Square card reader review
It’s got all-you-can-eat features and friendly fees, but how does the Square Reader sit with customers?
Startups rating ★★★★★( out of 5)
Since launching in the UK in 2017, San Francisco-based Square has quickly become one of the most popular card machines for small businesses here today, giving its top rivals like iZettle, SumUp, WorldPay and PayPal a run for their money.
There’s no denying it, research shows that the UK is increasingly becoming a cashless society. But with card readers now more affordable and easy-to-use than ever, even start-ups and small businesses can cash in on the value of these handy devices.
The Square Reader is great if you’re after a feature-packed card machine at a budget-friendly price. It even has some nice touches you won’t get with the older generation of card readers – perks like mobile payments and digital receipts. But for all its innovative touches, how popular is it with customers?
Here, we take a magnifying glass to this little gadget, and help you decide if it’s the best option for your small business. Plus, you can go on to our quote-finder above, pitch your niggling questions straight to the top card machine companies, and get to compare all your options in one go. Or, if it's more of a comparison you're after, then why not take a look at the Startups piece on the 6 best card machines for small businesses.
In this article you will learn:
07 | Square’s customer service
08 | Competitor reviews
09 | Our verdict
10 | Compare quotes
Square vs iZettle vs PayPal etc.
Square was one of the first card readers aimed at making card payments affordable, even for the smallest of businesses, and it's still one of the most features-packed options around.
Here is how Square compares to the other top card machines for UK small businesses:
|Card Reader||Best for…||Device Cost
|Transaction Fee||Cheapest transaction fees||£59||1.69%|
£19 on offer here
|Best card machine for features||£39||1.75%|
|Most flexible||£39.99||1.95% – 2.75%
(depending on sales)
|Best for growing businesses||
£45 on offer here
|1% – 2.75%
(depending on sales)
|Trusted payments brand||£60||2.6%|
The pros and cons of Square
✔ Low transaction fees – At just 1.75% most the time, Square matches iZettle
✔ Transparent pricing – No nasty shocks, and prices we can all understand
✔ Flexibility – No monthly fees, no set-up fees, no lock-in, no nonsense
✔ Features galore – One of the most features-heavy card machines on the market
✔ Top app – Everything you need to start taking card payments, with little left out
❌ PIN on glass – Although secure, some customers may prefer PIN-pad payments
❌ Fiddly magstripe – Square supports magstripe, but you’ll need two hands
❌ Limited phone support – Only on weekdays, but you can email or go online any time
What is Square?
Our team found Square the most feature-rich of all credit card payment machines available today, and one of the easiest to use, making it ideal for small businesses.
Unlike with some more traditional credit card processing companies, Square charges no monthly fees, and their low transaction fees (1.75%) and device cost (£39 – or less) make it one of the most affordable card machines on the market today.
This is how nifty the Square card machine is:
But don’t be put off by the size of Square, in terms of features it’s one of the mightiest.
How does Square work?
Square uses Bluetooth to connect your phone or tablet with their card machine
Square works just like most other card machines: it uses Bluetooth to connect your smartphone or tablet with the little square card reader, and the free app processes the payment for you.
But unlike many others, this card reader doesn’t have a PIN pad, so your customers tap their PIN onto your mobile device screen. Or, if it’s a contactless payment, they’ll just hold their credit or debit card up to the Square Reader.
To get started, you’d just need to sign up on their website where it takes around four days to have your bank account verified, then you’ll be able to order your very own Square Reader.
This 50-second video shows exactly how Square works:
What is “PIN on glass” and how does it work?
Because the Square Reader doesn’t have a PIN pad, customers will need to enter their PIN “on glass”, i.e. on the screen of the smartphone or tablet you’re using.
“PIN on glass” is quite different from most other card machine providers, and some people worry it’s not a safe way of paying. Yet you and your customers can feel reassured that this mode of paying is fully accepted by the PCI Security Standards.
But if the clunkiness of this way of paying (handing over a device to your customers) puts you off, take a look at other UK mobile card readers, or use our quote-finder above to see if there’s a better fit for you.
That said, with contactless payments on the rise according to the UK Cards Association, this may be less hassle than you think.
Square fees and charges
Simple, transparent and competitive fees
Whereas some card reader providers (like PayPal) offer some mind-boggling pricing structures, Square has a simple flat fee of 1.75% per chip & PIN or contactless payment, whatever the card brand.
This is one of the most competitive transaction fees on the market today – matching iZettle, and just a smudge over SumUp’s chart-topping 1.69%, making them extra friendly to small businesses.
With Square, it’s easy to get your head around the numbers. It’s just: