If you run a physical storefront, restaurant or high street service, you’ll likely need some way to accept credit and debit card payments. However, payments are still very much evolving. The tills and registers of years gone by are getting replaced by sleek point of sale (POS) systems, and more and more businesses are using Square Terminals to accept payments.
But what exactly is a Square Terminal? It might sound like a traditional cash machine or ‘hole in the wall’, but it might actually hold the key to streamlining your public service for the better.
In this quick Square Terminal review, I’ll take a look at just about everything you need to know about the hardware, its potential benefits, and any issues you ideally need to be aware of before buying.
What is Square Terminal?
A Square Terminal is a handheld card payment processor that doesn’t need a till. The terminal is made by the company called – you guessed it – Square.
Like a card payment machine, you can hand the terminal to customers to make payments at the end of meals or when they’re buying products from you.
However, the major benefit is that Square Terminal processes transactions for you – it’s essentially a till point condensed into a handheld unit.
How exactly does Square Terminal work?
While the Square Terminal accepts chip and pin and contactless payments by default, it’ll also accept gift card payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
You can even edit products and services on your Terminal as you go, too. It’s remotely connected to your Square account (which you’ll set up when first handling the device).
Customers simply need to tap, swipe or enter PINs as usual – thanks to Square’s POS software, transactions are quick and easy to record, and you can access them all through your Square account to crunch the numbers.
It’s easy to connect your Terminal to the POS app, too, if you have a workplace smartphone or tablet you manage your finances from.
You can even print receipts directly from your Terminal, too. It’s essentially much like taking the till to your customers’ tables – it really does seem to save a lot of time and admin!
How much does a Square Terminal cost?
At the time of writing, you’d expect to pay £147 plus VAT for a Square Terminal. There are, however, financing options available, should you need to spread the cost.
Do also keep in mind that printing costs money, too! If you need new rolls, a 25-roll batch costs £25 plus VAT.
Square Terminal also connects to a variety of other products in the manufacturer’s line, such as the Hub, where you can plug in your unit to access a variety of accessories. As you’d expect, this also comes at an additional fee.
You’ll normally pay a fixed rate of around 1.75% on payments through the Terminal, though costs to process invoices and ecommerce store purchases will vary.
What does the Square Terminal look like?
A Square Terminal isn’t actually all that square in shape! It’s more like a rectangle, and it weighs around 417g – light enough to carry around for short periods.
The unit’s around 142 x 86 x 63 mm, meaning it’s easy to keep track of and won’t get in the way.
Virtually all of the front of the unit is touchscreen – meaning it apes the look of a typical smartphone. You’ll also find that – should you need to keep your Terminal on one side – there are a couple of rubber strips on the bottom to keep it steady.
The screen’s nice and wide, with a sharp resolution so everyone can see what’s going on. It measures around 5.5”, or 139.7mm.
The Square Terminal is a very smart-looking piece of kit – but it’s what’s inside that counts, as they say!
If you find this is too small, there’s also a larger Square Register that you could use. More on that below.
What are the benefits of a Square Terminal?
If you’re really on the fence about moving away from traditional payments to a Square account and Terminal, here are the key pros you’ll need to keep in mind.
You can process all transactions at the table
One of the biggest benefits of starting to use a Square Terminal in a restaurant or bar setting is that your customers don’t need to go anywhere to pay. There’s also no need for staff to go backwards and forwards to a till point – as they can accept payment at-table, print a receipt, and know that their Square account will crunch the numbers behind the scenes.
This type of convenience arrives on the back of at-seat service many of us experienced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, it’s grown immensely convenient for customers and servers to simply take payments at-seat and remove the need for the bar terminal altogether.
Its battery will last all day
Charge your Square Terminal overnight, and it’ll withstand an entire day of use. That means you never have to worry about plugging it back in for more juice during the middle of a shift!
All you have to do is charge up your Terminal when the day’s done and it’ll spring back to life for a whole new day of service.
It accepts a range of payment options
As mentioned briefly above, the Square Terminal is more than just a card reader. It’ll accept PINs, swipes, and contactless payments.
It’s got built-in software
The software onboard the Square Terminal is impressively intuitive and is essentially a version of the app you can download for your smartphone.
