Square Card Reader Review: Is it Right for Your Countertop?

Square logo

We take a look at each side of the card industry’s favourite shape

Square logo


  • Provides next business day deposits
  • Real-time sales reporting and analytics included as standard
  • Fully PCI compliant
  • No setup or monthly fees
  • No long-term contracts or commitment
  • No credit check required
  • Supports most card types


  • Lacks a pinpad, which makes it slightly less user-friendly than other mobile card readers
  • Basic elements like the card reader stand aren’t included
  • Phone support not available 24/7
  • Doesn’t currently support JCB, Discover, or Union Pay in the UK
At a glance: Though let down by limited customer support and expensive add-ons, the Square card reader is still a firm favourite of UK businesses. With low fees, intuitive software, and a wide range of features, Square is a strong, stylish solution for your SME.

Quick facts

  • Founded in 2009 in San Francisco, USA
  • Operates in five countries worldwide
  • Handles over £40 million a year in global transactions
  • Multi-talented CEO Jack Dorsey also founded Twitter
  • In 2020, Square's stock skyrocketed by 248%

Square card reader

Square offers a mobile card reader that pairs with your tablet or smartphone to let you take card payments in-store. It also provides solutions for accepting card transactions over the phone, as well as through your ecommerce website. Let’s take a look at its costs and customer service, and see how it squares up against its rivals.

Man using a Square card reader

The Square card reader pairs with your iPhone or tablet, allowing you to take payments on the go

How much is a Square credit card reader?

The Square credit card reader will set you back £29 + VAT (£34.80 incl. VAT). In mobile card reader terms, that’s standard. And you’ll own it outright, rather than renting or leasing it – meaning no ongoing monthly costs.

Square credit card reader fees

To accept payments with the Square card reader, you’ll pay a fixed fee of 1.75% per transaction. Again, by mobile card reader standards, that’s about normal. It’s the same as Zettle, and only slightly dearer than the 1.69% offered by SumUp – the cheapest mobile card reader on the market.

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Optional add-ons

To start taking card payments, all you’ll need is a Square card reader, and an iPad with the Square app installed. However, if you’re looking for a more integrated solution – specifically, one of the best Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems on the market in the UK – then keep reading. Besides its flagship reader, Square also offers a range of stylish supplements to help you start selling:

Instant Deposit

Need cash, quick? Square’s Instant Deposit add-on means you’ll see your takings in your account within 20 minutes. Better still, it only costs a paltry 1% of the deposit amount – making it a useful boon in times of cash flow crisis.

Dock for card reader

The Square card reader dock (£19 + VAT) lets you charge your device at the counter, making for a quicker, more convenient approach to taking card.

Square stand

This one is like a complete POS system – or, as Square like to call it, a “till with brains.” It includes the card reader, the dock, and a handy stand for your iPad. It’ll set you back £109 + VAT. To clarify – you will need to provide your own iPad. If you don’t have one already, you can throw one from Square into the bargain for an extra £349 + VAT.

EPOS accessories

Conveniently, Square also offers a huge host of hardware to complete your point of sale kit. Here’s just a few of the items you can add to your kit for a few extra pounds:

  • mPOP cash drawer and receipt printer (£319 + VAT)
  • Bluetooth/Ethernet/USB receipt printer (£249 + VAT)
  • USB barcode scanner (£74.99 + VAT)

Of course, there's plenty more where that came from. Check out Square's online hardware shop for more info.

Square stand and EPOS system

The Square stand, shown here with a cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner

Square ecommerce payments

Virtual terminal

Square’s virtual terminal is a secure, web-based portal that lets you accept card payments without your customer being present. It’s ideal for taking payments over the phone, or via the mail. It’s inexpensive, too – with Square’s virtual terminal, you’ll pay just 2.5% on every payment you take.

Square Invoices

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but when it comes to managing your invoices, Square has you covered. Its free app lets you create and fire off invoices with ease, from your smartphone or your tablet. But, while the app comes pro bono, you’ll still pay a 2.5% fee for every invoice paid online.

Square Checkout

Square’s own ecommerce solution works seamlessly with your website to let you take payments online. With simple drag-and-drop design and stylish templates to match, you won’t need to be crack with code to set it up.

If you are more tech-savvy, though, Square’s advanced API integration offers ultimate flexibility for your online store – but you’ll need to be a developer (or hire one) to do it right.

And the price? You guessed it – a simple 2.5% of each online transaction you take.

So, you’re asking, what do all these fees look like in the real world? Let’s cut to the capital for a quick case study.

Clare and Square: The real cost of taking card payments

Clare owns and operates a vintage clothes boutique in East London. After realising she was missing out on around a thousand pounds a month by not taking card, she signed up with Square. So how much is she paying? Let’s break it down

The card reader sets her back £34.80 (incl. VAT), and she opts to add the charging dock for £22.80 (incl. VAT). She already has an iPad, and decides to skip the expense of the Square stand.

Price to get started: £57.60.

There’s no installation fee, so Clare hooks up her system and starts getting paid. She collects about £2,000 in card payments a month. £1,200 of these are from her shop, using the Square card reader. £600 of these she takes over the phone, using Square’s virtual terminal services. The remaining £200 she invoices for through Square’s free invoicing app.

How much will Clare pay in fees?

Payment methodTransaction feeTotal amount paid in cardTotal feesClare receives
Over the phone2.5%£600£15£585

So – taking into account the fees, plus the one-off costs for the card reader and dock, Clare pays just under £100 all in during her first month with Square. And for that, she can take payments in store and over the phone – not to mention send glossy, professional-looking invoices from her smartphone.

Is it worth it? You do the maths!

Square customer support

As well as email and Twitter support, Square offers a phone-based service during the week. However, this is during business hours only, so you won’t catch them in the evening – or at the weekend, either.

Square also offers a 24/7 online support centre for customers. There are videos, articles, and advice on what to do if you get stuck. While this is handy, it’s just not the same as getting through to a real person. It’s here that Square just doesn’t match up to the likes of SumUp and Zettle for customer service.

But enough – let’s hear what the people think!

Square reviews

With a staggering overall Trustpilot rating of 4.3/5 (from a total of 1,626 reviews at the time of writing), Square is currently the highest-rated mobile card reader available to UK businesses.

84% of all Square's reviews are five stars, with a further 5% giving a four-star recommendation. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Customer review

“I found a few things difficult to set up. However, I called support, and my issues were sorted immediately by a very helpful and friendly James. My online payments online have been deposited to me extremely quickly. Square also syncs perfectly with my Instagram through sellable links in my bio, whilst I set up my website. Very happy!”

MD, Square customer
- 2021-03-05
Customer review

“We run a relatively small scale B&B, and previously used a PayPal card reader to take payments. When the card reader stopped functioning, we researched alternatives to PayPal, as we have always thought their commission charges to be quite high. We chose Square UK.

“The card reader is great and easy to use, as is taking card payments over the phone – all at a much better commission rate. We have only had reason to contact the Square UK customer support once, and they were very helpful and resolved the issue we were having.”

Nigel, Square customer
- 2019-03-30
All reviews, ratings, and pricing information are accurate as of 12th April, 2021.

Next steps

So, what now? Well, whether you’re sold on Square or not, it’s easy to see the benefits of a mobile card reader. They’re slim, affordable gadgets that look great on your countertop. And they’re simple to use, with some of the lowest fees in the card payments ecosystem.

Want to know more? Take a minute to fill out our quick, free quote-finding form. We’ll match you with top mobile card reader suppliers, and your business could be taking payments within the week.

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Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.