A version of this article originally appeared on The DIY Musician blog.
You've played a great show. Fans are lined up at your merch booth. You're taking cash, making change, and signing CDs. Then a guy walks up and wants to buy a couple discs and a T-shirt – but he only has a credit card. Are you going to turn him away? No, you're going to process his credit card transaction right then and there, in the sweet, dank, dark-lit, beer-soaked corner of a basement rock club. Here are four ways to accept credit cards at your merch booth.
Note: Many of these credit card solutions are not available internationally, so if you live outside the US and know of a reliable way to accept credit cards in your country or region, please let us know in the comments below.
Square is probably the most widely used solution amongst musicians for accepting credit cards on the go. They'll send you a mobile credit card reader that you just plug into your phone or tablet (iOS and Android devices). Swipe a card through the reader, push a few buttons, and the money will be in your bank account in 24 to 48 hours. Square takes 2.75 percent per swipe, and will process Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
2. PayPal Here
Similar to Square, PayPal will send you a swiper that's compatible with iOS and Android devices, and then take a 2.7 percent fee per swipe. One added benefit is that the name recognition of PayPal gives fans some added sense of security (or at least familiarity) when they they make a purchase. Plus, if you're already actively using PayPal, this is a natural extension.
With the PayAnywhere free credit card reader, you can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx, and PayPal – all for a 2.69 percent fee per swipe. One frequent complaint about PayAnywhere, though, is that it often holds funds for longer periods than competitors in order to reduce the risk of chargebacks, fraud, etc.
The Flint mobile app lets you accept credit cards without a credit card reader. You just scan them with your phone, but no image gets saved on your phone (the transaction is encrypted within the app). Fees are as low as 1.95 percent.
Is there another service you like to use for taking credit cards at shows? Let us know in the comments below!
Chris Robley is an indie-pop songwriter whose music has been praised by the LA Times, NPR, the Boston Globe, and more. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry magazine, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, and others. Robley is also the editor of CD Baby's DIY Musician Blog.