- Highs: No monthly fees or commitment. Can purchase in instalments. Very user-friendly terminal.
- Lows: On-terminal POS features not expandable. Doesn’t work with 3G/4G. Requires additional hub to connect with cash drawer.
- Buy if: You want to save money and counter space by using one compact terminal as your main POS system.
How Square Terminal works
The latest card machine by Square, the Terminal model, works as a standalone payment and POS terminal with software and receipt printer built in. It accepts chip and contactless cards (with a slot for foreign swipe cards), or you can key in card details manually for phone payments.
Contrary to traditional card machines, Square Terminal is more than just for card payments. You can, for example, accept gift cards and edit your product library on the terminal.
From start to completion of each transaction, you use the touchscreen to navigate POS functions, like you would in the Square Point of Sale app for Square Reader. Customers enter their PIN on the touchscreen too.
All transactions and activities on the terminal are connected to your backend Square account where you can access more features, ecommerce and integrations with additional tools.
The 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 network connections the way your phone does.
Costs and payouts
A major upside to Square is their 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, no payout fees and no contract lock-in. Unless you have opted to pay for the terminal over a number of months, there are no fixed monthly costs.
The card machine costs £199 + VAT upfront. You can also choose to pay in instalments of 3, 6 or 12 interest-free monthly payments (subject to credit check and approval). If you choose to pay over 12 months, you pay a monthly instalment of £20 – an attractive option for many startups. The repayments are handled internally by Square, not by a third party provider, and the first payment is taken when you place the order.
|Square Terminal – upfront price||£199 + VAT|
|Square Terminal – instalments||£20 x 12 months|
£40 x 6 months
£80 x 3 months
|Hub for Square Terminal (optional)||£29 + VAT|
|Chip & contactless card rate||1.75%|
|Key-in card rate||2.5%|
|Settlement to bank account||Free|
|Instant Deposits (optional)||1% added to card rate|
If you’re connecting the terminal to other hardware, you’ll need the Hub for Square Terminal costing £29 + VAT.
In Square’s store, you can buy the following compatible accessories:
- Countertop mount: £15 + VAT
- Belt clip: £45 + VAT
- Barcode scanner: £74.99 + VAT
Transactions cost a fixed rate, 1.75%, for all chip, contactless and swipe card payments through the terminal regardless of card brand, country of issue or whether it is premium. All key-in payments through the terminal or online via Square Invoices, Online Store or Virtual Terminal cost 2.5% per transaction.
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. If you want the money faster, you can activate Instant Deposits in your account and a 1% transaction fee will be added to the card rate – you then receive the money in your bank account nearly instantly (within a couple of hours). For example, for chip and PIN cards, you pay 2.75% per transaction with Instant Deposits.
PIN on glass – i.e. on the touchscreen of an industry-approved terminal like 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, whereas a mainstream terminal with PIN pad only has a small screen.
Square Terminal’s battery should last all day without a charge, which is impressive given the large, energy-consuming touchscreen.
Because it runs on a local, secured WiFi connection, it can be used across your premises, for example for taking 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 the Terminal connected at the till point.
|Dimensions||142.2 (L) x 86.4 (W) x 63.5 (H) mm|
|Screen size||139.7 mm (5.5″)|
|Data||WiFi (secured network only), Ethernet via Hub|
|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|
As to software features, these are very similar to Square Reader’s mobile app, Square Point of Sale – but with some limitations. Some of the things Square Terminal can do:
- Accept cards and cash
- Issue refunds
- Customise checkout flow and receipt options
- Key in payments for over-the-phone transactions
- Send invoices
- Redeem and issue gift cards
- Accept split tender payments
- Create and edit items for your product library
- Customer directory
- Create custom tip amounts
- View sales history and generate reports
- Log in with password
- Reset your password
- View, resend and print receipts
- Print order tickets
Significant things you cannot do on the Terminal, which the mobile app can do, include:
- Access team management features
- Do more complicated product library edits
The software is updated automatically daily when the Terminal is connected to the internet.
Square’s built-in receipt printer produces itemised and customised receipts, as opposed to traditional card machines that only display transaction totals.
