Square Point of Sale is our overall top POS recommendation for small businesses. It earned a rating of 4.48 out of 5, based on 31 criteria that are important to small business owners, like price, ease of use, and POS functions. This self-installable, user-friendly system offers a free plan (it also tops our list of best free POS systems) and can operate on hardware you already own.
Who Should Use Square
Square consistently does well in our evaluations of point-of-sale systems—it is our best overall free POS and iPad POS. It is suitable for mobile sales and solopreneur businesses like on-site repair and beauty services. Square is also great for pop-up shops and small specialty businesses like coffee shops and vape shops. Vape shop owners should note that Square’s regular terms of service do not support online sales of age-restricted products, though a dedicated Square CBD program exists.
Who Should Use an Alternative
In addition to not supporting online tobacco sales, Square is not the best fit if your shop needs complex inventory management, a high degree of customization, or relies on subscription products. So, we don’t recommend it for grocery stores, liquor stores or convenience stores. If you specialize in subscription boxes or similar, you’ll be better off with a processor like Helcim (read our Helcim review). Ticketed venues should check out KORONA instead—see our KORONA review for more details.
Which Square POS is right for you?
In addition to the basic Square POS, Square offers specialized POS software for various business types. Brick-and-mortar retail businesses should consider Square for Retail. Restaurants can find table and check management tools in Square for Restaurants. And appointment-based businesses like sales should check out Square Appointments.
Square Fee Calculator
The Square POS includes a completely free plan. It has no setup fees or monthly fees. All you pay are processing fees on credit and debit card payments.
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. Square says to expect your card reader in 10 days, but in our experience, it usually doesn’t take that long.
However, we recommend purchasing an EMV/chip reader since it makes your transactions more secure. These readers start at $49. Square offers interest-free payment plans for larger hardware purchases like iPad stands or Square Terminals. See more information about Square’s hardware options in the hardware section below.
Square has released the 2nd-generation version of its reader for contactless and chip payments. This device costs $59, with a processing rate of 2.6% + 10 cents per in-person transaction. It charges via a USB-C port.
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, and users can add or change any add-on subscriptions at any time. You can also cancel at any time with no termination fees.
Click through the tabs below for more detailed pricing information.
The 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 process transactions using 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 with, or instead of, a smartphone or tablet.
Square’s checkout tools are the most comprehensive we’ve found in a free POS. Most small businesses are able to process their first sale within an hour or two after creating a Square account. No other POS we have encountered has such a short setup time, especially with integrated payment processing and online ordering.
Your Square POS will accept:
- All major credit and debit cards
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Cash App
- Plastic and e-gift cards
- Invoice payments
- Online payments
- Tap to pay on iPhone and Android
- Buy now, pay later through Afterpay
Once your store is set up, you can accept card payments right away by manually entering card numbers into the POS, or you can connect a Square card reader. Square will send you a free magstripe card reader (which can take up to 10 days), or you can purchase card readers from an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot.
Square has an integration with Apple’s iPhone that allows users with an iPhone 11 or later (running on iOS 15.5 or later) to accept credit and debit cards and mobile wallet payments simply by tapping the iPhone. No card reader is necessary.
Your Square POS can scan barcodes with an attached barcode scanner or use the integrated iPad camera. Square also supports split payments and customizable digital and physical receipts, collects customer data, and includes customer feedback tools at checkout. You can import items using the bulk import tool in the Square dashboard. Additionally, you can refund sales, apply discounts, and accept online and third-party orders directly in your POS.
Square lost some points for inventory management because detailed inventory tools require third-party integrations, and its reports are not as customizable as some other paid POS subscriptions. Your Square POS will send you automated emails to alert you to low stock; I have personally tested this feature and found that the alerts reliably appear in my inbox (until I turn them off or replenish the stock). However, if you need vendor or purchase order management, you’ll need to add a third-party integration with an app like Shopventory or SKU IQ.
Learn more about inventory management for this POS with our in-depth Square Inventory Management guide plus video.
Square POS offers excellent marketing and employee management tools. Its email and text marketing modules are both templated and easy to use. It lets you quickly design sharp-looking messages to send to your customers. You can also set it and forget it; after you create an automated text or email message chain, Square will automatically send customers the relevant message based on their purchases or behavior.
