Our rating(4.3/5)
Square Terminal is a stylish payment terminal with POS software built in.
The touchscreen card machine Square Terminal works independently without a tablet or computer – like a wireless POS system with payments built in. The simple pricing and no lock-in add to its many draws for Irish merchants.
  • Pros: No monthly fees or lock-in. Receipt printer. Good battery life. User-friendly and compact. 24/7 support.

  • Cons: Terminal software not expandable. Doesn’t work with 3G/4G. Hub for cash drawer costs extra.

  • Buy if: You want to save money and counter space by using one compact terminal as your POS system.

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How Square Terminal works

Square Terminal works as a standalone payment and POS terminal with software and receipt printer built in (as opposed to Square Reader). It accepts chip and contactless cards (with a slot for swipe cards), or you can key in card details manually.

Accepted cards

VisaVisa ElectronV PayMastercardMaestroAmerican ExpressContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

Contrary to traditional card machines, Square Terminal handles more than card payments. You can, for example, accept gift cards and edit your product library on the terminal.

The card machine has the Square Point of Sale software built in, which you navigate on the touchscreen. Customers enter their PIN on the touchscreen too. The terminal cannot change to the Square for Restaurants or Retail interface, but may work in sync with those POS apps.

All transactions and activities on the terminal are connected to your backend Square account where more complimentary features, ecommerce tools and integrations are available.

The payment terminal needs to be connected to the internet via WiFi. Optionally, you can purchase a Hub for Square Terminal that allows you to connect via Ethernet cable. It does not work with 4G or other mobile network connections.

Square Terminal can be linked with the Point of Sale app on an iPad, iPhone or Android device, providing a distance between the till screen and card machine. It’s also possible to connect Square Terminal with the browser-based Square Virtual Terminal, thereby creating transactions on a laptop to be paid by chip or tap in person.

We evaluate six key criteria when reviewing card machines: the quality and features of the product, costs, sign-up and transparency, value-added features, service and reviews, and contract.

These rating categories each get a score between 1 and 5, and the final star rating represents its overall value for a small business.

For this review, we personally tested Square Terminal and tried its services. See our breakdown of ratings.

Fees and payouts

A major upside to Square is its simple costs. You just pay for the terminal, then a fixed transaction rate for any debit and credit cards processed. There is no minimum sales volume required, payout fees or contract lock-in – and no fixed monthly costs either.

The Square card machine costs €169 + VAT upfront, which includes a 1-year limited warranty and 30-day cooling-off period during which you can get a full refund if you don’t like the product.

Charges
Square Terminal – upfront price €169 + VAT
Hub for Square Terminal (optional) €39 + VAT
Shipping Free (3-5 working days)
Chip, contactless & swipe rate 1.75% + VAT
Keyed (on terminal) card rate 2% + VAT
Invoice transaction rate 2.5% + VAT
Settlement in bank account Free
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free

If you’re connecting the terminal to other hardware, you’ll need the Hub for Square Terminal costing €39 + VAT.

In Square’s store, you can buy the following compatible accessories:

  • Countertop mount: €39 + VAT
  • Barcode scanner: €119 + VAT

Transactions cost a fixed rate, 1.75% + VAT, for all chip, contactless and swipe card payments through the terminal regardless of card brand, country of issue or whether it is premium.

For manual card entry on the terminal, the transaction fee is 2% + VAT. Accepting invoiced or keyed payments in a browser (via Virtual Terminal) costs 2.95% + 25¢. If you send transactions from the virtual terminal to Square Terminal for a chip or contactless payment, the chip/tap fee of 1.75% + VAT applies.

Ecommerce transactions via the online store or payment links cost 1.4% + 25¢ + VAT for Irish and other EU/EEA cards or 2.9% + 25¢ + VAT for UK and international cards.

Refunds are free to process and chargebacks incur no admin fees. You even get free payment dispute support from the Square team, in case a chargeback should incur.

Transactions are automatically cleared – for free – in your bank account within 1-2 working days.

Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction

hand entering PIN on Square Terminal

PIN on glass – like on Square Terminal – has been deemed highly secure.

Terminal specs and features

Apart from looking pretty, what should you know about the payment terminal?

Physically, it’s a bit heavier than a traditional Ingenico card machine (417 g versus circa 300 g). This is due to the large screen, compared to the small screen of a mainstream terminal with a PIN pad. Underneath are two rubber strips to keep it stable on a desk, and a hole if you need to screw the terminal to a surface.

The battery can last all day without a charge, which is impressive given the large, energy-consuming touchscreen. However, we found that leaving it on standby drains the battery completely by the next day.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Underneath the terminal.

Therefore, we recommend switching it off completely when you don’t plan on using it to avoid having to recharge it first the next time you need it.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal left side

The power cable socket and power/standby button are on the left side of the terminal.

Because it runs on a local, secured WiFi connection, it can be used across your premises, for example for payments at the customer’s table. The Ethernet connection through the Hub could be necessary if your WiFi is unreliable, but then you have to keep it connected at the till point. It’s not yet possible to accept cards offline in Ireland, nor can you connect Terminal with portable or unsecured WiFi connections.

Tech specs
Dimensions 142.2 (L) x 86.4 (W) x 63.5 (H) mm
Screen size 139.7 mm (5.5″)
Weight 417 g
Data WiFi (secured network only), Ethernet via Hub (extra cost)
Card technology EMV (chip), NFC (contactless), swipe
Battery life All day from full charge
Built-in receipt printer Uses 57 mm (width) x 35 mm (diameter) thermal receipt paper
Accessories included Square Terminal, power adaptor, receipt paper roll, ‘accepted cards’ decals

The software is basically the Square Point of Sale app (downloadable on a mobile device as well). Its checkout screen has three options for adding to the shopping cart: enter price amounts manually, tap to add products from the library or tap to add from a ‘favourites’ grid. You can create open tickets straight from the checkout screen and save them for quick access. It’s also possible to customise the bottom menu to include the functions you use the most, e.g. Reports.

Square Terminal keypad

Enter an amount to add to the bill.

Square Terminal product library

Product menu as the checkout screen.

The checkout flow and products can be edited on the terminal – no need to log in on a computer to do it. Add product variants like size and colour and enable the Eat-in, Takeaway, Delivery or Pickup options if you’re a café, all of which can be selected during the checkout flow.

What about payment options? You can accept cash, payment cards and mobile wallets, a card on file (saved in the customer library), gift cards (issued from the terminal too), invoicing and manually-entered cards. Split the tender and add either custom or preset tipping amounts. Once the transaction is complete, choose to print, email or text the receipt.

Square Terminal payment method options

Payment methods.

Square Terminal receipt options

Receipt options after a transaction.

The customer library enables you to add a person to the invoice rather than entering recipient details manually. You can create and send Square Invoices directly on the terminal, accessed from the side menu. Over-the-phone payments are also possible – just add products or enter an amount on the regular checkout screen and choose manual card payment as the payment method.

If you use the browser-based Virtual Terminal, transactions can be sent from your computer to Square Terminal for a chip or contactless payment.

Transactions, sales history and reports are viewable on the terminal. In fact, you go to Transactions to process a refund (itemised or custom amount) or resend a receipt via email or text. Receipts are customisable, and food places can set the terminal to print order tickets. Pickup and delivery orders paid for online can be managed on the terminal, which is handy for order fulfilment.

transactions list on Square Terminal

Transactions overview.

sales summary on Square Terminal

Sales summary.

We noticed one feature that Square Terminal could not access, that is available in the mobile app: payment links and QR code payments. This means you cannot send links or generate QR codes for payments on Square Terminal. We found this a little odd considering the popularity of such payments.

