Square POS is an app-based POS system that works on both iOS and Android devices. I’ve personally used Square POS to process sales and manage inventory for a small business. As Fit Small Business’ retail writer, I have also set up several Square accounts and tested the Square POS app and Dashboard many times.
Square POS is free to download and includes solutions for payment processing, inventory management, sales reports, customer management, and more. Manage settings, create an online store, and more from Square Dashboard, which can be accessed from any computer.
Square POS Pros
Square POS Cons
Free software and online store
Limited support hours
Easy to use, intuitive system
Account stability issues
Accept payments anywhere
Affordable, industry-leading hardware
Square POS Overview
After using Square POS firsthand in a retail environment, I can say it is a very intuitive system. It is really easy to create a free Square account and download the iOS or Android app to start managing inventory or processing sales immediately. Few other POS systems offer such a quick setup, especially with integrated payment processing.
Square is particularly useful for processing sales on the go. It has an offline mode, meaning you can still accept payments even without an internet connection. Square also has an automated customer directory that tracks customers by their payment method to send digital receipts and provide businesses with detailed reporting. I found this feature to be particularly useful when needing to search through past transactions to process returns or refunds.
However, Square’s phone support isn’t always available when you need it. I know that many retail businesses and vendors operate outside of traditional business hours. Square’s support hours are limited and only available to active customers. It can be a hassle trying to verify your account when trying to get support quickly. Square also requires businesses to use its built-in payment processor. While the rates are competitive, they are not the lowest available, especially for high-volume sales.
Takeaway: Square POS offers unbeatable value for new and small businesses, or individuals looking to sell products or services. Instant set up, integrated payments, free software (including an online store), affordable and flexible hardware options, and modular add-ons make Square one of the best POS systems on the market.
Square POS is especially right for:
- Cafes and coffee shops: Square’s payment processing rates are very low for any business that has an average sale under $20.
- Market and pop-up vendors: Offline sales capabilities and the lack of minimum transaction requirements and monthly fees make Square a great option for people who sell at flea markets or the occasional craft fair.
- Startup businesses: Square has no minimum processing requirements or upfront costs. If you don’t make any sales, you don’t have to pay anything.
- Food trucks: Square can process credit cards offline, so it’s a great fit for businesses that travel around.
- Sole proprietors: Square allows massage therapists, hairstylists, makeup artists, handymen, and other individuals an easy option for accepting card payments on the spot.
- Seasonal businesses: Square is completely free; there are no fees or monthly minimums, so it is a good fit for people who operate their business for a limited time frame.
- Businesses upgrading from cash registers: Square POS is easy to use and isn’t bogged down with granular features you won’t use.
Square POS Pricing
Square POS is completely free to use. The only fees are for processing card payments or adding extra features. Every new Square account also comes with a free magstripe card reader that connects to iOS or Android smartphones and tablets to accept credit card payments. In my experience, the free reader arrives fairly quickly in the mail.
However, I recommend purchasing a card reader that has an EMV/chip reader as that is a more secure transaction. These readers start at $49, though there are interest-free payment plans available for qualifying purchases. See more information about Square’s hardware options below.
Overall, Square’s pricing is extremely transparent and predictable. It has flat-rate, pay-as-you-go transaction fees and month-to-month billing for software products. There are no contracts or long-term agreements. Add or change any add-on subscriptions at any time.
Square POS Payment Processing Fees
- Flat-rate transaction fee: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction
- Invoices: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction
- Ecommerce sales: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction
- Recurring billing and card-on-file transactions: 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction
- Keyed-in payments: 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction
- Volume discounts: Square will create custom pricing packages for any business processing over $250,000 in credit card sales
To learn more about Square payment processing fees read our full Square Payments review. If you’re ready to start using Square, check out our step-by-step guide on How to Use Square to Process Credit Cards.
Square POS Monthly Fees
- Point-of-sale app: Free – Pro POS plans available for $60 per month
- Online ordering / ecommerce: Free
- Payroll: $34 per month plus $5 per employee
- Marketing: $15 and higher per month
- Loyalty program: $45 and higher per month
How Square POS Stacks up Against Other Free POS Systems
Most free POS systems on the market are either open-source, meaning they require much more work in terms of setup and maintenance, often with little to no customer support, or the free POS systems have strict limitations on the number of products, employees, or transactions you can manage. Square is neither of these. It’s easy to use and has no limitations on the number of products, transactions, employees, or locations, making it the best free POS system.
