2021 Square Review: Mobile Reader, POS, Invoicing, and Payroll

Each month, 3 million people use Square’s mobile payment app.<sup>1</sup> But is Square the best solution for you? For small businesses that need a slew of products to accept payments and pay employees, Square is an obvious choice.

Best Overall
Square
5 out of 5 stars
5.0
  • Check
    Multiple financial products
  • Check
    Reasonable pricing
  • X
    Complaints of account suspensions

You’ve seen Square’s mobile credit card readers at farmers markets, food truck roundups, and restaurants, but Square offers more than card readers to small businesses.

Between Square’s point-of-sale (POS) system, invoicing program, payment app, and chip readers, Square offers fairly comprehensive, mobile, and time-saving financial solutions for small businesses—all for an unbeatable monthly price of $0. There are some small fees, and you would have to purchase any necessary hardware. But even with those costs, Square is rather affordable for the average small business.

While Square’s free software solutions are perfect for entrepreneurs, tradespeople, and small-business owners, what about larger and more complex operations?

Recently, Square has developed more scalable solutions for larger businesses. For example, as a more comprehensive financial solution for businesses with dozens or hundreds of employees, there’s now Square Payroll. For retailers with a more complex and high-volume inventory, there’s a more sophisticated POS solution: Square for Retail. But it’s worth noting that as Square’s products scale up for larger operations, they also scale up in pricing.

Square Point of Sale: Best for most businesses

POS software can benefit any small business, and Square Point of Sale is no exception. Square’s integrated processing payment system centralizes your sales information and makes it available anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re accepting cash, checks, gift cards, or credit cards; all the information is recorded in one spot.

The software also streamlines your operations to save you time, reduce human error, and improve the overall customer experience. And like other POS software, Square Point of Sale offers detailed sales reporting and insightful analytics. In short, what’s not to like about Square’s POS software?

Square Point of Sale

Feature
Details
Find more info

Up-front price

$0

Monthly Price

$0

Processing fee

2.6% + 10¢ per swipe, dip, or tap*
3.5% + 15¢ per card on file or manually entered card payments

Compatibility

- Android- Apple

Hardware options

- Magstripe Reader (Free)

- Contactless and Chip Reader ($49)

- Stand for Contactless and Chip Reader ($169)

- Register ($799)

Drawback

Complaints of unexpected account suspension and termination

Data effective 11/23/2020. At publishing time, pricing and products are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

 

To be a successful business, it’s essential to keep track of payments, and Square Point of Sale can help you do that effectively. It doesn’t matter how informal or small your operation is: whether you’re selling apples at the farmers market or opening a yoga studio, Square’s free POS software is a great solution. All you have to pay for is the hardware and a 2.6% + 10¢ fee for every swipe. It’s so reasonably priced, we recommend it for businesses that need anywhere from one to ten point-of-sale systems.

Square POS hardware costs

Hardware
Up-front cost
Swipe, dip, or tap payment fees
Card on file or manually entered payment fees
Get started

Square Register

$799

2.6% + 10¢*

3.5% + 15¢

Square Stand for Contactless and Chip

$169

2.6% + 10¢

3.5% + 15¢

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip

$49

2.6% + 10¢

3.5% + 15¢

Square Reader for Magstripe

$10

2.6% + 10¢

3.5% + 15¢

Data effective 11/23/2020. At publishing time, pricing ise current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

*Fee decreases to 2.5% + 10¢ on transactions processed through Square Registers purchased before 8/20/2019

Square for Retail

If your business regularly breaks $10,000 in sales per month, Square’s regular Point of Sale transaction fees can really eat away at your profit margin. Fortunately, for high-volume retail businesses, Square offers another option: Square for Retail.

Square for Retail costs $60 per month, but it brings your per-payment processing fee down to 2.5% + 10¢. Keep in mind, though, that this option saves you money only if your business makes lots of low-value sales. If your average sale is relatively high, you’re probably better off sticking with Square’s regular point of sale offering—or contacting Square to negotiate a custom rate.

Comparing Square Point of Sale

Strengths
Pro Bullet No monthly service fee
Pro Bullet Detailed sales reports
Pro Bullet Quick payment processing
Weaknesses
Con Bullet High transaction fees

When comparing point-of-sale solutions for small businesses, Square Point of Sale excels. Along with being one of the most affordable solutions out there, Square’s software empowers your business with flexibility and mobility. In fact, we picked Square as the best mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) system for small businesses.

