Nowadays, we all expect to be able to pay for goods and services by credit or debit card, no matter how small the sum. Small businesses have long since been aware of the need to cater to their customer’s needs and keep up with their expectations – and now they expect to be able to make payment in the way they want.
Many new merchants services providers – the companies which allow retailers to take card payments – have sprung up in recent years to service this demand with a range of stylish contactless payment processors -one of the biggest suppliers of these in the UK is Square.
Local shops and self-employed workers have previously been averse to investing in cumbersome till systems and signing up to expensive rental charge contract. But, in the past few years, the market has rapidly developed with the incorporation of contactless POS systems used in sync with their equivalent apps.
Square is a Californian based company with offices worldwide including London.
Founded on the belief that everyone should be able to participate and thrive in the new digital economy, they champion small businesses and supply them with the financial tools to help them succeed. Centred around their card reader product, Square have developed their product offering further to include software to transfer funds and a platform on which you can build your eCommerce website.
Are you looking for merchant services to help develop your business? Simply fill in our form at the top of the page and we will put you in touch with 3 to 4 of the most relevant providers in the marketplace to gather the necessary information. Our service is completely free and carries no obligation.
In this article, we look at Square and their current available services to UK businesses including:
- what does Square charge for its services and available plans
- card payment machine options and which is best for your business
- what types of payments Square accepts and costs
- Square’s online selling platform
|Machine name||Square Reader||Square Terminal|
|Accounting opening and set-up||Free|
|Postage and packing||Free|
|Cardholder not present payments||2.5%|
|Cost per chargeback||£0|
|Monthly sales targets||£0|
|Monthly subscription cost||Free|
|Settlement window||Next working day|
|Transaction charge on payments||1.75%|
|PCI security||Yes – details here|
Square, Inc is a financial services company operating from San Francisco, CA. It was founded in 2009 by one of the Twitter co-founders and they currently employ over 3,000 employees. The initial product they developed was a square-shaped contactless card reader hence the brand name.
The company have a straightforward concept – a POS system including a chip and pin card reader used in conjunction with the Square hardware and app. They have recently added to their portfolio of services and also offer an easy cash transfer system and an aesthetically pleasing website builder where you can sell your goods online.
Square offer three different equipment packages to businesses wishing to take debit and credit card payments from their customers – below is a summary for you.
No monthly charge
The following services are free when you sign up:
- general account maintenance
- usage of the Square app
Once downloaded onto your smartphone, the Square app is easily paired with the required card reader which allows you to accept contactless chip and pin payments.
The next step up is the Square Terminal – which is your all-in-one device for taking payments and printing receipts for customers.
It offers contactless, chip and pin, magnetic stripe and Apple, Google and Samsung Pay.
What do Square charge when you take a payment?
Similarly to other large providers of contactless POS systems, Square do not charge a monthly fee; this makes it very appealing to small businesses who need to keep outgoings low. It’s also free to sign up, meaning you can progress with your company’s application quickly and easily.
Operating on both iOS and Android, the Square app is user-friendly and streamlined. Its functions include:
- taking payment in person, online, by invoice and over the phone,
- a specialised POS system for restaurants,
- the option to print receipts,
- open tickets and split tenders, alongside
- real-time tracking of your sales.
Square also offer an in-depth support platform where you can find detailed information on troubleshooting topics.
The fees for using Square are:
- 1.75% for each contactless or chip and pin payment,
- 2.5% for each customer-not-present transaction where the details are keyed in, and
- 2.5% for invoices and card on file transactions.
Recording cash, cheques and other tenders are free. Should your business be turning over £250k and above, you are invited to contact the sales team to discuss a tailored plan and discounted fees.
Square pride themselves on their transparency of fees. They do not charge you for setting up an account, early termination, interchange, chargebacks, or refunds; if you account is dormant – no charge is made.
Square’s settlement window
A huge part of the appeal of using the new style of POS systems such as Square is the quick turnaround of money coming from the customer going into your bank account. The settlement window for many of these merchant service providers tends to be a lot shorter than high street banks.
Successful payments completed on the Square platform will be in your account the next business day in one lump sum. This is a real selling point as some similar providers take slightly longer; you can even request the money to be in your account instantly for a fee.
