Our rating(4/5)
Accept payments or donations without an online store with Square Online Checkout.
Square Online Checkout are payment links you can create for individual products or donation requests. For no monthly fee, you can send these links via messaging, apps and email or embed buttons on your website for remote payments by your customers.
  • Highs: Efficient checkout, few customer details required. No monthly fees. Can add to website or send as payment link. Accepts donations.
  • Lows: Not for international payments. Very limited order management features. Can’t send links from app.
  • Choose if: You want a simple, but versatile, way to sell individual items remotely without an order management system.

What is Square Online Checkout?

Online Checkout is Square’s solution for payment links that can be shared with customers or embedded as ‘pay buttons’ on your website or blog. The link/button will go to a basic checkout page in a browser where the customer can enter their card details to complete the transaction online.

The payment links can be shared over messaging apps, email, SMS or anywhere online. Payment buttons placed on your website require your entering a piece of code into your website builder. Both are going to the same checkout page, and all transactions are processed by Square for a fixed rate.

You can create as many links as required, each attached to a product or service you define, and links are fixed so unlimited customers can use it for the same purpose. They can also be for donations with the amount defined by the payer on the checkout page.

Fees and payouts

Square does not charge any monthly fees for Online Checkout, and there’s no contractual commitment or minimum required turnover a month.

You can even use the Virtual Terminal, Invoices, Point of Sale (POS) app, Online Store (free plan) and Gift Cards for free. The only thing you’re paying for is card payments costing a fixed 2.5% per successful transaction. This fee is applicable to all keyed-in/remote card payments through Square.

Monthly feeNone
Contractual commitment None
Online Checkout transactions2.5% per transaction
PayoutsStandard: free
Instant: 1% fee in addition to transaction fee
Monthly feeNone
Contractual commitment None
Online Checkout transactions2.5% per transaction
PayoutsStandard: free
Instant: 1% fee in addition to transaction fee

Transactions take 1-2 working days to reach your bank account for free. If you want faster payouts, there’s an Instant Transfers setting that clears transactions in your bank account within a few hours for 1% on top of the transaction fee.

Refunds are free to process, and there is no admin fee for chargebacks. Square even has a support team for handling disputes in relation to chargebacks, which is also free to make use of.

Signing up

If you already have a Square account, the Online Checkout option is already accessible in your Square Dashboard. If you haven’t signed up with Square, create an account on the website by clicking one the blue sign-up buttons. Only UK-registered businesses and sole traders are eligible.

The sign-up form asks basic questions about your business, contact details and bank account. The latter is required in order to receive payments, as all transactions automatically settle your linked bank account. It usually takes a few days for your bank account to be accepted and link with the Square account, but it is possible to process payments before that, that will settle in the bank account once connected.

Payment link features

You can only create a Square Online Checkout link from the Square Dashboard, which is the account you can log into in a web browser. It is not yet possible to create and manage this feature from the Square POS app.

In the menu on the left, there’s a link for Online Checkout leading you to this section. If you’ve never used it before, there will be no links shown on the page, but all the links added will be shown here as a list with columns of information.

Through the ‘Create checkout link’ buttons, you create each payment. Choose whether it is a link for taking donations or payments for any purpose, give it a title (e.g. product/service name), and enter a GBP amount if it is a payment link. If it is a donation link, the amount is open i.e. the payer enters any voluntary GBP amount on the checkout page.

After creating the link, you have the option to copy the new link for pasting it into e.g. WhatsApp, a text message, email, direct message or profile bio on a social media platform, or anywhere else online and through messaging. There are also convenient links for sharing it in a Facebook post or tweet on Twitter.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Link creation pop-up.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout link shared

Share the link after creating it.

The overview page contains columns for the link title (which could be product names), payment amount, purpose (‘Accept donation’ or ‘Collect payment’), total sales through each link, status (active or inactive) and a link for sharing.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout overview

Square Online Checkout page with a list of all your payment links.

You can edit the customer-facing business name shown on the checkout page in the Online Checkout settings.

All links can be deactivated and reactivated in the settings for individual links, though there is no bulk action for deactivating all the links at the same time.

If you have an existing website or blog with no ecommerce features, the Online Checkout links can be embedded as payment buttons by copying the code of the links which you can add onto the relevant web page. It will then appear as a payment button leading to the relevant checkout page.

