What is the Square Terminal?
The Square Terminal is a standalone countertop eftpos machine. It works just like a traditional eftpos machine; it accepts card payments through tap-and-go, insert or swipe, mobile phone payments, and you can key in payments manually.
However, unlike traditional eftpos machines, Square Terminal is designed to be a standalone solution. This means that the terminal has a built-in point-of-sale, you can’t use a separate point-of-sale solution with your Square Terminal.
This means that Square Terminals is a little awkward. It can’t be used as a mobile payments solution, as it’s too big and doesn’t have a 4G connection. It’s also not a fully-fledged countertop eftpos solution, as it cannot integrate with computer or tablet point-of-sale.
The Square Terminal is best suited for a small business with a permanent location and simple needs. We mean really simple, like if you have a handful of items for sale and you don’t need any advanced features like integrated eftpos, surcharging, multi-currency, purchase orders, stock alerts, employee management, customer loyalty, etc.
In most cases, we recommend the Square Reader paired with the Square Stand, instead of the Square Terminal. And, to be frank, we’re surprised that this product gets such good reviews from other websites.
Hardware and Design
The Square Terminal sports an understated, elegant design. Square’s Hardware Lead was previously Director of Engineering for the iPhone at Apple, and you can immediately see where the Square Terminal gets its inspiration.
The overall shape of the Square Terminal clearly resembles traditional eftpos machines, although it’s slightly smaller with a total screen size of 5.5 inches.
Although the footprint is about the same size as a typical smartphone, the terminal feels slightly bulky and unsettlingly heavy. Dropping this device in a busy shop or restaurant would make your heart skip a beat, especially with that big glass screen on top.
There are very few ports and buttons. A single power button can be found on the side of the Square Terminal, and a single charging port can be found on the rear. The chip reader and magnetic swipe strip are both elegantly built into the body of the device.
At the top of the device you will find the thermal printer, which prints customer and merchant receipts. And the underside of the Square Terminal has two rubber strips to help the device grip the countertop.
The Square Terminal connects to the internet via WiFi by default. This allows you to take the terminal to your customers on the shop floor or your diners at their table.
Sadly, unlike most eftpos machines, the Square Terminal does not have 4G connectivity. This would be particularly useful for locations that have spotty WiFi, which is surprisingly common and really annoying. If the WiFi cuts out, you’ll need to use the terminal in offline mode. And be sure to connect to the internet within 72 hours or offline payments will expire.
If you want to connect to the internet via ethernet, you’ll have to purchase the Square Hub. The Square Hub will also allow you to connect to peripherals, such as receipt printers, barcode scanners, and cash drawers.
The Square Terminal is an all-in-one solution with a built-in point-of-sale. But no 4G connectivity means that you can’t take payments in the field without tethering to your phone.
Power & Battery
The Square Terminal can last a full day without recharging the device. This is particularly impressive given its large 5.5 inch display. However, it won’t last much more than a day, so the terminal will need to be recharged every evening.
The Square Terminal cannot connect to other hardware via Bluetooth. However, you can connect the Square Terminal to other hardware using the Square Hub. The Square Hub plugs into the Square Terminal, and connects to third-party devices via USB and ethernet.
The Square Terminal has a built-in thermal printer that is compatible with 50mm x 35mm rolls. You can also connect a third-party receipt printer using the Square Hub. But you must make sure that your third-party printer uses USB connection.
You can also connect to a cash drawer, although there’s a couple of ways this could work.
If your cash drawer uses a USB connection, you should be able to connect using the Square Hub. However, if your cash drawer uses an RJ11/12 connection, then you’ll need to plug it into your printer, and plug your printer into the Square Hub using USB.
This can get a little complex, so it’s worth checking with Square whether your specific hardware is compatible with the Square Terminal.
Kitchen Display and Barcode Scanners
The Square Terminal can only connect to kitchen displays and barcode scanners via the Square Hub.
Payment Types and Costs
The Square Terminal sells for $439 outright or through an instalment plan of 12 interest-free payments of $37.
This is different to most other eftpos solutions, which only allow you to rent the terminal for between $20-30 per month. If you’re using the Square Terminal for more than 18 months, then you’re financially better off with Square’s outright purchase model, when compared to banks’ terminal rental model.
In the box, you will receive the Square Terminal device, a power adaptor, and a 15m long receipt paper roll. If you want to use the Square Hub, that is sold separately for $49. You can also buy additional paper rolls for $29 for a pack of 20 rolls.
|Receipt Paper Roll||$29||✔ One Roll|
Payments and Transaction Costs
The Square Terminal accepts most major payment types, including Eftpos, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Square uses a blended rate for all transaction types. This means that you pay a 1.6% fee for every transaction, no matter what card type your customer uses. If you key-in the card number directly into the terminal, then the transaction fee increases to 2.2%.
