Square POS System Review 2023: Pricing & Features

For small-business owners looking for a top-notch POS system, Square is a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.
Lisa Anthony
Kurt Woock
By Kurt Woock and  Lisa Anthony 
Edited by Sally Lauckner

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5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Square is a standout point-of-sale system and often a good option for small businesses. Its wide range of features and hardware can be tailored to fit a variety of business types. The pricing is transparent, and the free plan is one of the most powerful no-cost POS systems we’ve seen. It also earned top spots in NerdWallet's best POS systems roundup and best business software lineup.

However, Square may not be the right fit for businesses that want a highly specialized POS system with advanced features. And if you’re a dedicated Windows user, the Square POS app won’t work with your device.

Pros

Cons

Deep list of features.

Can’t run on Windows devices.

Free version offers a lot of functionality.

Complex businesses might prefer a more specialized system.

Offers related services, such as payroll, that integrate with its POS system.

Square POS

Square
NerdWallet rating 
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on Square's website

Deciding factors

Payment processing fees

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file (2.6% plus 30 cents with Premium plan).

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Monthly fee

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Plus plan.

Hardware cost

  • $0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).

  • $49 for Square Reader contactless and chip card reader.

  • $149 for Square Stand iPad POS or Square Stand Mount (iPad not included).

  • $299 for Square Terminal mobile card reader with built-in printer.

  • $799 for Square Register two-screen system.

  • $659-$1,439 for various bundles of stands, cash drawers, printers and card readers.

Accepted payment methods

Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Cash App (Cash App and Square are both owned by Block Inc.).

Contract length

No contracts.

Customer service

Email, chat and online knowledgebase. Phone support (1-855-700-6000) available Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm, PST.

How much does Square cost per month?

The standard version of Square’s software is free, which is rare among POS systems. Its retail- and restaurant-specific versions have additional, industry-specific features that are offered in a free plan or a Plus plan.

  • $0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.

  • $29 for Square POS Plus and Square Appointments Plus plans.

  • $60 for Restaurant Plus and Retail Plus plans.

  • $69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.

Square Premium is a paid version that's a tier above Plus, and it comes with custom pricing and more features; eligibility rules apply.

Square POS

Square POS for Restaurants

Square POS for Retail

Free plan

Notable features:

  • Reports that track sales stats and trends.

  • Integration with delivery services.

  • Customizable interface.

  • Product modifiers, like adding bacon to a cheeseburger.

  • Accept offline payments and tips.

  • Split bills.

  • Create an online store.

  • Sell digital gift cards or purchase physical gift cards.

Free plan

Additional features:

  • Show servers when you’re out of an item.

  • Integration with Square’s kitchen display system for $20 per KDS device.

Square Plus

Additional features:

  • Mobile POS.

  • Assign orders to each person in a party.

  • Course management.

  • Advanced reporting, including live sales stats.

  • Open closed checks.

Free plan

Additional features:

  • Add unlimited items to your inventory.

  • Use your iPad to scan barcodes or use a barcode scanner.

  • Sync in-store inventory with online store.

  • Get alerts when inventory runs low.

Square Plus

Additional features:

  • Add inventory in bulk.

  • Barcode printing.

  • Cost-of-goods-sold and profit-margin reports.

  • Forecast when it’s time to reorder products.

  • Exchanges and cross-location returns.

Payment processing pricing for Square POS

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file.

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Square transfers funds to your bank account on the next business day or, for a 1.5% fee, instantly. If you sign up for a Square Checking account, which comes with a debit card, instant transfers are available for free.

Use our Square fee calculator to figure out what fees you may for in-person and online transactions.

Square POS hardware features

Square sells an array of mobile and stationary POS hardware as well as hardware accessories, such as barcode scanners, receipt prints and cash drawers.

Magstripe reader for iOS or Android phone.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Plug the reader into a phone and start swiping. (Note: Swiping cards that have EMV chips can expose a merchant to liability for fraudulent transactions) Square also offers Tap to Pay on iPhone, which lets merchants accept card payments using only a regular iPhone with the Square POS app. Customers hold their cards or their own iPhone wallets near the merchant's phone to pay.

