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Is Square Right For Your Business?

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Tom DeSimone
Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, Tom has written for Merchant Maverick since 2013. His work is cited by publications including TechCrunch, Washington Business Journal, and Bank Advisor. He currently serves as Partner Marketing Manager, where he works to connect exceptional brands with the readers they serve best.
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39 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Glen Jewett

    Tom, I am a small town wood turner who is stating a small business selling my art, I have placed pieces in three store fronts on a consignment basis and want to do a website! Would square be right for my business to receive payments from both avenues of revenue?

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Glen,

      Congrats on starting your business! Typically speaking, consignment is entirely dependent on the shop owners. You may be better off setting up a PayPal account to get paid by the shop owners but again it depends on the shop owner and their knowledge of technology and how they’re used to paying people out. As far as online sales — Square or Paypal would definitely be good options. Paypal is just for payments, so you’d still have to set up a website. While with Square you’d get a free Weebly shop. Sounds like you have lot’s to consider! Best of luck!

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Steve

        Hello,

        I am in the process of opening a remote IT support business. We will be accepting payments via credit/debit cards over the phone only. We haven’t accepted any business as of yet since we are still setting up shop. I’ve looked around and have been told my business is considered “high risk” because of a “few bad apples” in the industry as well as a higher percentage of chargebacks. Am I doomed to using high risk merchants with higher rates and fees or is there a way to accept payments with a reputable vendor such as Square?

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Steve,

          Square has a prohibition against “high risk products and services” and if you’re already being told that you’re in a high risk industry, that’s likely the case. You could certainly reach out to Square and plead your case though! Typically speaking, remote tech support companies are considered high-risk. I think you’ll find this blog post “Are You A High-Risk Merchant?” to be quite insightful. If Square won’t have you, I’d suggest looking at Durango, or any of our top rated high-risk providers.

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            Christy

            My husband recently started his own software consulting business and a customer asked if he accepted credit cards. He would use a credit card processing company only infrequently, and for transactions, generally, of $3000-$5000 dollars. It sounds like Square would not be a good fit? Also, would this be considered an unstable business because of transaction size and the fact that it is a new business? It appears that if the account was canceled, he would forfeit any payment(s) in the account?

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Christy,

              If Square decides to terminate the account, the funds will be held for the standard 180 days (6 months) and then released to the business owner. Some consulting businesses do seem to work with Square, but we have seen other cases where the account is suddenly closed. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of data to say what sets one business apart from another, but the fact that he only processes occasionally and for large amounts *could* be a red flag, though that alone is not automatically a problem. Sending invoices is less of an issue than swiping a card with a mobile reader, though, especially because he can lay out the terms of the agreement in the invoice.

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                Alisha

                Thank you so much for the great article. It really helped me in understanding the basics.

                I am a convenience store owner. We currently process high volume but low ticket transactions. Our average transaction is like $4 and we process around 2000 transactions. We accept payment face to face and usually via the pin or signature confirmation. We never had any charge backs or even any refunds.Do you think this qualify as low risk business.

                Also, when I tried to contact the square sales rep, they gave me the rate of 2.5%+$0.10. I asked him for the advertised rate of 2.7% but they said they can’t give it to us because of our low average ticket size. But I think if we sign up with square online without any sales rep, we will get their advertised 2.7% rate. Do you think that if we don’t contact the sales rep again and just sign up online and get the rate of 2.7%, their is a risk they will realize it after the review of our business and shut us down?

                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                  Jessica Dinsmore

                  Hi Alisha,

                  You could try signing up online, as long as the free Square POS with mobile card reader or stand will meet your needs. If you need Square Register, you’ll be looking at the rate the rep quoted you.

                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                    joe wallen

                    I OWN A HEALTH FOOD STORE WHICH I HAVE HAD FOR MANY YEARS. RECENTLY MY MERCHANT PROCESSING FEES HAVE BECOME PROHIBITIVE AND I AM LOOKING FOR A LESS EXPENSIVE OPTION.
                    WOULD SQ BE ABLE TO SECURELY DO THAT WITH A NEXT DAY DEPOSIT TO MY BANK. WOULD I ALSO BE ABLE TO USE IT FOR ONLINE selling ?

                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                      Jessica Dinsmore

                      Hi Joe,

                      You should be fine selling health foods online via Square, but you may want to avoid any supplements. Things can get a bit tricky when you cross over into supplement territory. We can’t say for sure if Square is going to be more cost effective for your business, without knowing your processing volume, but if you average less than $5k/mo, I’d say it’s a good bet. I’d recommend checking out our Square Instant Deposit post for more info on how that works.

                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                        Scott Viehbeck

                        Hello I’m trying to get some basic information using Square. I’m an author looking to sell my books at book signings too.but will only use the reader at times here as my publisher will deal with the sale of my books. Would square allow me to work on this type of basis. I won’t continuously use the reader. And then their monthly fees.

