How Much Does Square Charge?
Square (read our review) gets a lot of love from merchants because of its clear, affordable pricing. In the past, the company gained fame for charging a flat 2.75% per transaction, regardless of card type. It looks like those days are over, however. As of September 2019 (or November 2019 if you had an existing account prior to September), Square has moved to a more complex fee structure for its free POS and mobile readers. The new fee, 2.6% + $0.10, will flatten the costs of transactions somewhat, making small ones more expensive and large ones less so. Pricing Square for your business can be slightly more complicated than you’d expect, given the wide range of services the company offers merchants. So how much does Square charge?
That honestly depends on what you plan to do with Square. Are you only processing transactions in person? Do you sell online? Do you use the virtual terminal or card-on-file features? Do you want any of the software add-ons?
Square’s Service Pricing
|Free App & Reader||Square eCommerce||Square for Retail||Square for Restaurants|
|Get Started||Get Started||Get Started||Get Started|
|Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android||Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization||Specialized software for more complex retail stores||Specialized software for full-service restaurants|
|Always Free||Always Free||Free Trial||Free Trial|
We’ll get into the complexities of Square’s pricing here in a moment, but first, here are a few things to keep in mind about Square’s payment processing:
- Square charges the same rate for all types of cards, including American Express. While this means you pay a bigger markup over interchange for your typical Mastercard or Visa card, it also means you save money on American Express and many business/rewards cards.
- Square is a third-party payments processor. That means it aggregates everyone’s accounts into one giant merchant account. It’s super easy to sign up, but as a tradeoff, you face a slightly higher risk of an account hold or termination and greater scrutiny after you’ve set up your account and started taking payments.
- Square deducts its fees from the total value of your transaction — including tax and tip. The fees are deducted before the funds ever hit your bank account (instead of deducting an entire month’s worth of fees at once).
- In the US, Square processes debit cards the same as credit cards. There is no PIN debit option. However, Canadian merchants using Square can accept Interac debit transactions.
Table of Contents
Square Fees By Transaction Type
Depending on where the transaction takes place/the type of transaction, you could pay one of four rates with Square:
- 2.5% + $0.10
- 2.6%+ $0.10
- 2.9% + $0.30
- 3.5% + $0.15
I’m not going to go into heavy number crunching here. If you want to learn how to calculate your fees, I recommend checking out the cost comparison article, Is Square Really the Cheapest Processor for Your Business? That will show you how to calculate your fees as well as show you how well Square stacks up against an interchange-plus pricing plan.
For now, though, let’s look at what you’ll pay for Square’s services under a few different circumstances.
Square’s fees for in-person transactions are the most complex of Square’s costs, mostly due to the new hardware and software the company has introduced over the past couple of years. So your transaction costs depend on which of Square’s POS software options you choose, as well as the hardware.
If you use Square Point of Sale on a smartphone or tablet with a mobile card reader, you’ll pay the standard 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction. As previously mentioned, the rate had been a flat 2.75% for all transactions. For the curious, Square explains the move as an attempt to closer reflect the fixed and variable fees they pay to banks and credit card companies, rather than simply having a variable fee. Whether this change is good or bad depends on the size and volume of the transactions you’re making. For transactions under $66.67, you’ll be paying more. For those above $66.67, you’ll be paying less.
- Square Register: 2.5% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction for accounts purchased before August 20, 2019.
- Square Terminal: 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction
Pricing for Square’s other point of sale apps — specifically, Square Appointments for teams, Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants — is also different from the Square Point of Sale app with a mobile reader.
- Square Appointments For Teams: 2.5% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction (2.6% + $0.10 for individual users)
- Square For Retail: 2.5% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction (2.6% + $0.10 for expired subscriptions)
- Square For Restaurants: 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction
One thing I do want to point out is that merchants who have very small average transactions (under $15) get the best value using Square Point of Sale with mobile card readers. The alternative pricing — 2.5% or 2.6% + $0.10 — is actually more favorable to merchants who process larger transactions, upwards of $40 or $50.
