Totally Square

A few weeks ago at a fantasy convention, a colleague turned me on to SQUARE. And it is the coolest. thing. ever.

Ethan and I have been on the road promoting and selling our books for over three years now. In doing so, we had to get a merchant account, because without one you’re unable to take credit cards. If you can’t take credit cards, you lose out on sales. We signed up for a merchant account through Total Merchant Services, and they’ve been rather good to us overall. But it is normally very, very expensive to have a merchant account. Prohibitively so unless you’re using it close to full time. There is a monthly fee. There is a wireless fee, which is a necessity to be able to take credit cards at events and on-the-go. There is a minimum amount you must charge in percentages every month or they charge you anyway. There is a 3 (!) year contract, and if you don’t cancel your contract within a specific amount of time before it expires, it automatically renews. To get out of a contract is several hundred dollars.

Not good. Especially since we’re now doing fewer shows than when we started.

Enter Square…my life saver.

SQUARE is a merchant account with no monthly fees. No contracts. You don’t have to buy the credit card machine, as they send it to you for FREE. (And it’s so small you can carry it in your pocket.) You don’t even have to buy the app. It’s FREE, TOO!

The Square card reader currently works with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android phones. I don’t doubt that Blackberry will soon follow. When you set up your account online at, you will connect your Square account with your bank account. They will make two small deposits (similar to what PayPal does) into your account and then ask you to verify those amounts. After that, you’re done!

Their percentage for swiped transactions is 2.75%, which is comparable to other merchant accounts. With Square, we can now take American Express in addition to Visa, MC, and Discover, something we cannot do with TMS without significant fees.

And it’s EASY (and so very cool). You swipe the card, enter the amount, and then the customer digitally signs your iPhone (or iPad, etc) with their finger! You can email or text them a receipt on the spot (Square even remembers the email associated with a specific CC if they’ve used Square in the past).

You will receive an email detailing the transaction along with your running Square balance. Approximately three business days later, the funds are in your verified bank account, also comparable to the time other merchant accounts take to get funds to you, only Square has no batching fees like other merchant accounts do.

Yep. Super. fricken. cool.

The only limitation I’ve seen is that they only allow $1000 worth of transactions per week. If you go over $1000 in a week, the excess will be deposited within 30 days. If you regularly go over $1000, Square will increase your weekly spending limit.

It will even track your cash receipts. Score.

Every working author should have one. Don’t have a smart phone? Time to invest in one. It will be your portable book-marketing machine. Seriously. It’s a necessity for a working author. More on that in a forthcoming post.

(This post first appeared on the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, March 25, 2011)


Do you think you could benefit from accepting credit cards on the go?

Book signings, fantasy conventions, coffee shops, live readings…where else could you be missing a sale?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. CL Stegall says:

    Well, this is the coolest freaking thing I’ve seen in a long time! I’ll be looking into this ASAP. Good to know there are coming to be more alternatives with regard to taking cardpayments on the spot. Thanks, Christine!

    1. christinerose says:

      INORITE! So fricken cool! I *LOVE* it!

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