UPDATE 09/09/2013

My full review of Square Register is much more up-to-date, but the post below is here for historical purposes.

After a year of using the combination of Ring It Up (RIU) and the Innerfence Credit Card app as my “mobile cash register” (see my blog post from Jan 2010), I have noticed some competition. But why would I consider switching to something else?

Recently, some challengers have entered the arena: Intuit’s GoPayment, and a little thing called Square.

DISCLAIMER: When I mention how the fees for the following solutions are so much “better” than those offered by Authorize.net / Merchant Focus, they are better for my financial situation. If you are considering any of these services, calculate some estimated transactions to see which solution is best for you. You will need the following: total number of transactions per year, average cost of each transaction, active number of months (if you run a seasonal business). Even though one solution might be less expensive in the long run, personally I find (albeit, intangible) value in not having to pay monthly fees, and not having to manage accounts with several different companies at once.

Intuit GoPayment

I haven’t yet signed up, so this review won’t be as in-depth as it could be.

Intuit, an 800-pound gorilla of the personal/business financial solution market (makers of Quicken, Quickbooks, TurboTax, and the wickedly-cool mint.com) has decided — along with most of the modern world — that the smartphone universe is the kickin’ place to be. They have an app called GoPayment, which works on pretty much everything: iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Win7 phones.

It’s a two-prong approach, in that you have an app and a hardware card reader. They offer their little white card reader for free, but they also offer the Mophie card reader for iPhone users. (Is the Mophie reader free too?)

The startup screen

Once the app starts (and once you’ve logged into the service), you are presented with the payment screen:

Fired up, ready to go!

Upon completing a transaction, it gets entered in the “Past Charges” screen:

Payment History

The app also offers a rudimentary inventory list:

Inventory List

And by rudimentary, I mean it doesn’t have very many features: Name, Description, Price, Tax. (That’s all you’re getting.)

Item Info

Before I move on, let’s compare that to Ring It Up, shall we?

(I just felt like doing that… anyway)

How much does GoPayment cost?





I have already signed up for Square, so this will be a more in-depth review.

(UPDATE: 04/19/2011)As of version 1.6, the Square app for iPhone supports sales tax! No more fiddly calculations! They also changed the interface, so my screenshots are out-of-date.

Everybody has heard of Twitter, right? Well, one of their founders, Jack Dorsey apparently became so frustrated at how complicated and expensive credit card processing is for a small business that he decided to show them all how it’s done.


Just like GoPayment, it’s also a hardware/software solution. Their (iconic) card scanner plugs into your headphone jack, and the app is written for both iOS and Android.

enlarged to show texture

You start the app, and (assuming you’re logged into the service) it’s ready to take your transaction info:

Plug in the device, get the icon in the middle-left, and you’re good to go!

You enter a price, then (if you want) you can enter the name of the thing you are selling. Also, click the little camera icon and take a photo of what you’re selling.

Problem: if you have items with long names, you’ll be doing a lot of cumbersome typing — there’s no quick way to automatically enter this information (unless you have the iPad app). But if you have a photo of the item, you can include it next to the description (once again, it’s no Ring It Up, but it works):

Type the price and item detail

(Square finally has an entry for sales tax on the iPhone app! This screenshot is out of date.)

We have options!

If you haven’t received your “square” card reader, you can manually key the card number. This costs extra.

It’s better to scan it with the “square”

Here’s an interesting thing: The interface lets you know about your limit:

[old screenshots removed]

UPDATE (a while back..) — Square changed their limits! If you actually swipe the customer’s card, Square won’t hold your transactions very long. But if you hand-type the credit card number, and those hand-typed transactions total over $1,000, then they’ll wait 30-days to give it to you.

Once a transaction goes through, you can email the receipt to your customer. And if you enable Location Services, the receipt will include a map of where the purchase was made! Snazzy!



* I didn’t want to have to buy an iPad just for a single app. (Why those features couldn’t also be in the iPhone version, I have no idea.)

(UPDATE 03/15/2011) – On March 9, Verifone’s CEO let the world know how insecure and “dangerous” Square’s little card reader is.

When using Square, the credit card data is not encrypted until it gets to the app. (However, it is encrypted before it’s transmitted over the internet, or else it wouldn’t be PCI compliant.) This means someone could write a malicious app (like the one Verifone demonstrated the video) that allows the vendor to keep the customer’s card information and use it for nefarious purposes, if they so choose.

Scary, eh? Do you know what’s also scary?

This is what we in the industry refer to as FUD – “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” Verifone is scared of Square’s business model and is doing anything it can to stay afloat.


How do I feel about these two solutions?

While writing this review, I realized how spoiled I’ve become by all the features in Ring It Up, and how it seamlessly talks to the Innerfence app. I’m dead-set on using RIU, and neither one of these platforms has enough point-of-sale features to pry it out of my hands.