                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                          Jessica Dinsmore

                          Hi Scott,

                          Square sounds perfect for your situation! There are no monthly fees or minimums to worry about and you could also use their online store to sell bookmarks and signed copies of books, etc. I hope that helps!

                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                            Gio Conesa

                            I would recommend anyone and everyone to find an alt solution. The customer service is terrible. They cancled our account with out any notice and noone would speak with us. If y ou’re a small business, look elsewhere.

                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                              Ankit Agarwal

                              Quick Question:
                              I work for a company with a mobile workforce. We are looking for a mobile POS solution. The one thing i have noticed with square is that anyone can pair with the device as long as they have a square account… this leaves it open for the possibility of an employee to filter some of the transactions to their personal account as opposed to the company account. Is there any way around this? Are there any providers that allow for BYOD but also have the option of locking the device to the CC reader?

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                Hi Ankit,

                                Unfortunately, we are not aware of any mPOS apps that lock to the card reader device. If you figure it out, please let us know.

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  Janine

                                  Hi Tom

                                  I am starting an immigration consultancy, it is a corporation. I have been reading your review of Square and seems like Flint may be better for me. I will be accepting mostly in person transactions but possibly some remote ones, the value will be between $150 and $3000, depending on the services I am providing, there is no way of knowing how often as of yet, what would you recommend?

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Tom DeSimone

                                    Hi Janine,

                                    Given the transaction size, I would not wholeheartedly recommend any of the mobile-specific processors. I’d recommend that you sign up with either Helcim ($12 per month, no commitment, no minimums) or CDGcommerece ($10 per month, no commitment, no minimums). Both offer mobile processing capabilities. CDGcommerce currently has a promotion running that will give you 50% off the monthly fee ($5 instead of $10) for the life of the account if you sign up with promo code MERCHMAV. Check both out and see what you think.

                                    I would recommend that you go this route for at least the first six months. At that point, you’ll have a better idea of your average transaction size and monthly volume and you can reassess your needs.

                                    Hope this helps!

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                      Tracy

                                      I am just starting my first business. I will be receiving on-line payments only, at least at first. My typical sale will be between 5 and 20 dollars. My website is DIY. I have read poor reviews of Square and Moolah. The other is Stripe, which I will research shortly. Should I just go with PayPal?
                                      I can’t go with a merchant account since I have done no business as yet.
                                      Can you advise me?

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                        Tracy,

                                        For your new business, if you think you’ll start out averaging less than $5k/month, I’d recommend Square. They offer a 30-day free trial and no early termination fee, and you can always switch to a merchant account once your business takes off.

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                          Robert

                                          Hello Tom,

                                          I am the newly elected treasurer of a non-profit organization and my first task is to be able to accept credit cards at our few fund raising events a year, as well as the occasional members fees as needed. We do auction items that have gone for several thousand dollars and was wondering if you think we should just go with Square or a merchant account? If we accept taking a credit card payment for a large auction item and somehow lose the money, it could cripple the organization. Look forward to hearing your response.

                                          Thanks,
                                          -Robert-

                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                            Tom DeSimone

                                            Hi Robert,

                                            My apologies for the delay. I would encourage you to open a merchant account rather than use Square. While Square has the benefit of no monthly fee, I would be very concerned about the possibility of issues with large, sporadic transactions.

                                            Accepting credit cards will always come with some risk, but using a merchant account can help you to minimize the risk. If you only need the account to be active during certain months of the year, any of our preferred merchant account providers can help you to set up a seasonal account so you can avoid monthly fees during inactive months.

                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                              ROBERT

                                              Thanks Tom!

                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                Wilson

                                                Hi Tom;
                                                I’m opening a martial arts academy; transactions will be minimal since tit will only have a monthly fee for students. What do you suggest in my case? I was searching for various options and i was incline to open a BofAmerica account since they provide the whole system with a cheap monthly fee and don’t charge any fee for the transactions.

                                                TIA;
                                                Wilson

                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                  Hi Wilson,

                                                  Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. You can see our review of Bank of America here. I would encourage you to try our filtering tool to see some alternatives. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                    irene

                                                    Hi Tom,

                                                    I’m a hairstylist that rents a chair in a salon. I accept payment directly from the customer. I basically am running my own business. I just accept payment for the services that I provide. I don’t sell anything. I opened a merchant services account with Bank of America a little over a year ago. I wanted to know if I should stick with that or if it would be better for me to switch to Square? Thanks in advance!

                                                    Irene

                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                      Chloe Bahal

                                                      Hi Irene,

                                                      Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Since your processing needs are minimal, Square would probably be a cheaper option for you in the long run. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                        Jasper Flint

                                                        Hey there Tom!