Pricing for both marketing tools is based on the number of messages sent. So, you only pay for what you use, which is great for small businesses that want access to big business tools.
Number of messages/customer contacts
Square Email Marketing
0 - 500
501 - 1,000
1,001 - 2,000
2,001 - 4,000
4,001 - 9,000
9,001 - 15,000
15,001 - 30,000
30,001 - 50,000
50,001 - 75,000
More than 75,000
Contact Square for custom quote
Square Text Message Marketing
1 - 250
251 - 500
501 - 1,000
1,001 - 5,000
5,001 - 15,000
15,001 - 25,000
25,001 - 50,000
50,001 - 75,000
75,001 - 100,000
100,001 - 150,000
150,001 - 200,000
200,001 - 300,000
300,001 - 400,000
400,001 - 500,000
More than 500,000
Contact Square for custom quote
Square’s basic employee management module, Square Teams, is included in the Square POS. This allows your employees to clock in and out at the POS. You can also set up customized user permissions to control what functions each employee can perform. More advanced features like employee scheduling and detailed performance reporting require an upgrade to a paid Team membership, which starts at $35 per month, per location (a 30-day free trial is available).
Photo Studio App
Square has a free photo-taking and editing app for iPhone called Photo Studio. Apart from letting you take photos which you can then use for marketing or to improve the look of your online store, the app also provides tips for optimizing lighting and framing. There is even a built-in camera stabilizer to keep your images sharp and consistent.
As for photo editing, you’ll have AI assistance for changing background, editing shadows, and manipulating factors like contrast, saturation, and image rotation. After editing, you can sync the photos with the item catalog in your Square POS. You can also create a payment link in the app itself, and then add this to your business’ social media page.
Square has reporting features available both in the desktop POS and on mobile, though certain advanced functions (such as labor vs sales reporting) will require a paid upgrade.
For desktop POS reports, you can view performance based on several different categories such as individual item sales, team sales, and even labor costs vs sales. You can also review any discounts that were applied over a specific period, along with gift cards availed, voids, comps, and taxes paid. Finally, you can create custom reports that allow you to see exactly the data you need; you’ll have options to filter data by team member, device, and source of the sales.
As for reporting on Square’s mobile app, it allows for most of the same data viewing options: overall sales over time, cash drawer history, disputes, and gift cards. However, I was not able to find a custom report builder in the mobile app.
Square includes free team management and scheduling features, though a Plus version ($35 per month per location; 30-day free trial) is available to unlock advanced functionality.
The free version gets you basic settings for access permissions, as well as personal passcodes for employees to access devices, perform functions like giving out discounts, and generally improve POS security. You can, of course, also view current team members and add new ones.
With the Plus plan, you’ll get unlimited customizable access, team member badges, sales reporting and performance per team member, and more. You’ll also be able to set commissions for team members, giving them greater incentives to improve their performance. These commissions can be flat-rate or tiered, and you can integrate them into employee payroll to make accounting easier.
Square is an incredibly user-friendly system. Plus, it maintains a seller site with tons of articles, blogs, videos, and community resources. Unique support features include in-app messaging in the mobile POS app and guided step-by-step tutorials.
Live 24/7 support is available to certain customers that purchase software subscriptions or hardware. However, for free Square users, phone support isn’t always available. Square’s support hours are limited and only available to active customers, so it can be a hassle if you need to get support quickly. Though, the online seller community is very active with advice from other Square users and the Square support team.
Square requires businesses to use its built-in payment processor, which is certainly easy. The ease of setting up Square’s payment processing is part of what makes this POS so user-friendly. You just connect a bank account and go—no waiting for account approval. But while Square’s rates are competitive, they are not the lowest available, especially for high-volume sales. You can, however, get a custom rate quote if you process more than $250,000 annually.
Square POS is hands down the easiest POS for any user to set up. The free price tag and the wide range of hardware options make the Square POS one of the best available POS systems for all business types—plus, it is also incredibly popular with small business owners. We’ve seen the Square POS used for everything from pop-up shop vendors, gift shops, and small retailers, to food trucks, coffee shops, and craft fairs.