Square does offer its own online store, but it also integrates with various eCommerce software. In either case, you’re going to pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, which is pretty standard. It’s the same rate charged by PayPal, Stripe, and even Authorize.net. This includes all of the following online transactions:
- eCommerce transactions
- eCommerce Card on File
If you do opt for eCommerce software, keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay the monthly subscription costs charged by the software provider. Square doesn’t charge anything beyond transaction fees to integrate with a third-party provider. This also applies to the eCommerce API if you integrate Square Payments into a custom setup.
Other Card-Not-Present Transactions
The last category of transactions I want to talk about is Card Not Present (CNP) transactions, for which Square charges 3.5% + $0.15. Having the ability to keep the card on file and set up recurring invoicing can definitely be an asset for some kinds of business, especially in the B2B space. Others may not make full use of these:
- Keyed Transactions
- Card on File
- Virtual Terminal
The higher cost comes from the greater perceived risk associated with the transaction — because no card reader is involved, the possibility that the transaction could be fraudulent is greater. Generally speaking, it’s a good practice to keep keyed transactions to a minimum. If you opt to use the Card on File feature, make sure you get the authorization from your customers to store their information.
Additional Fees For Using Square
How much does Square charge for all of its administrative services? Normally, this is where I’d go on about any additional fees: PCI compliance, chargebacks, etc. However, I’m just going to take a direct quote from Square’s Help Center to explain:
- No hidden fees! There are no fees for:
- Downloading the Square Point of Sale app
- Chargebacks and Dispute Management
- Square Support
- Advanced reporting tools
- Account inactivity
- PCI compliance
- Account takeover protection
- End-to-end encrypted payments
- Active fraud prevention
- Next-business-day deposits
- Free Square Reader for magstripe
- Early termination
Seriously, that’s a pretty awesome deal for most merchants. Almost every other merchant will still charge you fees for a refund, at the very least. Most will charge you a fee for a chargeback, as well — usually $15-$25 on top of what’s deducted to cover the transaction.
Square even offers $250 per month in chargeback protection. This only applies to qualified transactions, however. But if you do encounter a chargeback and it does fall under the requirements, Square will cover the cost, meaning it won’t deduct anything from your account.
There is one circumstance under which you might pay an extra fee, and it’s entirely optional. Square deposits most funds in your account within 48 hours. However, if you need your money sooner, you can opt for a scheduled deposit or instant deposit. It’ll cost you 1% of the transfer value, so if you transfer $250, you will pay $2.50, leaving you with $247.50.
In theory, you can get your money almost as soon as you make the request. However, actual processing times still depend on your bank. Square can initiate the transfer, but your bank may still take hours or a day to post. Having a bank that processes transfers quickly is definitely an advantage. I’d like to think by this point that most banks have the infrastructure to handle these payments, but there might be a few exceptions.
Add-On Services For Square Merchants
So we’ve now covered what you’d pay for your typical Square transaction as well as the supplemental fees (more specifically, the lack thereof). There’s one more category of potential costs to explore, and that’s software add-ons.
You get a lot with the basic, free Square Point of Sale app, but you can get even more with the software add-ons, with anything from appointment booking to email marketing, as well as some premium iPad-based POS systems.
I encourage you to check out our Square review and our Square Point of Sale review for a more detailed look at the Point of Sale app and other Square features. Keep in mind that Square has a very comprehensive list of features. Two topics we won’t get into here are Square Capital, its merchant financing option, and Square Cash, a P2P wallet app that also works for merchants.
Square For Retail: Starting At $60 Per Month
Square’s search-focused, inventory-heavy POS app, Square for Retail, is designed with brick and mortar stores. It supports barcode printing and scanning, as well as vendor management and purchase orders. You can receive inventory from within the app — no need to manually update the counts. The POS app also includes employee management features at no additional charge and no limits on the number of employees. Square for Retail is an iPad exclusive, with subscription costs starting at $60/month for a single register at 1 location. The first register at each additional location is another $60/month. Additional registers at a location cost $20/month each. Additionally, transactions process at 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction, meaning merchants with a transaction size greater than $40 will save money with this marginally lower rate.
