Disclosure: Our editorial staff write reviews independently. We may be compensated if you sign up for a service through our affiliate links.

Our rating(4.3/5)
Square Terminal is a multi-functional payment terminal that works with WiFi.
With Square Terminal, you don’t need a connected tablet or computer at the checkout because the POS interface is on the touchscreen terminal. The pricing is simple, and there’s no contractual lock-in.
  • Pros: No monthly fees or commitment. Can pay for terminal over several months. Very user-friendly.

  • Cons: On-screen POS features not that expandable. No cellular network connection. Requires hub to connect with cash drawer.

  • Buy if: You want to save money and counter space by using one compact terminal as your main POS system.

Best Square Terminal offer

Get Square Terminal for just $299. You can also pay over 3, 6, 12 or 24 months. No ongoing fees or contract. Free delivery in 3-4 business days.

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How Square Terminal works

Square Terminal works as a standalone payment-and-POS terminal with software and receipt printer built in (unlike Square Reader). It accepts mobile wallets, chip (EMV), magstripe and contactless (NFC) cards, and you can key in card details manually.

Apart from credit cards, Square accepts debit, corporate, prepaid and rewards cards – even HSA, FSA, government and military cards – for the same transaction fee. You only pay more for keyed card transactions.

Accepted cards

VisaMastercardAmerican ExpressDiscoverJCBUnion PayContactlessApple PayGoogle PaySamsung Pay

Contrary to traditional credit card machines, Square Terminal is more than just for card payments. You can, for example, accept gift cards and edit your product library on the terminal.

From start to finish of each transaction, the touchscreen is used to navigate POS functions, like you would in the Square Point of Sale app for Square card readers. Where relevant, customers enter a PIN code or sign to verify the payment card on the touchscreen.

All transactions and activities on the terminal are connected to your backend Square account where you can access more features, ecommerce and integrations with additional tools.

The terminal uses WiFi to connect to the internet, or you can purchase a hub that allows you to connect via Ethernet cable. It does not work with 4G or other network connections like your cell phone. It has offline mode, though, so you can accept cards without a connection as long as it’s back online within 24 hours.

Square Terminal can be linked with the Point of Sale app on an iPad, iPhone or Android device, providing a distance between the till screen and card machine. It’s also possible to connect the Square Virtual Terminal with the card machine, in this way creating transactions on a laptop to be paid by dip or tap in person.

At Mobile Transaction, we rate credit card machines like Square Terminal in these areas: product, pricing, transparency and sign-up, value-added features, reviews and support, and contract.

Each criteria gets a score between 1 and 5, resulting in one overall star rating reflecting Square Terminal’s value for small businesses.

A card terminal’s main function is to accept credit cards in person, so the hardware quality, its software and experience of payment acceptance have higher weightings under the product criteria.

We have thoroughly tested Square Terminal and researched the company as a wider service to establish scores for the other rating categories. Our assessment breakdown is outlined in the verdict of this review.

Costs and payouts

A major upside to Square is their simple costs. You just pay for the terminal, then a fixed transaction rate for any debit and credit cards processed. There is no minimum sales volume required, no payout fees and no contractual lock-in. Unless you have opted to pay for the terminal over a number of months, there are no fixed monthly costs.

The credit card machine costs $299 upfront. You can also choose to pay in installments of 3, 6, 12 or 24 interest-free monthly payments (subject to credit check and approval). If you choose to pay over 12 months, the monthly installment is $27 – an attractive option for many startups. The repayments are handled by Square, not by a third party provider, and the first payment is taken when the order is placed.

Square Terminal – upfront price $299
Square Terminal – installments $27 x 12 months
Other payment plans available
Hub for Square Terminal (optional) $39
Shipping Free
Dip, swipe & tap payment fee 2.6% + 10¢
Key-in card fee 3.5% + 15¢
Transfers to bank account Free
Instant Transfers (optional) 1.5% added to transaction fee
Refunds Free
PCI compliance Free
Chargebacks Free

If you’re connecting the terminal to other hardware, you’ll need the Hub for Square Terminal costing $39.

In Square’s store, you can buy the following compatible accessories:

  • Countertop mount: $19
  • Belt clip: $59
  • Barcode scanner: $119
  • Cash drawer: $249
  • Eero Wi-Fi system: $199
  • 20 x receipt paper rolls: $20

Transactions cost a fixed % rate and fee, 2.6% + 10¢, for all dip, tap and swipe card payments through the terminal regardless of card brand, country of issue or whether it is premium. All keyed payments through the terminal or Virtual Terminal cost 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction. Online transactions via a Square online store, payment links or e-invoicing are 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction.

Refunds are free to process and chargebacks incur no admin fees. You even get free payment dispute support from the Square team, in case a chargeback should incur.

