The Complete Guide To Buying A Free Square Reader
If you’re wondering about the free Square reader, there are a few things you need to know before deciding to use it in your shop. We don’t recommend thinking of the free magstripe reader as a long-term credit card reader for certain types of businesses, and we’ll tell you why in this post.
Even still, Square’s magstripe reader has some great benefits. It’s an easy-to-use and portable reader that never needs a charge for one thing! In this post, I’ll show you where you can get your free Square card reader. You’ll also find out how the little magstripe reader compares with the other available options for Square card readers so that you end up with exactly what you need for your shop.
Table of Contents
Square Card Readers: Get To Know Your Options
You may just be here for the free Square card reader, but before you choose it as the credit card processing equipment for your shop, keep reading below. Next, you’ll find out what other types of credit card readers Square offers that, while not free, are competitively priced at least.
Free Square Reader
Square offers a free magstripe reader to all new merchants, and it’s only $10 to buy full price if you need more. The reader comes with a lightning port connector or a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Square Reader for Magstripe is compatible with most Apple products and Android devices. However, we recommend that, when in doubt, you use the drop-down device compatibility menu that Square provides you just to make sure yours is on the list.
What To Consider Before Choosing The Free Square Reader
One of the best things about this reader is that it never needs a charge, and it’s small and easy to take wherever you go. The free reader’s downside is that it processes a credit card using the magstripe vs. the chip or contactless part of the credit card.
These types of credit card readers offer less protection to a merchant in the event of a stolen or fraudulent credit card. Because of the EMV liability shift, you’re stuck eating the loss in these cases. That’s why we recommend upgrading to the Square Contactless and Chip Reader, especially for businesses that sell higher-ticket items.
Square Contactless + Chip Reader
The Square Reader for contactless and chip is also an option as you sign up for your free Square account. Yes, you will need to shell out $49 for the Square Contactless & Chip Reader, but you’ll also get the free magstripe reader too! Going from free to $49 may seem like a big jump, but here are a few things worth considering:
- Digital Payments: With the contactless and chip reader, you can start taking digital wallet payments, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
- EMV Chip Reader: The key difference between the magstripe reader and the contactless and chip reader, of course, is that you’ll read the EMV chip on the credit card by dipping instead of swiping. Why does this matter? See my next point.
- Fraud & Chargeback Protection: The digital wallet and EMV reader cover you more effectively from the risk of chargebacks and fraud than the magstripe reader does. Some business owners aren’t aware of this liability shift that happened a few years back. If you sell high-ticket items, it could be a good reason to opt for the contactless and chip reader.
Another option if you are thinking about a more all-in-one device is the Square Terminal for $299. Dip, swipe, or tap a customer’s card to take their payment, navigate on the larger screen, and print your customer a receipt from this device.
To learn more about this reader, check out our Square Terminal review.
Where To Buy Your Free Square Reader
Are you looking for that sweet promise of a Square free card reader? If so, you might be wondering where to buy your free Square reader from. The answer: You can get your free swiper from Square directly when you set up an account. You can also purchase the Square reader through an approved vendor and get an account credit from Square for the price of the reader!
How To Get A Free Square Reader From Square Directly
If you’re wondering how to get a free Square reader, I can assure you it’s very simple. In a few short steps, you could have your free Square credit card swiper on the way directly from Square itself.
Step 1 — Create A Square Account: Creating a Square account is very easy. You just hit the “Get Started” button on Square’s site, and the process begins with adding your email.
Step 3 — Answer Questions About Your Business: Next, Square asks you a few more questions about your business, including how you plan to take payments (e.g., online, invoices, brick-and-mortar shop, etc.) Don’t fret about this step too much, as you’ll still have access to all of the features that enable you to do these things with your Square account.
Step 4 — Verify Your Identity: Square does not perform a credit check, but you’ll need to provide your address so that Square can verify who you are. It only takes a few moments for Square to confirm you’re a real person. Then you’re ready to choose your Square reader!
Step 5 — Choose Your Square Reader: If you’re here for the free Square Reader, then go ahead and make the choice with the correct connection. Choose either the headset jack or lightning connector. As mentioned above, we encourage you to consider the contactless and chip reader if your business sells higher-ticket items so that you’re better protected, but it’s up to you!
Step 6 — Connect Your Square Reader For The First Time: Using the reader for the first time is easy. You simply plug it in, open the Square POS app on your device, and you’re ready to make a sale. When it’s time to swipe, use a swift, smooth motion as you pull the card straight through. That’s all there is to it! You can email your customer a receipt and simultaneously build an email list that Square stores for you while you’re at it.
We have a detailed How To Set Up A Free Square Account article that provides a lot of insight for those who want the process to be completely demystified from start to finish.
Other Places To Buy A Square Card Reader
If you’re a new Square seller and purchase a reader from a participating retailer, you’ll get a $10 redemption code. After you redeem the code with Square, they’ll credit your linked bank account. Where do you find a participating retailer? You can plug your zip code into Square’s map and see what comes up. When I entered my email, many options came up, including Target, Best Buy, Walmart, CVS, Office Depot, and Staples.
Square provides a 30-day risk-free return on hardware purchased in the Square Shop. If you do end up purchasing from another retailer, you’ll need to check with the store’s return policies. Square does provide a six-month limited warranty on the reader, but you need to keep the box, cords, and receipt or packing slip.
Some of you may be wondering if you can purchase a Square reader used or even borrow one from a friend. And the answer to that question is, yes! Square readers don’t hold any sort of account data, so you can absolutely swipe with a used reader. However, the warranty only applies to the original purchaser.
Do You Need A Promo Code To Get A Free Square Reader?
Square offers a free Square reader promo code if you purchase from a participating retailer.
It isn’t so much of a promo coupon code as it is an account credit. You’ll need to pay for the reader and then Square credits your linked bank account $10. You shouldn’t be paying more than $10, but we have seen some readers on sale.
If you’re purchasing the reader direction from Square, you do not need a Square reader promo code because the magstripe reader is free to all new Square sellers.
Can’t Afford A Square Chip Card Reader Right Now? Consider Financing
If you see a reader that is better suited for your shop, but you don’t have the funds upfront, Square offers in-house financing for any order that’s $49-$10,000. You can choose the financing option during checkout and see how much your business would pay if you choose three, six, or twelve months or spread payments over two years. We think this is a good option, with a rate that is probably better than financing on a credit card.
Can Your Business Get By With Just A Free Square Reader?
The free Square reader is admittedly a great offer, but don’t let the free deal sway you without digging into the overall processing costs, features, and, ultimately, what you’ll need over the long term to grow your business. Check out our full Square review to find out how we rate Square and what pros and cons to watch out for with this option.
Businesses that have higher-ticket sales should probably avoid taking the Square free reader. We strongly suggest that businesses with higher risks of chargebacks and higher ticket prices go for an EMV compliant reader such as the Square Contactless + Chip Reader so that you can get better protection from fraud and chargebacks.
Smaller-ticket businesses and businesses with a lower chargeback risk are likely not going to have any issues with the reader, but we still suggest putting that EMV chip reader on your radar to get at some point. Overall, the free reader and the robust feature-set that Square offers makes them an excellent value for lower volume small businesses. To read about all of your hardware options with Square, check out The Complete Guide To Choosing Square POS Credit Card Readers & Cash Register Bundles.