The Square POS is truly designed to serve the smallest businesses that are typically overlooked by large POS brands. The processing rates and limited customization options make this system a bit too niche for large or high-volume businesses. If you like the Square ecosystem and have a high-volume business, you should consider Square’s paid POS platforms Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, or Square Appointments, instead.
What Users Say in Square POS Reviews
The Square POS system is top-rated by users and critics alike. At the time of publication, the POS app has a 4.8-star rating from over 370,000 reviews in the Apple App Store and a 4.8 rating from more than 190,000 reviews on Google Play.
At the time of publication, Square POS has earned the following scores on popular review sites:
- Software Advice: 4.66 out of 5 based on over 2,000 reviews
- G2: 4.6 out of 5 based on more than 600 reviews
FinancesOnline also has a Customer Satisfaction Algorithm that gathers reviews, comments, and opinions from Square POS users across the internet. According to this, Square POS has a 97% user satisfaction rating.
Square POS reviews frequently mention:
|Users Like||Users Don’t Like|
|Free software||Limited/poor quality customer support|
|Easy to use; beginner-friendly||Higher fees for card-on-file and keyed transactions|
|Flexible and seamless payment options: online ordering, contactless, curbside, and on-the-go mobile sales||Issues connecting mobile card readers|
|Sleek and affordable hardware||Account stability issues|
|Straightforward pricing and no hidden fees|
Methodology: How We Evaluated Square POS
When evaluating small business POS systems, we look for software that is affordable for independent business owners and includes basic POS functions like the ability to process multiple forms of payment, process discounts, and track inventory. To find the best options, we also looked for systems that support multiple business types or dominate in the industry they serve.
Using those criteria, Square emerged as the highest-scoring POS system for most individuals and small businesses.
Click through the tabs below to see the full evaluation criteria.
30% of Overall Score
We favored a POS system that includes a free plan or free trial, affordable subscriptions, and additional plans so that you won’t grow out of the system. We also awarded points for affordable integrated payment processing, flexible hardware options, and no restrictions on the number of users, inventory, and transactions. Finally, we penalize a system if it requires long-term contracts and hefty installation fees. Square performed very well for pricing, given its free plan and affordable processing and hardware.
15% of Overall Score
Businesses need speedy and customizable checkout tools, easy customer management, mobility to sell anywhere, a process to track orders, and a way to process online orders. Because the way businesses operate has changed so much in recent years, we also considered contactless payments, integrated online ordering, and online store features. Square has excellent tools for all these functions, except for advanced transaction management and a free loyalty plan.
15% of Overall Score
The most important feature we considered was inventory tracking. We also considered how sophisticated and user-friendly the reporting dashboard was, and what marketing and employee management tools were available. Square performed moderately well, missing out on advanced functionality for vendor management, inventory counts, and multilocation tools.
20% of Overall Score
We prioritized 24/7 phone support for a POS system. We also considered help tickets and email or chat support, installation processes, and whether or not the system has an offline mode or hybrid installation so that you can continue operations when you lose internet access. Finally, we considered if the system has an online knowledge base, training videos, or a training mode available to help bring new employees up to speed. Square generally did well for ease of use, only missing out on more comprehensive or reliable customer support hours.
20% of Overall Score
We considered the overall quality of Square’s features, along with system stability, and security. We evaluated whether or not it offers a good value for its price point and standout features. Finally, we accounted for our experts’ personal experience using Square and interacting with customer service representatives, software reviews online, and the personal experience of other small business owners. Square achieved a perfect score here with outstanding features, high value for money, and glowing customer reviews.
Square POS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Small businesses and solopreneurs who need a mobile, free POS that operates in English or Spanish should check out Square. Small businesses that need multi-channel tools for in-person and online sales are also a great fit.
Businesses that process more than $250,000 annually or need advanced features like floorplans, matrix-level inventory, or appointment scheduling will be better served by Square’s sibling POS systems, Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, or Square Appointments.
Yes, the software is free to use. All you need to pay are processing fees when you process digital payments.
Square POS offers unbeatable value for new and small businesses or individuals looking to sell products or services. Instant setup, 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. Visit Square to create a free account.