Although the Square Terminal’s 1.6% transaction fee is cheaper than the Square Reader, that’s not a sensible comparison.
The Square Terminal doesn’t compete with mobile card readers like the Square Reader, it competes with countertop eftpos machines like Tyro’s eftpos solution. And Tyro advertises a 1.10% transaction fee for Visa and Mastercard transactions, much cheaper than Square.
However, if you are willing to pay a little bit more for an eftpos solution that looks slick, then the trade-off might be worth it.
Point-of-Sale Software and Useability
As the Square Terminal is designed to be a standalone eftpos machine with a built-in point-of-sale, Square focused on making the software as simple to use as possible.
Square Terminal Built-In Software
The Square Terminal comes with Square Point of Sale built-in, and despite having to use the software on the small 5.5 inch screen, it’s very user friendly.
However, the terminal has limited compatibility with other Square software:
- Square Point of Sale. The Square Terminal comes with the Square Point of Sale as standard. It includes almost all the features available on the iPad version, except the ability to mark items for sale online, track cash drawer history, and record sales by employee.
- Square for Restaurants. The Square Terminal has limited compatibility with Square for Restaurants. If you log into your Square Terminal using your Square for Restaurants account, then you get some functionality, such as printing kitchen tickets, tracking open tickets, and payment at the table. But it doesn’t include key features, such as seat/table tracking or coursing.
- Square for Appointments. There is no compatibility between the Square Terminal and the Square for Appointments software.
Connecting the Square Terminal to the Square Stand
Most businesses like have a large screen for their point-of-sale, such as a tablet or monitor. It makes sense, you don’t want to be pressing the wrong buttons or misreading product descriptions with a queue of customers waiting to be served.
One of the major downsides to the Square Terminal is that it doesn’t connect to the Square Stand or other point-of-sale software. This means that you can’t ring up a transaction on the Square Stand or tablet, and then automatically send that purchase the Square Terminal for payment.
The only workaround is to use the Square Stand or other point-of-sale and then manually type in the price on the keypad of Square Terminal. But having a point-of-sale and terminal that are not integrated means slower transactions, more risk of fat-finger errors (e.g. typing $2.00 instead of $20.00), and painful reconciliation challenges.
The Square Terminal does not integrate with the Square Stand. This means you cannot use the Square Stand’s iPad to ring-up transactions, then automatically send them to your Square Terminal for payment.
Unfortunately, there are a number of lesser-known — but still important — eftpos features that Square is missing.
Multi-currency (also known as direct currency conversion) is the ability to show the cost of a purchase in a customer’s home currency on the eftpos machine.
The benefit of direct currency conversion for a business is that it reduces the likelihood that a customer disputes their transaction when they are surprised by the foreign exchange cost.
Unfortunately, although Square accepts foreign cards, it does not provide direct currency conversion.
Least Cost Routing
Least-cost routing will automatically route transactions through the card network that is cheapest for the merchant. Because most eftpos providers charge less for eftpos transactions, least-cost routing will generally route transactions through eftpos, instead of Visa or Mastercard.
Square does not offer least-cost routing. But even if it did, it would not make a difference for the merchant, as eftpos, Visa and Mastercard fees are all set at the same price fo 1.60%.
Square does not offer a way for customers to set a fixed (10c) or dynamic (0.10%) surcharge to transactions. All surcharges must be manually added to the transaction by typing them in the Square Terminal for every transaction.
Purchasing and Setting Up Square Terminal
Where can you buy the Square Terminal?
Unlike the Square Reader, the Square Terminal is not available at retail stores. You can only purchase the Square Terminal via the Square website and postage takes between 2-7 days.
How do you set up the Square Terminal?
Once you have received your Square Terminal, you will need to sign up to Square. This can be done either through the Square website or the Square Terminal itself.
During the sign-up process, Square will ask for a bunch of information, including:
- Business information. This includes things like the business name, the trading name that is printed on receipts, annual business revenue, and the industry that the business operates in. At this point, Square will check whether your business operates in a blacklisted industry (e.g. gambling).
- Personal information. This includes your name, address and date of birth. Then they will ask you to upload an identity document (e.g. Driver’s License, Medicare Card, Passport) so that they can verify your identity to comply with Australian anti-money laundering regulations.
How long until you can start taking payments?
Once you’ve signed up for the Square Terminal, you can start taking payments immediately.
However, it can take up to 4-5 business days to link your new Square account with your bank account, and this can delay your first funds settlement. This means that you’ll be accepting payments and those payments will appear in your Square dashboard, but they cannot be transferred to a bank account.
After your bank account is linked, your funds will settle daily and generally arrive in your bank account on the next business day.