Square is also quick about transferring money into your account, with most payments going through within one to two business days. Plus, it offers excellent features that compete with the best POS software offerings: invoicing capabilities and tools for reporting, email marketing, and employee management.

The potential drawback with Square Point of Sale is the transaction fees. Square’s flat rate of 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe, dip, or tap is certainly low—but it’s beaten by competitors like Payanywhere and Intuit GoPayment. However, both Payanywhere and GoPayment come with monthly fees, so in the long run, Square Point of Sale is more economical for businesses with low-volume sales.

To illustrate our point, check out these comparisons of Square versus other POS providers:

Cost of 50 monthly transactions ($100 each) over three months

POS provider
Card-present transaction fees
Monthly Fees
Total

Payanywhere Standard

1.69%

$12.95

$292.35

Square Point of Sale

2.6% + 10¢

$0

$395

Payanywhere Pay As You Go

2.69%

$0

$403.50

PayPal Here

2.7%

$0

$405

Intuit GoPayment

2.4% + 25¢

$25**

$472.50

Shopify

2.7%*

$29

$492

Data effective 11/23/2020. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

*With a Basic Shopify plan

**With a Simple Start plan

Cost of 1,000 monthly transactions ($100 each) over three months

POS provider
Card-present transaction fees
Monthly Fees
Total

Payanywhere Standard

1.69%

$12.95

$5,108.85

Intuit GoPayment

2.4% + 25¢

$25**

$8,025

Payanywhere Pay As You Go

2.69%

$0

$8,070

Square Point of Sale

2.6% + 10¢

$0

$8,100

PayPal Here

2.7%

$0

$8,100

Shopify

2.7%*

$29

$8,187

  • Data effective 11/23/2020. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
  • *With a Basic Shopify plan
  • **With a Simple Start plan

Square Payments Processing: Best for e-commerce businesses

Strengths
Pro Bullet Affordable pricing
Pro Bullet Compatibility with all major credit cards
Pro Bullet Inventory management
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Funding holds
Con Bullet Complaints of account terminations

While Square has made a name for itself with its simple-to-use hardware and POS system, the company also offers payment processing for online transactions.

Just like other Square services, Square Payment is easy to set up and chock-full of beneficial services. Its dedicated payment accounts offer credit card transactions for in-store, online, and keyed-in transactions. Merchants can store payment details to make checkout as efficient as possible. Plus, Square’s payment processing APIs allow users to integrate with sales while tracking reporting and deposits.

But that’s not all. Square Payment makes it even easier to manage your business by keeping your inventory up-to-date. Users will receive daily emails outlining which items are low or out.

In terms of pricing, Square Payment charges 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe. For invoice and e-commerce payments, the platform charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Virtual terminal and keyed-in transactions cost 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction.

If you regularly deal with a large volume of payments and are worried about all those transaction fees adding up, don’t fret. Businesses that process more than $250,000 in credit card sales can work with Square’s sales team to create a custom pricing package.

Bullhorn
Note
Just like other Square services, Square Payments Processing is easy to set up and chock-full of beneficial services.

Square Invoices: Best for occasional invoicing

Strengths
Pro Bullet Intuitive and easy interface
Pro Bullet No subscription fee
Pro Bullet Credit card payment capabilities
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Minimal features
Con Bullet High transaction fee

Do you send only a few invoices a month? Then Square Invoices may be an excellent fit for your business. It was built for occasional use, so it makes the most sense for businesses that invoice infrequently, like restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores. For businesses that send large batches of invoices on the regular, you may find invoicing software with richer features and more competitive prices elsewhere.

Because of its simple setup, Square Invoices doesn’t include the detailed features, like expense tracking and fancy dashboards, that other invoicing software have. Square Invoices offers only the basics: customizable invoices, invoice tracking from any mobile device, reminders for unpaid invoices, and credit card payments. And honestly, that may be more than enough for your particular business. Plus, if you’re already relying on Square for your small-business financial needs, you can easily access more in-depth financial features in your Square online account.

But even if you’re already pairing Square Invoices with a more complete solution like Square Point of Sale, it really comes down to how often you invoice your customers—since transaction fees are even steeper with Square Invoices. The regular tap, swipe, and dip transaction fee for Square Point of Sale is 2.6% + 10¢. With Square Invoices, it’s a 2.9% + 30¢ fee. That fee increases further to 3.5% + $0.15 if you choose to keep the customer payment information on file.

