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Square Card Reader Basics


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Square is a mobile point of sale application for smartphones and tablets that's made up of two parts: the Square Point of Sale app, and the Square card reader. This article will go over everything you need to know about using the Square card reader with an iOS device, so your iPad or iPhone (or even iPod Touch). If you're looking to use Square with an Android device, see our Square for Android Basics guide. We'll go over:

  1. What Square is and what options are available
  2. What hardware is officially compatible
  3. What hardware is unofficially compatible

What is Square?

As we mentioned above, Square is comprised of a point of sale app, which is available for free in the app store, and the Square card reader (or the Square Stand). The Square card reader is what comes to mind when most people think about Square. It's the small, white square that plugs into the headphone jack of your device. There are multiple versions of the Square card reader that are now available: the traditional magnetic stripe card reader, an EMV chip and magnetic stripe card reader, or an additional NFC payment reader (for tap and go payments like Apple Pay). All of these options are available from Square's website.

Square Reader

Card reader: Free

Square Reader

Chip card reader: $29

Square Reader

NFC payment reader: $49
With optional dock: $78


The standard Square card reader is free with sign up from Square's website (though it can take up to 10 days to receive it) or available for purchase for $10 from many retail locations such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, and includes a $10 rebate. See Where to Buy Square for locations. Unsure about whether you should use the Square Stand or a Square card reader for your business? See our Square Stand vs. Square Card Reader comparison.

Square is priced at 2.75% per card swipe (and 3.5% + 15 cents per manually entered transaction), which is comparable to similar point of sale apps, like PayPal Here. See Square's website for more details.

Compatible iOS Devices: iPad and iPhone (or iPod Touch) running iOS 9.0 or later. See Square's Compatibility Configuration for more information on whether your device is compatible.

Square for iOS Hardware Compatibility:

Square for iPad is compatible with Bluetooth or Ethernet interface receipt printers, printer driven cash drawers (that are compatible with your receipt printer), and Bluetooth interface barcode scanners. Below is the list of recommended hardware for Square for iPad. For more information on compatibility, please give us a call!

Receipt Printers

Square for iOS is compatible with Ethernet or Bluetooth interface Star Micronics brand printers. There are both thermal and impact printers available. The following printers work with Square for iOS:

Star Micronics Thermal Printers

Thermal printers print by using heat on special, heat-sensitive paper. They print quickly and quietly, and are best for nearly all receipt printing situations.

Ethernet Printers: Ethernet receipt printers plug into to your router in order to connect with your iPad. Your iPad must be connected to the same network as the router.

Bluetooth Printers: Bluetooth receipt printers connect via Bluetooth to your iPad. The mobile Bluetooth printers are battery powered for mobility.

Star Micronics Impact Printers

Impact printers print by using an ink ribbon on standard receipt printer. They are not heat sensitive, so are best for using in kitchens or other hot environments. They tend to print slowly and are loud, so we would only recommend them for businesses that need heat-resistant printing. Square works with:

Enable Printing from Square

To enable printing to your receipt printer from Square, you first need to connect your receipt printer to your iPad. Once your printer is connected, under Settings > Printers, tap your connected receipt printer and make sure "Receipts, Bills, and Reports" (under Print From This Device) is toggled on. This screen is also where you can enable printing kitchen tickets (if you have a kitchen printer).

Cash Drawers

Square is officially compatible with certain Star Micronics brand printer driven cash drawers. Printer driven cash drawers must be hooked up to a receipt printer that is compatible with Square in order to work properly.

Star Micronics Printer Driven

Please keep in mind that mobile Bluetooth printers (such as the SM-S220i or SM-T300i) cannot connect with printer driven cash drawers. Mobile printers can only be used with manual cash drawers.

Barcode Scanners

Square for iOS is officially compatible with the following Socket Bluetooth scanner:

Compatible hardware list updated 4/13/2017

Square for iOS Additional Hardware:

There are a number of accessories that work Square for iOS beyond what's on their officially compatible list. Please keep in mind that although we have tested the following hardware and found that it works, Square will not support it should you run into difficulties.

Receipt Printers

The only receipt printers that Square recognizes are Star Micronics brand receipt printers, so the majority of receipt printers that work with Square are listed above. If you have the older TSP100 (which has since been replaced by the TSP100III) with an Ethernet interface, you can use that with Square.

Cash Drawer

Square works with any printer driven cash drawer, as long as the cash drawer is compatible with the receipt printer you're using. We successfully used Square with APG, MMF, and POS-X printer driven cash drawers (hooked up to our TSP100III Ethernet printer), but any printer driven cash drawer should work. If you're looking for a cash drawer to use instead of the official cash drawers, we recommend:

Please keep in mind that mobile Bluetooth printers can only be used with manual cash drawers, and not printer driven ones.

Barcode Scanners

Square primarily works with the Socket CHS 7Ci scanner, although it will also work with the Socket CHS 7Qi (2D barcode scanner) or other Socket CHS imagers (7Xi, 7XiRx). The Socket scanner must be an imager to connect with Square properly.

In addition, there are a number of Bluetooth barcode scanners that can work with Square with limited functionality. These scanners can scan barcodes and look up products by SKU or product name, but they do not automatically add products to the current order. Bluetooth barcode scanners we tested include:

See our bluetooth barcode scanner comparison for more information.


Unofficially compatible hardware list updated 6/1/2017

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