Square Review for 2022: Transparent Payments, Useful POS Features

For small-business owners looking for a top-notch POS system, Square is an easy choice.
Mar 8, 2021

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Square POS

Square Payment Processing

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Square is a standout app-based point-of-sale system. Its wide range of features and hardware can be tailored to fit a variety of business types, the pricing is fair and transparent and the free plan is one of the most powerful no-cost POS systems we’ve seen. Square is an excellent choice for retailers, restaurants and service providers. It's also earned top spots in NerdWallet's best POS systems roundup and best business software lineup.

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Deciding factors

Photo courtesy of Square

Monthly cost

$0 to $60 per month. Custom pricing availability for larger businesses.

Hardware cost

  • Card readers that pair with your device: Free to $149

  • Standalone devices: $299 to $799

Payment processing

  • In-person payments: 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction.

  • Online payments: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

  • Payments accepted

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

    Pros

  • Deep list of features.

  • Free version offers a lot of functionality.

  • Square offers helpful related services, like payroll, that integrate closely with its POS system.

  • Cons

    Complex industries might prefer a more specialized system.

    Software pricing and features

    Square’s standard version of its software is free, which is rare among POS systems. Its retail- and restaurant-specific versions have additional, industry-specific features.

    Cost: Free.

    Notable features:

    • Reports that track sales stats and trends.

    • Integration with delivery services.

    • Customizable interface.

    • Product modifiers, like adding bacon to a cheeseburger.

    • Accepts offline payments.

    • Accept tips.

    • Split bills.

    • Create an online store.

    • Sell digital or physical gift cards.

    Basic plan: Free. Notable additional features:

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

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

    Square Plus: $60/month. Notable additional features:

    • Assign orders to each person in a party.

    • Course management.

    • Advanced reporting, including live sales stats.

    • Open closed checks.

    • See real-time wait times at every table.

    Basic plan: Free. Notable 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 story.

    • Get alerts when inventory runs low.

    Square Plus: $60/month. Notable additional features:

    • Add inventory in bulk.

    • Barcode printing.

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

    • Forecast when it’s time to reorder products.

    • Discount on payment processing costs.

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

    Payment processing pricing

    In-person payments: 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction. Square Plus comes with a reduced fee of 2.5% plus 10 cents per transaction.

    Online payments: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

    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 Card account — that is, a debit card with Square — instant transfers are available for free.

    Hardware pricing and features

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

    Photo courtesy of Square.

    Magstripe reader for iOS or Android phone: Free. Plug the reader into a phone and start swiping. (Don’t forget: A merchant who swipes a card that has a chip is probably going to be on the hook in any payment dispute).


    Photo courtesy of Square.

    Wireless reader: $49. Accept chip cards, contactless payment, Apple Pay and Google Pay with Square’s wireless reader.


    Photo courtesy of Square.

    Swivel iPad stand: $149. The stand has a built-in reader for contactless payments. iPad not included.


    Photo courtesy of Square.

    Terminal: $299. This all-in-one handheld device accepts card swipes, dips and taps. It also prints receipts.


    Photo courtesy of Square.

    Register: $799. Square’s Register includes a built-in touchscreen for you and a smaller, customer-facing touchscreen.


    Optional add-on services

    • Appointments: Free for individuals, $50 per month for two to five employees, $90 for six to 10 employees. Read NerdWallet's full review.

    • Customer loyalty program: Starts at $15 per month.

    • Email marketing: Starts at $15 per month.

    • Payroll: Starts at $35 per month plus $5 per month per employee. Read NerdWallet's full review.

    • Square Online: Free and up.

    Pros of Square

    Simple, transparent prices

    Square’s prices are displayed prominently on its website. Plus, 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 touchscreens. 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.

    Cons of Square

    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 your business. Say you want a POS system for a restaurant. Toast might be a better option because of features, like foreign language support on its kitchen display system or its spill-proof and water-resistant hardware.

    Doesn't run on Windows desktop or tablet

    Square revolutionized the industry by enabling merchants to swipe cards on their smartphones. Square currently works on iOS and Android phones and tablets. It also works on Macs and Chromebooks. But if you were hoping to run Square on your Windows device, it won’t work.

    Consider the POS system Vend if 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. Its outstanding features also make it a top POS choice for retail outlets.

    Square POS

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    on Square's website

    Is Square right for me?

    Square is a good option, especially for new and small businesses. It offers a strong core of useful features and a number of optional paid add-ons that allow you to efficiently build out your business without the need to piece together systems from various vendors.

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