How to Use Square to Process Credit Cards & Run Your Business

Square credit card processing offers an affordable, easy, and immediate way to accept card payments. It gives you various transaction options at transparent prices and a full management toolkit, including a free point-of-sale (POS) app. You can accept both in-person and remote payments using the free Square POS software. Square is our top-recommended merchant service for small businesses.

For in-person payments, download the free mobile Square POS app, available for iOS and Android devices. The app can connect your device to Square’s card reader, create and send invoices and payment links, and allow customers to pay by scanning a QR code. For remote payments, Square offers invoicing, online checkout, payment links, and a virtual terminal—each of which can be managed in your Square Dashboard.

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Square in-person payments: 2.6% + 10 cents for every tapped, dipped, and swiped payment
Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% + 15 cents when you enter a credit card number manually in the Square Point of Sale app

To use Square mobile payments, you’ll need to download and sign in to the mobile POS app on your iOS or Android device. Log in and hit the “Checkout” button on the left side of your screen to log your sale. You can manually enter the transaction amount or select items from your Library if you’ve set up your inventory.

Square calculator on mobile.

When processing payments, either type in an amount or choose a pre-set item from your product library to automatically tally the purchase total. (Source: Square)

When you’re ready to accept payment, hit the “Charge” button. You can process payments in several ways.

  • Cash
  • Keyed-in credit/debit card
  • Keyed-in gift card
  • Card-on-file
  • Invoice
  • Send payment link
  • Pay with QR codes

Square payment options.

Square mobile lets you process a wide range of payment options. (Source: Square)

After every successful payment, you can choose between issuing a digital or printed receipt.

  1. Enable digital receipts on the Square app, click More > Settings > Checkout > Signature and Receipt.
  2. Toggle Skip Receipt either on or off.
  3. Authorize the payment by processing your customer’s card or recording another form of tender on the payment screen.
  4. Ask your customer to enter their phone number or email address on the receipt screen.
  5. Tap Send.
  1. Authorize the transaction by swiping your customer’s card or recording another form of tender on the payment screen.
  2. If you have in-person order tickets turned on, a prompt to enter a customer name or order number will appear, or the ticket number will be automatically assigned.
  3. Tap Print Receipt.
  4. To print a gift receipt (for iOS devices) tap Transactions from the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Locate and tap the payment > Print Gift Receipt.

Square in-person payments: 2.6% + 10 cents for every tapped, dipped, and swiped payment
Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% + 15 cents when you enter a credit card number manually in the Square Point of Sale app

You can pair Square’s free software with a card reader or other POS equipment for in-store sales. Square also offers a variety of its own hardware options, including hardware kits (which many store merchants prefer), a checkout register with a cash drawer, and a receipt printer.

Square also offers full, simple countertop POS systems:

Square iPad stand.

Since our last update:

Square recently upgraded its Square Stand, which has the chip and contactless reader already built into the dock. It also introduces a new Square Stand hardware—Square Mount. This allows you to firmly install the stand on any flat surface ideal for self-service kiosks.

Cost: $149 or $14 for 12 months.

Square Ecommerce transaction fee: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

Square makes it easy to launch a new business online or expand your existing business into online sales. Here are your online payment options with Square:

  • Square Online: Create a free online store, connect your Instagram account to make it shoppable, and integrate with your existing Square inventory list.
  • Online checkout: Create and send checkout links or buttons to process payments without a website.
  • Payment integrations: Connect Square Payments to your existing ecommerce platform, like WooCommerce, Wix, Magento, BigCommerce, WordPress, and Drupal Commerce.

How to Use Square Online Store

A man syncing gadgets.

The Square Online Store is a built-in feature that allows merchants to access omnichannel tools and sync products, sales, and customer data from all platforms. (Source: Square)

If you already use Square and have inventory items set up, you can quickly create and launch your free ecommerce store to sell products online. Upgrade to a paid plan for access to additional store features and tools. The basic Square Online is free-to-use, while advanced functionalities are available at $12 per month.

