How To Accept Online Payments With Square
When you are ready to start selling online, Square (read our review) offers a wide variety of options depending on your skill level and needs. For example, if time is of the essence or you don’t want to fuss with code, build a free online store from Square’s templates and get up and running by the end of the day.
Already have a site? Choose a plugin integration from the Square Dashboard that solves your problem — without the need for code.
But those aren’t all of your options. If you do have developer expertise, you can build your checkout flow with Square Transactions API and start accepting all major credit cards with digital wallet support, too. Square Checkout is yet another developer option that requires less coding with a pre-built payment form and digital wallet support.
In this post, we’ll explore each path so that you can get the facts and navigate to the choices right for you. Before you know it, you’ll have launched your own online store and can move on to more exciting business matters.
Note: If you’re also curious about in-store payments, check out our related post, How To Use Square To Accept Credit Cards In Person.
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Table of Contents
- How Much Does Square Charge For Online Payments?
- Option 1: Build A Free Square Online Store
- Option 2: Connect Square To An eCommerce Platform
- Option 3: Build Your Own Checkout With Square APIs
- Other Ways To Accept Online Payments With Square
- Is Square Online Payments Right For You?
How Much Does Square Charge For Online Payments?
The cost question can be a very loaded one when it comes to payment processing. The great news is that Square offers a transparent pricing model.
To process credit cards online with Square, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. The significant thing to note is that this flat fee encompasses much more than is typical with traditional merchant accounts. For instance, you don’t need to worry about a payment gateway (and the expenses that go with it) when you process through Square. Read on below to learn the differences between Square and a traditional merchant account — and why they matter.
Traditional Merchant Account Vs. Square
Square’s hardware and services encompass an end-to-end processing system that captures payment information and encrypts it through the payment chain with no need for a separate payment gateway.
What this means for you is cost-savings compared to a traditional merchant account. You won’t be paying initial set-up fees, PCI compliance fees, monthly account fees, batch fees, or higher rates for processing cards like American Express. Square also doesn’t assess any chargeback fees and offers merchants up to $250/month in chargeback protection. All of this is a pretty big deal because Square spares business owners from the laundry list of itemized charges that can come with traditional merchant accounts.
So if Square isn’t a traditional merchant account, what is it? Square is a third party processor. This means that instead of opening a merchant account directly, you are basically a sub-user on Square’s giant merchant account, along with all of Square’s other customers. Square acts as a payment processor and also assumes the financial risk associated with your business to do so. The whole premise behind Square is that it makes setting up a shop very easy for the busy entrepreneur. In fact, you can get an account set up and running to take payment the very same day. The Square sign-up process doesn’t even require a credit check!
While you don’t need to jump through a lot of hoops to open up an account with Square (as you would working directly with a bank), Square is more apt to terminate or put a hold on an account if certain red flags are raised. While the overwhelming majority of businesses will never have a problem with an account hold, it can be disconcerting if it happens to you. Check out our post How to Avoid Merchant Account Holds, Freezes, and Terminations to find out more. Again, most merchants will likely never have to face this issue, but it helps to cover your bases.
Now that we have covered Square Payments as a third party processor and the cost of processing, let’s dig into Square’s offerings when it comes to going live and selling online.
Option 1: Build A Free Square Online Store
As I said in the introduction, you can get a free Square store up and running today with no technical expertise needed. This whole process is powered by Square Payments and Weebly (read our review). After creating a Square account, you can go back into your dashboard and select “Online Store” in the menu. Then, Square leads you through the process of selecting the categories that most closely apply to your business. You’ll get a suggested template, but you can choose a different one if you fancy another one better. You can also add your logo, choose from limited fonts, and have some color choices, but overall the design freedom here is limited to the template itself.
Again, for being free, there isn’t much to complain about. A Square store is the simplest solution to get your shop up and running. All you need to do is add your products — your eCommerce shop syncs with Square POS and all of the other Square software and tools. Your inventory automatically updates when you sell an item, too.
One potential drawback to the freemium option, however, is that you are bound to the Weebly logo in your domain name and the footer of your website, and your shipping options are minimal. The screenshot below shows the shipping options available when setting up the free Square store with Weebly. Note that you must upgrade your Weebly plan to calculate real-time shipping rates:
If you want a bit more customization and dynamic shipping calculations (among other upgrades), you can purchase a domain and upgrade to a professional or premium account through Weebly.
Square Online Store Upgrade Options
The free online store option, although robust in its own way, limits you a bit. As you can see from above, for example, if your company relies heavily on shipping items with large size or weight ranges, it may be worth it to you to go to the Premium eCommerce plan for the real-time shipping rate calculator and accurate rates for UPS, FedEx, or other third party carriers.