The button style of each link can be edited in the Online Checkout settings, but only the colour and whether you want to display title and price (these settings will apply to all payment links).

Using embedded buttons enables you to build a simple online store on a website without having to build an online shop from scratch – and without the subscription costs often associated with ecommerce platforms.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout link settings

Square link settings.

The link format is https://checkout.square.site/pay/ followed by a fairly long string of lower-case letters and numbers – not the prettiest! For example, https://checkout.square.site/pay/db1f9274aa384e73a7d201126ed0ca60 is a variation of a link we created (with a few letters and numbers swapped).

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout button edit

Editing options for the style of the payment button.

Long-term Square merchants will notice that Online Checkout links are created from scratch even if you already have a product library for a Square point of sale. You cannot automatically create links for these existing products, nor can you add a stock count to each payment link. Instead, stock levels in your Square account have to be manually adjusted if intending to use payment links that correspond to products in your POS system.

Checkout, transactions and orders

The checkout page is quite simple, but gets the job done quickly: the payer only has to enter their name, email address (for the e-receipt) and basic card details (card number, expiry date, CCV and post code), then click ‘Pay’ to finalise the card payment.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout example

A Square Checkout payment page.

Accepted cards include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Maestro and V Pay, whether it is a debit, prepaid or credit card.

Unfortunately, no international payments are allowed, only domestic payments. This means you shouldn’t promote the Online Checkout links and buttons to an international audience. Instead, merchants selling internationally should be looking at Square Online Store which allows cross-border sales.

If the payer is on an iPhone, they have the option to pay with Apple Pay. If on an Android phone or computer, Google Pay will be displayed as an option.

Following each transaction, the payer will receive a basic email receipt.

Now, how do you know someone made a payment? In Square settings, you can choose to receive an email after each completed transaction – but that means all Square transactions. Transactions through other Square sales channels, like the POS system or invoices, would then prompt an email notification too.

Alternatively, just go to the Orders section in Square Dashboard (in a web browser) to view all payments online i.e. Online Checkout transactions. Orders can be marked manually as ‘Complete’ once the service or item is delivered to the customer or just to confirm there’s no further action due in relation to this transaction/customer.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square Online Checkout receipt

Example of a customer receipt sent by email.

There is no way to view a delivery address in Orders, so if you’re shipping something, make sure to get a postal address by contacting the customer if you haven’t already recorded this yourself. There’s no way to mark orders for pick-up or delivery – to do that, you have to use Square Online Store.

All transactions through Square – whether through a card reader, over the phone or online – are included in Square sales reports with options to filter according to product category, payment method and much more. Alternatively, accounting integrations are available for Xero, Zoho Books or other platforms.

What is Square Online Checkout best for?

Square Online Checkout is useful for merchants who don’t have an online store, as links can be created easily for an existing website or to sell purely through social media (e.g. Instagram selling is big in the UK). Charities, fundraisers and general support requests can benefit from the donation links – and for a lower fee than PayPal.Me that also prompts the payer to enter a voluntary amount.

Given the lack of monthly fees, there is no risk creating payment links to test how your business can handle remote payments. It’s a great way to test sales for individual purposes or products as you can compare which links are performing better than others. That being said, there’s no way to combine links for a bill of multiple items, so it is not suitable for customers paying for more than one thing.

Although the links are straightforward to create, they lack features essential for managing deliveries. Therefore, we do not recommend Online Checkout for big inventories or a delivery system as it would require a way to manually manage orders. In those cases, we recommend setting up a full online store through Square that has features for pick-up and shipments.

Customer support

Square has got a customer service team on hand for advice and support on weekdays during working hours only. You can email them any time, but responses take around 24-48 hours on average to receive. Phone support is open Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

There is a fairly comprehensive Support Centre covering most topics users need help with. The Square platform is generally very user-friendly, so most users do not need support from Square unless there’s a specific issue related to their business.

Our verdict

Online Checkout is a handy feature coming from Square now that many businesses are trying to find ways to sell remotely. If you have a Square account already, it’s the fastest way to share links for payments online.

Mobile merchants may struggle a bit, though, since you have to manage links through a web browser, not the Square POS app. It is also not the best system for orders or inventory management, as these links are separate from the product library in your Square account.

Consequently, Square Online Checkout works best for small inventories, fixed-price services and donations. Customers can pay from any device and are only required to enter basic details to finalise a transaction – that’s a big strength, as it ensures people follow through with payments.