Q&A About the Square Credit Card Reader

Are you doing nails as a one man show, or in a small salon, or maybe booth rent? If you take your own form of payment, you may have noticed that clients are increasingly wishing to pay with plastic. With machine fees and rentals, then usage charges on top of that, this has not really been a feasible option for some nail professionals. I have been reading about the Square for quite some time now and as I am shopping for a new phone, it is at the front of my mind as an option. It has made the techs using it so happy. I interviewed Becky Fangmann, the Oak Grove, Missouri-based nail professional who introduced the Square to the BeautyTech crowd:
Holly: Becky, Thanks so much for letting me interview you.
Becky: Hi Holly! Thanks for the chance to chat about Square. First, I’d like to say that I don’t make a dime from Square for telling the world about it. I am just a small business owner myself, looking for a way to accept debit and credit cards without costing me an arm and a leg! After reading and answering your questions, I’d add that going from a cash-or-check business to being able to accept credit cards has definitely increased my income. Now that I have this option, I can’t imagine paying a monthly fee or high percentages on each transaction. Also, Square recently dropped their $0.15 charge on swiped transactions; you pay only the interest rate depending on swiped vs. manually entered transactions. (Find more about the percentages at www.squareup.com.)
Holly: You found and introduced something called Square to the BeautyTech crowd. What exactly is Square?
Becky: Square is a really cool little app and swiping device that you can use on your Android or iOS (Apple) device to accept credit card payments from anyone, anytime for any reason as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection. You can even have your friend that owes you $20 pay you with her card since her wallet always seems to be empty when you remind her about it.
Holly: Don’t you have crazy monthly rental fees or processing like a machine in the salon would incur?
Becky: There are NO monthly fees for processing credit cards using Square. You only pay a “per transaction” interest rate depending on whether the card number is entered manually, or swiped through your card reader. The rate is lower for swiped cards to encourage those face-to-face transactions, as well as having an actual card present for the customer’s protection.
Holly: How do people authorize the purchase and get a receipt if it is done on your phone?
Becky: Square currently accepts U.S.-issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards, debit, credit and gift cards. The card is run through the swiper, the total to be charged is entered, and your customer will sign your device with their fingertip or a stylus! Square’s receipts display the name of the merchant who swiped the card, a map of the location where the transaction took place, and an itemized description of what was purchased. Customers can now save their receipts from Square merchants in their e-mail archives. It helps everyone go green with paperless transactions. Depending on the customer’s preference, receipts can be sent via e-mail or SMS text.
Holly: What about those who accept tips, can they be added on?
Becky: Tips can be added on very simply with an option in the app, or you can simply tell your client her total and ask how much she’d like to apply to the credit card, then run the card for that amount.
Holly: I’m considering the Square service but don’t expect to use it often, is there a minimum usage or charge for not using it enough?
Becky: There is NO minimum usage fee or charge for not using it enough. That is one of the points that sold me on Square! My business is not big enough to warrant a credit card machine or monthly fees. With Square, you pay when you run a transaction, and there aren’t any monthly fees!
Holly: I need a new cell phone anyway, how do I know what phones are compatible with Square?
Becky: The devices that you can use Square on will be updated at this following link, but I am listing the most current devices here as well.
Apple iOS 
  •  iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
  •  iPod Touch (2nd generation or later)
  •  iPad
 Google Android  
  • Motorola Droid, Droid X, Droid 2, Droid 2 Global, Droid Pro, Backflip
  • HTC Nexus One, Droid Incredible, Evo, Desire, Hero (with Android 2.X)
  • Samsung Galaxy series (including the Captivate, Vibrant, Epic 4G, Fascinate and the Tab), Nexus S, Intercept
  •  LG Ally
  •  Dell Streak
Holly: How long have you been using it and what has your experience been like?
Becky: I have been using Square for about 8 months and I have not had a single issue or problem. In the event that there is a question, the Square support team can be found on Twitter at @SqSupport — and they have answered any question I’ve had very quickly. At this time, the operation is still small and they don’t have a team of phone operators, but you can submit a ticket via their website at www.squareup.com, or as I mentioned, on Twitter. I am such a tech geek that I have completely loved the “cool” factor! My clients are always amazed at the latest gadget that I have, and Square fits right in. I love that I can accept a credit card at any time, from anyone! I had lunch with girlfriends one day and it was on one ticket — rather than have the ticket split, I just paid for it all, then ran their cards to pay myself back!
Holly: Where can readers and I find out more about Square?
Becky: Those interested can visit www.squareup.com and read all about it!
Ed note: You can also read more about it here.

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