Square Invoices card transactions: 2.9% + 30 cents for every online card payment you accept using Square Invoices
Card-on-File transactions: 3.5% + 15 cents for every payment you accept using payment details stored in your point of sale, Invoices, and Virtual Terminal including automatic recurring payments

You can generate and send invoices for free from both your Square Dashboard and POS app. Square also offers a separate, dedicated Invoices app for in-depth invoice management. It’s quick and easy to create invoices using Square’s invoice template. Customers can save payment information for future or recurring payments.

To use Square for invoicing, you need to set up a free Square account. Select “Invoices” from either your dashboard or mobile POS app, or download the Invoices app. It allows you to:

  • Generate and send invoices: Follow the template to create your invoice. You can add items manually or from your inventory library, create custom charges, add discounts, and set payment terms. Send instant digital invoices that customers can use to pay directly or generate invoices as a PDF in-person or mail delivery.
  • Track payment status: Invoices paid online are recorded automatically; you can also record check, cash, or other payments in your dashboard or POS app.

Recurring payments are ideal for automating payments for monthly services, like lawn care and housekeeping services, subscriptions, and ongoing dues. Customers will appreciate the convenience of automated payments, and you can enjoy a steady stream of predictable income.

Maging invoices through square dashboard or the square invoices app.

Manage invoices through Square Dashboard or the Square Invoices app. (Source: Square)

Square’s invoicing tools can help you track payments and stay on top of late accounts. And, when you combine invoice sales with other types of selling, like online, in-store, and mobile sales, everything is recorded in your Square Dashboard for an accurate and holistic view of your entire business.

With Square’s invoicing tools, you can:

  • Create and send single or batch invoices
  • Track sales and payments by customer
  • Track aging and late-pay accounts
  • Assign inventory to sales tickets
  • Charge for parts, items, and services on one invoice
  • Accept invoice payments via credit card, check, and cash
  • Set up secure and convenient recurring billing
  • Pull up-to-date sales reports
  • Send automated payment reminders
  • Market or send service updates to customers

If you’re ready to get started, our Square Invoice guide offers step-by-step instructions.

Square Virtual Terminal transactions: 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed-in card details from your browser or 2.6% + 10 cents for swipe, chip, or tap payments

You can turn your computer into a credit card terminal for remote billing or taking payments over the phone with Square Virtual Terminal. It allows you to accept, split and record cash, card, check, gift cards, and other payment types from any browser.

Accepting remote payments and process them from your browser.

Accept remote payments (over the phone) and process them from your browser without requiring any special equipment or device. (Source: Square)

Follow these simple steps to get started.

  • Step 1: Sign in to your Square Dashboard.
  • Step 2: Open the Virtual Terminal on the left-hand panel of your Dashboard, then click “Take a Payment.”
  • Step 3: Enter the payment amount and your customer’s payment details, including CVV and billing ZIP code.
  • Step 4: Add a note or description of the purchased item for your customer.
  • Step 5: Click “Charge.”

Your customer will receive a receipt for their purchase via email if the payment is successful.

If you also want to accept in-person payments from your computer, connect a Square Terminal to your computer and start accepting card payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, cash, checks, and Square Gift cards.

How to Use Square App With Other Ecommerce Platforms

You can use Square as your online payment processor for other ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Wix, Magento, BigCommerce, WordPress, and Drupal Commerce. If online sales are your focus, these ecommerce platforms offer a stronger set of sales features than the free Square Online store. Square doesn’t charge a fee to integrate payment processing into these platforms (you just pay payment processing fees).

A few platforms can fully integrate inventory, sales, and customer tracking data with Square—a major plus if you sell online, in-store, and through mobile.

To use Square with one of these ecommerce platforms, you’ll need to

  • Step 1: Open your free Square account.
  • Step 2: Choose your ecommerce platform.
  • Step 3: Connect it to Square using the platform’s built-in integration app.
  • Step 4: Build your online store.

How to Use Square to Run Your Business

Like most popular POS systems, Square allows merchants to run their business on a computer and on mobile. While the range of available features varies by provider, users can get the same tools available from both methods with Square. It also provides kitchen display system (KDS) software for restaurant businesses.

