Disclaimer

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Audience:

Small business (e.g. artisans, vendors, retail, professional, repair shops, handyman) who like an economical way of accepting credit card payments
(Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

Equipment:

(1) A Square Reader from http://www.squareup.com/  or purchase a reader from London Drugs or BestBuy, see the picture below.

(2) A device dedicated to this purpose.
An unlocked 7" or 8" tablet is suitable because of its large screen.
If you have good eyes and tiny fingers, palm size smart phone will do, e.g. iPhone5 or 4.5" or 5" Android phone.

If you have WiFi at your place of business, you only need a WiFi-only tablet (which is cheaper than one with wireless data).
If you need to accept credit card payments at locations that may not have WiFi (e.g. outdoor farmer's market), you need a smart phone or tablet with a "SIM card slot" and some sort of "data plan".

Setup:
(1) Download and install the free Square Register app.

(2) Sign up for a Square account and link it to your bank.

Choose a Wireless Carrier and data plan

If you have WiFi at your place(s) of business, you don't need to buy any wireless data plan.
In locations such as outdoor farmer's market or in community halls without public WiFi, you will need mobile data from a wireless carrier.

Choose a wireless carrier and a "plan" that best suits your business, transaction volume and how often you need to swipe.

Each credit card swipe transaction (including signature) typically consumes 50 KB data per transaction.
[1 MB data = 1024 KB data = 20 swipes with signatures].

Canada

Rogers FLEX data-only plan for $5/month (10 MB data each month)
When you are ready to accept credit card payment (e.g. during a farmer's market weekend), turn on the mobile data.
The rest of the times turn off the mobile data and just use WiFi.
Yearly cost: $60 if you don't exceed 10 MB data per month, if you do exceed 10 MB but less than 100 MB, the charge ramps up to $10 for that month.

Rogers FLEX
data-only plan for $10/month (100 MB data each month)
When you are ready to accept credit card payment (e.g. during a farmer's market weekend), turn on the mobile data.
The rest of the times turn off the mobile data and just use WiFi.
Yearly cost: $120 if you don't exceed 100 MB data per month.

Fido Prepaid
"40 cents/minute plan". Despite this plan allows voice calls, you probably don't want to use it as a phone (because the Square Reader, when plugged in occupies the microphone and speaker, interfering with phone calls unless you unplug the reader). The plan costs $100 every 365 days.
When you are ready to accept credit card payment (e.g. during an outdoor weekend farmer's market), turn on the mobile data and buy a 24 hours, data pass for $1.
The rest of the times turn off the mobile data and use WiFi.
Yearly cost: $100 plus $1 each day you need mobile data.

USA

T-Mobile USA
Check to see if your area is covered by T-Mobile wireless. It is desirable to have 3G/4G/LTE coverage. There is no guarantee how well (or how badly) the credit card transaction will proceed if you are in an area served by T-Mobile 2G (called EDGE).
If you live in a 3G/4G/LTE T-Mobile coverage area, go to a T-Mobile store to buy a "Mobile Hotspot SIM" and ask the store representative to activate the account for you. Be sure to activate the SIM as a "Mobile Hotspot" plan.

When you are ready to accept credit card payment (e.g. during a farmer's market weekend), turn on the mobile data, go to http://mim.t-mobile.com/ to buy an on-demand data pass, if you don't want to use a Credit Card, buy T-Mobile Refill from 7-11, Walmart (except Oregon Walmart), Home Depot, etc. and fill up (top up) your account using telephone.
Choose a $5, 1-day 500 MB data pass or a $10, 7-day 1 GB data pass.
The SIM will not expire if you buy a data pass at least once a year. The rest of the times turn off the mobile data and use WiFi.
Yearly cost: $0 plus $5 each day you need mobile data.

If your transaction volume can justify, you can subscribe to the "30-day Auto Pay Monthly Passes" for $20 monthly (includes 1 GB data every month).
With such generous amount of data, you can leave the device's mobile data on all the times and use the tablet for other Internet activities.
Yearly cost is $240.

Practice swiping a credit card using the Square Reader

Once you set up the Square Reader and tablet, you can practice the swipe action by using an expired credit card.



Using a Square Reader and a Tablet to do credit card transactions


BLU


Nicholas Fong
Vancouver Canada
nicholas.fong@gmail.com
Last revised: 2016-08-21