The cards that Square accepts
As you would expect, Square work with the usual widely accepted credit and debit cards. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Visa Electron or Vpay are all approved as well as corporate, prepaid and reward cards. It’s useful to know that Square process all cards with the same standard rate as covered in the table above.
Please note that Discover, JCB or Union Pay cards are currently not supported by Square.
Should it be required, it is possible to process international cards which come under the aforementioned electronic payment systems such as Visa or MasterCard but this is subject to issuer approval.
If your customer has a prepaid gift card, you should ensure they have registered the card before processing.
Square’s card payment machines
Square Reader card payment machine
The original Square chip and pin contactless card reader is an affordable, minimalist and wireless device which allows you to take payments from cards (both contactless and chip and pin) and Apple, Google and Samsung Pay. The only step you need to initially take is to download the app to your smartphone or tablet and you are ready to go.
White in colour and pocket-sized, the reader weighs just shy of 100 grams. 8cm x 8cm in dimension and 1cm in depth, the reader is aesthetically pleasing with 4 neon orange lights. Packed with a powerful battery, one charge will last you a full day of payment processing. Keep your Reader charged with the available dock which will sit effortlessly on your tabletop.
You know how contactless payments work and this reader is no different. However, if the amount is over £30 and the customer is required to use chip and pin, you simply insert the card into the top of the device and the customer enters their pin code on your smartphone or tablet which has been linked to the reader.
Contactless transactions should successfully complete in just a few seconds. Chip and pin usually takes approximately 10 seconds, as will magstripe cards.
The Square Reader costs £19 + VAT. The separate charging dock is available for £19 + VAT,
Link to Square Reader card payment machine.
Square Terminal card payment machine
The Square Terminal is an all-in-one device suitable for taking payments, printing receipts and managing day to day running of your business. It’s an impressive bit of kit with a minimalist design guaranteed to look the part on your payment desk.
Accepting contactless, mobile and chip and pin transactions as standard, the added bonus of the Square Terminal is the built-in receipt printer – saving you space and eliminating unnecessary clutter. It can be plugged into a power source or alternatively charged and used cordlessly with a long life battery – one charge is more than enough to last all day, just make sure you stock up on receipt roll.
The Square Terminal costs £199 + VAT. Standard delivery is free, but if you need it quicker, expedited delivery is available for a speedier start.
Link to Square Terminal card payment machine.
Square’s card payment machine guarantees and warranties
Square hardware is covered by a limited 1-year warranty. If something goes wrong with the hardware, you can return it directly for a full refund. Check the full terms and conditions here.
If you experience problems with any Square Stand accessories, the team welcome your submitted warranty claim in order to assist you.
As Square offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, you are able to shop worry free. The goods must be returned in original packaging and complete with your original order. If you ordered from a third party website, you’ll have to check their returns policy separately. Once Square has received the goods back, you will be refunded in full within 7 business days.
Delivery charges for Square hardware are free as standard. Quicker delivery is available at an additional cost.
Other types of payment Square accepts
Customers can pay their invoices
Square has the ability to create and send custom invoices which, in turn, gives you more time to focus on growing your business even more. Using the app, it’s possible to format and send professional invoices, email detailed estimates to prospective customers, add attachments and receipts and much more. You can keep track of already sent invoices and the status of payments, as well as scheduled reoccurring invoices for regular clients.
Take payments over the phone
Although primarily used for face to face or online payments, there is still the option for your customers to pay by phone. Either by creating a new profile for your customer effortlessly or taking advantage of the secure data storage for card information, the transaction is able to be completed in no time.
What is the Square app like?
Containing a powerful set of technological tools, the Square app is multi-functional and convenient. With the options to customise specifically for your business, whether that be a dog grooming salon or a coffee bar, you can streamline your finances with a few taps.
The free download of the app is suitable for both Apple and Android users. As long as you have a smartphone or tablet, you can take advantage of features such as digital receipts, private feedback from clients and a straightforward method of managing your stock inventory.
For those using Square in the food industry, it’s possible to open tabs and split the bill – in any which way required by the customer and it’s easy to do this thanks to the customised table plans.
