We take a look at each side of the card industry’s favourite shape
|Online approval ratings|
|Reviewed by: Expert Market||05/04/2019|
- 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.
- 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
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.
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 iZettle, and only slightly dearer than the 1.69% offered by SumUp – the cheapest mobile card reader on the market.
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 Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) solution, then keep reading. Besides its flagship reader, Square also offers a range of stylish supplements to help you start selling:
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.
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 £129 + 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 £266 + VAT.
Conveniently, Square also offers a huge host of hardware to complete your point of sale kit. Here’s what you can add for a few extra pounds:
- Printer-driven cash drawer (£59 + VAT)
- USB receipt printer (£159 + VAT)
- USB barcode scanner (£74.99 + VAT)
The Square stand, shown here with a cash drawer, receipt printer, and barcode scanner
Square ecommerce payments
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.
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’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 method Transaction fee Total amount paid in card Total fees Clare receives Face-to-face 1.75% £1,200 £21 £1,179 Over the phone 2.5% £600 £15 £585 Invoice 2.5% £200 £5 £195 Total £2,000 £41 £1,959
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 iZettle for customer service.
But enough – let’s hear what the people think!
With a staggering overall Trustpilot rating of 9.1/10, Square is currently the highest-rated mobile card reader available to UK businesses.
85% of all reviews are five stars, with a further 8% giving a four-star recommendation. Here’s our favourite:
“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, UK small business owner
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.