How To Use Square Readers: Our Complete Guide

The Square Reader, from payment processing company Square, is a portable payment device that securely accepts chip and PIN cards, contactless cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Square Readers connect to your tablet or phone via Bluetooth, making it easy to process transactions anywhere.

A Square Reader costs just £19, with Square charging a straightforward rate of 1.75% for every transaction, making it a popular option for small businesses.

In this guide, we’ll take you through setting up your Square Reader and using it to take payments.

Setting Up Your Square Reader

Your new Square Reader will come with a charging cable, a getting started guide, and payment acceptance stickers. To take payments, you’ll first need to charge it, install the Square app on your mobile device, set up your Square account, and wirelessly connect your device to your Square Reader. Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.

Charging Your Square Reader

  1. Locate the USB cable that came with your Square Reader. One end of this cable will plug into your reader and the other will connect to a power source.
  2. You can plug the USB cable into any USB port to charge your Square Reader. This can be a wall socket with a USB adapter, a computer, or even a car charger.
  3. Connect the cable to your Square Reader and the power source. Fully charging from a low battery state takes around two hours.
  4. To check the battery status, press the power button on the side of your reader. Four green lights on the top of the Square Reader show its charging percentage. Each green light represents 25% of the full charge. A red light indicates that the reader needs to be charged before using it.
  5. When it’s charged, there’s no need to turn off your reader. After two hours of inactivity, it automatically goes into a low-power state. To wake it up, just tap the power button.

Installing the Square Point of Sale App

You need the Square Point of Sale app installed on your tablet or mobile device to use the Square Reader. It’s available for both Android and iOS, but you must be running iOS 14 or higher or Android 7 or higher on your device to use the Square Reader.

You can find links to the Square Point of Sale apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store at Click through to the relevant app store for your device and tap on ‘Install’ to get the app.

Setting Up Your Square Account

Payments via Square Readers are processed by Square, which acts as your merchant account. If you haven’t already set up your Square account at, you can set up your account within the Square app.

If you’re the account owner, you’ll need to provide the following details when setting up the account:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your residential address
  • Your contact phone number
  • Your company structure and ownership details
  • Information about your company’s directors, shareholders, partners, or owners
  • The legal and trading addresses of your company
  • Your Company Registration Number (CRN), if applicable
  • Your VAT number, if applicable
  • The details of your UK-based bank account

If you can’t provide this information, you won’t be able to accept card payments, but you’ll still be able to track cash payments and offer email and text receipts to customers.

When you add employees to your account, you only need to add their full legal name. No other personal details are required.
For the final part of the signup process, you are asked to choose your business type (e.g., IT, retail, restaurant) from a list and specify how you’ll use Square (e.g., in-person payments, website, brick-and-mortar). This sets up your Square account with some default settings.

Wirelessly Connect to Your Reader

All that’s left is to pair your device with your Square Reader over Bluetooth. Keep your device and Square Reader within three metres of each other while performing this process.

  1. Power up your Square Reader by pressing and releasing the power button.
  2. On your device, open ‘Settings’ and make sure Bluetooth is enabled.
  3. Launch the Square app. Tap ‘More’ on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Navigate to ‘Settings’ > ‘Hardware’ > ‘Square Card Readers’ > ‘Connect a Reader.’
  5. Hold down the reader’s power button for three to five seconds. Release as soon as the lights flash orange. Android devices can be a little troublesome here, requiring you to perform this step a few times. Square says they’re working on it.
  6. A confirmation message will appear in the app after a successful pairing. Tap ‘Pair’ to complete the process.
  7. Once connected, your reader will appear as ‘Ready’ within the Square app.

Once you’ve completed this process, your Square Reader will remain paired with your device, so you won’t need to do it again.

Using a Square Reader To Accept Payments

Now that you’ve paired your Square Reader with your device, you can use it to accept payments. Whether you’re taking chip and PIN or contactless payments, the process is similar. Let’s look at the steps.

Accepting Chip and PIN Payments

  1. If your Square Reader hasn’t been used for over two hours, tap the power button to bring it out of low-power mode.
  2. Make sure your Square Reader is connected to your device. If the lights on the reader are green, it’s working. You should be good as long as you’ve previously paired the devices and enabled Bluetooth on your mobile device.
  3. Open the Square app and add the relevant items to the sale. You have the option of entering a sale amount manually.
  4. Tap ‘Charge’. (On smaller screens, you will need to tap ‘Review Sale’, then ‘Charge’).
  5. Ask your customer to insert their card into the Square Reader. The chip side must go first, with the front of the card facing upwards.
  6. The customer must now enter their PIN and press the blue tick on the screen.
  7. Upon a successful transaction, all the lights on the reader will blink green, there will be an audible beep, and you’ll get a confirmation message in the app.
  8. The screen will allow you to send the customer an optional digital receipt. You can send a receipt by entering the customer’s email address or phone number into the confirmation screen.

Accepting Contactless Payments

Customers can make single payments of up to £100 even faster with contactless payments. Square Readers support contactless payment cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Let’s look at how these payments play out with a Square Reader.

  1. Tap the power button on your Square Reader if it hasn’t been used within the last two hours.
  2. Double check it’s still connected to your device via Bluetooth. The lights on the Square Reader should be green to indicate this.
  3. Open the Square app and choose the items for the sale. You can also enter a custom amount to be charged.
  4. Tap ‘Charge’. (On smaller screens, you’ll need to first tap ‘Review Sale’, then ‘Charge’).
  5. The Square Reader will display a single green light when ready for the card.
  6. Ask the customer to hold their card over the NFC symbol on the reader.
  7. Once the payment goes through, all four lights on the Square Reader will blink green, and you’ll hear a beep. You’ll also see a confirmation screen on your device.
  8. As above, you now have the option to send the customer a digital receipt to their email address or phone number.

Want more tips? Read up on how to accept Apple Pay at your business.


If you haven’t yet done so, we recommend adding all the products or services you provide to your Square account. You can do this through the Square app or website. With your library of items added to Square, you can quickly select them on your device when serving customers, further streamlining the payment process.

Still unsure about whether to use Square to accept payments? Then check out our Square Reader review for our thoughts on why it’s a strong option. Read our roundup of the best card machines for small businesses, too, in which the Square Reader ranks highly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Square Reader 1.0 and 2.0?
Square introduced a new version of the Square Reader in March 2023. The 2nd generation has a 20% longer battery life, longer range, and improved security. It also charges using a USB-C cable instead of the micro-USB cable used in the 1st generation Square Reader.
Can I Use Square Reader Offline?
No. You require an internet connection to use a Square Reader to take payments.
Does Square Reader Work With Square Stand?
Yes. You can pair the iPad on your Square Stand with your Square Reader. The Square Stand also has a conveniently placed USB charger for your Square Reader, so it will never run out of battery.
Written by:
Richard has more than 20 years of experience in business operations, computer science and full-stack development roles. A graduate in Computer Science and former IT support manager at Samsung, Richard has taught coding courses and developed software for both private businesses and state organisations. A prolific author in B2B and B2C tech, Richard’s work has been published on sites such as TechRadar Pro, ITProPortal and Tom’s Guide.