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Square Credit Card Reader 2023: Reviews & Complaints
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This article is focused on credit card processing using Square for established businesses and industries, such as retail, food service, and ecommerce. The article provides an in-depth review of Square’s point of sale options and card readers, as well as an analysis of user reviews. It also examines common complaints and fees associated with Square’s credit card processing, comparing them to traditional merchant services companies.
Square’s Card Reader and POS
We will also provide an analysis of Square’s card readers and point-of-sale options, including the Square Reader for contactless and chip as well the company’s retail and restaurant POS. These hardware options are compatible with a range of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, making them an attractive option for businesses that require a portable payment processing solution.
Square’s Additional Features and Services
Additionally, we will cover various services provided by Square, such as its Kitchen Display System, Square Terminal, and Integrated Reservation and Waitlist Management. Readers who are interested in Square’s specific services can find more detailed reviews through links provided in the article.
Square User Reviews
User reviews are a crucial factor to consider when choosing a credit card processing provider. This article provides an analysis of user reviews, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of Square’s services as reported by actual customers. We also cover common complaints about Square’s services, such as issues with customer support, funding holds, and account stability. By highlighting these complaints, we aim to help business owners understand potential pain points and make informed decisions about whether Square is the right provider for them.
Fees are an essential consideration when choosing a credit card processing provider. This article provides an analysis of Square’s fees, including transaction fees, chargeback fees, and hardware costs. We’ll compare Square’s fees to those of traditional merchant services companies, providing businesses with a valuable benchmark for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of Square’s services.
Square Review Video Summary
Is Square Holding Your Funds Right Now?
Before we get started, thousands of merchants have reported payments frozen by Square. If you’re one of the business owners that are using Square, then you might find the following resources helpful:
Started By The Original Twitter Founder
Square was founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey who also founded Twitter before it was bought by Elon Musk. The company grew rapidly and Square became a public company in 2015 under the “SQ” ticker. The Square corporation rebranded to “Block Inc” in 2021 but continues to operate it’s payment processing services under the Square brand. Much of the company’s success can be attributed to its then unique take on smartphone credit card processing (See: Best Mobile Credit Card Processing Apps) and by being the first to market such technology to small businesses owners as well as everyday people.
Quick Sign-up and Intuitive Design
Signing up for Square’s payment processing is simple: users simply visit Square’s website to fill out a short form and await approval, which typically happens instantly. Once approved, users can choose from hardware options such as a card reader that connects to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth, or a from dedicated point-of-sale devices that can be used on a countertop or taken to the customer. Square has been so successful in the mobile credit card processing industry that it has inspired numerous competitors.
Payment Processing Designed for Specific Industries
Square has placed particular attention on common industries with predictable sales patterns and low risk of fraud and chargebacks. Below are the business types that Square targets with its marketing.
Square for Restaurants and Bars
Square offers an extensive suite of services and products for the food and beverage industry, catering to various business types. Below, we explore Square’s specialized features and solutions for quick-service restaurants, full-service restaurants, bars, food trucks, bakeries, and catering services. First we’ll cover features that are found with all the industry specific POS options.
Staffing and Scheduling
Square’s software solutions provide bars and restaurants with tools to manage their unique staffing needs more effectively. Time tracking and role-based permissions are two features that can help businesses manage their workforce more efficiently. Time tracking allows businesses to accurately track employee hours, manage payroll, and ensure compliance with labor laws. Role-based permissions allow businesses to assign different levels of access to employees based on their job responsibilities, ensuring that sensitive information is only accessible to those who need it.
Offline Payment Processing for Uninterrupted Operations
Square’s offline mode is a valuable feature that ensures seamless payment processing even without an internet connection. This feature is particularly useful for businesses that operate in areas with limited connectivity or are prone to internet outages. With offline mode, businesses can continue to process transactions and accept payments without any interruption, reducing the risk of lost sales or dissatisfied customers. When an internet connection becomes available, Square will automatically sync all offline transactions and update the business’s records. This feature provides businesses with peace of mind, knowing that they can continue to operate even in challenging environments. Overall, Square’s offline mode is a useful tool that provides businesses with flexibility, reliability, and seamless payment processing.
