Square is a mobile payment processing service founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The company launched in 2010 and grew rapidly due to its innovative model and simple pricing. It is now a publicly traded entity following a widely publicized IPO in November 2015. Known for its iconic square-shaped credit card reader, Square runs on a business owner’s smartphone or tablet as a free app without the need for separate, dedicated hardware. In order to comply with the October 2015 EMV shift, Square launched a $49 EMV reader that pairs with iPhone and Android devices via a Bluetooth connection. The cost of this reader is fully reimbursed in the form of an account credit during the merchant’s first three months of processing through Square.
In addition to offering debit and credit card processing, Square has recently expanded its suite of products to include invoicing, branded gift cards, business analytics, employee management tools, third-party app integrations, payroll software, appointment setting, customer engagement tools, and a delivery management system. Square has also begun to dip its toes into the merchant cash advance industry with the introduction of Square Capital, and it has targeted the peer-to-peer payment market through its Square Cash service.
Square has attracted a large amount of positive buzz for its simple signup process and its flat per-transaction pricing of 2.75% for swiped payments and 3.5% plus $0.15 for keyed-in payments. However, the company has also received a large amount of criticism for withholding merchants’ funds in instances of suspected fraud and for providing limited customer support.
This Square (squareup.com) review focuses on Square’s payment technology, card reader, desktop POS, store builder and e-commerce platform.
Square was founded in 2009, but has grown into a large publicly owned company because of its unique take on mobile credit card processing and being the first to market with it.
Users can sign up for Square’s payment service and payment gateway service, and then plug in a credit card reader to their smartphones.
Square offers a range of POS devices for retail businesses, which include the Square Register, Square Terminal, Square Online Store, Square Cash, Square Capital, and Square Register. Square also offers a virtual terminal, order ahead app, online invoicing feature, online scheduler, and an offline processing mode.
Price: 2.75% per swipe or 3.15% per keyed transaction; no monthly fees, annual fees, or long-term contracts; limited phone support; 5,023 complaints; 381 reviews.
Square is a credit card processor that charges one fee per transaction and doesn’t charge any other fees for credit card processing.
Square used to offer a very competitively priced magnetic stripe card reader, but as of February 2014, it offers a cheaper chip card reader for $49. The company offers a flat rate of 2.60% plus $0.10 for swiped transactions and 3.5% plus $0.15 for keyed-in transactions.
In order to receive a lower per transaction rate with the new Square Register, merchants must buy the Square Register for either $799 up front or 24 payments of $39 for the equipment.
Square Terminal costs $399 outright or $37 monthly. The cost of transactions processed through the terminal is 2.6% plus $0.10.
The company’s standard transaction rate is higher than most traditional merchant rates but still comparable to Interchange Pass-through rates.
Square does not set a limit on the amount of money that can be accepted per transaction or per month, but does set limitations to avoid potential losses due to fraud.
Square held funds of card-not-present sales for 30 days if more than $2,002 was charged within a seven-day period. Square claims that there are no limits for transactions.
Square’s rolling reserve policy is the reason for its low score in this section. Square is putting automatic holds on transactions that it deems suspicious and this can cause serious problems for some merchants.
Square’s policies regarding holding funds and risk mitigation are murky, and the company needs to do a better job of educating merchants about the types of transactions that could result in account deactivation.
Square has simple signup process, affordable equipment costs, and easy-to-understand pricing, but sudden account deactivation can greatly impact a merchant’s operations.
Square is getting complaints for its customer service, including no phone support, confusion about its policies, and random fund-holding or account deactivation for more than 30 days.
In 2018, Square settled a lawsuit about missing gratuities from customers for the food delivery service “Caviar” and agreed to pay $2.2 million under the settlement.
Square has been accused of holding large amounts of money from high-risk merchants and is presently facing a class-action suit.
A potentially major suit was brought against Square CEO Jack Dorsey in 2021, in which a Twitter shareholder claimed the company gave advertisers access to user data.
Square’s customer service is primarily provided by email, social media, and its support forum. It also has a toll-free number but merchants must request a code to use it.
Square only provides phone support codes to active merchants, which means that deactivated merchants will still not be able to reach the company by phone.
Square users are reporting wait times of up to several days before getting a response to their support requests.
Some non-Square users claim to have received emails from Square regarding non-existent accounts. These emails are most likely Square phishing scams.
Scammers are trying to trick customers into providing personal information. If you receive an email regarding your Square account, forward that email to the company.
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau has raised Square’s rating from a “B+” to an “A+” despite the rising number of complaints.
Square has received 5,023 complaints, of which 3,626 are related to service issues, 1,115 are related to billing and collection disputes, 199 are related to delivery problems, 65 are related to advertising and sales issues, and 18 are due to guarantee or warranty issues.
Square is a credit card processing company that relies on online marketing and partnerships with retailers to sell its service.
Square markets its pricing with a simple and easy-to-understand message. However, the company fails to mention anything about the company’s risk mitigation policies, and therefore, we have lowered Square’s grade for this section to a “B” rating.
Square is providing a credit card processing solution with no long-term commitments and no monthly fees, but it has some major drawbacks for merchants that sell high volume items.
At a glance
Location: San Francisco, California
Acquiring bank: JPMorgan Chase
Phone number: 1-855-700-6000
E-mail: Contact form here
Square Promotional Video
Online reputation and reviews
There are over a thousand negative reviews of Square across all consumer protection websites. The overwhelming majority of complaints are related to withheld funds, unreachable customer support, or some combination of the two. Among professional and merchant reviewers, Square’s lack of live customer support remains the largest blemish on its brand. Positive reviews about the company tend to cite its low-commitment contract with flat, predictable pricing.
Legal actions and lawsuits
There are no outstanding or recently resolved legal actions related to Square at this time.
Have you used Square for your business? Rate the company at the top of this post and tell us about your experience in the comment section below: