What We Recommend Square POS For
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. Based on experience, I can say Square offers one of the most intuitive systems. You can get started in minutes and easily navigate the software with no training. It is undoubtedly one of the best POS systems for small businesses.
In addition to free POS software, Square also has a free online store and web building tool, team management features, and social media management tools. Paid add-ons include payroll and benefits processing, marketing, and customer loyalty. Few other systems offer such an inclusive feature set or so many products for free.
In particular, Square POS is best for:
- Mobile sales: Square is our top-recommended mobile POS, earning a 4.61 out of 5. This means it’s a great fit for market vendors and pop-ups, as well as sole providers like makeup artists and handymen that need an on-the-go solution.
- Businesses on a budget: Square is completely free to use, and unlike many of the other forever-free software out there, has feature-rich plans you can upgrade to as your business grows. It earned the highest score: 3.26 out of 5 in our free POS software roundup. Free software with no contracts or minimums means Square offers unbeatable value in managing inventory and payments for seasonal or temporary businesses.
- Businesses wanting an iPad POS: Square is rated the best iPad POS system, earning a 4.55 out of 5, which makes it ideal for processing transactions on the sales floor.
- Multichannel sales: Square’s synced free POS and free online store software earned a 4.10 out of 5 in our evaluation of multichannel POS systems. Though Shopify and Lightspeed offer more feature-rush tools, Square was by far the most affordable option.
- Brick-and-mortar vape shops: Square POS made our list of recommended vape shop POS systems, earning a score of 3.25 out of 5. As a free POS that can handle thousands of SKUs, allowing unlimited number of products and transactions, it offers the best solutions for small vape shop start ups on a tight budget.
- Small Coffee Shops: Earning a rating of 4.5 out of 5, Square offers both a simple POS and restaurant-specific software that starts with zero monthly fees, making it one of the best solutions for budget cafe POS systems.
Square POS is also a top choice for individuals and small businesses wanting a simple payment processor. Square POS comes with a built-in payment solution which we recommend as the best overall merchant services for small businesses.
Looking for something more specific? Square also offers Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, and Square Appointments. These are some of our top-recommended industry-specific POS systems. They each have a forever-free plan along with optional upgrades.
When Square POS Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Managing complex inventories: Businesses with thousands of SKUs, assembled products, or needing to manage work orders would be better suited with Lightspeed, our top-rated POS for inventory management.
- Businesses wanting a highly-customizable POS interface: If you want to build a custom solution, but still need a free POS, you might be better suited with an open-source POS system.
- Food and beverage retailers: Convenience stores, grocery stores, markets, and liquor stores would be better served with an industry-specific system that can handle more complex inventories.
Square POS Overview
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
Does not process age-restriction products online
Affordable, industry-leading hardware
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 Monthly Software Fees
- Point-of-sale app: Free – Pro POS plans available for $60 per month
- Online ordering and ecommerce: Free – upgrades available
- Payroll: $34 per month plus $5 per employee
- Marketing: Starts at $15 per month
- Loyalty program: Starts at $45 per month
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.
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 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 and Chip
Square Stand for Contactless and 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 bar code 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.
Square Mobile Features
- Offline payment processing
- Use on any iOS or Android device
- Add and sync unlimited mobile registers
- Unlimited logins
- Send email and text receipts
- Multiple payments options including contactless, invoice, and virtual terminal
- Square Terminal all-in-one mobile POS
- View sales reports from any device
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.
Because a Square account comes with unlimited registers and users, you can download the Square app and use the POS from any mobile device, which can sync back to your Square account. So, if you have a brick and mortar store with a central terminal, you can still process sales on-the-go at events or throughout your sales floor and have them all sync.
Square Terminal Mobile Features
If you don’t want to use your smartphone as your mobile POS, Square Terminal is an all-in-one POS and payment mobile device that also comes with a built-in receipt printer. This device offers more flexibility than the iOS or Android app because you can customize your checkout screens and workflows. It also comes with a built-in library of article and video tutorials, and 24/7 phone support (24/7 support is not available to all users).
Square Multichannel Sales Tools
- Free online store or website
- Online checkout page/payment link
- POS and online store sync automatically
- Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) features
- Offer curbside pickup
- Local delivery (in-house and on-demand options)
- Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest integrations
- Online appointment booking
- Recurring billing for subscriptions and memberships
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.
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 Social Selling
With Square POS and your free Square Online account, you can seamlessly sell on social media by:
- Pasting payment links: Add Square Checkout shoppable links to any Twitter or Facebook post, or through Instagram. Square Checkout links go to a simple, one-page checkout that highlights a specific product or offer.
- Building shoppable Instagram posts: Use your Instagram account to create an ecommerce site with Square. Tag products in your posts and your followers can purchase them without leaving Instagram. Offer shipping, pickup, or local delivery.
- Creating Facebook campaigns: Create offers and promotions from your Square Dashboard. In addition to sending email campaigns, you can share these offers through Facebook.
- Become a verified Pinterest seller: Integrate your Square Online store with Pinterest similar to how the Instagram integration works. You’ll need to create a Pinterest account, and you’ll need a custom domain for your Square Online store.
Square POS Customer Relationship Management
- Automated customer directory
- Recognize shoppers by payment method
- Collect customer emails at checkout
- Gather and review feedback through digital receipts
- Add-on omnichannel loyalty program
- Create automated and segmented marketing campaigns
- Text message marketing
- Square Marketing Assistant builds and monitors campaigns, and makes smart recommendations
- Sell, redeem, and manage digital or physical gift cards
- Store payment methods for faster checkout
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.