Contactless and chip reader.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Accept chip cards, contactless payment, Apple Pay and Google Pay with Square’s wireless reader. It connects to your Apple or Android device through Bluetooth LE.

Swivel iPad stand.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

The stand has a built-in reader for contactless payments. An iPad is not included.

Square Terminal.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

This all-in-one hand-held device accepts card swipes, dips and taps. It also prints receipts.

Square Register.

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Square’s Register includes a built-in touch screen for you and a smaller, customer-facing touch screen.

Square hardware kits.

Square hardware kits

(Photo courtesy of Square)

Square offers the Square Stand Kit, Square Register Kit, Square Stand Restaurant Station and the Square Stand Restaurant Station and Square Terminal, which are bundles with various tablets, stands, cash drawers, printers and other components.

Square pros

Simple, transparent prices

Square’s prices are displayed prominently on its website. Also, its payment processing fees are a flat percentage of each transaction plus a flat fee. Clear pricing makes it easier to predict costs and compare your options. Another bonus: There’s no contract or early-termination fees. If you ever feel like switching, it won’t cost you.

Diverse hardware lineup

Square offers an array of hardware options, ranging from a quarter-sized reader that plugs into your phone, to a register with two touch screens. With that flexibility, you can design a variety of checkout experiences: You can set up a register at a store, customers can pay at their table or you can swipe cards out of a truck.

Long list of features

Square’s overall lineup of features is impressive and can work for a variety of industries. In addition to the core features that come with Square POS, you have the option to add on additional features that sync, like a loyalty program or an appointment scheduler. While you might not use every feature in Square's system, having so many options in one ecosystem can be a time saver for small businesses.

Square cons

More specialized POS systems exist

Square offers different versions of its POS system for restaurants and retail. That said, some other POS systems designed for a specific industry might offer even more features that meet the nuanced needs of a business. If you want a restaurant POS system, Toast might be a better option because of features like multiple language support on its kitchen display system or its spill-proof and water-resistant hardware.

Doesn't run on Windows desktop or tablet

Square currently works on iOS and Android phones and tablets. It also works on Macs and Chromebooks. But it won’t work on a Windows device. Consider the Vend POS systemif you want to use a Windows desktop or tablet device. Vend works on a wide range of devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads and Microsoft Surface Pros.

Square POS

Square
NerdWallet rating 
Shop Now

on Square's website

Optional Square add-ons

  • Square Appointments: Square Appointments combines appointment scheduling, text and email customer communication and payment options in a single cloud-based platform. There are three plan options to pick from along with the option for a custom-priced plan. You can cancel or change plans whenever you want, and a free trial is offered for the paid plans. Read NerdWallet's Square Appointments review.

  • Customer loyalty program: Lets you view reward points and reward history, track top loyalty customers and analyze average spend. Starts at $45 per month per location.

  • Email marketing: Starts at $15 per month.

  • Square Payroll: In addition to sending employees their paychecks, it can also be used to manage scheduling and time-tracking, tax withholding and filing, and the administration of benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings. Starts at $35 per month plus $5 per month per employee. Read NerdWallet's Square Payroll review.

  • Square Online: Square Online is an e-commerce platform that lets you create a website, manage a variety of sales channels and take payments online — all without needing technical expertise. Free and up. Read NerdWallet’s Square Online review.

Square POS alternatives

Toast

Payment processing fees:

  • 2.99% plus 15 cents per transaction, if you choose pay-as-you-go option on hardware.

  • 2.49% plus 15 cents for card-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

  • 3.50% plus 15 cents for card-not-present transactions, if you pay for hardware upfront.

Why we like it: Toast offers a POS system that is built for restaurants. Like Square, it offers a free starter kit that includes a terminal or hand-held device along with core features such as order management, mobile payments, reporting and analytics. Options with additional features are offered at $69 monthly for the Point of Sale plan, $165 for the Essentials plan and quote-based pricing for custom plans.

Vend POS

Payment processing fees:

Vend does not offer its own payment processing service.

Why we like it: Vend's outstanding features make it a top POS choice for retail outlets, especially if they are growing. Vend offers a free trial, but not a free option. Also an Enterprise plan is offered for businesses with high volume. Vend’s free POS software works on iPad, Mac, Windows and Android devices and will even work offline when your internet connection is interrupted.

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