Square brings mobile credit card processing to the masses with a minuscule square credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of popular mobile devices. The card reader and app are free, and there's no monthly service fee. There’s no setup fee, no monthly fee and no contract. The transaction fees, however, aren't the lowest on the market.

Because both small businesses and consumers can use Square, you don’t have to have a merchant account. It does require you to provide information about your bank account along with a credit card number and your Social Security number so it can verify your identity and run a credit check.

Square has all the right organizational security measures in place to protect your customers' information. Actual credit card information isn’t stored on your phone or tablet, and the app is password-protected. As required by law, Square is PCI-DSS level one compliant.

The app is user-friendly and allows you to swipe or key in debit and credit cards. You can easily calculate and display sales tax and prompt customers for tips. Your customers sign their receipts right on the screen and choose whether they'd like their receipt emailed or texted to them. When they get their receipts, Square Feedback encourages them to provide feedback about their experience with your company. However, Square doesn't allow you to store client names and addresses, so if you want that information for marketing purposes, you'll have to obtain it another way.

You can have multiple users accepting payments on their own devices all tied to one Square account, but you can only have up to 10 users per account. You can view reports on your phone or tablet or online. The online transaction manager lets you see the details of each day’s earnings, including statistics on top selling items, inventory, and new versus returning customers. You can also download the reports and use the data in spreadsheet or accounting software such as Intuit QuickBooks and Xero.

Square offers phone support and has a support center on its website with a wealth of information, including video tutorials, that you can use to find solutions to the problem at hand. You can also email the company from its website.

Square Summary:

Square is a terrific option for a small business, particularly if you're considering moving from cash only to accepting credit card payments. You're only charged for the transactions you run, so it's particularly affordable if you run a low volume of debit and credit card transactions.



You don't need a merchant account to use Square.

Square's swipe and keyed-in percentage rates aren't the lowest among the mobile credit card processing services we reviewed.

The Verdict:

Square works equally well for small businesses and for individuals who just want to sell an item or two.