I may have already made my decision by signing up for Square first, but I don’t know.. They’re really close. If one of them can either get an API going, or boost their inventory management features to supersede Ring It Up, that would make it a lot easier for me to make a decision. And since there’s no disconnect fee for Square, it would be easy to jump ship if I have to.

Competition is a beautiful thing, and both of these services represent the new way of processing credit card transactions. No matter which of these services comes out on top, I’m so glad they are teaming up on the “old school” ways of doing things. There’s no reason this needs to be complicated.

24 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I just stumbled upon your blog through Google, and I really enjoyed your comparison of the two different services. I will say that I have some experience with Intuit’s GoPayment, and I would like to clarify somethings on that end.

    Now, one of the first things you talk about is the hardware that is available for GoPayment. The Mophie is available for the iPhone 3g/s and iPhone 4, but, it is made by a separate company aside from Intuit. That white card reader that you see on the site is the one that Intuit is offering for free. I will say that it is a compact card reader (seems to be a bit bigger than the Square), but it still conveniently fits into your pocket, and is very sturdy.

    Also, the different plans that are available, the high volume and the low volume, do suit different business types. Going over that 1000$ limit doesn’t automatically switch you over to the high volume plan, nor does it charge you any extra penalty fee. Some businesses aren’t going to be processing on a monthly basis, so thats where the low volume plan fits better than paying a fee for lower rates that I won’t be using all the time.

    And, as for Amex, it is included for free without having to go through and signing up for a separate account. While doing the app, either online or on the phone with a rep, you will be asked if you want to accept Amex or not. The only difference is that Amex has a different rate then the discount rates that you see for Visa/Mastercard/Discover.

    I hope that this was able to clear some things up for you as well as other people reading this. I will say that I have no experience with SquareUp, only GoPayment.

    Take care, and keep the cool blog posts!

  2. Great post.

    I’ve been using Square to take drum student payments for about 6 months. I’m still not good at swiping through that tiny square reader, although I like how it looks. The UI is easy peasy and the transactions are fast because of all the junk they left out. But, the reader broke and there were no error messages to tell that’s what was wrong. After trying to get it to work for a week, and upgrading my iOS to v.4 on my iPhone, I gave up and ordered a new one. It arrived in 5 business days. So, I was basically down 2 weeks.

    During that time, I realized I needed a failover. So I signed up for GoPayment. They’ve got a click for everything, when I’m trying to get one student out of my studio and the next one in. Click this, click that, click some more. It takes for ever to take a quick credit card payment.

    What’s cool about GoPayment, is the swiper is totally predictable and stable. They’re 2.70% instead of Squares’ 2.75. I have NEVER had a student whip out an American Express. Both these guys should drop their fees to 1.90% and let American Express pound on us for their own fee levels.

    Also cool about the GoPayment is that they make the deposits directly to your account and then remove their fee. Of course they just have to label is a “CreditCard/Discount” just to piss you off while you figure out it’s them. I mean seriously, couldn’t they label the transaction “GoPayment Fees”? But Square, who perfectly labels their trasactions in your bank account, does their own banking before they send you your money with the fee already removed. This means you have to go to their site to dig up your monthly fees for bookeeping–lame sauce.

    So, I love Square’s speed and I know as a software maker how hard it is to make something that simple and elegant. So, they kill GoPayment which has 1000 options and yet DOES NOT INTEGRATE WITH QUICKBOOKS. Stupid.

    So, I’m sticking with Square, and everytime their reader dies, I’m just going to use GoPayment until the next reader arrives in the mail. Mischief managed.


  3. Spoke on the phone with GoPayment this morning. I swiped a $137 payment three weeks ago and got the customer’s signature for the transaction. They still haven’t posted the payment claiming that they needed 12 months of bank statements, a copy of the invoice, to talk with the customer, etc. No one called to say there is a problem. They claimed it was some sort of risk management issue. I have been in business and using Paymentech since 1994, have stellar personal credit and have had zero issues accepting credit cards. The GoPayment rep asked me about the nature of my business with my customer and I informed him it was confidential and that I had an NDA. He told me Intuit’s authority supersedes the NDA. What?! He came across as a bit arrogant as well. I told him what to do with the payment and had the customer cut me a check. I will be signing up for Square posthaste.

  4. I have been using square on my Android phone. i would like a lower fee but considering all credit card are the same rate the fee is not to bad. The process is pretty simple. I do not trust Intuit as they have the habit of forcing you to upgrade their products.