                                                        I’m part of a non-profit organization- we offer in-house retreats, counseling, and a few products in an online store. I’m trying to learn more about what type of pos we should be using. I was going to suggest we use square, but am now running up against a lot of information saying its a bit dangerous to use!
                                                        I was wondering if you could provide a bit of advice? What risk would we be classified as? Do you know of any programs that are low cost and set up for appointment booking, online ordering, and non-profit organizations? Preferably one that offers an online store capability??

                                                        Thanks,

                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                          Chloe Bahal

                                                          Hi Jasper,

                                                          Square would actually be a great fit. I would also recommend looking at CDGcommerce and Helcim. Make sure you let them know that you are a non-profit organization, as all 3 will offer special rates. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                            Don Graham

                                                            This is not a review, but a question. I’m looking to have an “online only” setup. I’m making this website as we speak, and I need to accept visa, MC, AMEX, and Discover. The product is magazine subscriptions. I have no idea if square, flint, or another is right for me. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                              Chloe Bahal

                                                              Hi Don,

                                                              Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Magazine subscriptions are considered “high-risk”, so you will need a high risk processor. I would recommend Durango Merchant Services and Payline Data. I hope this helps and if you have further questions, please let me know.

                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                AG

                                                                Hi,

                                                                I am about to start a small specialty food store and looking for suitable, affordable POS system. I read your article about Square and it looks like not for my business, then found ShopKeep and Clover, and thinking about getting one of their POS kits. Will it good choice for me?
                                                                Thanks much,
                                                                AG

                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                                  Hi AG,

                                                                  I am going to send you an email right now, so please keep an eye out!

                                                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                    Tina Rene' Rickman Ballard

                                                                    Last week I finally decided to go with Square, for now, and I found what I believed to be their website with their logo and a phone number. Today, I learned that somehow, that site was either bogus or this was a case of spyware or adware. I don’t know how they did it, but when I called to apply by phone, I was apparently speaking to someone with Millennium Bank (which I never heard of until today) and they passed me on to PayWare (which I also never heard of until today). Has anyone else encountered this scam? I finally got my card reader today and called a technician to set up, which is when I began to understand something was very wrong. I have a sale in 3 days, in a time crunch, and decided I had no choice but to use the service. However, the reader isn’t even compatible with my Android phone. I still have the EVO application form which was saved on my computer. I had not looked it over carefully since I had already researched the terms for Square and thought that was who I was speaking with, however, now that I look at it, there is “Square” at the top which I captured in a screen shot. It is not on the form, but shows in my computer. Now this company has all my info. I don’t understand what has happened really. Any advice? Help. I am just starting my business and I’ve already been scammed before my first sale date. Very sad.

                                                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                      Jacob bernath

                                                                      Hi Tom Thanks for your article.
                                                                      I followed your link to Flint Mobile and it said that they terminated their services. Is there an alternative that you can suggest other than Square. Does Amazon have a processing center?
                                                                      Just a briefly about our business. We are home accessibility contractors specialising in home modifications and modular products to make home accessible to people dependent on a wheeled device as in wheelchairs and walkers etc. We install Ramps, Lifts and do a lot of bathe remodeling. Thanks

                                                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                        Shannon George

                                                                        Hi Jacob, that’s true that Flint recently closed up shop. Intuit GoPayment, Spark Pay, and PayPal Here are all quality Square alternatives you can use to take mobile payments.

                                                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                          Linda Boring

                                                                          Can I do manual charges by putting the credit card info into the square reader?

                                                                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                            Chloe Bahal

                                                                            Hi Linda,

                                                                            Yes, you should be able to do keyed-entries with Square, but the rate will be a little higher. You can find more information in our review here.

                                                                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                              Sadie

                                                                              Hey Tom,

                                                                              What would be your suggestion POS system advice for a full service restaurant with 5 or more POS stations necessary? I first looked into BREADCRUMB, but after the bad reviews moved on to SHOPKEEP, and then heard about clover (our San Antonio location banks with Boa our other 3 locations do not but are potentially going to be integrated asleep) Am I in the right direction or do you have any suggestions? Clover is not an issue, should we sheer away from its? What’s cost effective? We are currently using a type of ePad as a check presenter at our tables for an email club database….. and want to continue using something for our customers at each table to have in hand as well as POS systems for our servers to be using. I love all the features that come with these prior mentioned systems and would really like your opinion thank you for your time.

                                                                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                                                                Tom DeSimone

                                                                                Hi Sadie,

                                                                                Try our POS finder for a good recommendation tailored to your business. We’ve reviewed Clover, so you can check out our thoughts about it to see if it makes sense for you.

                                                                                Note that it doesn’t matter who you bank with, it only matter who your merchant account is from. Clover required a First Data or BofA Merchant Services account (Dharma and Payment Depot also issue First Data accounts). Most other POS systems work with just about any merchant account.

                                                                                Hope this helps! Good luck.

                                                                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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