Have you ever noticed mysterious “SQ*” charges on your credit card statement and wondered what they meant? You’re not alone. While these types of vague transaction descriptions can be confusing, “SQ” charges are actually more common than you may think.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll demystify Square charges on credit card statements and explain everything you need to know about identifying, disputing, or looking up additional details on “SQ” transactions.
What is Square?
First things first – what exactly is Square?
Square is a mobile payment processing service that allows businesses to accept credit card payments through a smartphone or tablet. The company provides merchants with a small, white plastic card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of a mobile device to swipe credit cards.
Square charges the business a flat rate for each transaction, so it’s a popular option for small businesses, food trucks, taxis, farmers markets sellers and other merchants who want an easy way to accept credit card payments on the go.
As of 2022, Square has grown into a full financial services platform that offers additional products beyond mobile payments, including financing, payroll, customer engagement tools and more. But at its core, tens of millions of purchases are still processed through Square’s card readers each year.
Why “SQ*” Appears on Your Statement
When a credit card purchase is processed through Square, the transaction will appear on your statement prefixed with SQ* followed by details like the merchant’s name, business name or a description.
Here are some examples of what Square charges may look like on your statement:
- SQ* SWEET DOZEN BAKERY
- SQ* JOHN SMITH BAKERY
- SQ* JOHN SMITH
The SQ* indicates the transaction was processed by Square. The rest of the description includes identifiable information about the merchant or purchase when available.
However, Square transactions don’t always include the business name. Some examples are:
- SQ* TAXI
- SQ* FARMERS MARKET
- SQ* MOBILE VENDOR
As you can see, these vaguer descriptions make the charge harder to identify. But the important thing is that “SQ” or “SQ*” at the beginning means it was a Square processed payment.
Why Don’t All Mobile Payments Have This?
You may be wondering why charges processed by other mobile payment services like PayPal don’t have any similar indicator on statements.
The reason is that Square acts as an actual payment processor for its transactions. So when a credit card is swiped through a Square reader, the charge shows up on your statement as processed by Square, rather than just listing the business name.
Whereas PayPal is more of a digital wallet acting as an intermediary. When you pay a merchant through PayPal, it still goes through the merchant’s actual payment processor in the background, so no PayPal indicator is needed.
That means any mobile payment using Square will always show that SQ* prefix to indicate Square processed the transaction directly.
Tips for Identifying Square Charges
Since Square descriptors don’t always include identifiable merchant information, those nondescript “SQ*” charges can still be confusing.
Here are some tips for identifying mysterious Square transactions on your statement:
Check the date – Try to remember where you were and what types of merchants you visited on that date. Did you take a taxi, eat at a food truck, or visit a farmers market or craft fair that day? If so, it was likely a Square transaction.
Review receipts – Check your email and text messages for receipts from that date. Square sellers often text or email digital receipts which include merchant details.
Look for other indicators – Do you recall a merchant using a mobile card reader or signing on a mobile device? Those are signs a Square was used.
Search past statements – Look at past statements to identify recurring SQ charges like monthly services to jog your memory.
Use Square’s receipt lookup tool – Square allows you to search past receipts online by transaction details which may provide the merchant name and other helpful identifiers.
Disputing Unauthorized Square Charges
If you don’t recognize a Square charge on your statement at all, it may be unauthorized fraud or theft. Here are the steps you should take:
Contact the merchant – If you can identify the business from the statement, contact them first to inquire about the charge in case it was an honest mistake.
Report unauthorized charges to your bank – If you’re certain the SQ* charge was not authorized and the merchant is unresponsive, report it immediately as fraud to your credit card company.
Get a new card number – Since the card is compromised, request a new card number from your bank to prevent additional fraudulent charges.
Set up transaction alerts – Consider setting up real-time transaction alerts with your credit card company so you can identify unauthorized charges right away.
Monitor statements – Keep monitoring your statements closely for any additional suspicious charges and report them promptly.
You cannot dispute Square charges directly with Square. Since Square is only the processor, your credit card company handles fraud investigations and refunds.
Disputing Incorrect or Missing Square Transactions
What if you paid a merchant through Square but the transaction amount is incorrect or you never received the goods or service? Here are your options:
Contact the merchant first – Mistakes happen. Reach out to the business directly to resolve the issue amicably.
Dispute with your credit card – If unable to resolve with the merchant, report the transaction dispute to your credit card company.
File police report for theft – If a seller flat out refuses to refund your money for undelivered goods or services, file a police report for theft.
Leave reviews detailing the issue – Post online reviews detailing your experience to warn others about fraudulent or unprofessional conduct.
Report serious merchant violations – You can report egregious legal violations like fraud directly to Square as well for them to investigate.
Just like with unauthorized charges, you’ll need to go through your credit card company for statement disputes. Square does not handle refunds or mediate resolution between buyers and sellers.
Looking Up Additional Details on Square Charges
If you need more information about a particular Square charge on your statement, here are a few options:
Review Your Receipt
The easiest way to get transaction details is to locate your receipt. Square sellers often text or email receipts that include:
- Merchant name and business info
- Itemized list of purchase
- Total amount
If you didn’t receive or lost it, log into your Square receipt lookup to access any digital receipts in your account.
Ask Your Bank for More Info
For basic transaction details, your bank may provide:
- The merchant name
- Charge category (i.e. restaurant, taxi, etc)
This can help jog your memory if you completely forget the purchase.
Contact Square Customer Service
Technically Square can also look up transaction details like the merchant name and location for you as the buyer.
Keep in mind they will only provide non-private information, not any specifics about what was purchased. But it can still help identify or remember forgotten SQ charges.
Special Case: Square Cash App Charges
Square Cash is a peer-to-peer mobile payment app also owned by Square. You may occasionally notice Cash App related charges on statements even if you don’t use the service.
This can happen when you pay someone else back or split a bill and they requested the funds via their Cash App account. The charge will likely show up as:
- SQ*CASHAPP or SQ*CASHTAG
- Their unique $cashtag username in the descriptor
So if you spot a mysterious Cash App charge, try asking friends or contacts if they requested money from you through the app. Or check your text messages for any payment links you may have followed.
Tips for Avoiding Confusing Square Charges
To minimize vague SQ charges on your statement going forward:
Ask sellers to include a receipt – Request paper or digital receipts with merchant details whenever possible.
Note transaction details – Jot down merchant name, location, purchase amount, and date in a transaction log or your phone.
Take a picture of the seller – Snap a picture of the booth/truck signage for your records.
Sign up for transaction alerts – Get instant notifications from your bank whenever your card is used.