A number of lawyers have asked me recently about using Square to process credit card transactions. Admittedly, the ads are appealing. If you are an iPhone, iPad, or Android user and want simple, straightforward credit card processing, I understand the temptation. Square advertises:
- Fast set up
- A free credit card reader and free apps
- Next-day payout
- 2.75% merchant fee
- Want to accept credit cards for trust funds (Only one account can be linked at a time.)
- Anticipate taking payments offline (You must have an Internet connection to swipe.)
- Don’t have the app (There is no way to process payments through the Square Web site in lieu of a mobile device.)
- Prefer maximum flexibility in processing refunds. (Refunds are only available for transactions processed less than 60 days ago. Partial refunds are not allowed.)
- Expect to process payments manually. (If you accept more than $1,000 in card-not-present payments during any trailing seven day period, Square will defer depositing the amount in excess of $1,000 for 30 days – but see the tips below.)
The lesson here is simple: always know the Terms of Service for any vendor with whom you do business. It only takes a few minutes to review the content at Square’s Help Center. I found it to be direct, to-the-point, and easy to navigate.
My Experience with Square
As a customer, I used Square for the first time recently. I really liked it! The store owner swiped my card, entered the amount and description, and I used my finger to sign on her iPad. It was easy/breezy. (I chose to have the receipt e-mailed to me.)
Tips for Using Square
A couple of tips that I learned from this retailer and a lawyer I know who uses Square:
- Customer support is friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Once you jump through the support hoops on their Web site, I’m told they are very easy to work with.
- Haggle! Terms with Square can be negotiated – just ask! One lawyer I know got Square to change his terms for processing payments manually – see above. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he had a track record with them.
- Using Square on the iPad is substantially easier than using it on the iPhone or Android (Clients will have a difficult time signing on the small screen of your smartphone.)
- Remind ladies with long fingernails to sign with the pads of their finger, not with their nails – the signature technology is heat-sensitive. Nails won’t work and may scratch the surface of your iPhone, iPad, or Android.
Other Alternatives for Lawyers Who Want to Take Credit Cards
LawPay/Affinipay is my favorite choice by far.
How does LawPay work?
- Lawyers using LawPay save up to 25% on credit card processing fees compared to typical bank charges for the same service.
- Fees are deducted exclusively from the operating account (no client money is ever taken).
- Funds are never commingled between the operating and trust account.
- You are in control of your deposits. If you take a credit card for a retainer, simply direct LawPay to deposit the funds in your trust account. If you accept a credit card for fees you have already earned, direct LawPay to deposit the proceeds into your operating account. Your ability to “direct traffic” ensures that funds are always properly separated.
- Transactions can be processed traditionally or via virtual terminal (i.e., over the Internet).
For a refresher about accepting credit cards (and the ethical constraints), see this blog post.
Copyright 2012 Beverly Michaelis