Square POS Hardware
Square POS app can be downloaded and used on any iOS or Android device, and the browser-based Square Dashboard can be accessed from any computer. To use Square, you just need to connect a card reader to your smartphone or tablet.
However, Square also has several full POS hardware setups available that you can use along with, or instead of a smartphone or tablet.
Square Card Readers
Square Reader for Magstripe
Square Reader for Contactless & Chip
Square Stand for Contactless & Chip
First free, additional $10
$169 or $16 per month for 12 months
Available with lightning or audio jack input. Accepts payments via magstripe (swiped).
Connects via Bluetooth. Accepts payments via EMV (chip), or NFC (Apple Pay, Google Pay)
Connects via Bluetooth and accepts EMV and NFC payments. Optional receipt printer, cash drawer, and barcode scanner.
Best for: Occasional mobile sales
Best for: All-purpose payment processing
Best for: Using iPad for a countertop POS
Square Full POS Systems
$299 or $27 per month for 12 months
$799 or $39 per month for 24 months
All-in-one credit card machine with POS, card reader, and receipt printer.
Full POS with touch-screen monitor, detachable customer-facing display, and credit card machine
Best for: Any business looking to upgrade from a standard credit card terminal or wanting a portable POS machine.
Best for: Retailers, boutiques, specialty shops, or cafes wanting a sleek countertop system.
Square POS Features
The first step in using Square to manage your business is creating a free account on Square’s website. You can configure business settings like products, taxes, team members, payment processing, and more under the Square Dashboard. Square has a Setup Guide that will walk you through all of the major steps. I found this process to be extremely easy and intuitive. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Then download the free Square POS app to start selling. Any of the products or settings that you created in your Square Dashboard will automatically sync to your POS app. You can also adjust the settings in the app, which will sync back to your Square account. I recommend uploading inventory in bulk through Square Dashboard to save time, instead of adding products individually through the app.
When you’re ready to make a sale, you can connect your free magstripe reader, purchase another kind of reader, or process the payment through an invoice or by typing in the card information. Square also has gift card features and can record cash payments. I’ve found that very little training is necessary to start selling products or accepting payments through Square POS.
To learn more about how to use Square, read our Ultimate Guide to Square POS.
Square POS Customer Relationship Management
One of the best features of Square POS is the customer directory. Square can recognize customers by their payment methods. Businesses can also add new customers directly from the sales screen using the payment method, phone number, email address, and other information. Regular customers can also save their payment information on file for future purchases.
As I mentioned earlier, this semi-automated directory is one of my favorite features. It’s super easy to look up purchases and customer history quickly without a physical receipt.
One of the other great Square POS features is customer feedback. When you send a text or email receipt after a sale, it includes a customer feedback form. Customers can indicate and explain a positive or negative experience. Businesses get this feedback instantly and can respond via text or email, and even issue coupons or refunds as needed. Most POS systems charge a monthly fee for collecting customer feedback or issuing coupons, so this is a fantastic deal.
Square POS Inventory Management
You can add items to your Square POS inventory one at a time, or import all your products in one fell swoop with a CSV spreadsheet. The cloud-based POS software makes it possible for you to access your inventory from any iOS device wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection. Daily stock alerts are sent to your email, so you’ll know when stock is low.
To learn more, read our step-by-step guide on Square Inventory management.
Square POS Employee Management
Square POS keeps it simple and basic with its free staff management features. Your employees can ring up a sale and issue a refund, but that’s about it. For more advanced employee management features, you’ll have to get the add-on Team Management feature.
Square POS Reporting
The Square POS data analytics feature lets you study a variety of reports, so you’ll know-how your business is doing. You can track sales, customers, and inventory through reports. You can find out what the average sale is, how many customers are new or repeat business, and even which hour is your busiest for the day.
Every free Square account also comes with a free Square Online account. Square Online can be used to create an online store or checkout page. Square Online automatically syncs with Square POS so you never over-sell items. Retail stores can expand beyond their local customer base by shipping out orders, or busy cafes can offer customers the option to order ahead.
A number of shipping, delivery, or curbside and in-store pickup options are available through Square Online. All orders come through on Square POS, so employees never miss an order. Though Square Online is free, you can upgrade to a paid plan for a custom domain, discounted shipping labels, and abandoned cart emails. Read our full Square Online review for more details.
I personally tested out building an ecommerce website with Square Online. The whole process takes just a few minutes. The templates are quick to set up, and it’s easy to list and delist products depending on availability.