Insights into Product Performance and Customer Preferences
Square’s software solutions provide valuable reporting tools that can help restaurants gain insights into their product performance and customer preferences. By tracking sales data, restaurants can identify which menu items are most popular, track inventory levels, and make informed decisions about restocking and pricing strategies. This can help restaurants reduce waste, optimize their menu offerings, and improve their profitability.
In addition, Square’s reporting features can provide restaurants with insights into customer preferences and purchasing behaviors. By analyzing sales data, restaurants can identify trends and patterns in customer behavior, such as peak ordering times or popular menu items. This can help restaurants tailor their offerings to better meet the needs of their customers and improve their overall dining experience.
Customizable Menu Options for Diverse Products
Square’s software solutions offer customizable menu options and item modifiers that provide restaurant owners with the flexibility to manage a wide range of products with ease. These features allow restaurants to modify, add, or remove menu items quickly and efficiently, making it easy to keep menus up to date and to accommodate customer requests. With item modifiers, restaurants can add specific instructions or preferences to menu items, such as cooking preferences or dietary restrictions, improving the dining experience for customers.
Next, we’ll cover features for specific food and beverage businesses.
Quick-Service Restaurants and Cafes:
Speedy Transactions for Fast-Paced Operations
Square Terminal and contactless payments are tools that can be beneficial for quick-service restaurants and cafes. Square Terminal is an all-in-one device that can process transactions, refunds, and print receipts. This device can help businesses save costs and streamline their checkout process. Contactless payments allow customers to pay quickly and securely without exchanging physical cards or handling cash. This not only speeds up the transaction process but also enhances the overall customer experience. Additionally, contactless payments can improve security and protect against fraud as sensitive payment information is encrypted and securely transmitted during the transaction process.
Mobile Ordering and Pickup Options
Square Online provides an option for quick-service restaurants and cafes to offer mobile ordering and pickup to their customers. This feature caters to the on-the-go nature of customers who want to quickly and easily order their food without having to wait in line or be physically present at the location. With Square Online, customers can place their orders remotely, and then pick up their orders at their convenience. This feature provides greater flexibility and convenience to customers, improving their overall experience with the business. For quick-service restaurants and cafes, this feature can help increase sales, reduce wait times, and improve operational efficiency.
Order Management with Kitchen Display System
The Square Kitchen Display System (KDS) is a tool that aims to help quick-service restaurants manage orders efficiently and provide fast service to customers. With the Square KDS, orders are displayed on a digital screen, allowing kitchen staff to prioritize and manage them in real-time. This helps to reduce wait times, increase order accuracy, and improve overall customer satisfaction. The Square KDS also provides features such as order tracking and timers, which can help staff manage their workload and ensure that orders are prepared and delivered in a timely manner. By streamlining the order management process, the Square KDS can help quick-service restaurants improve their operational efficiency, reduce errors, and provide a better experience for their customers.
Table and Floor Plan Management
Square provides a range of features and tools that enable quick-service restaurants to manage their dine-in services more efficiently. One of the key features of Square for restaurants is its comprehensive table and floor plan management tools. With these tools, restaurants can create and manage floor plans, assign tables to servers, and monitor table status in real-time. This allows staff to coordinate their services more effectively, ensuring that tables are assigned to servers efficiently and orders are taken and delivered promptly.
Square Terminal’s pay-at-the-table functionality allows customers to pay for their meals directly at the table with their credit cards. This feature reduces wait times and provides a more secure transaction process.
Integrated Reservation and Waitlist Management
Square’s Integrated Reservation and Waitlist Management system provides quick-service restaurants with a useful tool to manage their reservation and waitlist processes. With this system, restaurants can manage their reservations and waitlists in one place, simplifying the process and reducing errors. Customers can easily make reservations online, and restaurants can manage them with real-time updates, reducing the risk of overbooking or other scheduling conflicts.
