Square Card Reader Review: Is It Right for Your Countertop?

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Square has been declared the best card reader for faster payouts by our research team. Our in-depth research gives Square an overall score of 4.4/5 –  making Square third place for the best mobile card readers.

We know how important it is for card readers to be simple, reliable, and have relevant features such as invoicing. So that’s why we’ve looked into the best readers on the market to find out which readers are truly worth it for your business.

Our team spoke to various businesses and compared 10 different card readers to find the best on the market. We focused on areas such as compliance, features, price, and customer support.

If you want to compare Square to other providers on the market, you can use our free quote tool. By providing us with a few brief details, our tool will match you up with providers who’ll then contact you with obligation-free quotes.

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0 out of 0
Score
4.4
Best For

Faster payouts

Cost
Transaction fee
  • 1.75% for card transactions
  • 2.5% for payment links and invoices

How much does Square cost?

Square charges 1.75% for every card transaction and 2.5% for payment links and invoice payments. Its entry-level PDQ machine costs £19 + VAT, with more comprehensive hardware, such as the Square Terminal (£149 +VAT) costing more.

Square’s transaction fees are on the pricier end compared with other providers. SumUp, Stripe, Revolut, and Tyl all offer cheaper transaction fees.

If you’re looking to save as much as possible, Revolut offers the cheapest fees, charging 0.8% + 2p for in-person transactions, but its card reader is more expensive than Square’s at £49. However, purchasing hardware is typically a one-off fee and won’t cause a huge financial impact unless you’re purchasing multiple card readers.

Although Revolut has cheaper transaction fees, Square scores higher in most of the other research areas, including features (a near-perfect 4.9/5) compared to Revolut’s 4.5/5.

Square has no monthly or chargeback fees, in line with the other mobile card readers we compared it to including, SumUp, Zettle, and Tyl.

If you sign up with a card machine provider and later decide it’s not suitable to your needs, you’ll need to know how to end a card machine contract. Since it doesn’t operate with fixed-term agreements, Square makes this bit easy and cheap, since it doesn’t charge termination fees.

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0 out of 0
Cost
  • Reader – £16
  • Terminal – £149 + VAT
  • Stand – £99 + VAT or £17/mo for 6 months
Transaction fee
  • 1.75%
  • 2.5% POS, payment links, Square Invoices, and Virtual Terminal

If you want something more than a basic card reader, you can opt for Square’s terminal –  an all-in-one card reader and receipt printer. Square’s terminal is a good fit for businesses that have a permanent location, as it’s more suited to a countertop, but can also be used as a mobile reader. Priced at £149 +VAT, it’s comparable to SumUp’s 3G and printer, which is priced at £139. Putting SumUp and Square side by side, SumUp comes out with a cheaper reader that offers the added benefit of having an in-built SIM card with free, unlimited mobile data.

SumUp’s 3G connectivity is suited to businesses that are often on the road or in remote areas that might not have access to Wi-Fi.

Our research shows that Square is a better overall provider than SumUp, scoring a 4.4/5 compared with SumUp’s score of 4.2/5. However, when it comes to the battle of these readers –  SumUp wins out, as Square’s terminal requires Wi-Fior or an Ethernet connection, whereas SumUp has 3G connection.

If you want to compare the cost of other card readers to Square, you can use our free comparison tool. With a few details about your business, we can match you up with trusted providers, who’ll then contact you with obligation-free quotes.

Pros

  • Fast payouts
  • Easy and free to set up an account

Cons

  • Does not accept multi currency
  • No 3G connectivity

Pro –  fast payouts 

Square has been rated as the best mobile card reader for faster payouts –  transferring funds to your bank account by the next working day. This works well for businesses that need cash flow, such as startups and SMBs.

When it comes to Zettle vs Square, Square has the quickest fund transfer time. Zettle has the second quickest fund transfer time –  within 1 to 2 working days. Zettle also scores higher than Square overall, taking joint first place with a 4.8/5 rating, compared with Square’s 4.4/5.

Despite Zettle’s overall higher score, Square’s speedy payouts might be more important to your business, especially if you’re relying on the cash flow from payments. If you’re willing to wait an extra day or two, Zettle’s higher score makes it a more reliable option.

Pro –  easy and free to set up an account 

Unlike traditional card readers, Square doesn’t require you to have a merchant account to start taking payments. This means you can easily set up an account as a new merchant.

To apply for a Square card reader, you’ll need to fit out an online application, which takes around 10 to 15 minutes. Square doesn’t carry out credit checks for new users, which is good news for businesses with poor credit. Once the application has been accepted, your card reader will be sent to you.

Once you’ve received your reader, you just need to enter your (business or director) bank details on the Square app.

Our research shows that only Square and Tyl carry out no credit checks – other providers such as SumUp, Zettle, and Revolut all carry out credit checks. Credit checks can be bad news for your business if you have a bad credit score, as you’re unlikely to be approved for an account with these providers.

As well as there being no monthly fees for Square, there are also no fees to set up. If you opt for the Square reader, your initial investment will cost you £16. Your only recurring costs will be the 1.75% transaction fee for each card payment.

Pro –  Good for online businesses

Square is a good fit for businesses that want to streamline their online and offline business together. Square’s free EPOS system comes with a virtual terminal and an ecommerce store, which can be built free of charge. Both of these features landed Square a spot in our best payment gateway providers ranking.

While the other providers in our research don’t offer a free ecommerce store, you can integrate an ecommerce store with providers such as Zettle. Zettle has a higher score than Square overall (4.8/5) however, building a store on Square itself is easier and means there’s less chance of issues occurring as the software is designed to speak to each other. The problem with integrations is that third-party applications cannot always communicate well and if there’s an issue, you’ll have to contact the third-party directly.

Con –  Does not accept multi-currency

You can only accept payments in the currency your account was set up with. This means you can’t accept payments in multiple currencies. If your business is global, you will need to set up different accounts in each location, so you can accept payments in the local currency.

This is a complicated workaround, as you can’t manage each account from one dashboard, instead, you’ll have to log in and out of each account, which can be a hassle.

Only three of the mobile card readers we researched accept multi-currency payments. These are Zettle, Stripe, and Revolut. Stripe offers the highest number of currencies, with over 135, Revolut offers over 30, and Zettle over 25.

If your business is likely to take payments in multiple currencies, not being able to do so will impact your sales and revenue. Stripe is a good choice if this is a big concern for your business, although its fund transfer time is around 3 to 7 business days –  much longer than Square’s period of one working day.

Stripe has the lowest score (4/5) in our in-depth research, with Square a solid three places above it. Although Square is a much better overall provider, opting for Stripe makes more sense if your business needs to be able to accept multi-currencies. Read our review of Stripe for more information.

Cons –  No 3G connectivity 

Square’s readers don’t come with built-in 3G connectivity, instead, you’ll need to connect the reader to a phone or tablet that has WI-Fi or mobile data. This can be frustrating for mobile vendors as an array of issues can arise such as low battery on your phone or a lack of Wi-Fi.

SumUp offers a 3G reader, making it easier to take payments on the road, however, priced from £129, it’s much pricier than Square’s £16. SumUp also lacks a free EPOS system, with prices starting from £29 per month. Although SumUp scores lower than Square (4.2/5) in our research, if your business is fully mobile and often in remote locations, SumUp’s 3G reader is worth the extra cost as it means you’ll be able to take payments no matter where you are.

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Square’s key features explained

Invoicing 

Square makes invoicing easy with the ability to create, send, and track invoices online or through the Square Invoices app. Square offers two invoicing options: Free and Plus. The Free version allows you to send an unlimited number of invoices and contracts. The Plus option gives you the ability to customise your invoices, track and organise projects, and create milestone-based payment schedules.

Plus costs £20 per month, per Square account, plus a 2.5% transaction fee for each invoice payment received.