Square is dedicated to building upon their continued success and stay ahead of the curve. You should make sure your company is up to date with the latest free updates of the app, installed automatically to keep your system glitch-free.
Do Square do a POS system?
Square’s POS system is an all in one based platform which allows you primarily to take payments in all the ways discussed above, print receipts and keep a keen eye on daily sales and targets.
You are also able to manage staff log-ins and it requires very little training. The system itself has been designed so you almost already know how to use it – it’s intuitive. Another great benefit of the system is the ability to monitor multiple sites – if required – with the Location Management tool. Sign into your account from any device or computer for a real-time breakdown of takings.
Link to Square’s POS systems.
Are you in the food business? Square for Restaurants is a purpose-built POS platform enabling your company seamless flow from taking orders, to back of house management and of course, payments. It includes custom made floor plans for easy governance of covers, to order entry, and even the capacity to place takeaway orders online.
The platform has the capacity to manage menus, track food availability in real-time to avoid any awkward conversations when something sells out, and even set up happy hour discounts.
Link to Square restaurant POS system.
The Square POS system is hardworking hardware.
Effortlessly broken down into 3 options, the Square Reader is a hugely affordable £19+VAT and is suitable to use with a smartphone or tablet. It has a flat rate of 1.75% per transaction and no monthly cost – perfect for start-ups and smaller shops.
For something a little more advanced, the Square Terminal at £199+VAT is a fantastic choice. It looks modern and sleek and it’s small in size but mighty in ability. Containing tools to manage stock, take payment and print receipts – with expert security built-in as standard so your data stays safe.
Another option to consider is the Square Stand – working with your iPad to create a complete POS system to be used with the Square app. The charging dock is included as is a USB hub, so all that’s left to do is add a receipt printer and cash drawer if needed.
Link to Square POS hardware.
Can I use Square to sell online?
As with most of the POS merchant services, Square provide a free online store building platform too. Selling online is a huge part of today’s commerce and, with Square, you can launch your website quickly without a monthly contract.
With the ability to sync in-store products and your online inventory, Square offers an efficient solution for eCommerce development. You needn’t have sold online before to be able to quickly get up to speed with a beautifully designed webstore; there are various layouts available meaning you can choose the best fit for you.
Square does offer a handy link to Shopping on Instagram – meaning your customers can browse on social media then pay securely on your site.
Even if you don’t want an online store, the web element of the platform allows you to maximise business exposure and find new clients. They can pay for services online and pick up in store, or for food vendors, takeaway orders can be submitted ready to be prepped in the kitchen.
Square versus the rest
Please see below for a clear comparison of the top 5 providers in the UK currently.
|Provider name||Monthly fee?||Transaction fees?|
|Square||Free for standard package, (£9/mo Professional, £19/mo Performance, £54/mo Premium – packages relevant to eCommerce plans)||1.75% (2.5% per transaction, 2.25% per transaction if on Premium plan)|
|Square||Free||1.75% (2.5% e-commerce)|
|PayPal||Free||1% to 2.75%|
However, please note that PayPal offer a rate of 1.5% if you turn over more than £6,000 in a month making it slightly cheaper than Square’s offering. Square also offer discount if you choose to pay annually as opposed to month-to-month. Please click here for further information.
Square – in summary
Square offers a fantastic platform for those in the UK with small or independent businesses. They offer the chance for customers to pay via contactless means or credit or debit card. This shift in the market has been guided by what the consumers want and merchants need to stay ahead of this wave.
Convenience is king in today’s marketplace and, to succeed, you need to make your products as accessible as possible. Square offers some fantastic tools in order for you to do this; from their elegant card readers or complete POS till system, to their eCommerce features and marketing insights available on the app.
Square is not the only company in this arena and you may find a different provider can facilitate your needs better. We would recommend researching your options and making a thoroughly informed decision which you know will benefit your business comprehensively.
Would you like some help in finding the best merchant service account for your growing company? Simply fill out the above form so we can assess your needs and put you in touch with up to 4 options. Our service is completely free and you are under no obligation to take out an account after the recommendations.