Bars and Nightclubs:
Inventory Management Features
Square’s inventory management tools enable bars an nightclubs to track their alcohol and ingredient stock levels. This feature helps businesses monitor their inventory in real-time and ensures that they have enough supplies. Additionally, Square’s inventory management tools provide insights into which items are popular and which ones need to be restocked, allowing bar owners to make informed decisions about their inventory management strategies.
Tab Management for Accurate Billing
Square’s payment system simplifies opening and closing tabs, reducing billing errors and ensuring accurate charges. With features like tab management and easy payment processing, customers can quickly and easily start and close tabs without confusion or mistakes. This improves the customer experience and helps businesses avoid costly billing errors.
Food Trucks and Mobile Vendors:
Compact and Portable Hardware Solutions
Square Terminal offers a compact, portable solution for quick setup and teardown in mobile food and beverage businesses.
Integrate location-based services with Square Online to help customers find and order from mobile vendors.
Catering and Event Services:
Scheduling and Management with Square Appointments
Square Appointments simplifies scheduling and managing events and bookings for catering services.
Efficient Invoicing and Estimates Features
Square’s invoicing and estimates features streamline billing and payment management for catering clients.
Square Restaurant POS Example
Square Credit Card Processing for Retail Businesses
Square offers a wide range of services and products tailored to the retail industry, accommodating various retail business types. Below, we delve into Square’s specialized features and solutions for brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers, pop-up shops, and specialty retailers.
Brick-and-Mortar Retail Stores
Point-of-Sale System for In-Store Sales
Square for Retail offers a comprehensive POS system with inventory management, customer profiles, and employee management tools, streamlining in-store sales and operations.
Integrated Hardware Solutions
Square Register and Square Terminal provide seamless hardware integration, simplifying transactions and enhancing customer experience.
Advanced Reporting and Analytics
Square’s reporting and analytics features deliver actionable insights into sales trends, inventory management, and customer behavior.
Easy-to-Use E-commerce Platform
Square Online provides a user-friendly platform for creating customizable, professional online stores that integrate seamlessly with the Square POS system.
Shipping and Pickup Options
Square offer customers a variety of shipping and pickup options, including in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and shipping integration with major carriers.
Secure Payment Processing for Online Transactions
Square’s focus on providing a secure payment processing system ensures safe and reliable online transactions for customers.
Other Square Services
Since the launch of the Square card reader and mobile app, the company has rolled out several other services for both business owners and personal use. Below are links to our specific Square reviews for these services.
- Square Register is a point-of-sale (POS) device that is intended as an all-in-one payment terminal for retail businesses. The company has options tailored for retail POS, restaurant POS, food truck POS, coffee shop POS, as well as a few others.
- Square Online Store is an Square’s online store builder for selling products over the internet. The platform is simple to use and quick to set up. The service has no monthly fees and the only cost is the card transaction fees from your sales.
- Square for Retail is Square’s point-of-sale system specifically designed for brick-and-mortar retailers. The service is similar to Square Register but includes a revamped checkout process as well as additional features such as enhanced inventory management, employee accounts, cost of goods sold, purchase orders, vendor lists, and more.
- Square Cash is a direct peer-to-peer cash transfer service that is linked to a user’s debit card. Cash sends payments via email and smartphone and allows for free transfers of funds between users. The service is not targeted at business owners, but they may use it to make payments outside of a business setting.
- Square Capital is a Square’s business loan program that can be activated from the dashboard in the Square Register. Square Capital allows merchants to receive a large upfront cash amount and then pay that total back over time with a fixed percentage of their daily credit card sales, similar to a merchant cash advance.
- The company has also recently launched several other service including a virtual terminal that can be used on any device, an self-serve orders app called “Square Order,” an online invoicing feature called “Square Invoices,” an online scheduler called “Square Appointments,” and an offline processing mode that enables merchants to capture payments even when their internet is down.
