It’s Cool to Be Square

Posted on Mar 9 2011 in Technology Q&A by

This post is part of a series titled, “Technology Q&A.” The series features questions related to technologyand the answers! Have a question? Send it to Tech@HEAV.org.

Q. Is there a cost-effective way to accept credit cards for my home business?

A. If you have an Android or iOS device (such as an iPod or iPhone), the answer is Square!

Exploring Square

square

There’s a saying that goes, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Well, that’s what Square is.

Square is a free Android and iOS application that lets anyone take credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) for a straight fee of 2.75%. That’s it! There are no activation, gateway, monthly, early termination, or hidden fees or any additional costs to use Square. Every credit or debit card has the same flat rate. These fees are static and are the same percentage of the total, regardless of how small or how large the transaction.

Some Applications

I learned about Square almost a year ago and started thinking of the relevance. We had just finished our yearly garage sale and had missed getting rid of some junk parting with a couple of larger items because there was no way for us to take credit cards. How nice it would have been to accept credit and debit cards! But there was no way I was going to “rent” a credit-card machine, set up a merchant account, and run a telephone cable out to the garage. All told, that would have set me back $150-$300.We have a very good friend who is an amateur photographer who has so far been paid via cash or check. Some of her orders have been for more than $400. This requires a trip to the bank and the minor annoyance of waiting for the check to clear before funds are available.

An acquaintance of mine is an owner/operator of a coffee shop. He let me in on a dirty little secret: he had just spent more than $1,000 dollars setting up a Point-of-Sale (POS) system. The cost didn’t include any of the transaction costs–the $1,000 was just for the hardware!

Another acquaintance is an author and does speaking engagements from time to time. How nice would it be if she had a fully mobile POS that didn’t require anything more than the free card reader and the phone she already has with her?

All of these are concrete examples of the utility Square provides. The possibilities, however, are endless:  expos, home and craft shows, a fair way to split the dinner bill (finally!), bake sales, and fund raisers…these are only the beginning.

More Details/Getting Started

Here’s the description from the App Store [and Android Market]:

Accept credit cards on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch [or Android device] with no contract, monthly fees or merchant account required. Every user receives a free Square credit card reader in the mail. Within minutes of downloading the app, you’re ready to take payments.

- For everyone. Now individuals and businesses can accept credit card payments anywhere, from garage sales to coat checks to coffee shops.
- Easy to use. Plug in your free card reader and start swiping. Track sales, tips, [and] tax and send electronic receipts.
- Safe and secure. Square meets all industry-standard security practices to ensure safety for you and your customers.

Square is an innovative point-of-sale solution that replaces your cash register and credit-card terminal. Square accepts all major debit and credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

Getting Started:
1. Download the App
2. Activate your account
3. Accept credit cards

Accept payments. Everywhere.

Squareup.com is handsomely designed and easy to use.–you can even download transaction data (on a secure server) to discover trends like best sellers and repeat customers. Check it out to learn more.

If you ever have any technology-related questions, please feel free to send them to tech@HEAV.org. We’d love to hear from you!

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