Photo: Dan Goodman
If you’re unfamiliar, Square is a combo app/hardware solution that lets you, the average Joe, accept credit card payments through your iPhone.The Square dongle is a small piece of plastic that connects to your iPhone’s headphone jack and talks to the Square app. By swiping a credit card through it, you charge the card with whatever amount you’ve entered and you receive the money a few days later.
I carried Square around for two weeks and had cause to use it four times. It handled $905 of transactions for me that would’ve otherwise required checks and cash.
I was impressed at the app’s simplicity, even the registration process. After setting up your account and passing a basic in-app background check to make sure you are who you say you are, you’re ready to go. They’ll even send you a free Square reader in the mail if you want!
For my first Square transaction, I paid myself $1 to see how the process worked. It’s completely straightforward, no different from using your credit card at a store. You just enter a total, swipe your card, and sign your name. You even have the option to send a receipt via text or email.
Square takes a 2.75% cut of whatever your total transaction is. That $1 I paid myself turned into $0.97, which found its way into my bank account about four days later. Easy.
The next two transactions were for splitting dinner bills. By now I knew enough to factor in the 2.75% charge so that after Square took its cut, I’d receive the whole amount. To do this, you only need to multiply the total by 1.02827. You can even set up Square to do this for you automatically by telling it to charge 2.83% “tax.”
The fourth and most recent time I used Square was to get my roommate’s half of the rent. He doesn’t have a checkbook, so this was a very welcome change from the way things usually go. It saved him a trip to the bank to get a cashier’s check and it saved me the trouble of hanging on to his check until I find time to go to the bank. We took care of the entire thing in less than a minute and I even got to send him a receipt. Again, his money was deposited into my bank account about four days later.
The bottom line:
I found that Square is hardly a use-it-every-day app. But for the times that you do use it, it’s a total convenience. It’s so small that I don’t even notice it in my bag, which is why I’ll be keeping it there for the foreseeable future.