11

Has anybody tried using a Square credit card reader for individual (non business) use? The scenarios I'm thinking about are for selling stuff at garage sales or on Craig's List but I imagine there are other possible non-business uses. Just curious.

3
  • 1
    yes. paypal also has a credit card reader like it
    – CQM
    Mar 11 '13 at 2:47
  • 2
    @CQM - there are a few makers of such swipe readers now
    – warren
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:22
  • I asked this question of Square Support after seeing the confusion hereon. Their reply is in my answer.
    – warren
    Mar 12 '13 at 4:29
23

Direct from Square Support in an email to me today when I asked this very question:

Thanks for writing in. You can certainly use Square for personal use. When activating your account, you’ll be asked how you intend to use Square. You’ll simply need to select ‘Individual Use.’

Don't think we can get more clear than that :)

1
  • 2
    And there is a definitive answer.+1
    – MrChrister
    Mar 12 '13 at 5:46
7

Why wouldn't they be? The reader is free after rebate, and sold in Walgreen's/Riteaid, etc. The site shows a fee of 2.75% which is comparable to what merchants are charged for card use. Not sure what other uses you're thinking of, but it's probably a good thing to have for a yard sale.

From an article in Fast Company Magazine:

The result was the Square reader, which launched a year ago and which allows just about anyone to set themselves up to take credit card payments. Even you. Planning a garage sale and want to enable people to pay for your gerbil cages and Shawn Cassidy LPs by credit card? No problem. Square's for you.

11
  • OK, I've looked at the T&Cs for better part of an hour, and I can't tell for sure whether they allow for personal transactions (or transactions outside of a business context). However, saying you can use it at a garage sale and having it backed up by the T&Cs are two different matters. What's left unsaid in the FC quote is whether or not the seller above has registered a business. Most things on the Square website are clearly business uses, not personal uses.
    – mbhunter
    Mar 11 '13 at 4:59
  • 2
    @mbhunter - Why would they care? They get their 2.75% of the transaction value in either case. I doubt they're very concerned about much more than that.
    – aroth
    Mar 11 '13 at 5:47
  • @aroth They would care in a hurry if people were using in ways that aren't authorized. Again: where are non-business transactions explicitly allowed? A Fast Company article isn't the T&Cs. Also, there's nothing on the main website that suggests that people can do this for non-business transactions. All of the use cases are proper businesses or sole proprietors.
    – mbhunter
    Mar 11 '13 at 6:35
  • 2
    @mbhunter non-business transactions do not have to be explicitly allowed as they are tacitly consented to. There are no federal, state, industry wide or consortium of regulations preventing credit card transactions between individuals in the us. There just was not a practical way to do it until recently, for instance, this relies on the merchant having a smartphone or comparable mobile device, these didn't exist over 5 years ago, and the parallel credit processing industry is resistant to change and their diminishing returns. Square was just a matter of time.
    – CQM
    Mar 11 '13 at 6:47
  • 2
    @mbhunter - nowhere in the T&C does it say you cannot use it for personal transactions. Therefore, it seems logical to conclude (especially given its initial sales pitch by the founders on CNN to 'the masses') that personal use is acceptable.
    – warren
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:53
1

There's no difference between "individual" and "business" in this context. What is a personal transaction that involves credit card? You have a garage sale? Its business. You sell something on craigslist - business. Want to let people pay for your daughter's girlscout cookies - business.

There's no difference between using Paypal (which has its own credit card reader, by the way) and Square in this context. No-one will ask for any business licenses or anything, just your tax id (be it SSN or EIN).

Its exactly the same as selling on eBay and accepting credit cards through your Paypal account, conceptually (charge-back rules are different, because Square is a proper merchant account, but that's it).

7
  • It doesn't have to be "business" if you're selling something on Craigslist or a garage sale at a loss. And as of yet I haven't found where Square explicitly allows these kinds of transactions. If people just assume they can because of something they read in Fast Company, then they could be in hot water if they don't have all of the documentation, licensing, etc., to back it up.
    – mbhunter
    Mar 11 '13 at 6:31
  • 1
    @mbhunter selling is, by definition, a business activity. You don't have to have a store, but that's not the same.
    – littleadv
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:33
  • Selling likewise is not limited only to people "participating in a business or trade." I can sell you my drum set for $100, which I bought years earlier for $400. If I'm not engaged in buying/selling used music equipment on a regular basis, I don't need to register as a business to properly account for this sale. It's a personal transaction, and assuming I have the original receipt, I pay no income tax on that sale. The question -- which is still unanswered in my mind -- is whether I can use Square to accept your $100, and not get into trouble.
    – mbhunter
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:46
  • 1
    @mbhunter you're confusing "business transaction" and "participating in business or trade". The claim "I don't need to register as a business to properly account for this sale" might or might not be true (depending on local laws), but has nothing to do with merchant accounts. I can't understand why the question even arises. What have licenses or taxes got to with merchant accounts? Beyond me completely.
    – littleadv
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:50
  • 1
    @mbhunter and to ease your mind, there's no real difference between selling drums in a store and selling your own old drum from the basement on craigslist. Its all in your head. Tax-wise its exactly the same, and depending on local laws you might have a license requirement to sell even if its your own crap on craigslist (which you might not be aware of or just be ignoring, but its still there, e.g.: California).
    – littleadv
    Mar 11 '13 at 16:52
-4

Open a personal account to link SQUARE with, open a savings account with same bank. Register as "PERSONAL USE", make as many transactions you want for whatever you want $5.00 to $1,000.00 or more, you get paid, square collects a fee. Money is in your "personal account" in 24 hrs, transfer it to your savings acct. 2 years now no issue. I've done the EIN, vendors license, registering business crap, if you work for yourself for private citizens it's none of anyone else's concern.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.