Why I've Never Used My Square Card Reader

Dylan Love wrote for Business Insider recently about how he used his Square card reader, a hardware-and-app combination that turns your phone or tablet into a credit card processing machine, to conveniently charge up $905 worth of split rent and split dinners in just two weeks. Meanwhile, I've had mine for more than a year, and I've never even used it once.

The Square app, in combination with the Square card reader (both free!) allows any compatible phone to become a card processor and accept payments from credit cards straight to your bank account. It's hyped not only as a solution for small business merchants, but also for the everyday person as a handy way to tackle "between-friends" payments.

Dylan Love is making great use of his Square reader. It seems to make his everyday money exchanges go easily, even when people are rolling without cash or checks:

"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...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."

I got the Square app (and was sent my free Square Card Reader) last Fall. While visions of split dinner checks and easily settled bets danced in my head, the card reader sat at the bottom of my purse untouched. The reality is that Square is hardly the most efficient way to handle those between-friends exchanges, mostly due to that pesky 2.75 percent fee charged on each payment.

When I eat out with friends, we (politely, of course) tell the waiter that we'll be on separate checks before we order. Any other friendly IOUs are settled with cash or beers at the bar. When it's time to split the rent with my live-in boyfriend, we use PayPal, a web service and mobile app, that allows you to send money to friends and family for free using your PayPal or bank accounts (payments from credit cards still incur a fee).


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But of course I still have my card reader, and I carry it around with me every day. Square is a great product, and seemingly very easy to use. The 2.75 percent fee is not a huge hindrance for such a convenient way to accept card payments. That said, I'm still waiting for a situation where it's the best money-exchange option available, in terms of both cost and efficiency.

What about you? Have you accepted any payments using your Square app and card reader? Tell us in the comments!

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Taryn is a writer, maker, and designer in Atlanta, Georgia. Living in an apartment with her husband and their Boston Terrier, Bacon, she loves to entertain and hates having a tiny kitchen.