So you started a business and are ready to start selling your items. In addition to setting prices, you’ve got to set up business banking and select point-of-sale merchant processing.

Square is everywhere. As a leader in point-of-sale (POS) systems, you have seen Square devices in small businesses everywhere. You have paid for meals, products, services, or beverages by swiping your card on some form of Square device in a coffee shop, store, restaurant, or on the mobile phone of a seller.

For your business, you may be considering Square for your merchant processing. What are these devices and how can they work for you?

Square Reader for Magstripe

Square Reader for Magstripe

“Magstripe” refers to the magnetic stripe on the back of a credit or debit card that stores individual banking data. The magstripe on the card is swiped past a magnetic reading head on the device that captures the data.

Please note that it is important to plan for EMV compliance.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. EMV is a global standard for credit cards and features an embedded chip that secures transactions. It was developed and implemented in the U.S. and Europe due to widespread problems with credit card fraud.

EMV was implemented in 2015, and it is important to know that after October 2015, businesses that do not process transactions with an EMV processing device could be liable for fraudulent chip transactions. Formerly, banks absorbed the costs of fraudulent transactions if merchants ran fraudulent cards. However, as of October, 2015, that liability has shifted to merchants who do not use EMV-equipped chip readers.

The Magstripe Reader processes magnetic stripe cards only. Square Chip Card Readers and Contactless Chip Card Readers accept chip cards.

Learn more about EMV here.

Square Point of Sale App: Free

Device Cost:                                     $10

Monthly Fees:                                  None

Price per swipe:                               2.6% + $0.10

Funds deposited:                            1 – 2 Business Days

iOS or Android?                              Available for both

Other Features:

  • Inventory management
  • Analytics
  • Secure encryption of customer card data
  • No storage of card data after payment processed
  • Customer receives receipt via e-mail, text, or a printed receipt if printer connected to a tablet.
  • Math-free tipping option
  • Customer support available 24/7

Square Reader for Magstripe is ideal for:

– Independent merchants with known customers.

-Transactions in temporary, one-time business events such as garage sales or small group events with admission fees. Customers should be known to the merchant.

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip

“Chip” refers to the EMV embedded chip, visible on the left portion of the card. “Contactless” means that the device is NFC-enabled.

NFC is “near field communication”, which is technology that allows smartphones and other devices to communicate. Apple Pay and Google Pay are examples of NFC; a user can simply hold a smartphone near the device and the transaction is secure and contactless.

Square Point of Sale App:           Free

Device Cost:                                   $49 or $17/month for 3 months

Long-Term Contract:                   None

Monthly Fees:                               None

Price per dip or tap:                     2.6% + $0.10

Funds deposited:                         1 – 2 Business Days

iOS or Android?                           Available for both

NFC?                                               Yes

Other Features:

  • Inventory management
  • Analytics
  • Secure encryption of customer card data
  • No storage of card data after payment processed
  • Customer receives receipt via e-mail, text, or a printed receipt if printer connected to a tablet.
  • Rechargeable battery that holds a charge for a day
  • Can be docked for countertop use
  • Math-free tipping option
  • Customer support available 24/7

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip is ideal for:

-Independent merchants at venues such as flea markets or farmers markets.

-Mobile repair specialists

-Food trucks

-Kiosk-based sales

Square Terminal

Square Terminal

Square Terminal was introduced in October 2018 and is intended to replace traditional keypad point of sale systems. It is a souped-up version of keypad plus all of Square’s inventory management, security and other features. More information, and an explanatory video is available here.

Square Point of Sale App:          Free

Device Cost:                                  $299 or $27 per month for 12 months

Long-Term Contract:                  None

Monthly Fees:                              None

Price per dip, tap or swipe:      2.6% + $0.10

Funds deposited:                        1 – 2 Business Days

iOS or Android?                          Available for both

NFC?                                              Yes

Other Features:

  • Ready to use right out of the box
  • All payment types accepted for same lower price
  • Inventory management
  • Analytics
  • Secure encryption of customer card data
  • No storage of card data after payment processed
  • Can connect via Wi-Fi or ethernet
  • Intuitive 5.5” touchscreen color display
  • 3 USB ports for connecting peripheral systems, such as bar-code scanners or cash drawers
  • Magnetic panel available for bonding with metal components such as cash drawers
  • Customer receives receipt via e-mail, text, or a thermally printed receipt directly from the device. 50-ft roll of printer paper is included.
  • Rechargeable battery that holds a charge for a day; cordless
  • Chargeback resolution and payment disputes with banks handled by experts on your behalf
  • Math-free tipping option
  • Customer support available 24/7
  • Next business day hardware replacement
  • Next business day payment

Square Terminal is ideal for:

-Independent bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants that feature counter-service.

