San Francisco, CA based merchant services provider that offers solutions for merchants in the US and Canada.
|Swipe Rate||2.6% + 10¢|
|Keyed-in Rate||3.5% + 15¢|
|Early Termination Fee||$0|
Square was cofounded in 2009 by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. They have offices around the world including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK, and Ireland. Square is a merchant services and small business services provider that offers predictable pricing at a reasonable price.
Square has its own name brand hardware options. Their software, aimed to be intuitive and user friendly, is also compatible with most phone, tablet, and computer technologies – no training necessary. They also boast complete eCommerce solutions for merchants from website creation to accepting payments.
Let us note that there are extensive complaints about this company for various reasons. There are some good reviews sprinkled in, but these complaints do not seem to be isolated issues. Freezes and account shutdowns have been reported in reviews written by merchants. Reasoning for these instances vary but may be occurring in part due to rapid growth within businesses that can appear to look like fraudulent activity.
Square Pros & Cons
Predictable flat-rate pricing
Ideal for low-volume merchants
No monthly fees
Postmates, and DoorDash integrations available
Quickbooks integrations available
Affordable chip card readers
All-in-one payments system
Free tools for selling online
Available to Canadian merchants
Account stability issues
Not suitable for high-risk industries
High volume of negative reviews and complaints
Square Products & Services
Square has payment solutions for all card types as well as gift cards. This company caters specifically to business environments that process payments in-person, on a website, via invoicing, or by virtual terminal.
Square offers merchants their own name brand equipment. Hardware can be bought/financed or rented. Equipment solutions are available for all types of businesses and come in the following forms: magstripe readers, contactless/chip readers, countertop terminal, registers, and other accessories. Upon boarding an account with Square, their merchants enjoy 1 free magstripe reader and free access to the Square Point of Sale App.
Square POS software is customizable and intuitive, there is no training required. The software has solutions for diverse business environments including retail, restaurants, and appointment based. Inventory management, invoicing, recurring payments, team management, customer relationship management, reporting & analytics, and loyalty programs are some of the features the software boasts. Some of these do come at an extra cost (see Pricing & Fees section). Several businesses will like the QuickBooks integrations and restaurant merchants will like the Postmates and DoorDash integrations. Additionally, the Square Cash App allows for merchants to accept bitcoin.
Solutions for eCommerce exist in the form of virtual terminals, developer APIs, shopping cart integrations, and website creation/hosting. Their websites will allow merchants to sell on Instagram, Facebook, and other social sites. They also have a Square Photo Studio that offers professionally shot photographs of merchandise for eCommerce merchants.
They have an active fraud prevention program along with dispute management for chargebacks and data-security compliance coverage (PCI).
Outside of payment processing, Square also offers the following in-house tools to their merchants:
-Employee and contractor payroll services
-Small business loans ($300-$100,000)
-Business debit card
-Loyalty programs for customers
Square Advertising & Sales
Square advertises a hefty amount of their pricing on their website, which is not typical for the merchant services industry. The company’s website is very detailed and informative regarding the services they provide and their pricing. We cannot find many reviews complaining about deceptive advertising when referencing rates and fees specifically, but we did find issues when looking at other aspects of the business.
Square uses in-house sales teams to board their accounts. There are some reviews of CBD businesses that claim their applications were either shelved (never approved or denied) or closed down without explanation after approval. With this being said, even though the sales team tells merchants in the CBD industry that they can provide merchant accounts for them, maybe these merchants should look elsewhere. This may be part of a larger issue with the in-house sales team trying to attain accounts at the expense of inconveniencing merchants, leaving their businesses temporarily shut down until they find another provider. Additionally there are other reviews about funds being held/frozen for months. It appears the sales team is not disclosing information regarding reasons for why this would happen to merchants, thus blindsiding them when it happens.
Square’s advertised approach to customer service is “get real support from real people.” In this department, we are forced to call their bluff based on the countless negative reviews about customer service. Many reviews speak to the difficulty to reach an actual person and lack of communication outside of automated emails. The main issues with the customer service department vary and are not limited to: funds being held/frozen for months, accounts being closed without warning, and inability to reach a human to speak with when calling for explanations are a few of the recurring complaints.
Truth in Marketing
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||Most|
|Public Pricing Available||Yes|
Square Pricing, Rates & Fees
Square has transparent pricing where merchants pay the same rate for every card type and never will have to deal with “weird fees.” Aside from the advertised pricing on their website, which is extensive, they also offer custom pricing depending on the business environment. Generally, in-person/swiped transactions incur a rate of 2.6% + 10¢ while keyed transactions have a rate of 3.5% + 15¢. Outside of these general pricing scenarios, see below:
Square Invoices transactions: 2.9% + 30¢
-Payments taken online using Square Invoices.
Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% + 15¢
-Pay 3.5% + 15¢ when entering a card number manually in the Square POS app.
Square Virtual Terminal transactions: 3.5% + 15¢
-Enter card numbers securely on your computer or swipe a card for 2.75%.
Card on File transactions: 3.5% + 15¢
-Payments made using payment details stored on your point of sale.
eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + 30¢
-Payments made using Square Online Store, eCommerce integrations, or online payment APIs. A rate of 2.6% + 30¢ per trans is available when using the Square Online Store Premium plan.
Terminal API and Reader SDK transactions: 2.6% + 10¢
-Payments made at a custom-built point of sale, attended kiosk, or other in-person payment solution.
In-App Payments SDK transactions: 2.9% + 30¢
-Payments made using your business’s mobile app.
Online Payment APIs transactions: 2.9% + 30¢
-Payments made using eCommerce integrations or online payment APIs.
The cost of the Square software/app that syncs with hardware varies depending on your business environment and needs, but it ranges from $0-$90 per month.
Square has an array of hardware. Your first magstripe reader is free, and $10 for any additional units. The contactless and chip card reader (mobile payments) is $49. Square’s name brand terminal will run merchants $299 or $27/mo for 12 months. The Square Register will set merchants back $799 or $39/mo for $24 months. Lastly, they sell a stand for iPads (iPad not included) that runs $169 or $16/mo for 12 months; the stand turns your iPad into a countertop POS solution.
-Payroll services cost $5/person + $29/mo (omit monthly fee if merchant deals with contractors).
-Email marketing to customers: starting at $15/mo
-Loyalty program for customers: starting at $45/mo
-Giftcards: starting at 80¢ (eGift cards are free)
Pricing At A Glance
|Pricing Model||Interchange Plus|
|Swiped Rate||2.6% + 10¢|
|Keyed-in Rate||3.5% + 15¢|
|Mobile Payment Rate||2.6% + 10¢|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||3.5% + 15¢|
|Payment Gateway Fee||$0|
|Early Termination Fee||$0|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$0|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable (pay in installments or rent)|
|Address Verification Service (AVS)||N/A|
|Account Setup Fee||$0|
|Gateway Setup Fee||$0|
Square Contract & Terms
Square does not publicly disclose their merchant application or contract terms & conditions, though it has been found that the contract length is typically month-to-month.
Merchants who have opted for the flexible payment option by paying for equipment in installments, will have to read their contract details regarding payment after cancellation. *Note: as of March 2020, the Square Installments program has been temporarily paused until further notice.
In general, it can be said that contract terms can vary depending on the nature of your business.
Square does not have an early termination fee (ETF), but we always encourage merchants to read the fine print on all applications and contracts.
Square Setup & Support
Square does not fully disclose their setup practices in terms of how much hand holding they do to walk merchants through the setup process. However, online there is comprehensive information regarding the steps to get your account up and running:
- Get set up to take payments: create your square account, link your bank account, order hardware (at least 10 days early), download the app.
- Set up your account on the Square Dashboard: customize the app to your business
- Set up hardware and the Square App: connect your devices to the hardware, and further customize depending on your business environment
- Train your team and go live
Square has an easy-to-navigate, extensive online support center with large amounts of information for merchants to get answers to questions and troubleshoot issues with both hardware and software. They also have a live online chat that will direct you to the right area for any issue you may have. It is unclear if the phone support is 24/7 or just during standard business hours. Note that live customer support is only for merchants with active Square accounts.
It should be noted that there are several online reviews claiming that the phone support (or other forms of support that are not automated) for Square is virtually unreachable, especially if there is an issue with funding. So, even though there is an extensive document database, that may be the main source of customer service that Square merchants should rely on.
Square Complaints, Ratings & Reviews
Reviews left by merchants on third-party comparison websites are very mixed, though we will say there appears to be more bad than good.
Positive reviews state that merchants like the equipment, customer service, and the easy to use apps, claiming Square is much easier to work with when compared to Paypal.
Google reviews give Square a 2.5 while ConsumerAffairs.com gives a 2 rating. Merchants claim to experience bad customer service, holding of funds, and complaints about the payroll program and the Square Cash App, just to name a few.
The BBB gives Square an “NR” rating, not rated. The reviews give Square an overall 1 star rating with a total of 401 reviews. The BBB reports 4,375 complaints in the last 3 years. Most of these complaints fall into the “problem with a product or service” category. Upon further research, it seems that most of these complaints are related to the Square Cash App.
We found a handful of class-action lawsuits and a couple of individual lawsuits against Square.
|BBB||NR (401 reviews, 4,375 complaints)|
|2.5 Stars | (358 reviews)|
|Total Online Reviews||10,000+|
|Total Online Complaints||4,500+|