Industries Square Does Not Serve: Prohibited Businesses
While Square offers an extensive suite of services and products catering to a wide range of industries, there are certain businesses that it does not serve due to legal, regulatory, or compliance reasons. This short section highlights industries and business types that are prohibited according to Square’s list of restricted industries. Attempting to process payments with Square in the following business types will result in your funds being withheld and the termination of your account.
Regulated Products and Services
Square does not support businesses that deal in the sale or distribution of regulated products and services, such as narcotics, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, e-cigarettes, firearms, ammunition, and explosives. The company does, however, provide payment processing for CBD businesses (See: Best CBD Payment Processors)
Adult Content and Services
Businesses involved in adult entertainment, products, or services—including but not limited to pornography, escort services, and adult live chat features—are not supported by Square (See: Best Adult Industry Payment Processors).
Financial and Legal Services
Square does not cater to businesses offering certain financial and legal services, such as investment and credit services, bankruptcy attorneys, collection agencies, and payday loans (See: Best High-RIsk Merchant Account Providers).
Gambling and Betting
Businesses involved in gambling, lottery, or betting activities, including online gambling sites, sports forecasting, and odds-making, are not supported by Square (See: Best Merchant Accounts for Gambling Businesses).
Illicit or Unethical Activities
Square prohibits any business involved in illicit or unethical activities, including those that promote hate speech, harassment, discrimination, or that violate intellectual property rights.
High-Risk Products and Services
Businesses dealing with high-risk products or services, such as telecommunications equipment, prepaid phone cards, phone unlocking services, or those that pose a high risk of fraud or chargebacks, are not supported by Square (See: Best High Risk Payment Processors).
Square Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||2,300+|
|Live Customer Support||Active Merchants Only|
|Most Common Complaint||Fund Holds|
We recommend Helcim as the top alternative to Square. Both services offer an easy to use mobile payment processing device that works with most mobile devices and tablets. Helcim offers a month-to-month contract, no monthly or annual fees, customer support phone line, next-day funding, extremely low processing fees, and QuickBooks integration. Helcim has also been consistently reviewed as one of our top-rated processors since we first reviewed it almost ten years ago. We feel that the company provides all the functionality that Square offers with a much smoother customer experience. For more information please read our full Helcim Review. If you operate a “high-risk” business, please out list of high-risk credit card processors.
Where Square Falls Short
Another area that Square comes up short in this review is its customer service. Square has racked up a lot of complaints (more than 2,300 just in our comment section below). The majority of reviews complaint of virtually nonexistent phone support and funding holds. Additionally, the company has not been active in attempting to resolve online complaints.
Square / Block Lawsuits
The company has defended against several lawsuits:
- In 2018, Square settled a class-action lawsuit filed against its food delivery service “Caviar”. The company was alleged to have withheld money from delivery workers left by customers as gratuities from 2012 to 2015 and agreed to pay $2.2 million dollars under the settlement.
- We have found evidence of multiple other lawsuits from the last few years. In 2019 Square was accused of mishandling the way it dealt with information concerning payments for medical procedures. The suit was dismissed with prejudice later that year.
- In another class-action suit, Square faces charges of holding large amounts of funds from merchant accounts that it deemed high risk. Square has received numerous complaints relating to these charges over the years, and this case is ongoing.
- A 2021 class-action suit has been brought against Square and other major credit card processing companies over what the complainants call price-fixing over the use of the interchange fee.
- A potentially major suit was brought against Square CEO Jack Dorsey in 2021, in which a Twitter shareholder claims that Twitter gives “broad access” to user data to advertisers and that Square, Dorsey’s other company, has “benefitted wildly from this disregard for privacy.” The suit has wide-ranging implications for Square if it succeeds, as it seeks to remove Dorsey from Twitter and force both companies to undergo major reforms.
Square Customer Support Options
The company appears to rely too heavily on customer service provided by email, its support forum, and social media. The company does have a customer support phone number that operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT (see How to Contact Square), but merchants and business owners must request and receive a code from the Square website in order to actually reach a representative.
