PROS / This processor doesn't require you to pay a PCI-compliance fee.
CONS / Square doesn't offer a dedicated account rep to help you.
VERDICT / Square is the best online credit card processing company due to its lack of fees, excellent pricing and quick setup.
Square is a payment processing company that allows your business to accept credit cards online and process online invoices. It's one of the most well-known mobile credit card processors, but it also provides retail and online payment processing. Square charges its merchants a single, low flat rate and doesn't require any monthly or annual fees. Its pricing structure, combined with a lack of contract and quick setup times, demonstrate why Square is the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner.
Square offers its merchants several different ways to process credit cards online. You can send invoices, create a free Square-hosted webstore, use Square's eCommerce API on your website or integrate the service with an eCommerce platform such as Bigcommerce or Weebly. The basic Square store is free to set up and doesn't require you to sign up for a payment gateway or pay a monthly fee or any hosting fees. Your Square store can be customized according to your business's needs. Square also provides analytics for your store so you can track your sales history and get insights into customer behavior. If you choose to integrate with a platform, you have to pay a subscription fee and other additional costs.
Many processors that allow you to accept credit cards online provide you with an individual merchant account. With Square, your account is a sub-account to Square's master merchant account, which allows you to accept credit card payments online without a merchant account of your own. This can be a beneficial arrangement for your business since you don't have to pay any PCI-compliance or noncompliance fees or be responsible for verifying the security of your online store since Square does it for you.
If you use Square as your online credit card processing company, you also have the opportunity to use some of Square's other services to help expand your business, such as its marketing, appointment-setting and payroll tools. It gives you the option of instantly depositing the money from a transaction into your business bank account for an additional 1.00 percent. Once you've established a processing history with Square, it gives you access to Square Capital, which can provide your business with a merchant cash advance and fund it as soon as the next day.
Fees & Pricing
Square offers a simple pricing plan for accepting credit cards online. For each transaction, you pay 2.90 percent and a $0.30 per-transaction fee. This processing cost is the same regardless of card type, which means that all debit, credit, rewards, corporate and international cards are processed at the same rate.
Square's rate is one of the best in our review of online processors because it applies to every type of card. The exception is if you accept recurring payments using cards on file, in which case the rate is 3.50 percent with a $0.15 per-transaction fee. One of the advantages of choosing a service that has a flat rate is that it gives you the certainty of knowing exactly how much you're paying for every transaction.
One chief benefit of using Square to accept online payments is that it doesn't require any additional fees. You don't have to pay a monthly fee or a PCI-compliance fee, nor must you meet any monthly minimums. If you opt to use Square's webstore, you aren't responsible for any costs associated with payment gateways. If you choose to use a third party eCommerce platform and integrate with Square as your processor, there may be other fees involved.
As we evaluate online credit card processors, we take careful note of how transparent and consistent they are with information. Square gets top marks on our transparency score. It posts thorough information about its rates, fees and terms online where you can easily access them. When our reviewers contacted Square, it provided us with detailed information that matched the pricing and terms on its website.
Setup & Service
Part of our review process includes evaluating each online processor on how easy it was to apply for an account. Square received 100 percent on this score because its application process is quick and it allows you to sign up online with minimal documentation requirements. This makes it especially easy for small business owners to sign up, particularly those that have sole proprietorships or startups.
Square doesn't require a contract to use, and there's no early termination fee. Not being tied to a long-term contract can give you the necessary flexibility to move on if your business requires something different from your online credit card processing company.
With Square, your account can be set up very quickly, often within the same day and sometimes in as little as five minutes. After signing up, you can create your own Square-hosted website at no additional cost and Square has templates to aid you in setting up your store. If you wish to use a third party eCommerce platform or if you already have a website and choose to use Square's API application to add its online credit card processing service directly to your website, it can take longer to set up.
Square is missing some of the customer service features we look for when evaluating online processors. Square doesn't assign a dedicated account rep to you, nor does it have live chat or 24/7 phone support. You need to be a Square user to use phone support. This means that prospective customers can't call the company with their questions before signing up.
However, our testers were able to contact Square through email, and the representatives we corresponded with were helpful and prompt in their responses. You can find a detailed knowledgebase at Square's website that offers in-depth answers to many of the questions you may have about your account. The company also has a community forum and a blog that features articles of interest to small business owners.
Square is a popular processor that allows you to accept credit cards online using its hosted website, a third-party eCommerce platform or by using its API to integrate its payments services with your website. This online payment processing company charges a single flat rate with no monthly or annual fees, sets up accounts quickly and doesn't require you to sign a lengthy contract. Its chief drawback is a lack of some nicer customer service features, but Square's strengths outweigh the negatives, making it the best online credit card processing company in our review.