Square Payroll: Best for any staff setup

Strengths
Pro Bullet Intuitive interface
Pro Bullet Flexible pricing
Pro Bullet QuickBooks and time card integration
Weaknesses
Con Bullet Limited payroll types
Con Bullet No free trial
Con Bullet Complaints of slow direct deposits
2020 payroll update

Square Payroll used to be available to only a limited number of states, but it recently rolled out payroll support in all 50 states. Now you can utilize Square’s payroll services no matter where you live in the US.

As an advanced payroll processing software, Square Payroll checks all the boxes for paying your staff. It not only processes payments but also offers online accounts for each team member. Whether salaried, hourly, or otherwise, employees and contractors can quickly set up direct deposit, clock in and out using Square’s POS app, and import time cards automatically.

Square Payroll aims to save business owners time with its payroll system by offering a clean and easy-to-use setup wizard. The site guides you from screen to screen, asking questions about your business and what type of payroll you require. After signing up for its services with just a few clicks, you’ll have access to an abundance of payroll services, including imported time cards, online accounts for team members, sick leave tracking, paid time off tracking, workers compensation, and more.

Perhaps its shining feature is its employee payroll compliance. It’ll handle your W-2 employee withholdings and even file your payroll taxes at no additional cost.

Unlike competitors, Square Payroll offers flexible pricing. Its contractor-only option is priced at an affordable $5 per contractor per month. If you have full-time employees, expect to pay $29 per month plus $5 per team member or contractor per month.

Plan
Starting price per month
Find more info

Contractors only

$5 per contractor

Learn More

Employees and contractors

$29 subscription + $5 per employee or contractor

Learn More

Although Square makes payroll quick and easy, we did find one downside. Currently, Square’s employee and contractor online payroll service is available in only 38 states. But if you need just its contractor-only payroll service, you’re in luck. It’s available in all 50 states.

FAQs about Square

Still have questions? For more information, find the answers to frequently asked questions below.

Does Square have third-party integrations?

Square is one of the most versatile merchant services on the market. From accounting and bookkeeping to inventory management and employee schedule management, Square seamlessly integrates with a variety of third-party apps.

Is Square better than PayPal?

Square and PayPal have solutions to fit different businesses and needs. Square offers no restrictions on typical in-store transactions, which is important for high-volume merchants. However, PayPal tends to have the advantage in terms of processing rates, customer service, and payment channels. Take a closer look at the differences between Square and PayPal.

Does Square do more than POS and mobile credit card readers?

Square provides a myriad of robust tools and services for all types of businesses, both large and small. Along with the services we mentioned above, Square users have access to analytics of sales, customer spending habits, in-depth reporting, appointment setting, employee management, and more. So it’s no secret why Square has helped millions of merchants successfully run their business.

Who benefits the most from Square?

While Square benefits businesses of all sizes, it’s most beneficial for merchants who have less than $10,000 in swiped transactions per month.

What should you know about Square?

Before you sign up for the platform, take a minute to get to know the company:

  • Customer service: Square’s customer support consists of live phone support during weekdays and business hours. Not a big phone talker? Send them a quick note through email or social media.
  • Consumer feedback: The primary complaint on the BBB website is Square’s lack of live support and terminated accounts. In its General Terms of Service, Square states it can “suspend or terminate your Square Account or your access to any Service, at any time for any reason.”2 Keep in mind that Square is continuously working to improve its customer service and policies.
  • History: Square has come a long way in the past nine years. In fact, Square’s stock has more than quadrupled over the past two years.3 The dominant company revolutionized payment processing with its portable, pocket-sized credit card processing system. Previously, business owners struggled with the cost and complexities of credit card processing. Today, Square aims to solve small-business challenges while being a breeze to use.

The takeaway

Running a business is no easy feat. If you want a simple and affordable all-in-one solution for helping your business succeed, consider the popular Square platform. But depending on your business’s needs, another popular merchant account may be the right one for you.

Want to check out the other options? Stop by our guides to the best point-of-sale and payroll services for businesses to see how Square compares to the competition.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources
1. J. Clement, The Statistics Portal, “Number of Mobile Payment Users Accessing Selected Leading Payment Apps in the United States as of July 2017 (in Millions),” Nov 20, 2019. Accessed November 2, 2020.
2. Square, “General Terms of Service,” December 10, 2019. Accessed November 2, 2020.
3. Nasdaq, “Square Inc Weebly Buy Could Be Red Flag on International Revenue Streams,” April 30, 2018. Accessed November 2, 2020.

Business.org Staff Writer
Written by
Business.org Staff Writer
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