The free store also has a 500 MB storage space limit, which could limit the number of photos on your site. The paid tiers give you a considerable upgrade with unlimited space, along with website analytics and insights.
As far as accepting payment goes, you can accept all major credit cards. Digital wallets like Apple Pay are not supported at this time, but I suspect they will be soon. For more about the pros and cons of this solution, check out our Square Online Store and eCommerce Review.
Option 2: Connect Square To An eCommerce Platform
Whether you already have your site up and running or you are building your site from the ground up (or somewhere in between), you can probably find what you need in the Square App Marketplace. Square integrates with many eCommerce platforms, including:
- 3dcart (read our review)
- Wix (read our review)
- BigCommerce (read our review)
- WooCommerce (read our review)
- Ecwid (read our review)
And of course — let’s not forget that Square also integrates with Weebly, as well as WordPress and WP EasyCart.
On the topic of app integrations and Square, it’s worth noting that Square can easily integrate with a range of different types of apps that you can shop for right from your dashboard. You can find everything from accounting to invoicing, employee management, loyalty and rewards, and marketing, to name a few. Pricing depends entirely on the apps themselves, but the Square App Marketplace is set up to compare costs easily.
All of Square’s basic eCommerce features integrate with these apps, so you’ll be able to enjoy the same payment processing rates, security protection, and inventory updates as you sell. Of course, each app platform has specific features and benefits, so the finished product (and look) varies depending on the integrated solution you choose. Check out The Best eCommerce Integrations That Work With Square Payments for our top picks!
Option 3: Build Your Own Checkout With Square APIs
If you already have your own site and you have developer expertise, then you have two more options thanks to Square API: Square Checkout and Transactions API. The most significant difference between the two is that Square Checkout is much closer to an out-of-the-box solution. With Square Checkout, Square is actually hosting the payment form, and the UI is already done for you. If you want more freedom in the checkout and payment UI and you want to host the payment form on your site with customized branding, you can opt for Square Transactions API.
Here is a handy side-by-side comparison chart to give you an overview of what you can expect with each solution. Note: All Square APIs and SDKs are free to use. As always, you pay only the payment processing fees.
|Square Checkout||Feature||Square Transactions API|
|Yes||Requires Developer Support||Yes|
|Yes||Square Hosted||No (You host)|
|Yes||Store Customer Data||Yes (With integration)|
|No||Card on File & Recurring Payments||Yes (With integration)|
|Yes (Customer data|
|Detailed Dashboard Reports||No (Transaction|
|SSL Needed||Yes, with|
|Yes||Eligible for Chargeback Protection||Yes (with conditions)|
|Yes||PCI Compliance Included||Yes|
|Yes||Itemization||Yes, with Orders API|
|No||Dynamic Shipping Calculations||No|
|Yes||Accept Google Pay||Yes|
|Yes||Accept Apple Pay||Yes|
|Yes||Accept All Major Credit Cards||Yes|
|Yes||Inventory Syncing||Yes, with Inventory API|
The choice between Square API and Transactions API largely depends on your particular needs and what you find most important in the customer journey.
Other Ways To Accept Online Payments With Square
Though we have explored several options in Square payments, there are yet a few more to keep in mind. Before we go on, it’s worth mentioning that you can’t add an embeddable “Buy Now” button to any site like you can with PayPal or even Shopify. However, there are still ways to take payments online — even without a website! Let’s check out the last two ways you can take payments via Square from your customer online — through invoices and in-app payments.
You don’t need an online store to send and collect payment from your customers if you use invoices. Square allows you to send one-off invoices for single orders, or to set up recurring invoices for subscriptions or even installments. It’s easy to track the status of invoices and follow up right from your Square Dashboard, too. Want more info on invoices? Check out How To Use Square Invoices To Ensure You Get Paid On Time so you can leverage this option for your business.
With all the cash being exchanged through in-app purchases, it was only a matter of time before Square decided to join the party. That’s right; now Square offers in-app payment support with a few lines of code! You can update elements to match your app’s style and have the freedom to customize the look and feel however you want. It’s all in Square’s Transaction APIs and completely free for you to use with your Square account.
Is Square Online Payments Right For You?
Square offers solutions for both the tech-savvy and those who want something ready to run out of the box. With that being said, the more appropriate question is, “Which of Square Online Payment solutions are right for you?” And that answer comes down to your needs. From a quick-to-set up Square Store to Transaction APIs that are customizable and free to us, or plug-ins apps that add eCommerce to your existing site, there are many solutions to choose.
Keep in mind that you can add or subtract Square’s services and other integrations to scale up or down with you as needed, so you don’t have to make a final decision today. Setting up a Square account is the first step to get the ball rolling and see the options along the way. With no sign-up fees, binding contracts, or credit checks, Square is one of the least intimating companies to deal with if you are just checking things out.