How to Order and Set Up a Free Square Credit Card Reader

August 7, 2017

Most people don’t carry a ton of cash around anymore. That can be super inconvenient if you’re an independent artist or a small business owner. Fortunately, Square offers a free credit card reader (though it does charge transaction fees) that you can plug into your phone. Here’s how to get your free reader and start taking credit card payments from your customers or clients.

The Square reader is handy way to take credit card payments without having to spend a ton of money on the fancy point of sale systems you see in stores. Square offers two types of readers. The first is a free simple reader that lets you swipe credit cards’ magnetic strips. It plugs into the headphone jack of an Android or iOS device. The second, which costs $50, allows you to take NFC payments and read chip cards. This one connects wirelessly to your phone.

Of course, Square’s not giving away free credit card readers for nothing. In exchange for the readers, Square charges a processing fee for each transaction. These fees start at 2.75% for swiped, chip, or contactless payments. These can be a little higher than other more elaborate point of sale systems, but you save a lot of money on the front end for the hardware.

Getting your Square reader is pretty simple. To get yours, head here and click Get A Free Reader.

First, you’ll need to create an account. Start by entering an email address and creating a password. Make sure Square has your correct location, then click Continue.

Next, you’ll enter some personal information about yourself, including your name, address, birthday, last four digits of your social security number, phone number, and how you’ll be using the Square reader. When you’re done, click Continue.

Next, you can add a bank account to your Square account. You can skip this step for now if you want, but you’ll need to add a bank account before you can accept payments. Enter the name of the account holder, account type, routing number, and account number. Click Continue when you’re done.

On the next page, you can choose whether you want to order just the free magnetic stripe reader, or pay $50 for the extra NFC and chip reader as well. You’ll get the free reader either way. Pick the package you want and click Continue.

Next, confirm your shipping address. You won’t have to pay for shipping, but if you chose to buy the extra $50 NFC/chip reader, you’ll need to enter payment information to pay for your payment reader system. Got all that?

After this, you’ll get a page with a referral link. Normally, you might skip this step—you don’t always need to be someone else’s promotion service—but Square will let you process up to $1,000 in sales for every other person you get to sign up. Since the accounts and magstripe reader are free, this isn’t a bad deal—especially if you’re running a small side business and won’t do a ton of transactions very often.

Finally, you can send a link to your phone to download Square’s Point of Sale app for iOS or Android.

The first time you run the Point of Sale app, it will walk you through how to conduct a transaction. Once you receive it, plug in your card reader, open the app, and you can start charging people for your goods and services. Just make sure to account for those fees in your pricing.

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