Only Active Accounts Get Real-time Help
Phone support codes are only provided to active Square merchants, meaning that deactivated accounts will be unable to reach support. It is our position that deactivated accounts are the businesses who have the greatest need for phone support. Business owners who prefer to have access to full-time, in-house support staff are better off choosing a conventional merchant account provider.
Long Wait Times
Merchants are waiting up to several days for a response from Square, by phone or email. Many users also report that Square has not satisfactorily responded to their support requests. Many Square reviews report disbelief that a company as large as Square lacks direct phone support.
Beware Square Phishing Scams
At the time of a previous update, numerous non-Square users claimed to receive emails from Square regarding non-existent accounts. These emails stated that Square was having trouble depositing sales into the user’s account. It went on to instruct the to supply account details to receive their payment. These emails are very likely to be Square phishing scams. Such scams are designed to trick users into providing personal information. They do not have any connection to the actual company Square. If you receive a suspicious email regarding your Square account, forward it to [email protected].
Square Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
|Product & Service Complaints||3,626|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||1,115|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||65|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||18|
Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
Square’s BBB Complaints on the Rise
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau is reporting an “A+” rating for Square despite 5,023 complaints filed in the last 36 months. Square complaints have skyrocketed since we first published this review in April of 2011.
How the Complaints Break Down
What Merchants Say
Square has also received 381 informal reviews to its BBB profile, with only 6 positive in tone and 375 negative. The most recent review describes potentially fraudulent charges and a lack of customer service:
********************** took money from our new business account. A recent new startup business. They claimed it was from a different business that was closed long ago, that was in someone else’s name. It had nothing to do with us. We provided them with all the documentation they requested yet they kept trying to debit the account, costing us a lot of money in fees. We were eventually forced to close the account just to stop them from debiting. Fortunately the bank manager had been through this with customers who use ********************** before and sided with us. The ********************** “Customer Success” team was absolutely horrific. It literally took weeks to speak to a real person. They lied to us multiple times, on recorded calls. Even telling us, more than once, that the “Recovery Team” doesn’t have phones (yes, they actually said that)They have done nothing to resolve the costs they incurred us. They cannot give us any details of the supposed transaction(s), dates, company, customer or any other information on why they fraudulently (in my opinion) took money to begin with. We have, to date, spent over 40 hours trying to resolve this issue with **********************. Finally, after nearly two months a real person called. The end result was they still refuse to pay us back for what they cost us and still insist we owed them money. They offered to issue us a “******” for the amount!. The thing is, we DON’T owe them. Never have.
This merchant would be better served by one of our top-rated processors.
A “C” Performance
Due to the company’s high complaint count compared, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review.
Square Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Swiped Rate||2.60% + $0.10|
|Keyed-in Rate||3.5% + $0.15|
|E-Commerce Rate||2.90% + $0.30|
Square’s Processing Fees are Simple
One of the most appealing aspects of Square for business owners is the lack of monthly or annual fees. In fact, there are none of typical of the typical fees found with most other traditional merchant services providers, such as activation fees, monthly fees, gateway fees, PCI Compliance fees, downgrade fees, and early termination fees. Square has no additional monthly fees outside of transaction fees. This means that there are no costs incurred if a business owner doesn’t make any sales.
Fees by Transaction Type
Square used to offer a very competitively priced magnetic stripe card reader, but following the switch to chip cards in the U.S., users are encouraged to purchase the chip card reader at a still-low cost of only $49. The company offers a single processing fee option for all merchants using Square Reader or Square Register.
Square’s fees are:
- 2.6% + $0.10 for swiped transactions
- 3.5% + $0.15 for keyed-in transactions
- 2.9% + $0.30 per sale through Square e-commerce
How Square’s Costs Compare
Square’s swipe rate is about 0.80% higher than what a business could achieve with a well-negotiated traditional merchant account. The keyed-in rate is about 1% higher for the same industries. If you are new business and looking for competitive rates, see our recommended credit card processors. If you are an established business looking for lower fees, consider our independent statement audit service to eliminate hidden processing costs.
