Square is a new financial service that allows you to charge credit cards on your iPhone or iPad and the whole idea is really quite brilliant.  At first blush, you might not understand why you would want to collect credit card payments if you use PayPal or some other online banking service — but if you think about your work day and how you interact with others in a business and personal sense — Square is giving you a cash register in the palm of your hand to facilitate credit card transactions just as if you had a storefront location.  After verifying your vitals on the Square website, you can begin accepting credit card transactions on your iOS device.  You mange your account online.  Each week, Square will deposit up to $1,000.00USD into your bank account.  Square’s vig for swiped credit cards is 2.75% +15 cents and 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in credit cards.

If you have to process large transactions like, say $10,000.00 USD, Square will only trickle you that money a thousand dollars the first week and then sit on the rest of the balance for 30 days.

Right now, a PayPal Business or Premier account is a better deal for processing transactions over a thousand dollars unless you want Square to live off your interest while they sit on your money for a month.

You can take cash payments — to give a receipt to your buyer — and those transactions will appear in your online Square account, but they obviously won’t get deposited since you already have the money in hand.  There’s no vigorish charged for cash exchanges.

Here’s how it looks on the Square website when money is deposited into your bank account.  The interface is clean and clear.

Fire up your iPhone and decide what sort of payment you want to process.  You might take payments for tutoring or doing handy work or even getting paid by by a cash-poor deadbeat who owes you money and owns a credit card.

If you are keying in the credit card information, you tap the vital information into the App.

The payment process is only complete when your buyer signs your screen and touches the “Continue” button.

Notice the “Sign Here” under the signature area?  That will change to the buyer’s name if you swipe a credit card instead of keying in the numbers.

Your buyers can then choose to have a receipt emailed to them or not.

Here’s the final transaction confirmation screen.

Square will also send you a free card reader that fits into the audio port of your iOS device.

When you plug in the reader, your screen indicates its presence and you can then swipe a credit card for quicker transactions — and you’ll pay less vig, too — but you also have to carry the reader with you.

With a swiped credit card transaction, the name of the buyer automagically appears below the signature line.

Here’s what the free card reader looks like — it’s as tiny as a guitar pick and thick as a pencil.  The reader arrives in 3-5 days via the USPS after you set up your Square account.

When I received my reader from Square, it was tossed in an envelope.

When Janna received her reader, it was clipped to a special informational piece of cardboard and she was also given a free Square sticker!  Not fair!  All Square totems were confiscated for the purpose of this review and may never be returned to their righteous owner.

Square will email you every detail of your accepted payments and deposits — if you so choose.

Here’s what the processed Square charges look like on the buyer’s side in their credit card account:

This is what a Square deposit looks like in your local bank account:

Square is a great, new, way to do business in the street, from your bedroom or in the boardroom.  Now I always have a transparent and quick way to process a payment for services.  You’d be surprised how many people balk at using PayPal — they are fearful of the process even though they don’t need a PayPal account to pay you.

Having Square in hand provides a more direct — and live! — payment experience for the buyer either in person with card in hand, or over the phone/SMS/email with their keyed numbers on your fingertips, and that makes getting paid so much simpler and convenient as we all move forward together into the ether of instant payments on demand.


  1. Definitely something handy to have. One day you won’t need square or a reader. You’ll just use your phone to pay somebody else’s phone.

    1. That’s likely right, Anne. We’ll just have all this mobile phone-to-phone commerce that, I’m sure, Apple and other phone makers are dying to exploit as the middleman vig scraper! SMILE!

  2. I signed up for Square late September 2010 based on reviews and buzz. IT IS NOT WORTH IT. It’s early December and I’m switching over to another company who has a monthly fee but a customer support phone number and a 48 hour deposit time.

    Square deposits the first $1000 but then holds the rest of your money for 30 days and deposits it in some illogical increment. So if you have a charge after that initial $1000 for example, on the 21st, you get some of it deposited 30 days later; if you had another charge on the 22nd, again, you get some of it 30 days later etc. You end up getting your money in small irregular increments which basically devalues your money.

    Think of having $100 but getting it in pocket change as $1 on one day, $7 a few days later; $4 a week later and so on and so forth.

    Plus if you do the math, their rates are high. You’re better off with a monthly fee and lower rates.

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