Square For Restaurants: Starting At $60 Per Month
Square for Restaurant is Square’s iPad POS targeting full-service restaurants, bars, and other eateries. The POS app includes restaurant layouts for table management, menu creation and coursing, and a host of other features, including customization in the overall layout. Again, Square includes its employee management features at no additional charge, as well as advanced inventory and an offline mode. Square for Restaurant pricing starts at $60/month for one point of sale at a location; additional devices at a location are $40/month each. However, you can use Square Terminal devices as an extension of the Restaurants app with no additional monthly charge. You just won’t be able to access all of Square for Restaurants’ features. Card transactions process at the now-standard Square rate of 2.6% + $0.10.
Appointments: Starting at $0 per month
If you run a salon or other appointment-based business, Square Appointments is an iOS-exclusive app for scheduling and taking payments for services as well as retail items. It also includes a free scheduling website and calendar syncing for you and your employees, as well as employee management. The Appointments app is free for individuals, with transaction processing at the 2.6% + $0.10 rate. Square Appointments for teams starts at $50/month, with transactions processing at 2.5% + $0.10.
Team Management: Starting At Free
Team management is Square’s timekeeping add-on. It also supports user permissions so that you can restrict access to certain features as necessary. The permission levels are customizable, too, so you’re not locked into specific roles and abilities; just be aware that the free version only supports one set of permissions. Employee management includes a tip reconciliation feature and is included at no extra charge in Square for Retail.
The Team Plus version, with more advanced features, is $35/month per location, but there’s a 30-day free trial available if you’re curious. It supports multiple wage rates, sales reporting, and sales reporting.
Payroll: $29 per month + $5 per employee
Payroll isn’t available in every state yet, but it’s getting very, very close. For a $29 monthly base subscription plus $5 per employee per month, you’ll get timekeeping, direct deposit, records of time off and sick days, payroll tax filing, workers comp and more. Square supports hourly wages, salaries, and flat payments, too. There’s also a contractors-only plan that simply costs $5 per month per contractor, with no monthly subscription required.
It’s worth noting that while you do get timekeeping with Payroll, you don’t get the other Employee Management features, such as permissions settings. For that, you’ll have to subscribe to both services.
Loyalty: Starting At $45 Per Month
Square places its loyalty program under the umbrella of “customer engagement” along with marketing and customer feedback, so it’s all very integrated. Square’s digital loyalty program lets you reward customers for repeat visits. The rewards scheme is customizable, so you can select the rewards and set the parameters to earn them, as well as giving names to the reward scheme itself. The whole system runs from within the Point of Sale app. Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail also support Square’s loyalty program.
Marketing: Starting At $15 Per Month
Square’s customer engagement tools include a customer database, which you can use to get feedback, as well as send out marketing emails. With the customer database integration, you can keep records of what customers buy (and when), and then use that information to target customers with specific recommendations or special offers. Pricing starts at $15/month and scales according to the number of loyalty visits per location.
One of the reasons Square is so well regarded at Merchant Maverick, and why it’s so popular with merchants, is that the company makes it very easy to figure out exactly what you’re paying. There are no hidden fees or additional costs apart from processing fees and optional software. That said, the new pricing scheme, while still competitive, will hit businesses that rely on lots of small transactions pretty hard. If that describes your business, check and make sure Square is still the best option for you.
If you’re new to Square and trying to figure out how much Square is going to cost you, all of the numbers can seem overwhelming. Start by figuring out which of Square’s services you’ll actually use regularly — specifically, for online and in-person sales. Invoices might make up a significant portion of your sales too. You don’t really need to worry about estimating keyed entry and other less-common transactions; just plan for some transactions to cost a little bit more. The software costs are also predictable.
Don’t forget to check out our Square review to see if Square is really a good fit for you. If you have more questions about Square, feel free to post them below! We’re always here to help.