What Cards Does Square Accept

Square has made a name for itself by accepting many different types of payments. Because Square has taken over the industry so rapidly, many myths surround it: Some claim it cannot accept gift cards, while others assert that it is limited to non-prepaid cards only.

Square has made a name for itself by accepting many different types of payments. Because Square has taken over the industry so rapidly, many myths surround it: Some claim it cannot accept gift cards, while others assert that it is limited to non-prepaid cards only.

Bangkok, Thailand – Jun 23, 2015 : Group of credit cards on computer keyboard with VISA and MasterCard brand logos

Others have questions about using HSA and FSA cards, or wonder if the Square system can be used internationally. For those who serve the nation, questions might exist around whether Square accepts government or military cards. Amex fans might be worried that Square does not accept American Express, and still others would be curious as to whether Square utilizes Apple Pay.

Would Square accept EBT cards? What about check payments? As the nation switches over to EMV (chip) cards, questions swirl around who accepts these cards. Today, we will try to answer these questions. You might be pleased to discover that Square may just be the most “accepting” of all payment processors!

What Cards Does Square Accept

First, Square can use cards branded with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, and Union Pay: In other words, it works with most major networks. Of these, there are many different types of cards, which are processed in different ways depending on the individual card type; we will discuss this later. Credit cards are processed normally, and debit cards are processed like credit, representing no real difference from the majority of traditional card processors. However, since most payment processors try to process as many transactions as debit in order to hit a lower rate, Square’s processing of payments as credit represents a minor difference from more traditional payment processing systems.

For those who have received new EMV (chip) cards from their issuing institution, fear not. Square accepts these. If the merchant does not have an insertable reader yet, then these will be processed like any other swipe transaction. SO Square users can rest easy knowing that their transactions will be processed

What doesn’t Square accept? In addition to heartfelt promises, cattle, and scrap metal, the JCB network is only accepted with the standard magstripe reader or as manual entry. However, this is anticipated to change. For those whose customers use the JCB network and want a contactless payment method, it would be valuable to keep checking back or paying attention to Square’s updates about new services and methods of payment.

At this time, Square does not accept EBT or other benefits cards. However, this, too, may change in the coming months. Again, keep checking back to receive updates.

Gift Cards

When people think gift cards, sometimes they roll their eyes and think, “That’s so 2004.”  Who doesn’t have an aging gift card to Olive Garden or Borders with a few bucks on it buried in their wallet? Small businesses use gift cards, too, of course, whether they are electronic or physical. One of the great features of Square is that it allows businesses to manage their own gift cards by selling and developing them. The company can use the Dashboard to set default gift card values for the business, in case the default amounts of $10, $15, $20, $25 and $50 do not work with the business.

Of course, there are also limitations. For example, no gift card can be worth over $2,000. There is a daily purchase limit of $10,000 in gift cards for each individual, meaning that no one person can spend more than that on gift cards in an individual store on any one day. The store’s gift cards must be purchased via eCard Systems. The system allows for reloads and the implementation of discounts at the store level; users can also check a gift card’s balance or history from the Square system as they could with any other POS system.

Therefore, Square is a great way for companies to implement their own gift cards and to do so in an engaging way. Gift cards need not be pieces of plastic that represent boring chain stores.

Prepaid cards

Yes, Virginia, Square does accept prepaid cards! As long as the card has a Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, or Union Pay logo, it can be processed by Square. The receipt that the point-of-sale (POS) system it generates will display the amount of money remaining.  The only caveat is that the customer must have registered an address with the card in order to use it. The reason for this is to prevent fraud and it is not up to the company. Rather, it is a larger regulation outside the scope of Square’s jurisdiction. Keep this in mind in case customers have not registered their information with their prepaid cards.

HSA and FSA cards

Square can accept HSA (Health Savings Account) and FSA (Flexible Spending Account) cards, too. Restrictions apply: Only licensed facilities, like pharmacies or other health care providers, can accept these cards regardless of whether their payment processor is Square. At this time, childcare and daycare facilities using Square cannot accept HSA or FSA cards as the network’s ability to approve the transaction depends on the business category used when the business signed up for Square.

International cards

Got international customers trying to pay with international cards? No problem. Square is ready to accept cards branded with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, and Union Pay. These can be accepted through manual entry, swiping, dipping EMV cards, or tapping the contactless card. However, be sure that the cardholder has followed the necessary processes with their card issuer to use it outside of the nation of its issuance. Sometimes, customers will have to clear international travel with their card issuers prior to leaving the country in order to ensure that their transactions are not flagged as suspicious.

Also, for the digital nomads out there, you must be in the country where your Square account is activated in order to process payments. While online stores and payment methods would work as usual, the card reader would not. So, if your Square account is based in the U.S., unfortunately you cannot collect payments on the beach in Thailand at this time. But if you are hanging out on a beach in Thailand, you probably have other things to think about!

Government and Military Cards

The answer to the question of whether Square accepts government and military cards is a frustrating “it depends.” Card issuers determine the scope of the card, meaning that whether Square accepts these cards can depend on the specific purpose of the card and its issuing institution. Again, this is not a decision that is up to the merchant; instead, it is within the jurisdiction of the card issuer.

Apple Pay

Square does not just work with Apple Pay: It works with many other mobile payment processors as well. Square accepts Android, Apple, and Samsung Pay, thanks to its new reader that accommodates both chip and contactless payments. Indeed, Square has been a leader in normalizing and accepting mobile pay systems, which has positioned it well for ongoing success as increasing numbers of consumers use these systems.


“Does Square take checks?” … What is this, 1979? You really want to know whether Square takes checks? Unfortunately, no. Square does not process checks, though your great-aunt Martha might. But the good news is that if you are paying via check (again, why?), Square’s functions as a point-of-sale system (i.e., a cash register) mean that the business can easily record this archaic form of payment. You can even enter your phone number to receive a text receipt, though you should note that texts will probably not work on rotary telephones.


Overall, Square accepts so many different systems of cards and issuers that it should “feel” no different from any other point-of-sale system – except it looks more modern and is simpler to use. As you have seen today, Square accepts more networks and types of payments than most competitors. When it comes to payment processing, Square is clearly the wave of the future because it accepts so many different forms of payment. Square has been a powerful system for small businesses, and it will continue to help businesses grow moving forward. The challenge will be scaling it and other processors up with demand, adjusting to ongoing security issues, and other growing pains as the market crowds and as other payment processors try to compete.

Want to learn more about Square? Learn how the Square Reader works.