However, Apple or Android devices with Square Point of Sale installed can connect with Square Terminal instead of Square Reader (the recommended card reader for the mobile app). With this arrangement, you have slightly more features on the tablet or smartphone, such as payment links. It is not yet possible to connect Terminal with Square for Restaurants/Retail.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal with three receipts

Square’s built-in receipt printer produces itemised receipts that can be customised.

The software is updated automatically daily when the Terminal is connected to the internet. So prepare to wait for the update to process when you switch on the terminal every day (it took minutes on most days we tested it). For increased security, set the terminal to require password login every time it’s used. You can reset the password on the terminal if needed.

Square Terminal vs Square Reader

Given how cheap the Square card reader is, you may be wondering why there’s a big price difference. Put simply, Square Terminal is a premium, self-sufficient card machine from Square, while Square Reader has no screen, no PIN pad, no receipt printer and no app features on the card reader itself. The Reader is fully dependent on the Square POS app on a connected smartphone, iPad or Android tablet.

Square Terminal Square Reader
Square Terminal front Square Reader
Price €169 + VAT €19 + VAT
Size 142.2 (L) x 86.4 (W) x 63.5 (H) mm 66 (L) x 66 (W) x 10 (H) mm
Weight 417 g 56 g
Connections WiFi, Ethernet via Hub (extra cost) Bluetooth to mobile device with network connection
Works without phone/tablet
Built-in receipt printer
Square
Terminal
Square
Reader
Square Terminal front Square Reader
€169 + VAT €19 + VAT
Size
142.2 (L) x 86.4 (W) x 63.5 (H) mm 66 (L) x 66 (W) x 10 (H) mm
Weight
417 g 56 g
Connections
WiFi, Ethernet via Hub (extra cost) Bluetooth to mobile device with network connection
Works without phone/tablet
Built-in receipt printer

Another major difference is connectivity. Square Reader uses Bluetooth to connect to a mobile device running the POS app, and it is the mobile device that connects to the internet through its SIM card (using 3G or 4G) or WiFi. Square Terminal directly connects to the internet without the need for a phone or tablet, but then it cannot use a 3G/4G network, deeming it useless in places with no secured WiFi or fixed Ethernet setup (with Square Hub).

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal on a shiny table

Square Terminal prints detailed receipts and has swipe card functionality, unlike Square Reader.

On a practical level, Square Reader is tiny compared to the Terminal, so it’s very convenient on the go. Of course, this requires using both the card reader and phone or tablet, and some customers may be hesitant entering their PIN on your mobile screen.

Square Terminal’s PIN entry is more practical since it happens on the terminal directly, although you do have to create the transaction first before handing the terminal to the customer. But if you connect Terminal with the Square POS app on a mobile device, you can leave the card machine facing the customer while using the POS screen on a different device.

Hardware integration

If you wonder “how does this work with the rest of the POS system”, we should emphasise the terminal is the POS system.

That said, you can still connect it to up to three hardware pieces through the optional Hub for Square Terminal (purchased separately for €39 + VAT).

The Hub connects to the terminal via a cable and has three USB ports for POS hardware and one Ethernet socket for internet.

Compatible till equipment is plugged into the Hub’s USB ports (Bluetooth not accepted) and includes:

  • Receipt printers
  • Kitchen ticket printers
  • Kitchen display
  • Cash drawers
  • Barcode scanners
Hub for Square Terminal

Hub has three USB ports for POS accessories.

You may alternatively just use Terminal for the card acceptance part, allowing distance between you and customers. This requires a tablet or smartphone with Square Point of Sale in the vicinity or a computer with Square Virtual Terminal open (can be placed remotely). A connected Terminal could then be fixed to your countertop.

It’s perfectly possible to run the Square POS system separately on a tablet at the till with Terminal taking payments independently elsewhere, as long as they’re connected to the same Square account.

Reporting

On the card machine, you can view sales history, generate custom reports, track cash drawer activity and sales by team member.

Square users have backend (browser) access to sales reports sorted by date, location, time period and more, and reports can be exported to Excel. There are lots of other free analytics on gift cards, popular sales categories, sales trends, transaction statuses, discounts, employee sales, etc. Custom reports can also be created.

