4 ways for musicians to accept credit card payments at shows

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How to take credit card payments at showsYou’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.

How to take credit cards for merch sales

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.

1. Square.

Probably the most widely-used solution amongst musicians for accepting credit cards on-the-go. Square will 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 24-48 hours. Square takes 2.75% per swipe, and will process Visa, MC, Discover, and American Express charges.

2. PayPal Here.

Similar to the Square, PayPal will send you a swiper that is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and then take a 2.7% 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.

3. PayAnywhere.

With their free credit card reader, you can accept Visa, MC, Discover, AmEx, and PayPal — all for a 2.69% fee per swipe. One frequent complaint about PayAnywhere though is that they often hold funds for longer periods than competitors in order to reduce the risk of chargebacks/fraud/etc.

4. Flint

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 as low as 1.95%.

Is there another service you like to use for taking credit cards at shows? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Kadmium

    Square is US and Canada only, PayPal here is US, Canada, Japan and Australia, PayAnywhere is US only and Flint is US only. So this is pretty much 4 ways to accept credit card payments at American shows.

  • Good point. I’ll add a note. Do you recommend any red card solutions for other countries or regions?

    @ChrisRobley

    • Kadmium

      Honestly, not really, I’m afraid. Most of the innovation in this sector is happening in the US and staying there. Australians have PayPal Here, Paymate OnTheGo and Paychoice, but as far as something more universal, all I can think of is just accepting regular PayPal payments.

  • parkerjh

    I’m the least tin foil hat guy around, generally trust everyone and everything. But Fuck, letting someone take a picture of your credit card? Tough sell.

    • From what I understand, the pictures are encrypted. (But then again, I suppose so is the transaction data at Target!)

      @ChrisRobley

  • Tough, unless you have someone at the ready to help sell merch and take CC payments (in which case, you’d have to give them your Square or whatever card reader you use, and make sure they know how to use it).

    Maybe some of our readers have better ideas?

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