How To Use Square Reader
Get started using Square's free magstripe reader for credit card processing. Learn how to use Square and whether it's right for your small business.
One of the most appealing aspects of Square is how easy it is for brand-new sellers or business owners to use. And learning how to use Square Reader, Square’s simplest and most popular piece of hardware, is no exception.
Using Square’s free magstripe reader or its reader for contactless and chip payments is simple for both merchants and customers, but we’ll walk you through the process and let you know your hardware options along with what you can expect to pay in upfront costs and fees. The good news is that, once you’ve set up your free Square account, you can be up and selling in minutes.
Table of Contents
What Is Square Reader?
Square has two popular card readers, the magstripe reader, which is free when you initially sign up for Square and can only take swipe payments, and the reader for contactless and chip payments, which costs $49 and can take chip payments, contactless payments, and payments from Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Square Reader Pricing & Processing Fees
Square offers very transparent pricing when it comes to payment processing. If you use Square point of sale on a smartphone or tablet with a mobile card reader, you’ll pay the standard processing fee of 2.6% + $0.10 per swipe, dip, or tap. And keep in mind that no matter what type of card your customer hands you, Square charges the same fee per transaction.
If, for some reason, you need to key in the credit number, you will pay the 3.5% + $0.15 rate for manually-entered transactions. For Afterpay transactions, the fee is 6% + $0.30 per transaction.
After signing up for a new Square account, you can choose which free Square reader you would like — and Square will ship it directly to you for free. Depending on your device needs, you can choose between the lightning adapter for iOS or the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader. The other option you have is to shell out $49 for the Contactless + Chip Reader.
The free magstripe card reader is great for getting started, but I recommend considering the upgraded Contactless + Chip Reader for improved payment security in processing. (It also offers your customers more ways to pay you.)
How To Use A Square Reader For Mobile Payments
To accept payments with Square, you’ll need a Square reader, a smartphone, and the Square app.
- Step One: Download the Square app. After you have downloaded the Square app, it’s effortless to accept payment with your reader.
- Step Two: Open the app on your device. You will already be on the screen that you need to make a charge.
- Step Three: Find the item. If you have entered inventory into your Items list, find the item and click what you need. The total will automatically update.
- Step Four: Tap the charge button. Tap the Charge button when you’re ready.
- Step Five: Read your customer’s card. Swipe or insert the card or tap your connected reader. You can also manually enter the card number (keyed entry) if necessary.
- Step Six: Ask your customer to sign. Your customer will sign their name, and the sale is complete.
Don’t have a connection? Are you suffering from a spotty connection? Square’s offline mode helps you avoid losing the sale. The app securely saves your customer’s data, and the transaction will process when you connect your device to the internet again (Wi-Fi or cellular connection).
Can You Use A Square Reader With Multiple Devices?
You may be wondering about the possibility of sharing a reader between different devices — or maybe even switching readers.
If you have more than one device, decide to upgrade a device (or reader, for that matter), need to swap a device, or hand your Square Reader to a different team member for them to plug into their phone, you can do so without an issue.
That’s because your account is anchored to your Square POS app, not to a specific reader. When you or your team member signs into the Square POS app, transactions go into the system automatically. You can use the same reader across different accounts, too. So if you have two businesses, or you have more than one Square POS app (such as Square for Retail or Square for Restaurants), the reader works interchangeably with those as well.
Keep in mind that when you choose your reader, you may limit your usage. For example, you can only use the lightning reader with iOS, but the standard 3.5mm headphone jack reader is compatible with multiple devices. Of course, you can always purchase more readers to suit your needs and keep up with a growing team. As long as they are signed in to your Square account, all sales will sync to your account.
Other Square Hardware Options
If you are considering how you can use Square’s countertop POS systems to make business flow, here are your options:
How To Accept Card-Not-Present Payments With Square POS
There may be some situations when you need to take a payment from your customer, and you can’t swipe, dip, or tap the card. Maybe you don’t have your reader with you, or you want to take an order over the phone. Whether the card is physically present or not, if you manually enter the card information, it’s considered a card-not-present transaction.
In the next section, we will lay out the payment processing costs for such transactions. But first, let’s discover the ways you can process a card with Square if you don’t have your reader (or the card) in hand.
Square & Payment Security
Regardless of how you accept a payment — keying in a card, swiping with a magstripe reader, a dip or tap, etc. — Square provides secure and PCI-compliant payment transactions. Square is fully compliant with the latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). And that also means you won’t have to pay additional PCI fees or hire a team to manage ongoing compliance, either.
This out-of-the-box payment security is just one reason why Square is such a powerhouse for the millions of small business owners who trust it.
Is Square’s Credit Card Processing Right For You?
Square offers several solutions for businesses at every stage. That means if you’re a one-person shop now, you don’t have to worry about finding a new solution when you grow because Square offers so many scaleable hardware options. When it comes to taking payments at your storefront or on the go, there are many ways to go about it. And with a transparent pricing model, there are no surprises on the back end. Because Square offers an all-in-one solution with payment processing and PCI-compliant security built right in, you don’t need to worry about jumping through hoops to keep up with the latest global payment security regulations.
So is Square right for you? Sometimes the best way to find out is to see for yourself! Consider setting up a Square account and playing around with the possibilities. It’s free to set up a Square account, and there are zero commitments or contracts required.