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Prompted by this question, I began looking for evidence that the Square credit card reader could be used for personal transactions (transactions outside of a business context).

Users of Square must agree to terms and conditions which, though overwhelmingly geared toward business use cases and is even called a Merchant Agreement, don't appear to expressly prohibit personal use. In fact, there are articles that seem to encourage the use "just because you want to accept credit cards":

  • Fast Company: "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."
  • NY Times: "So let’s say someone from Craigslist comes over to buy your old junk. You snap the Square reader into your phone or tablet. You tap in the amount of the purchase; it could be $1 for a yo-yo, $25 for a box of old records or $12,000 for a used car (there’s no maximum amount). You type a description if you like, and maybe even take a photo of what you’re selling."

These don't convince me. Taken in context, they're not Square policy, but part "gee this is neat" and part "imagine if you could do this." The website does not call out any of these use cases. They're all business cases.

It truly would be a game-changer if any Joe Schmo could accept credit cards for virtually anything they wanted to sell, but I don't think we're quite there yet. I sense that the person accepting payments through Square must be associated with a business entity.

My question: Can anyone confirm/deny whether Square can be used for personal transactions? Pointing to the rules governing the nature of the transactions would be ideal.

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What I should have done in the first place was just ask them. From their customer support team:

Thanks for writing in and for your interest in Square. It is perfectly acceptable to use Square for personal business, such as a yard sale.

You do not need to have a registered business to take advantage of Square and the ability to accept credit cards.

Just please note that it is against our Terms of Service to process prepaid cards, gift cards or your own credit card using your own Square account. Additionally, you may not use Square as a money transfer system. For every payment processed through Square, you must provide a legitimate good or service.

Please let me know if you have any additional concerns.

  • Even more curiouser. The gift cards are supposed to act like a credit card, only they are preloaded. Not like a guy running a yard sale is likely to analyze the card to figure out if that's what it is. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 12 '13 at 2:50
  • @JoeTaxpayer Yeah, the support guy's answer surprised me. In any case, though, knowing the difference is up to the person swiping the card. It's not something to be cavalier about: squareup.com/help/en-us/article/5079-leading-merchant-practices – mbhunter Mar 12 '13 at 3:09
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    Square apparently does accept gift cards. Perhaps what customer service meant was that they don't want you using your own gift card on your own device to effectively cash out your gift card. – Ben Miller Jul 24 '14 at 13:07
  • same answer given on the question that prompted this one: money.stackexchange.com/a/21076/969 – warren Apr 22 '15 at 20:06
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Yes. From their TOS: "By creating a Square Account, you confirm that you are either a legal resident of the United States, a United States citizen, or a business entity...".

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My husband used this device at work in an organization/club that collects dues for fundraisers. The fundraisers are only for the club. So I think that is not business at all. They have no business tax id#, etc? and they use it for personal reasons when collecting money via Cc#'s if this helps you.

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I used square in the past for personal yard sale and they did not transfer balance to my bank acct because they told me it was against their policy and I had to have a business license that they could either refund the credit cards i process or keep the money. So they kept it I never got it back. I don't recommend anybody to use square.

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protected by Chris W. Rea May 8 '15 at 0:38

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