Taking credit cards at your website is easy with PayPal and other online payment services. But accepting cards in person—for example, at a trade show, street fair, seminar or other event—can be difficult or expensive.
Now there is an easier way to get paid.
I recently starting using the Square card reader for back of the room sales at seminars. The Square reader works with your smart phone (Apple or Android) or tablet (Apple and some Android). Just plug the reader into your device, scan the card, enter the amount to charge and get paid. It is that easy. You can even email a receipt to your customer.
How do you get started with Square? First download the free Square app for your device from the iTunes store or Android Marketplace. Then you need to get a reader. Go to http://SquareUp.com/ to have a reader sent to you free. In a hurry? You can buy a reader for $10 at many retail stores, then Square will refund the $10 into your bank account. You can find local retailers at the Square website. In my area, the site showed WalMart, Target, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Office Max and the Apple store.
You also need to set up an account with Square and link your bank account so they can get your money to you.
How much does it cost? There is no charge for the Square reader or the app and there are no monthly fees. The only charge is 2.75% of each transaction. By comparison, PayPal charges 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction.
If you choose to manually enter a transaction, for example for an order made over the telephone, the Square fee is 3.5% plus $.15. Manually entering transactions is not possible with a standard PayPal account. It requires upgrading to Virtual Terminal and paying a $30 monthly fee.
How do you get your money? Square transfers payments (less any fees) to your bank account within a day or two. That is as fast or faster than most merchant accounts. This one is also very reliable.
If you process a high volume of in-person credit card transactions, there are better, albeit more expensive to implement, solutions. However, for a small business looking for a simple and inexpensive way to take credit cards, Square appears to be an excellent choice.
Not to be left out, PayPal is planning it’s own mobile payment platform. PayPal Here will allow merchants to take payments from almost anywhere. In addition to using a reader (similar to Square’s) PayPal Here will also let merchants accept checks by taking a photo of the check, or send invoices that can be paid online at PayPal. Fees for PayPal Here will be just a little less than Square at 2.7%. However, merchants who get their funds from PayPal by spending with a PayPal debit card get a 1% cashback bonus on purchases, making the effective rate 1.7%.
You can sign up to be notified when PayPal Here becomes available by going to http://PayPal.com/here. Meanwhile, if you want to be able to accept credit cards on-the-go now, get your free Square account at http://SquareUp.com/.