There are many ways to process a sale on Square POS and several options for sending digital receipts. Plus, businesses can add new customers right from the sales screen.
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
- Sign into Square Dashboard from any computer to manage inventory anywhere
- Import products and inventory quantities in bulk
- Export data and reports
- Real-time tracking and quantity updates
- Set low-stock email alerts
- Add and manage item modifiers
- Easy-to-use interface
- More advanced features like COGS, purchase ordering, and projected profit reporting available in Square for Retail Pro Plan
While Square POS does not have the most sophisticated inventory management software on the market, it does have some of the most user-friendly inventory tools. It’s designed for speed and reliability. Plus, it’s free, which means if you’re currently using a spreadsheet, switching to Square would be a big upgrade.
While I personally would recommend a more robust POS inventory system for businesses with thousands of SKUs or complex inventory needs, I have spoken with many small business owners, including card and collectible retailers with complex inventories that love using Square. For their shops, ease of use trumps granular control.
With Square’s free POS, you can add items to your inventory one at a time, or import all your products in one fell swoop with a CSV spreadsheet. Add product categories, modifiers, SKUs, and variants. Pricing can be set per item, hour, liter, ounce, pound, or yard.
The cloud-based POS software makes it possible for you to access your inventory from any iOS or Android device, or any computer through Square Dashboard. Daily stock alerts are sent to your email, so you’ll know when stock is low.
Square inventory is centralized, meaning any orders or transactions processed with Square POS or Square Online are immediately and automatically reflected in your stock counts.
To learn more, read our step-by-step guide on Square Inventory management.
If you do need more sophisticated inventory tools, Square for Retail Pro, which is $60 per month, includes a bar code generator, vendor tracking, tools to create and send purchase orders, and multi-location management. Plus, more detailed inventory reporting like the cost of goods sold (COGS), profit margins, inventory sales by category, and vendor sales.
Square POS Employee Management
- Unlimited staff logins/passcodes
- One set of staff permission levels
- Track clock-in and clock-out times, plus hours worked
- Schedule shifts
- Export payroll reports
- Track breaks
- View overtime reports
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 Plus feature.
Team Plus costs $35 per month and includes unlimited permission levels, multiple wage rate tracking, break violation reporting, early clock-in/out prevention, activity logs for each team member, and more detailed labor reports.
Square POS Reporting
- Square Dashboard for viewing and exporting all reports and analytics from anywhere
- In-app reporting tools
- Low stock alerts
- Manage multiple locations
- Real-time data synced across all sales channels
- View customer insights like average spend and new vs returning shoppers
- Sales data by hour, location, item, and more
- Receive daily summaries via email
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.
Square POS Modular Add-ons
- Add and remove services and software as needed
- Month-to-month billing
- Customize to fit your business needs
- Enterprise-level businesses can work with Square to build custom plans
Set up direct deposit payroll and benefits like healthcare 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. In addition to one-off promotions and custom campaigns, send automated messages for customer birthdays, to welcome new shoppers, and bring back lapsed 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 Marketing Assistant
Square Marketing Assistant comes with every Square Marketing subscription. It’s a real time-saving feature for small businesses because it sends personalized suggestions for email and text campaigns, plus reports on how the campaigns are performing, and tips on how to create more effective campaigns.
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.
Square POS Ease of Use
- Phone, in-app messaging, and chat support
- Extensive resource library with FAQ and how-to articles
- Square Seller Community discussion forum
- Sign in from any computer, iOS, or Android device
- Guided in-app tutorials for getting started
- Bulk product upload and editing
- User-friendly interface
Square is an incredibly user-friendly system. Plus, there’s tons of articles, blog, video, and community resources available. Unique support features include in-app messaging in the mobile POS app and guided step-by-step tutorials.
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 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. However, Square does integrate well with a number of third-party software for ecommerce, inventory management, accounting, and more.
Square POS Alternatives
The best Square alternatives offer competitive pricing and all-in-one solutions for POS, payments, and ecommerce.
Best for: Multichannel Retailers
Best for: Brick and mortar retailers
Best for: Businesses needing a simple mobile payment app
All-in-one solution for small retailers, restaurants, and service providers
Software from: $9 per month
Software from: $99 per month
Software from: $0 - free to use
$9.95 per month
Hardware from: $49
Hardware from: Quoted
Hardware from: $24.99
Runs on: iOS and Android
Runs on: iPads
Runs on: iOS and Android
iOS & Android or Clover Hardware
What Users Think of Square POS
Square is a top-rated POS system by users and critics alike. At the time of publication, the POS app has a 4.8 star rating from over 233,000 reviews in the Apple App store. On Google Play, Square POS has a 4.3 rating from 125,335 reviews.
At the time of publication, Square POS has also earned the following scores on popular review sites:
- Software Advice: 4.5 out of 5 based on 1,615 reviews.
- G2: 4.6 out of 5 based on 491 reviews.
- Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 based on 1,615 reviews.
Finances Online also has a Customer Satisfaction Algorithm that gathers reviews, comments, and opinions from Square POS users across the internet. According to their algorithm, Square POS has a 97% user satisfaction rating.
Here are some of the trends I have noticed from reading user reviews and speaking to business owners that use Square:
Square POS Users Like:
Square POS Users Don’t Like:
Limited/poor quality customer support
Easy to use, especially for users new to POS
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
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 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. Visit Square to create a free account.