You can use the POS software to manage library products, create item tickets, review reports, and add variations on service delivery. For example, if you’re a cafe and want to set up shortcuts for takeaway, eat-in or delivery, you can.
Customers can also choose how they’d like to receive receipts – on paper, via email, etc. From your side of the transaction, the Square Terminal will also send details to your Square Account – though you can manage all of the numbers yourself through the device if you wish.
It’s compatible with an array of hardware
What I also love about the Square Terminal is that it’ll connect (via the Hub, sold separately) to ticket printers, receipt printers, scanners and even cash units.
Just make sure to purchase the Square Hub alongside the Terminal when you first set up an account and buy.
Are there any drawbacks to using Square Terminal?
The great news is that there seems to be very little negative press surrounding the Square Terminal. It’s perhaps a little bulky to handle sometimes, and you’re restricted to using the hardware while connected to in-house WiFi (or a mobile hotspot).
However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Customers report that they are especially pleased with Square’s 24/7 customer service, and that the app-style interface is extremely intuitive to use.
The fact it’s easy to use from setup and that it connects easily to other Square hardware and software is a major advantage. There’s a handful of complaints here and there regarding software glitches, but from what I’ve seen, these issues seem few and far between, and are often par for the course for technology in general!
Who is the Square Terminal right for?
I’d recommend Square Terminal to any business owners who are looking to remove the need for till journeys. It’s ideally suited for cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars.
That said, I’d also recommend the hardware for any business owner that’s just looking for the simpler side of retail management on the go. Ideally, you should have a good Wi-Fi setup in-house (otherwise, you’ll need to try tethering the unit to a mobile hotspot such as a smartphone).
Square Terminals appear to break down a lot of the unnecessary barriers that customers and retailers are still facing up and down the UK. While some business owners may feel it’s a little bit unnecessary if they already have an all-singing, all-dancing POS set up, the Terminal does still promise a lot of flexibility for customers and service people who demand it.
Is it worth buying a Square Terminal?
That all really depends on your needs. The Square Terminal may seem a little clunky to some, but the fact it acts as a complete till and analytics machine in one will impress plenty of business owners out there.
It’s also competitively priced. While there may not be a complete need for you to invest in this product if you already have access to Square hardware elsewhere, I honestly think it’s a sign of things to come – in a good way!
What Other Products Does Square Have?
Aside from the Square Terminal, Square also offers other products that can help merchants run their businesses more efficiently. Here’s just a very brief overview of some of their popular products.
Square’s Register kit is a complete point-of-sale system that helps you run your business with ease. It includes a Square Register, a cash drawer, a receipt printer, and a barcode scanner. With Square’s Register kit, you can accept all types of payments, track your sales and inventory, manage your staff and customers, and access powerful analytics and reports.
Square Chip Card Reader
The Square Chip Card Reader is a compact and affordable device that connects to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and allows merchants to accept chip and PIN or contactless payments anywhere.
Square Online Store
The Square Online Store is an easy-to-use platform that enables merchants to create a professional and customisable website and sell their products online. It integrates seamlessly with the Square POS app and offers features such as inventory sync, order fulfilment, and online payments.
The great thing is that the store works for both desktop and mobile shoppers!
Here’s a screenshot of how setting up the online store looks like on the merchant’s end.
Square Appointments is a cloud-based scheduling solution that helps businesses of all sizes book and manage appointments. It allows you to easily create and update your online booking page, send automated reminders to clients, accept payments online or in-person, and sync your calendar with popular platforms like Google Calendar and Outlook.
It’s a great solution for businesses that are appointment-based and customer facing such as a salon, a fitness studio, professional services, tutoring, etc.
Does a Square Terminal need WiFi?
Ideally, yes, a Square Terminal needs a fixed WiFi connection to operate, as it can’t use mobile networks. However, you can connect (or tether) the unit to a mobile hotspot, such as a smartphone.
Is Square Terminal free to use?
Once purchased, you will need to pay 1.75% on most fixed price purchases through your Square Terminal. Other fees may apply to ecommerce purchases, for example.
Do I need a SIM card to use a Square Terminal?
No – you simply need to connect your Square Terminal to WiFI or a mobile hotspot for it to function.
by Jon Craig
I am the creator of Project Financially Free and I started this journey to both educate myself and share my insights on personal finance. I’m passionate about financial literacy and I invite you to join me on this transformative path. See more.