Easy, Affordable Credit Card Processing for Massage Therapists (and everybody else)

Credit card processing can be difficult and expensive for massage therapists and other small merchants. There is typically a tortuous merchant-account approval process, hefty set-up fees, and high ongoing fees to accept credit card payments from your customers.

Now, if you own (or are willing to get) an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android phone, there is a nifty-looking new service that can make your life easier – and save you quite a few bucks.

I saw a review of Square in the New York Times last week and immediately checked it out.

It’s an amazingly simple system. You download the app, create and confirm your account, provide your bank account information, and you’re ready to go. Within a half-hour of learning about the product, I had processed several sample transactions (I have only done keyed-in transactions to this point; the square card-swipe gizmo that gives the product its name won’t arrive in the mail for another few weeks).

Square lets your customers add a tip to their payment (you can set it to base the tip either on a percentage of the bill or on a fixed dollar amount). The customer signs with a swipe of their finger. You can optionally send a receipt to their e-mail address.

Here’s how Square compares with PayPal’s Virtual Terminal (what I currently use to process credit card payments for massage treatments and my couples massage classes) and with typical credit card processing set-ups (using mid-range estimates for traditional merchant account processing):

Square PayPal VT Typical CC
Merchant account required No No Yes
Contract required No No 1-2 years
Mobile card reader Free N/A $150-$900
Setup Free Free $0-$50
Monthly fee None $30 $15-$25
Monthly minimum None None $25
Card-present (swiped) rate 2.75% + 15¢ N/A 2.9% + 30¢
Card-not-present (keyed-in) rate 3.5% + 15¢ 3.1% + 30¢ 2.9% + 30¢
Annual cost (25 $75 transactions/mo.) $663.75 $1,147.50 $1,482.50

I’m enthusiastic about the potential of this system. It is a new and relatively untested, but so far in my tests it works really well. The company is well funded and lead by one of the guys who founded Twitter. I will likely move all of my credit card processing over to Square in the not-too-distant future.

If you have experience with Square or other credit card processing systems, please feel free to share your thoughts by adding a comment below.


  1. Olivier D'hose says

    Thanks for pointing this out Larry. There is one caveat that people need to be aware of however. Square will only deliver the money to your account once a week and up to $1000 a week. The balance is transfered to you ‘within 30 days’. So the way they make money (and since they are a business, they should) is to sit on your money for a little while. It may or may not be a problem for most of us but it is definitely something to highlight.

    It is a rather elegant solution however.



  2. says

    Thanks for the information. One thing I did notice when looking a the comments on iTunes is that it seems to be taking a long time for Square to get the hardware shipped to people. Maybe a couple months wait. If you are not in a hurry to be able process credit cards, then that won’t matter much. I will probably end up using it myself, since I don’t mind the wait.

  3. says

    I use square in my massage practice and after working out a few kinks, it is running wonderfully! It is so simple to use and for small private businesses it really has been one less thing to worry about. Definitely do your homework as they do have some things that may keep you from using it, however, the app, the processor, the set up is free, as well as no monthly fees. So far all of my transactions have gone through and money was deposited within 2-3 days of the actual transaction. I ordered my Square processor in September and it arrived within 2 weeks. I live in Alaska so expected it to be much longer, as I read reviews that Square orders were so backed up.

  4. Caroline says

    I have had the worst experience with Square! I read other reviews and most people had the same issues I did. I did some services at expos and client wanted to purchase a package of gift massages from me, square told me to refund the money so I did. This Feb 18th I was at a health expo Thursday and Friday and processed 3 payments. I wrote to Square telling them that I had not yet received my square swiper and that all 3 clients were present at the time that services were rendered at a health expo, and say that payments received Friday would be in ur account Mon, and I said as Mon. Was a holiday I do understand not getting the payment but that it was Wed now and still had not received any of the payments in my account. Yes all payments were accepted and they signed for them and were approved and showing in my square account. After writing all this to Square the decided to deactivate my account immediately and that, that was their final decision. So now I am looking for a different cc merchant that treats people better and has a live number to speak to someone rather than just through email. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know and email me at CherokeeQueen05@gmail. Com. Thank u for ur time and listening to my story about square as there are many others like mine out there.

    • says

      Sorry to hear about your experience, Caroline. I experimented with Square for a while, but when PayPal introduced PayPal Here I switched to that. My decision was based mostly on convenience – I’m using PayPal to accept payments on my website and via some other channels, so it’s just easier to have all credit card payments go into the same account. Another option you might look at is Intuit’s new GoPayment system.

  5. Dianne says

    I am an ACE certified personal trainer. I have many in-home clients.
    I would like to use Square for training services.
    Can I use a Personal Checking account to make deposits or does
    it have to be a business account? What about taxes?

    Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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