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Square makes software and hardware that helps small businesses run, including a point-of-sale system and services for payment processing, administering payroll, customer engagement and employee management. Square also offers banking services and small-business loans.
Square's product lineup is modular: For the most part, you can choose to use one, a few or all of its products. Square promises increased convenience the more you commit to its ecosystem, but its POS system works well enough as a stand-alone product. Overall, the pricing is competitive, transparent and generally doesn’t come with long-term contracts. While larger, complex businesses might face some limitations, Square is a solid option for many small businesses.
What is Square best known for?
What put Square on the map is a white square about an inch across that plugs into your smartphone and lets you process credit card payments. More than a decade later, Square's POS systems remain at the center of its product line. The little white square is still available, though it sits alongside a wider range of products, including iPad-based terminals and a custom-built hand-held device. In 2021, Square changed its corporate name to Block to reflect the growth in other areas of its business. However, Square remains the name of the POS system and all ancillary products and services.
Who does Square work best for?
A small business could benefit from the efficiency found in using a single system to perform multiple functions, including HR, marketing, web and finance.
A new business could benefit from Square’s straightforward subscription pricing model and easy-to-use interface.
A growing business could quickly and easily add features and services on demand.
Square’s POS system serves as a central hub that supports many of Square’s other products.
For example, you can pay employees instantly if you use Square Payroll and your employees use Square’s Cash App. And if you use Square’s checking account, you can access funds from sales instantly.
When does Square not make sense?
While a small business might benefit from a single provider for multiple services, a larger business might have more specialized needs that can better be met by separate providers for different services. For example, a larger business with high sales volume might pair a payment processor that uses interchange-plus pricing with a POS from another provider. Some businesses might also have specific business needs — like high-risk payment processing or a broad international reach — that Square's products don't support.
Complete lineup of Square products
Square’s hardware comes in three broad categories:
A $799 high-end desktop terminal that includes a customer-facing touch screen.
A leaner (and cheaper) iPad-based desktop terminal for $169, plus the cost of an iPad.
Mobile devices that range from a free card reader that plugs into a mobile phone to a Square-built hand-held device that includes a built-in printer for $299. 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.
Square also sells accessories, like cash drawers and barcode scanners, as well as a kitchen display system for restaurants.
Square offers retail- and restaurant-specific versions of its point-of-sale software in addition to a standard version, which is designed to accommodate a variety of business types. The differences include industry-specific features, like kitchen and table management for restaurants, and barcode printing for retail. In addition:
All versions come with inventory management.
Every version of Square’s software has a free option.
Paid versions, which start at $60 per month, offer more features, like 24/7 customer support and loyalty program management.
Payment processing pricing:
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.
Additional Square products
All photos courtesy of Square Inc.