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.
Square is best for businesses that:
Use iOS or Android devices. Square is not compatible with Windows devices.
Need general POS features and functionality. Square offers a robust POS system at no cost, but it does lack tools and features that more specialized and industry-specific systems offer.
Don’t want to commit to a long-term contract. You can easily start and stop use of Square without penalty.
Payment processing model
Payment processing fees
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.
3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.
3.3% plus 30 cents for invoices.
$0 for Square POS, Restaurant, Retail and Appointments Free plans.
$29 for Square Appointments Plus plan.
$60 for Square Restaurant and Retail Plus plans.
$69 for Square Appointments Premium plan.
$0 for Square magstripe-only card reader ($10 for each additional reader) or if using Tap to Pay for iPhone (iPhone not included).
$49 and up 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.
Email, chat and online knowledge base. Phone support (1-855-700-6000) available Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.
Where Square stands out
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.
Square transfers funds to your bank account on the next business day or — for a 1.75% 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 incur for in-person and online transactions.
Diverse hardware lineup
Square offers an array of mobile and stationary POS hardware options, ranging from a quarter-sized reader that plugs into your phone, to a register with two touch screens, as well as hardware accessories, such as barcode scanners, receipt prints and cash drawers. 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.
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.
Long list of POS 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 additional features that sync, like a loyalty program, email marketing, payroll or an online store. Although 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.
No chargeback fees
Many providers that handle payment processing issue a chargeback fee to the merchant any time a customer disputes and/or reverses a credit or debit transaction. These fees can be anywhere from $20 to $100. Some providers will refund the chargeback fee to the merchant if the merchant wins the dispute; however, other providers have begun updating their terms to stipulate no refunds of chargeback fees. Square, therefore, stands out among the competition, as it does not issue a fee for chargebacks.
Where Square falls short
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 Lightspeed Retail POS system if you want to use a Windows desktop or tablet device. Lightspeed Retail is compatible with both macOS and Windows operating systems.
Alternatives to Square
$14.95 for Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter, Professional Services Starter and Standard and Home & Field Services plans.
$49.95 for Retail Standard, Personal Services Standard and Advanced and Professional Services Advanced plans.
$54.95 for Quick-Service Dining Starter and Standard plans.
$64.90 for Retail Advanced plan.
$69.90 for Quick-Service Dining Advanced plan.
$84.95 for Full-Service Dining Starter plan.
$99.90 for Full-Service Dining Standard plan.
$114.85 for Full-Service Dining Advanced plan.
Payment processing fees:
2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans, though rates may also vary by hardware type.
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.
3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.
$49 for chip, swipe and contactless Clover Go card reader.
$599 for Clover Flex mobile POS with printer.
$799 for Clover Mini POS.
$1,699 for Clover Station Solo.
$1,799 for Clover Station Duo.
Why we like it: Clover’s flat-rate processing fees are right on par with Square’s. Although Clover doesn’t offer a free POS software plan as Square does, the starting price point is reasonable compared with many other providers. Clover’s hardware is pricier than Square’s, but it has a strong reputation for durable, high-quality hardware products. Clover’s retail POS system comes with a long list of relevant features that many merchants would find sufficient for running their business. Read our full Clover review.
Monthly fee: $0.
Payment processing fees:
2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person and QR code transactions.
3.49% plus 9 cents for manual-entry card transactions.
2.99% plus 49 cents for invoicing (payment made with card).
3.49% plus 49 cents for invoicing (payment made with PayPal).
$29 for first card reader; additional readers cost $79. Price includes USB cable.
$199 for terminal only.
$239 for terminal with barcode scanner built in.
$249 for Store Kit Mini (screen terminal with card reader).
$339 for Store Kit Portable kit with mobile card reader and printer.
$499 for Store Kit Standard (adds printer).
$699 for Store Kit Plus (adds barcode scanner).
Why we like it: Like Square, PayPal Zettle offers its software free of charge. The Zettle POS can process all payment types, including cards, digital wallets, manually entered transactions and QR codes. Similar to Square, PayPal Zettle includes general POS functions like inventory management and reporting, as well as third-party software integrations for accounting and e-commerce. Read our full PayPal Zettle review.
Compare POS providers
To compare POS options, check out NerdWallet’s list of point-of-sale systems that are best for small-business owners. Our recommendations are based on the provider’s pricing and transparency, software and hardware options, system functionality, customer support, software integrations and contract requirements.