High Volume Businesses, Heed Caution
Square does not verify the credit history of its prospective customers so it uses sophisticated systems to avoid fraud losses. The company states that there are no transaction limits, per sale or month. However, such marketing is misleading because numerous Square reviews report that large sales trigger funding holds. Additional, reviews also reports that a high number of sales over a short period can trigger a hold. The policies regarding such holds are not disclosed and no advance warning is given.
Square’s Previous Rolling Reserve Policy
Until November 2013, Square placed holds on funds of card-not-present sales if over $2,002 was charged within any seven-day period. This meant that if a merchant processed $2,100 in sales within seven days, the extra $98 would be held by Square for 30 days. This policy caused confusion among users because Square did not provide any warning before the $2,002 limit was reached. Square now says that merchants can process transactions of any type and size without worrying about a processing limit, but this is not entirely true.
Square’s Current Fraud Triggers
Square’s current primary tactic to limit fraud is less transparent than its previous rolling reserve policy, which is why it has a low score in this section. Square seems to rely on undisclosed algorithmic “risk factors” to automatically hold business transactions that it considers suspicious. The payment processing system appears to flag many legitimate transactions, causing problems for some merchant accounts. Complaints have emerged that Square has randomly placed lengthy holds (over 30 days) on funds, even those swiped in person, without explanation or notification. When a transaction is flagged, Square will either contact the merchant for more information about the merchant or transaction, or deactivate the merchant’s account.
More Transparency Needed For Risky Transactions
This protocol lets Square publicly claim that it does not hold merchants’ funds because the withheld funds technically belong to “deactivated” Square merchants instead of “active” Square merchants. Square’s policies on fund holding and risk mitigation are very unclear and make the service risky for higher volume merchants. Square needs to do a better job of educating merchants about transactions that could lead to account deactivation. Steps the company could take include issuing a warning before processing transactions that will be held, immediately informing merchants when transactions have been held, and communicating with merchants throughout the hold process.
Some Minor Improvements Could Raise Square’s Rating
In most respects, Square has favorable pricing and contract terms for merchants. It has a simple signup process, affordable equipment costs, no monthly fees or long-term contracts, and easy-to-understand pricing. However, sudden account deactivation can greatly impact a merchant’s operations, so the grade for this section will not reach “A” until Square improves its risk mitigation procedure.
Square Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Employs Independent Resellers||No|
|Advertises Transparent Rates||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Working at Square, Employee Sentiment
We take into account a company’s employee sentiment as it can have a direct impact on the client experience. Overall, employee reviews of Square have been positive, with many employees praising the company’s innovative culture, talented colleagues, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Many also appreciate the opportunities for career growth and development, as well as the company’s focus on work-life balance and employee well-being.
However, some reviews have also highlighted challenges such as long work hours and high expectations, as well as issues with communication and transparency. Additionally, some employees have raised concerns about pay and benefits, particularly for those in entry-level or support roles.
Overall, Square appears to be a highly regarded employer, with a strong focus on innovation, employee development, and diversity and inclusion. However, as with any workplace, there may be some areas for improvement, and individual experiences may vary.
How Square is Different from Traditional Merchant Account Providers
Square differs greatly from traditional credit card processors in how it markets its POS systems and sells its service. Most merchant account providers hire poorly trained outside independent agents. These agents are trained to set high fees in exchange for big commissions. Square instead relies on online marketing and partnerships and does not hire outside sales agents. Nearly all of Square’s users sign up directly through the homepage of the company’s website. Square has also benefited from an enormous amount of online buzz and word-of-mouth promotion.
Beware of Processing Limitations
Square markets its pricing with a straightforward and easy-to-understand message. However. the company fails to mention anything about its fraud mitigation policies. These policies have caused significant problems for many businesses and some have complained of large financial losses. Numerous Square reviews accuse the company of misleading marketing. These complaints stem from the company’s fund holding policies and lack of warning on the type of transactions that can trigger holds. There are several industries, that can be found on this page, deemed as “high-risk” that will find themselves at the mercy of Square’s underwriting and fraud prevention systems. Such businesses would be better served by a high-risk merchant account.
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