Transactions are automatically transferred – for free – to your bank account within 1-2 business days. If you want it faster, activate Instant Transfers in your account and a 1.5% transaction fee will be added to the card fees – you then receive the money in your bank account almost instantly (within a couple of hours). For example, for a swipe card payment, you pay 4.1% + 10¢ per transaction with Instant Transfers.

Photo: Emily Sorensen (ES), Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal PIN pad

Using the touchscreen of an industry-approved terminal like Square’s is secure.

Terminal specs and features

Apart from looking pretty, what should you know about the payment terminal?

Physically, it’s a bit heavier than a traditional Verifone card machine (417 g versus circa 300 g). This is due to the large screen, whereas a mainstream credit card machine with physical keypad only has a small display. Underneath are two rubber strips to keep it stable on a counter, and a hole if you need to screw the terminal on to a surface.

Square Terminal’s battery can last all day without a charge, which is impressive given the large, energy-consuming touchscreen. Still, we found that leaving it on standby drains the battery completely by the next day.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal bottom

Underneath the terminal.

Therefore, we recommend switching it off completely when you don’t plan on using it to avoid having to recharge it first the next time you need it.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal US left side

The power cable socket and power/standby button are on the left side of the terminal.

Because it runs on a local, secured WiFi connection, it can be used across your premises, for example for taking payments at the customer’s table. The Ethernet connection through the Hub could be necessary if your WiFi is unreliable, but then you have to keep the Terminal connected at a checkout counter.

It’s possible to accept digital wallets, chip, swipe and contactless cards offline, as long as you get back online within 24 hours to finish processing the payment through the internet.

Tech specs
Dimensions 5.6 in. (L) x 3.4 in. (W) x 2.5 in. (H)
Screen size 5.5 in.
Weight 0.9 lb.
Data WiFi (secured network only), Ethernet via Hub
Card technology EMV (chip), NFC (contactless), magnetic stripe
Battery life All day from full charge
Built-in receipt printer Uses 2.25 in. thermal receipt paper
Accessories included Square Terminal, power adaptor, receipt paper roll, ‘accepted cards’ decals

Software features are very similar to Square Reader’s mobile app, Square Point of Sale (downloadable on a mobile device).

Its checkout screen has three options for adding to the shopping cart: manually enter amounts, tap to add products from the library or tap to add from a ‘favorites’ grid. You can create open tickets straight from the checkout screen and save them for quick access. It’s also possible to customize the bottom menu to include the functions you use the most, e.g. Reports.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal product grid

The product grid menu.

The checkout flow and products can be edited on the terminal – no need to log in on a computer to do it. Add product variants like size and color and enable the eat-in or takeout options if you’re a coffee shop, all of which can be selected during the checkout flow.

What about transaction options? You can accept cash, payment cards and mobile wallets, ‘card on file’ saved in the customer library, gift cards (issued from the terminal too), invoicing and manually-entered card details. Split the tender, add either custom or preset tipping amounts, and once the transaction is complete, either choose to print, email or text-message the receipt.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal vs Reader

Square Terminal next to Square Reader.

The customer library enables you to add a person to the invoice rather than entering recipient details manually. You can create and send Square Invoices directly on the terminal, accessed from the side menu. Over-the-phone payments are also possible – just add products or enter an amount on the regular checkout screen and choose manual card payment as the payment method.

If you use the browser-based Virtual Terminal, transactions can be sent from your computer to Square Terminal for an in-person payment. As long as the transaction was completed by tap, dip or swipe, the charge is 3.5% + 15¢.

Transactions, sales history and reports can be viewed on the terminal. In fact, you go to Transactions to process a refund (itemized or custom amount) or resend a receipt via email or text. Receipts can be customized in Settings, and food places can set the Terminal to print order tickets. Pickup and delivery orders paid for online can be managed on the terminal, which is handy for order fulfillment.

Photo: ES, Mobile Transaction

Square Terminal showing customer list

The terminal has some loyalty features and a customer library.

Significant things you cannot do on the Terminal, which the mobile app can do, include:

  • Access team management features
  • Do more complicated product library edits

However, Apple or Android devices with Square Point of Sale installed can connect with Terminal for slightly more features. It is not yet possible to connect Terminal with Square for Retail or Appointments, but a Square for Restaurants Mobile POS app is available to use on Terminal for table-side service.

The software is updated automatically daily when the Terminal is connected to the internet. Just be prepared to wait for the update to process when you switch on the terminal every day (it took minutes on most days we tested it). For increased security, set the terminal to require password login every time it’s used. You can reset the password on the terminal if needed.

Accessories and POS hardware

If you wonder “how does this work with the rest of the POS system”, we should emphasize the terminal IS the POS system. That said, you can still connect it to hardware through the optional Hub for Square Terminal (purchased separately for $39). The Hub connects to the terminal via cable, has three USB ports for POS hardware and one Ethernet socket for a wired internet connection.