-Independent grocery stores

-Newsstands

-Independent clothing stores

…and many more.

Square Stand

Square Stand

If a clerk has swiveled an iPad toward you with a clean, simple display in order to pay for a sandwich or cup of coffee, you have used the familiar Square Stand.

Square Point of Sale App:           Free

Device Cost:                                   $199 or $18 per month for 12 months

Long-Term Contract:                   None

Monthly Fees:                               None

Price per dip, tap or swipe:        2.6% + $0.10

Funds deposited:                         1 – 2 Business Days

iOS or Android?                           Available for both

NFC?                                               Yes

Other Features:

  • Designed to accommodate your iPad, or an iPad can be added at check-out.
  • Square Reader for Contactless and Chip is included, as well as a Dock. These, along with the iPad can be connected via the stand’s USB hub.
  • USB hub enables addition of cash drawers, receipt printers, bar code scanners, and other devices.
  • Easy swivel faces the device toward the customer, where the customer can quickly sign and tip.
  • Security kit keeps your Square Stand securely attached to your countertop.
  • Inventory management
  • Analytics
  • Secure encryption of customer card data
  • No storage of card data after payment processed
  • Customer receives receipt via e-mail, text, or a printed receipt if printer connected to a tablet.
  • Math-free tipping option
  • Customer support available 24/7
  • Next business day hardware replacement
  • Next business day payment

Square Stand is ideal for:

-Independent bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants that feature counter-service.

-Independent grocery stores

-Newsstands

-Independent clothing stores and other retailers

…and many more.

Square Register

Square Register

The Square Register is a highly sophisticated POS system, but simple to operate for you and your customers. Square Register is a solution for higher-volume businesses that need integration with inventory management and other vital systems. 

Square Point of Sale App:          Free

Device Cost:                                  $799 or $39 per month for 24 months

Long-Term Contract:                  None

Monthly Fees:                              None

Price per dip, tap or swipe:      2.6% + $0.10

Funds deposited:                        1 – 2 Business Days

iOS or Android?                          Available for both

NFC?                                              Yes

Other Features:

  • Custom pricing available for businesses with greater than $250K in annual credit card sales. 
  • Two displays; one faces the customer and the other faces the user.
  • Software updates are automatic and free.
  • USB hub enables addition of cash drawers, receipt printers, bar code scanners, and other devices.
  • Inventory management and timecards
  • Analytics and sales reports
  • Secure encryption of customer card data
  • No storage of card data after payment processed
  • Customer receives receipt via e-mail, text, or a printed receipt if printer connected to a tablet.
  • Chargeback resolution and payment disputes with banks handled by experts on your behalf
  • 2-year warranty
  • Math-free tipping option
  • Customer support available 24/7

Square Register is ideal for:

-Independent bookstores, coffee shops, and restaurants that feature counter-service.

-Independent grocery stores

-Newsstands

-Independent clothing stores and other retailers

…and many more.

Square Competitors

Square’s top competitors include:

  • PayPal Here
  • Intuit QuickBooks GoPayment
  • Clover
  • Shopify
  • ShopKeep

In Conclusion…

It is always great to make a sale. We hope that this guide has in some small way helped you to make an informed decision about choosing a partner for your point of sale systems. While this guide has only covered physical devices, Square does of course have e-commerce options for online sales.

You can learn more here.

We find Square to be a provider of reliable, solid, clean and simple products.

Their service is almost excellent; you can contact them 24/7 at 1(855)700-6000. We say “almost” because they have a rather annoying process in place where you are required to obtain a customer code and enter it before you can talk to a representative. That means that you must provide your complete information, along with establishing a user name and password, then sign in before you get a code. It is the same with sales. You must get a customer code and enter it before sales will take your call. We view this to be an unnecessary barrier to service or sales. Once you reach them, you can count on excellent service.

They are not the cheapest; there are plenty of options available for lower transaction fees.

But you get good value with well-engineered, simple POS devices that are relatively inexpensive.

Happy swiping, dipping or tapping.

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