This pricing can get expensive if you have multiple Square accounts for multiple currencies, which you can only do by setting up an account in each of the countries your business is based in.

Integrations and reporting 

Square has such a high number of integrations, our research team was unable to quantify it. Square has the highest amount of integrations out of all of the providers we looked at. The second highest number of integrations comes from Zettle, which offers over 21 integrations.

Zettle’s integrations include popular accounting software such as QuickBooks and Xero. but its number doesn’t touch Square’s integrations, which appear to be in the hundreds.

Square’s high number of integrations means you can seamlessly connect various parts of your business. It also means you can most likely continue to use the same software and programs you currently use, without having to swap them out for something that will work with your new card reader.

What kind of business is Square best for?

Small businesses

We recommend Square as one of the best card readers for small businesses because it has no monthly fees, fast payouts, and great customer support. Fast payouts mean better cash flow, which is key for small businesses. 

Out of all the providers in our in-depth research into the best mobile card readers, only Square and Tyl offer no credit checks for new users. If you have poor credit, this can seriously impact your ability to start taking card payments. 

It’s also easy and free to set up an account with Square, which is convenient for everyone, but especially small businesses. 

Mobile businesses 

In our research, Square scores a perfect 5/5 for customer support. Square offers phone, email, and live chat support. If you’re on the road, or mid-sale, you’re less likely to have a tech team on hand, so good customer support is key to dealing with any obstacles that crop up. 

Great customer support increases the reliability of the provider, which is important when you have a mobile business. Square’s high number of integrations means you can have access to a comprehensive system on the road.

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0 out of 0

Revolut

Zettle

Tyl

SumUp

Stripe

Score
4.4
Score
4.8
Score
4.8
Score
4.4
Score
4.2
Score
4.0
Best For

Faster payouts

Best For

Cheap transaction fees

Best For

Convenience

Best For

Low-cost hardware

Best For

3G connectivity

Best For

Reporting

Cost
Cost

£49 + VAT (one-off fee)

Cost

From £29 + VAT

Cost

From £9.99 + VAT/month

Cost

From £49 + VAT

Cost

From £49 + VAT

Transaction fee
  • 1.75% for card transactions
  • 2.5% for payment links and invoices
Transaction fee
  • 0.8% + 2p in-person UK cards
  • 2.6% + 2p in-person non-UK cards
  • 1% + 2p online UK cards
  • 2.8% + 2p online non-UK cards
Transaction fee
  • 1.75% in-person
  • 2.5% payment links and invoicing
Transaction fee
  • 1.39% + 5p UK and European personal cards
  • 1.99% + 5p international and commercial cards
  • Variable for Amex
Transaction fee

2.5% online
1.69% in-person

Transaction fee
  • 1.4% + 10p in-person
  • 1.5%+ 20p online

Price 

Square is one of the pricier providers when you compare its transaction fees to the other providers in our research. At 1.75% for each card transaction and 2.5% for invoices and payment links, these fees add up over time and mean you end up losing more money, compared to using a provider that has lower transaction fees.

This is a bigger blow for businesses that deal in a lot of transactions. Square’s fee of 1.75% for a big purchase won’t be too noticeable, but 1.75% for 100 small purchases will make a big dent.

Our in-depth research found that Revolut has the lowest transaction fees –  0.8% +2p for card transactions, significantly less than Square’s 1.75%. Keep in mind, Revolut’s transaction fee might not be much cheaper if your business takes lots of small transactions.

Square offers one of the lowest hardware fees, starting from £16 for a card reader, but Tyl’s readers are tough to beat, at £6.99 per month. While a monthly fee can add up, Tyl also offers a £13.99 countertop reader and £14.99 all-in-one POS reader –  all cheaper than Square’s offering.

Tyl has the same overall score as Square in our research, a 4.4/5. However, while Tyl has the same score, it only has four integrations, compared with Square’s countless integrations. It also offers fewer reporting features. But Tyl’s low-cost hardware gives its score a boost. Square is a more comprehensive overall provider, compared with Tyl.

