Why I Chose Square for Credit Card Processing (and Stand By It)

Choosing a Point of Sale and Credit Card Processor for a small business

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Blake Wisz — Unsplash

Figure Out What You Need

Before you can compare anything, you have to sit down and figure out what your business needs out of the system. As a restaurant owner, my requirements were:

  • Timekeeping (want this to integrate into payroll)
  • Employee management (different permission sets for different roles, separate logins)
  • Inventory
  • Loyalty program
  • Online Store integration

Transaction Fee Pricing

Next, to prepare for the mathematical warfare to ensue you have to figure out what your transactions are going to look like:

  • Gross sales (from which you can guesstimate the number of transactions per year)
  • $.10 per transaction
  • Monthly fee which is sometimes hidden in a equipment lease or software fee. This is where the credit card processing will try to play you by offering transaction fees but are shifting that into some sort of monthly fee.

Building Up the Data

So how are you supposed to come up with these numbers if you’re starting a brand new business?

  • Square Stand $169
  • Cash register $100
  • Thermal printer — got one on OfferUp for $150

Now We Have Data, Now What?

So 2 years went by and now we had reliable financial data to go on. We knew the total cost of ownership:

  • Average ticket prices
  • Number of transactions a year

Banks are Trustworthy Right?

We reached out to our bank to see what merchant services they could provide. They had a sales rep contact us to tell us more about Clover.

  • There was a hardware lease fee of $52 for 36 months ($1,872). For a Clover Mini which on their official website lists for $750.
  • It boasted of no monthly software fee, just an annual fee of $79 which they dropped down from $199.
  • Application fee of $250
  • Installation fee of $150 which they would graciously waive
  • For things like payroll and loyalty programs, they told me to look at the App Store for options

Thanks, But No Thanks Clover

When I pressed about the transaction fees and how I’d be paying more by switching the response was that I probably didn’t understand what rates I was paying with Square (they didn’t believe I had negotiated my rate).

Toast Is Promising

We did meet with a rep from Toast as well who did a better job of being upfront and knowledgeable about their product.


Understands your needs and costs and come prepared to talk to sales reps. Don’t get roped into something you’re uncomfortable with.

Engineer, restaurant owner, dabbler in the written arts. Proud to call JHU, USC, and UIUC my alma mater. Find me on Twitter @kaistreetfare

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