It's fun going out to dinner with a group of friends--until the check comes and it's time to figure out who owes what. To complicate matters, not everybody at your table may have cash, and you find out the restaurant doesn't want to take multiple credit cards. Instead of trying to figure out who will pay the bill, and who owes each other money, wouldn't it be nice if you could settle debts among friends right then and there?

If you have a smart phone and a Square card reader, you can. Square is a San Francisco-based company that makes the Square card reader, a small, secure device that you can plug into the headphone minijack on your iPhone, Android phone or iPad. Once it's plugged in, you can swipe a credit card through it. It works with the app to create a receipt and a signature screen your friend can sign, and voila! You've been paid!

Launched in 2010, Square was designed for small businesses and individual business owners to make payments more convenient; however, anyone can get a Square reader, meaning that the average person now has the power to accept all major credit cards, including American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa.

That power does come with a price. Every time you swipe a card through the reader, you'll pay Square 2.75 percent of the transaction price. For a small business, that's a small price to pay to be able to meet the demands of its customers and provide convenient ways for payment.

Square has traditionally offered its card reader for free through its website. However, this week the company announced that it will be selling its reader at select Walgreens, Staples and FedEx Office stores, making the product available at over 20,000 retail locations nationwide.

"Accepting credit cards should be as easy as buying supplies at your local store," said Jeffrey Kolovson, head of Retail Distribution at Square, in a press release. To that end, the Square Card Reader will now be available at over 7,000 Walgreens stores, 1,500 Staples stores and 1,500 FedEx Office stores.

This isn't Square's first foray into selling its reader at retail outlets. Consumers and businesses can also get the card reader at Apple stores, Best Buy, OfficeMax, Radio Shack, Target, UPS and Wal-Mart. The suggested retail price of the card reader is $9.95, but Square is offering a $10 rebate when new users buy the device and sign up.

Square isn't the only company that makes credit card acceptance easier. PayPal also has a credit card reader and payment-accepting app called PayPal Here. Although not yet available on the market, its free card reader device will also work with an iPhone, iPad or Android device, and will accept American Express, Discover, MasterCard, PayPal and Visa credit cards. It will also accept debit cards, checks and PayPal payments. It also will have the capability to accept checks and scan cards using a camera phone. PayPal will charge its PayPal Here subscribers a 2.7 percent simple rate per transaction.

PayPal offers three different types of accounts for those who wish to use their card reader. The Standard plan is free, with Advanced and Pro plans costing $5 and $30 a month, respectively. The fee-based plans offer more features and services for small businesses, particularly for those that do e-commerce.

Both Square and PayPal offer quick convenience in accepting payments, and they also offer quick payouts. PayPal sends merchants funds directly into their PayPal account, no matter whether the transaction is online, mobile or through the card reader. Square deposits funds into accounts the following business day, as long as the payment was taken during business hours.

Either device helps takes payments a step into the future, and makes it easier for consumers to pay businesses--and each other--quickly, safely and securely.