Apps, Mobile & SMS

4 Way Musicians Can Accept Credit Card Payments at Shows

Merch-650x433By  on CD Baby 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.

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.

Credit Card Payments2. 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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  1. There is definitely no excuse for a musician to not take credit cards at the merch table any more. I can tell you from the 40,000 shows we have settled, that when we started two years ago, credit cards were less than 10% of transactions. Now it is over 35% and continuing to grow.
    When selecting your processing partner you should also consider where you are touring as some will work in Canada/Europe and some will not.
    And if the house is vending your merch, they will use their own credit card terminal and usually charge you a 4-5% fee to cover their ‘costs’. (this is usually their actual fee plus a small additional amount which is insurance for any ‘chargebacks’).
    I could write on and on about the nuances of this – but bottom line definitely partner with one of the above if you are touring in the US! Our clients here at also get a lower transaction fee percent for Square which helps to keep a little bit more money in the artists pocket!

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