Appointments

    Pricing: Free for individuals, $50 per month for 2-5 staff, $90 per month for 6-10 staff plus 2.5% + 10¢ in-person transaction fee 

    For businesses in the beauty, health and fitness, or home repair industry, Square offers useful plans for appointment setting. The price depends on the number of staff that manage the system, which can be used in multiple locations and time zones.

    Some useful features include the Square assistant that replies to clients 24/7 on your behalf, the ability to key in payments, and automated email and text reminders. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Read on to learn more about Square’s common fees and charges and other common questions asked by business owners.  

    What operating system does Square POS run on?

    Square POS system is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, and there are plenty of tablets that work with Square. 

    Is Square POS free? 

    While Square’s software is free to use along with the Square register chip card reader,  they charge 2.6% + 10¢ per card-present transaction and 3.5% + 15¢ for manually keyed-in card payments. Larger businesses may be able to obtain bigger discounts. 

    Does Square charge a monthly software fee?

    Square does not charge any monthly software fees for its basic features, but users may have to pay a monthly fee if they look for advanced plans for restaurants, retail stores, and more. 

    What’s the difference between Square and PayPal? 

    While both companies process payments, Square tends to be more suitable for in-person and mobile payments, while PayPal is more commonly used for e-commerce and online payments.

    How much does it cost to get started with Square?

    It is free to get started with Square’s software, but you will need to pay when processing a payment. You may have to pay a fee to gain access to their hardware systems or more advanced POS features. 

    To sum it up, Square is a good choice for smaller businesses looking for an affordable POS platform. There are no monthly fees for the Basic plan, and there are plenty of hardware options to choose from as well as tablets that work with Square to help lower costs. Square register setup is also user-friendly and comes with plenty of useful features. 

    However, it may not be the most cost-effective for businesses that process high-volume transactions.

    If you’re still debating between a Square stand vs register, read on to learn more about the benefits of front-end credit card processors and browse our other guides on Processing Card today!