If these are not enough, you can integrate your Square sales with more advanced accounting and reporting tools like QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Xero.

Who is Square best for?

If you’re a small shop, café, hairdresser or any type of merchant who doesn’t require massively complicated POS features, Square Terminal will save you counter space and money because you don’t need to buy a receipt printer, tablet or touchscreen monitor. And if you’re cashless, the terminal is all you need.

The lack of monthly fees and lock-in are great advantages of Square, in contrast with the similar Clover POS terminals that require a long contract and various fixed monthly costs. myPOS’s smart terminals might be a better alternative, since they also lack ongoing fees.

It’s useful that you can manage remote orders on the terminal if selling online, but you should check Square Online first to see if its ecommerce features are a good fit for your online store.

The card machine is mainly intended for a fixed WiFi connection on company premises or a fixed till point with an Ethernet cable. It does not work on the go where WiFi isn’t “secured”, since it lacks a SIM card for mobile connectivity.

If you require more custom features, we recommend looking for another card machine that connects with advanced POS software.

Customer service and user reviews

Square provides 24/7 support over the phone exclusively for Square Terminal users. This is more than what’s available with Square Reader that only entitles you to weekday support during work hours. There’s a very helpful Support Centre on the website, which answers most questions.

Customer reviews in Ireland are so far sparse because Square only recently arrived. In other countries like the UK, reviews confirm the service works smoothly. Occasionally, users complain about sudden account closures and funds being held by Square, which is a security mechanism designed to weed out high-risk transactions or business sectors that Square considers high-risk.

Getting started

Getting started with Square could hardly be any easier. The pricing is already set and the same for everyone, in contrast with many payment companies that require a call to get your business details before giving a quote.

Square just requires you to complete a short sign-up form with basic business and personal information. They will assess the information and check the validity of your bank account, but you are able to start selling straight after sign-up through the complimentary online invoicing tool, payment links and virtual terminal.

The pricing is already set since it is the same for everyone, in contrast to many payment companies that like to get on a call to get business information before giving you a quote.

It takes 3-5 days for your terminal to arrive after placing the order. The card machine is so intuitive that you don’t need a manual to set it up – just make sure your WiFi is the right sort of connection to qualify as “secured”.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal box contents

Square Terminal comes in a sturdy, white box (looks like an Apple product) with a terminal, power cable, decals and instructions booklet.

Your bank account can take around 4 days before it is properly set up to receive payouts. Any transactions accepted by then will just be held by Square until they can clear in your bank account.

Our verdict

If you’re looking for a compact, affordable point of sale without lock-in or complicated fees, Square Terminal is a strong contender. The sleek payment terminal fits nicely in a small shop that doesn’t need complicated checkout software, receipts are detailed and the battery life is great.

In addition, there are plenty of add-on features like an online store builder, invoicing, phone payments and connecting with a wide range of business tools. Some of these have different charges, but using the Terminal only costs the transaction fee.

Square Terminal criteria Rating Conclusion
Product 4.3 Good/Excellent
Costs and fees 4.2 Good/Excellent
Transparency and sign-up 4.8 Good/Excellent
Value-added services 4 Good
Service and reviews 4 Good
Contract 5 Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4.3 Good/Excellent
Square Terminal
criteria
Rating Conclusion
Product 4.3 Good/Excellent
Costs and fees 4.2 Good/Excellent
Transparency and sign-up 4.8 Good/Excellent
Value-added services 4 Good
Service and reviews 4 Good
Contract 5 Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4.3 Good/Excellent

There are still not many merchants in Ireland who are using Square Terminal, so reviews are sparse in that area, but the 24/7 support that comes with the product should ease some concerns.

The main downside is its lack of mobile connectivity when out and about. Plus, it is not yet possible to use it with more specialised POS apps like Square for Retail and external EPOS.

Bottom line: Square Terminal is overall excellent value for a small shop that doesn’t want monthly fees or commitment.