Square is a handy mobile app that allows anyone to use their iPhone, Android, or iPod to accept credit cards – either by swiping the card or keying in the data.
Square Simplifies Credit Card Processing
What I love most about Square is its sheer simplicity. This app is much easier and faster to use than any typical merchant account. The merchant account I currently use charges some of the lowest fees, but you pay for that in wasted time messing around with ID numbers, changing and tracking passwords, processing batches, and so much more.
Also, merchant accounts charge monthly fees – Square doesn't. Square charges you a flat 2.75% for swiped transactions and $3.5% for those you key in. Even at the higher rate, I would have to charge several thousand dollars in a month to make up the difference with my current processor.
Most months I get paid the old fashioned way – check or cash. Unnecessary fees absolutely drive me crazy. This is part of the business model of traditional financial institutions. Heck, I just discovered I have been paying AMEX $4.95/month to send me paper statements that I never requested!
Shouldn't the default be the free option – the one that also happens to be green?
There are also no contracts involved with Square. You simply give it permission to connect with your bank account and you are ready to go after they confirm the details of test transactions – crediting and then debiting your account a few pennies.
It honestly took me dozens of phone calls over a week to set up my current merchant account – lots of back and forth and verification. I set up and tested Square in less than 15 minutes. Anyone can do this. In fact, I was not surprised to learn that The Girl Scouts of America are testing Intuit's GoPayment in specific markets, which is similar to Square but charges slightly higher rates.
Here's a short (and cute) video showing how quickly and easily it works for these future lady entrepreneurs.
Unlike GoPayment, Square asks for a signature to confirm the transaction. Here's a screenshot of my signature authorizing my $5.00 test transaction. You simply sign right on the mobile device, which for me is an iPhone.
How To Get Going with Square
Setting up Square is a snap. Just go to their website and plug in some basic data. They will mail you the little white gadget that allows for swiping cards – for FREE no less. I haven't tested that device yet but I'm told it works well – and its portable.
After that, all you need to do is download the app to your iPhone or Android and you can accept credit cards. Yes, it does work with and iPod, but does anyone actually use those anymore? This brings up one of the top requests, which is processing credit cards with Square on an iPad.
I'm sure that one is just around the corner.
Instead of sitting in the dark wondering and waiting for your money to show up in your account, Square keeps you informed. Today I received an email notifying me that the funds of my test transaction will be in my account in a day or so.
There are many other mobile credit card processor besides Square. However, I've read the reviews and Square wins over them because they make everything simple.
Processing fees seem to be the number one reason that small businesses don't want to accept credit cards. My response to that is you will process more business by allowing your customers to use a credit card. If you have to, charge a higher rate to cover the fee.
Many purchases are impulsive. This is why accepting credit cards allows you to take advantage of that buying behavior – making a sale that may not otherwise be possible.
One of the things I used to do when I had my contracting business was to take the 50% deposit with a credit card – often to allow my customer to get their frequent flyer points on a major transaction, while then requesting the balance be paid by check. Everyone accepted that as a reasonable compromise.
Figure out what works for you.
If you aren't accepting credit cards now, Square is a great place to start. There are no financial commitments to do anything. You can set it up to accept just one transaction and then move on.
Wouldn't you rather lock in a sale than worry about sacrificing a few points and lose the deal?
How simple and easy and profitable is that?
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Until tomorrow, Jeff