Photo: Square

Square Terminal with Hub

Square Terminal Hub has three USB ports for optional POS accessories.

Compatible POS equipment is plugged into the Hub’s USB ports (Bluetooth is not accepted) and includes:

  • Receipt printers
  • Kitchen ticket printers
  • Kitchen display
  • Cash drawers
  • Barcode scanners

You may alternatively just use Terminal for the card acceptance part, allowing distance between you and customers. This requires a tablet or smartphone with Square Point of Sale (try the free app here) in the vicinity or a computer with Square Virtual Terminal open (can be placed remotely). A connected Terminal could then be fixed to your countertop.

It’s perfectly possible to run the Square POS system separately on a tablet at the till with Terminal taking payments independently elsewhere, as long as they’re connected to the same Square account.


On Terminal, you can view sales history, generate custom reports and track sales by team member. You can’t view cash drawer session history like Point of Sale allows on a tablet.

All Square users have backend (in any internet browser) access to sales reports sorted by date, location, time period and more. Generated reports can be exported to Excel. There are lots of other free analytics on gift cards, popular sales categories, sales trends, transaction status, discounts, employee sales, etc. Custom reports can also be created.

If these are not enough, Square sales can be synced with more advanced accounting tools like Kashoo, Xero and Zoho Books.

Who is Square best for?

Small shops, coffee shops, hairdressers or any other type of merchant who doesn’t require a complicated checkout can rely on Square Terminal to save counter space and money because you don’t need to buy a receipt printer, tablet or touchscreen monitor.

If you’re cashless, it is truly just the terminal you need. Vice versa, an existing cash register without a credit card machine could do well with a supplementary Square Terminal for card payments on the side.

If you sell primarily online, but have a brick-and-mortar store too, the simple Square Terminal checkout could be what you need to connect those sales without superfluous equipment to fill your face-to-face shop.

It works best in locations with a fixed WiFi connection or checkout counter where you can connect an Ethernet cable. For this reason, we would not recommend it for use on the go where WiFi networks can’t be relied on.

Of course, if you’re already using a Square card reader, there’s no fuss changing over to a different system by going for Terminal. It is only if you require more custom features that we recommend looking elsewhere for card machines that are more customizable, such as Clover POS terminals.

Customer service and user reviews

Square provides 24/7 customer support over the phone for Square Terminal users. This is more support than with their Point of Sale products that only has a helpline on weekdays during business hours. There’s a very helpful Support Center on the website answering most user questions.

You get a year’s warranty on the terminal and a 30-day cooling-off period, allowing a full refund if you don’t like the product.

Customer reviews are a mixed bag. Occasionally, users complain about sudden account closures and funds being held by Square, which seem to be a result of Square mistakenly accepting sign-ups from merchants trading within business areas that Square considers high-risk.

How to get started

Getting started with Square could hardly be easier. Transaction charges are the same for everyone, unlike many payment companies that like to get on a call to get business information before giving you a quote.

Square just requires you to fill in some online sign-up pages with basic business and personal information. They will assess the information and check the validity of your bank account, but you are able to start selling straight after through the online payment tools.

It takes 3-4 business days for the terminal to arrive after the order is placed if ordering from Square directly. You can also purchase Square Terminal online from Amazon, Walmart and Staples, but these may have different delivery charges.

Transaction charges are the same for everyone, unlike many payment companies that like to get on a call to get business information before giving you a quote.

The card terminal is so intuitive you don’t need a guide to set it up – just make sure your WiFi is on so it can connect with the cloud.

Your bank account can take a number of days to be verified. Any transactions accepted by then will be held by Square until it can be transferred to your bank account.

Prefer a mobile card reader? See best Square alternatives on the market

Our verdict

If you’re looking for a compact, affordable point of sale with no lock-in or complicated fees, Square Terminal is a strong contender. The monthly installments mean you don’t have to pay the full price upfront, and the 24/7 support is a neat extra considering the lack of software cost.

The sleek credit card terminal fits neatly in a small shop that doesn’t need complicated checkout software, receipts are detailed, the battery life is great and the offline mode helps when the internet goes awry.

Square Terminal criteria Rating Conclusion
Product 4.5 Good/Excellent
Costs and fees 4.3 Good/Excellent
Transparency and sign-up 4.5 Good/Excellent
Value-added services 4 Good
Service and reviews 4 Good
Contract 5 Excellent
OVERALL SCORE 4.3 Good/Excellent

In addition, plenty of add-on features are available, like ecommerce, invoicing, phone payments and connecting to a wide range of business tools. These may have other charges, but using the Terminal only costs the transaction fee when you use it.

Bottom line: Square Terminal is very good value for small businesses that need a compact, standalone terminal with POS functions.