Showing Square dashboard tools.

The Square Dashboard provides a complete set of business management and back-office tools on a single platform. (Source: Square)

Since your Square Dashboard is your business hub, this is where you’ll manage many of the payments-related aspects of your business. Use your Dashboard to access tools and features like:

  • Team management: Add/remove employees, track clock-ins/clock-outs, view timecards, and manage breaks and overtime. Upgrade to Team Plus for $35/month to access employee activity logs and detailed sales and labor reports.
  • Payroll: If you upgrade to Square Payroll, you can run payroll with direct deposits anytime, manage benefits like health care and pay-out tips, file new hire paperwork, and view federal and state tax withholdings and filings.
  • Marketing: Create email campaigns for coupons, business updates, sales, and more. You can also generate automated campaigns for new customers, lapsed customers, birthdays, and more. Connect your Facebook account to set up marketing campaigns and access marketing reports.
  • Reports: Pull detailed daily, weekly, or monthly sales reports and trends. Track analytics like payment methods, individual team member sales, labor vs sales, comps, voids, disputes, and taxes.
  • Inventory management: Adjust and sync inventory from your mobile POS app or Dashboard. The app is great for on-the-fly changes, but any bulk uploads or adjustments, variant management, or low-stock tracking are easier on the Dashboard.
  • Financial management: Monitor bank transfers, set up a Square Card (a business debit card tied to your Square sales balance), and request a business loan through Square Capital.
  • Square Banking: Integrate your payments, banking accounts, and cash flow when taking payments and banking through Square. Products include Square Checking, Square Savings, and Square Loans.
Square dashboard for pos app allows merchants to run their business.

The Square Dashboard for POS app allows merchants to run their business from a mobile device. (Source: Square)

In addition to payment processing, you can use Square’s mobile POS app to help run your business on the go. Aside from the back office management tools, the following features are also available through the app:

  • Order and inventory management: Add items to your library, track in-stock inventory, and check order status. Square automatically updates your inventory when you make a sale, so your stock numbers are always up-to-date.
  • Sales reports: Sales are recorded and summarized to help you track growth and make key business decisions.
  • Customer management: Enter your customer information, such as email addresses and purchase history, so you can provide better service or grow your business via email marketing.
  • Team member profiles: Add and view team members to quickly reference contact information.
Square kds provides restaurants with a versatile order management system.

The Square KDS provides restaurants with a versatile order management system for both in-house and online platforms.
(Source: Square)

The Square Kitchen Display System is a restaurant software application that allows you to organize tickets for any type of kitchen setup. You can prioritize orders; customize ticket details, timers, and alerts; and even program it to send orders to the right prep stations. Oversee fulfillment with the Expeditor Mode and a direct link between the front and back of the house.

Square KDS costs $20 per month per device, and it’s free for the first 30 days. It also comes with the free version of Square Restaurant POS software. However, signing up for the advanced Square Restaurant POS software allows you to set up the KDS on unlimited devices.

If you’re ready to get started, read our Square POS guide for step-by-step instructions on setting up your account and using its POS features.

How Much Does It Cost to Use Square?

It’s free to create your Square account and use the POS and payments software. Square charges a processing fee for every transaction, which varies depending on the payment processing method. Some of these tools, such as Square Online, offer paid plans for access to more advanced features.

When you create your Square account, you’ll receive a free magstripe card reader that can connect to your device and accept swiped card payments. You can purchase additional hardware and POS equipment, like chip/contactless card readers, terminals, registers, and accessories.

Bottom Line

You can use Square in so many different scenarios, including mobile sales, in-store sales, online sales, and invoicing. But, the first step is always creating a free Square account and downloading the free mobile app, which comes with a suite of free business management tools.

Merchants like Square credit card processing because it’s quick, easy, and affordable. Once you know how to use Square, you won’t face troublesome integrations, equipment add-ons, or software learning curves. Everything is streamlined in one tidy package. Visit Square to get started with a free account and mobile card reader.

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