To learn more, read our guide on How to Set up a Free Square Online Store.
Square Invoices is built-in to Square POS so you can easily send digital estimates and invoices from anywhere. There’s no fee to use the software and just a 2.9% + 30 cent transaction fee for every invoice paid. Save cards on file for auto and recurring billing. Manage invoices from the Square Dashboard or a dedicated Square Invoices mobile app. Read our full Square Invoices review for more details.
Square POS Modular Add-Ons
Set up direct deposit payroll and benefits like health care for any number of employees or contractors. Starts at $34 per month plus $5 per month for each person paid. In my experience, Square Payroll is a great fit for very small businesses that want an easy way to process payroll and offer basic benefits like healthcare. I know several small business owners who use Square Payroll and love it because it is easy to use and affordable compared to other payroll services.
Square Marketing can be used to design custom emails and send automated campaigns to your customers. All of your email campaigns, including insights on open rates, offer redemptions, and more can be viewed in Square Dashboard. Square Marketing includes lots of email templates and lets businesses create targeted and segmented customer groups. This add-on is $15 per month for up to 500 contacts, $25 per month for 501 to 1,000 contacts, and $35 per month for 1,001 to 2,000 contacts.
Square Marketing is a good fit for any business that wants to drive sales through email campaigns, offer promotions or discounts, send regular newsletters, or distribute announcements to their customers. Brick-and-mortar, as well as mobile retail businesses, cafes, coffee shops, and service providers, could all benefit from adding Square Marketing to Square POS.
Square Loyalty can be used by retail stores, coffee shops, breweries, and any other business that would want to reward regular customers. Square Loyalty lets businesses create a custom points-based rewards program that customers can sign up for at checkout. Customers get automatic text notifications when they earn points or a reward.
Square Loyalty starts at $45 per month for businesses with up to 500 loyalty transactions, $75 per month for 501 to 1,500 loyalty transactions, and $105 per month for businesses with 1,501 to 10,000 loyalty transactions.
Ready to get started using Square POS to run your business? Visit Square to create a free account.
Square for Retail
Square for Retail is one of Square’s newer software products. Like the traditional Square POS, you can sign up and use Square for Retail for free. However, there are also Pro plans available for $60 per month. The main difference between Square POS and Square for Retail is that the retail version has a bar code-based user interface whereas Square POS has a tile-based interface.
Square for Retail offers more detailed inventory and SKU management, as well as centralized order management for ecommerce and curbside pickup orders. Read our full Square for Retail review to see if it’s right for your business.
Square for Restaurants
Square for Restaurants is Square’s newer software product dedicated to the foodservice industry. It goes beyond the standard POS to include features for table and order management, menu creation, and integrated online ordering for delivery and pickup.
The free version of Square for Restaurants can be a great choice for delis and coffee shops, while the Pro version ($60 per month) is ideal for full-service restaurants. Read our Ultimate Guide to Square for Restaurants to learn more.
Square Appointments is a hybrid appointment booking and POS system for service-based businesses like salons, makeup artists, personal trainers, consultants, and repair businesses. In addition to Square POS features like payment processing, invoicing, inventory tracking, and customer management, it also comes with a free online booking portal and calendar management.
Square Appointments is free for individuals, making it an unbeatable value for freelancers and solo practitioners. Read our full Square Appointments review to see more features.
Square POS Customer Support
One of the biggest downsides of Square POS is limited phone support. Live phone support is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Many reviewers cite difficulties getting in touch with live support when they need it. However, Square does have chat support available on the website and directly through its mobile POS app.
The best Square alternatives offer competitive pricing and all-in-one solutions for POS, payments, and ecommerce.
Top Square POS Alternatives 2020
Best for: Retailers
Best for: Quick service
Best for: Small shops and cafes
Software from: $9 per month
Software from: $14 per month
Software from: $49 per month
Hardware from: $49
Hardware from: $69
Hardware kits from: $800
Runs on: iOS and Android
Runs on: Clover hardware
Runs on: iPad
Looking for something else? Read our other POS reviews.
Bottom Line – Our Square POS Recommendation
Based on my experience using Square POS, it is a great option for new, small, and startup businesses, particularly businesses that process up to $10,000 per month in sales. Square POS payment processing is one of the most affordable options for businesses with an average transaction of less than $20. Keep in mind that most POS and payment processing solutions have monthly fees or minimums, but Square does not. Visit Square POS to create a free account.