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|
|Price||£199 + 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|
|Connection needed||WiFi, Ethernet via Hub||Bluetooth to mobile device with network connection|
|Works without phone/tablet|
|Built-in receipt printer|
|£199 + VAT||£19 + VAT|
|142.2 (L) x 86.4 (W) x 63.5 (H) mm||66 (L) x 66 (W) x 10 (H) mm|
|417 g||56 g|
|WiFi, Ethernet via Hub||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.
On a practical level, Square Reader is tiny compared to the Terminal, so it’s very convenient on the go. The POS app has more features than Square Terminal, so even with the tiny card reader, you can do more. 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.
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 £29 + VAT). The Hub connects to the terminal via cable, has three USB ports for POS hardware and one Ethernet socket for internet.
Square Terminal Hub has three USB ports for optional POS accessories.
Compatible till equipment is plugged into the Hub’s USB ports (so no Bluetooth accepted) and includes:
- Receipt printers
- Kitchen ticket printers
- Kitchen display
- Cash drawers
- Barcode scanners
You cannot connect the terminal to a tablet or computer, since the terminal contains all the POS features it can use, and transactions happen directly in the cloud. However, it is perfectly possible to run the full-fledged Square Point of Sale system on a tablet at the till simultaneously to the independent Terminal connected to the same account.
On the Terminal, you can view sales history, generate custom reports and track sales by team member. You can’t view cash drawer session history like Square Point of Sale allows on a tablet.
All Square users have backend (in any internet browser) access to sales reports sorted by date, location, time period and more. Generated reports can be exported to Excel. There are lots of other free analytics on gift cards, popular sales categories, sales trends, transaction status, 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 including Commerce Sync, Enterpryze, KashFlow, Kashoo Accounting, Shogo, Xero and Zoho Books.
Who is Square best for?
If you’re a small shop, café, hairdresser or any other type of merchant who doesn’t require massively complicated POS features at checkout, Square Terminal will save you counter space and money because you don’t need to buy a receipt printer, tablet or touchscreen monitor too. And if you’re cashless, it is truly only the terminal you need, since there is no cash drawer to connect to.
If your sales are primarily online, but you have a brick-and-mortar store too, the simple Square Terminal checkout could be what you need to connect those sales without superfluous equipment to fill your face-to-face shop.
Square Terminal is ideal for businesses wanting to connect an online store with in-store sales.
It works best in locations with a fixed WiFi connection or till point where you can connect an Ethernet cable. For this reason, we would not recommend it for use on the go where WiFi networks can’t be depended on.
Of course, if you’re already using Square Reader, there’s no faff changing over to a different system if you go for Terminal. It is only if you require more custom features that we recommend looking elsewhere for card machines that connect with advanced POS software specifically for your industry.
Customer service and user reviews
Square provides 24/7 support over the phone if you buy Square Terminal. This is more customer support than with their other products, such as Square Reader that only offers a helpline on weekdays during work hours. There’s a very helpful Support Centre on the website, which answers most of people’s questions.
Furthermore, you get a year’s warranty on the terminal and a 30-day cooling-off period where you can get a full refund if you don’t like the product.
Customer reviews in the UK are generally very good, implying the service works smoothly. Occasionally, users complain about sudden account closures and funds being held by Square, which seem to be a result of Square mistakenly accepting sign-ups from merchants trading within business areas that Square considers high-risk.
Square just requires you to fill in some sign-up pages online 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 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 2-3 days for your terminal to arrive after placing the order. The terminal is so intuitive that you don’t need a manual setting it up – just make sure your WiFi is working so it can connect with that.
Your bank account can take around 4 days before it is properly set up to receive your payments. Any transactions accepted by then will just be held by Square until they can clear in your bank account.
If you’re looking for a compact, affordable point of sale without lock-in or complicated fees, Square Terminal is definitely a strong contender. The sleek payment terminal fits in nicely in a small shop that hasn’t got very complicated software needs at checkout.
That said, there are plenty of add-on features through the Square account, with options to create an online store, send invoices, take phone payments and connect with a wide range of business tools. Some of these may have different charges, but using the Terminal only costs the transaction fee.
Bottom line: Square Terminal is very good value for a small shop that doesn’t want monthly fees or commitment.