  5. Hi,
    First I would like to apologies for my very, very bad English…
    … And secondly I want to tank you (jwallacephoto); I just find your blog after a few hours of misleading advertisement. This information it’s been very helpful and thanks to everybody I can made a more educated decision. Once again thank you everybody for your time and yours comments and your time.
    Yuriria Ponce

  6. Thanks for the post and the answer to the question that was driving me crazy and I haven’t even used Square yet, which was how to get rid of the test runs…..the fake sales receipts in my Sales History, ( I can’t go to an art show and start using this app and card reader without first trying it out so I know what I am doing when I have a crowd around me!) with the answer being You Can’t! That is ridiculous! You can’t edit that info……

  7. Thanks for this review. Helpful. Just a few thoughts: I’m just setting up my account with Intuit GoPayment on iPad. I already have a QB/Intuit Merchant account so the fees for the GoPayment are lower. Also, it DOES DOWNLOAD TO QUICKBOOKS – but maybe not all versions. Yes, they have a credit check, but that made me feel better about Intuit. As for reversals/refunds, they are done on the merchant site versus the app. I’ll be using the app and if I discover other findings worth sharing I’ll be back. For now, wishing each of you increased sales.

  8. Thank you for your pros and cons, now here is the rant, sorry, have to get it off my shoulders. On Aug 7th I entered a purchase into my iPhone, (gopayment) and still have not received it. The first issue (4 days after transaction no money so I called) they informed me that it may take longer for it to be processed. Next day I get an email telling me that my business account number is wrong (They entered it when I signed up) and that I have to go to my bank and get some kind of statement stating my account number and business name and a signature confirming that I indeed had an account their and have the bank fax it to them. Done. Three days later I get another email that says I have to fill out the change of account form WTF. I call and they say just to fill it out and list the same account in both spaces, “its the only way to have it corrected in the system”. Done. Four days later still no money, I call, they say it takes some time to process. This past Friday I get and an email stating that it has been processed. Today called because still no money, she says that I will have to contact my bank to do an inquiry to Automated Clearing House because they are the ones processing it now. WTF again. She says there is nothing they can do now. This was my first transaction with intuit, not sure I should have a second. Really thinking of going to Square. Please someone tell me this is a good company and that I should stay with them.

  9. Square is fabulous…seamless and easy. Request an additional reader as back-up just in case. Signing up for Gopayment strictly as an alternative for emergencies Not liking what I’m reading here about Intuit.

  10. Similar thing that happened To Courtney happened to me with Intuit. The first time i processes a payment with intuit it took 24 hours to process. The second time it took about 4 days to come in. I called the 3rd day and told me it was in today’s batch and it should be in by tomorrow. Which was true. But when you have to use the money to pay employees, bills, you can’t always wait 4 days. 24 hours for squares transactions seem like a nice thing.

  11. I don’t understand why Square, GoPayment and their rivals are falling over one another in their rush to get rid of the fixed transaction fees. Charging only a percentage fee means that they will be losing money on many small ticket transactions. I realize that right now they are mostly concerned with growing as quickly as possible, but this is a strategy that will inevitably need to be adjusted in the future. When that happens, the merchants that will be affected by such a change will not like it and push back hard against it. http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/gopayment-square-processing-fees-and-cupcakes

  12. This is all useful information since I’m looking into both services. We already have traditional credit card processing and I’m looking to cut costs. From what I understand, the security for gopayment is just like my current processing, while square is only ssi compliant. I just think of the time when someone tries to hack into these services so think that it should be a consideration.

  13. Not sure how the square security is a “non-issue”… And I do agree that Verifone is scared …less as well.

    However, If angry birds can read any credit card you swipe, there’s a huge problem. As someone in the IT field, I wouldn’t possibly trust the apps that someone installs on their phone. As a customer, my card wont come near a square reader until they figure out how to secure the data from the reader to the square app. Square ignored security standards that have existed for more than 10 years just to push out their product. It’s a big enough issue that they should have been prevented from rolling it out until they could address it.

  14. I have been using intuit GoPayment for about a year. While it worked fine on our Droid X’s the swiper would not work on any other of our android phones. So it was MANUAL entry and an added 1% fee for non-swiped. Nice scam if you ask me.

    After support call after support call allI got was “we are dilligently adding supported devices.” Well a year has passed and nothing has changed, except a few app updats that did nothing to correct Droid compatability.

    I am now happily using Square!

  15. Go payment
    Watch out for the extra fees at the end of the month. You will first recieve the payment statement to them with a 2.7% then at the end of the month you will receive an adjusted rate at 3.7%. Even though it is a VISA card and can swipe it you cannot tell if it is a corperate or a quilified rate card. Be award because cutomer service will not care.
    I cancelled the account after 2 months of over charges

  16. Would you be able to update this blog and let us know if you are still using Ring It Up. We were using a wireless ccard terminal for concerts and it recently was stolen :( and now are looking at options. Your time is appreciated; we’ll send you a free CD or t shirt for your help. Thanks!
    best fishes,
    Patty at Trout Fishing in America/Trout Records

  17. Square is fine if you have a high volume of small transactions, but if you have much larger ticket items or services I would recommend something like Rectangle Ware-Ever Pay.

    Great review. Very informative and thorough!

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