As hardware costs are typically a one-off fee, this isn’t as important as the transaction fees, as these will impact your business every time a sale is made. While Square’s transaction fees aren’t the cheapest, Square makes sense for businesses that need numerous integrations and want to avoid a credit check.

Features 

Square has the second-highest score for features in our in-depth research, a 4.7/5, beaten by Zettle’s score of 4.9/5. Zettle just about beats Square because it accepts payments in 25 major currencies, whereas Square requires a complicated workaround to accept other currencies, as long as your business is located in that country.

Square has the highest amount of integrations, with Zettle having the second highest at 21 integrations. Both Square and Zettle have free EPOS apps, with Square offering a more comprehensive system. Zettle is the better choice if you don’t care for EPOS features and simply want to take card payments. Square’s numerous integrations and detailed reporting make it better suited for businesses that want to take card payments and manage sales, inventory, and employees from one system.

Note

Unsure how you’d even use a Square POS if you got your hands on it? Read our easy guide on how to operate a Square card reader.

Our researchers have found that Square has an overall online comment score of 4/5 – the third-highest score. Users of Square’s card reader have generally found that the reader is easy to use, reliable, and worth the money.

Customer review

“It’s just so intuitive! This is a very well designed system, beautifully integrated and customisable to your business needs. Yes, you might pay slightly more on fees than stand-alone card readers, but to have everything linked eliminates a lot of paperwork. It’s so easy to update, even remotely, that means you can adapt quickly to changing business conditions.

excellent system.” (sic)

Michael Pickford,
Trustpilot - 17 June 2022
Customer review

“We have found Square to be the answer to our problem – we are a charity and need to raise money, but could lose it when potential customers do not have cash to hand, credit card or phone sales help[s us to make a sale we could have lost. The money is then transferred quickly to us and the accounting and reports keeps our treasurer happy!” (sic)

Andrew S,
Trustpilot - 20 June 2022
Verdict

Square takes third place in our research team’s deep-dive into the best mobile card readers. Scoring an overall 4.4/5, we recommend Square for small and mobile businesses that want access to a comprehensive system. Square’s numerous integrations, insightful reporting, and invoicing make it suited to businesses that want something more than just a card reader.

If you want to compare other card readers to Square, use our free quote tool, to receive obligation-free quotes from providers. Just give us a few brief details about your business and we’ll match you up with tailored providers.

Our Methodology

Our research team compared 11 different card readers to find the best on the market. We focused on scoring each provider in the following areas:

  • Price –  hardware fees, transaction fees, account fees, flexibility, and early termination fees were all taken into account to determine how affordable the provider was.
  • Payment options –  the team assessed whether the provider offered a physical machine, online payments, virtual orders, and payment links.
  • Features –  the features we focused on were invoicing, integrations, reporting, and multi-currency.
  • Compliance –  this area looks at how compliant each provider is based on fund transfer times, PCI compliance, and fraud prevention measures.
  • Help and support –  our team identified how much help and support each provider offered. This includes email, phone, and live chat support.
  • Customer score –  this score is based on customer reviews and comments.

The average of all of these scores is combined to make up an overall score for each provider.

FAQs

Is Square trustworthy?
Yes, Square scores a solid 5/5 for its customer support and a 3.5/5 for compliance. Square is PCI compliant and has advanced algorithms to monitor fraud trends.
Does Square have a monthly fee?
No, Square does not have a monthly fee. You’ll only need to pay a one-off fee for a card reader, plus a transaction fee of 1.75% for every card transaction processed.
Is it worth it to use Square?
We recommend Square for users who want a reliable card reader and a comprehensive system to manage various aspects of your business. Square has a free EPOS app, numerous integrations, and detailed reporting and invoicing.
What are the cons of using Square?
Square has fairly high transaction fees when compared with its competitors, such as Revolut, Tyl, and Stripe. Plus, it’s super difficult to take payments in multiple currencies.

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Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.