How to Use Your SmartPhone to Accept Credit Cards at Bottle Shows

By Marianne Dow

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EXCITING UPDATE 2/22/11 -- Square has eliminated the 15c transaction fee -- Woo-hoo!

Now we can all take credit cards -- Without a bank/merchant account, and for less than Paypal.
Just sign up with Square, get your SQUARE widget in the mail. I did, and now I can't wait until the next time I set up at an antique show. Find me at the Columbus Bottle Show, and I'll show you my new toy.

You will need to have a smart phone. Mine's a DroidX and I love it. Being able to use it to research prices, email pix to buyers, blog from the phone, bid on ebay items, and so much more has made it pay for itself, and now even more so with this credit card swiper gadget.

What a boon for small business owners, especially those who sell on the road. Certainly less risky than taking out-of-state checks when you travel around the antique show circuit.

From their website:

 "  SQUARE is a cool service that enables anyone to accept credit cards anywhere. Square offers an easy to use, free credit card reader that plugs into a phone or iPad. It's simple to sign up. There is no extra equipment, complicated contracts, monthly fees or merchant account required.

Square's card processing fees are simply:
  • 2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions
  • 3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions
That's it! There are no activation, gateway, monthly, early termination, hidden fees or any additional costs to use Square. Every credit or debit card we accept (Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover) have the same flat rate. These fees are static and do not change depending on how much the transaction was for. As our fees are taken out of each transaction as they occur, there is no fee schedule.

Square also does not require a contract upon signup and since we only charge per transaction, it doesn't cost you anything if you don't use it! "

Bonus feature - You can even email a receipt to your customer, and include a photo of the item they bought too. Here's what it looks like.

The top small pic is my logo/icon, so that helps you to look professional. Then it will show a map of where the purchase was made. Columbus, Muncie, Mansfield, Findlay, etc.

The 2nd little pic of me is where the pic of the item will be (which you take with your phone's camera and attach from your phone's pic gallery - easy-peasy). The word testing would be replaced with the item description you enter.

You even have the customer sign on your phone's touch screen, which you shake like an Etch-A-Sketch to erase if they goof up (I said this was fun!).

The whole process is relatively simple.
First, download the app to your phone -- --  then go to the website and finish setting up your account with your bank info, etc. Then they mail you your widget. And voila, you're in bizness!

The physical card sliding does take practice, and the little widget will buzz-buzz at you till you get it right, but once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze. If you have anyone who owes you money, practice on them!

You will be happy that you got this little do-hickey/widget. And it's FREE -- you know I love free stuff that helps my business!

Yes, I know there are fees on the actual payment, but you can factor that in to the selling price. Even if you only take one credit card payment, that's a sale you might have lost.

This video shows how Square works - (jump to the 4min:30second mark) -

Read what Fortune mag has to say:

PS -- Advice from the Square Blog:
"When you first receive your reader, you may feel the irresistible urge to swipe every card you come across in order to display your new power to your friends and family.

When utilizing Square's awesome potential of making you money (ie. swiping a card), keep in mind that money really does move. Even if you cancel a transaction, that charge will still be seen as pending on the cardholder's bank statement. These pending charges are a result of the bank guaranteeing that sufficient funds are available to cover the cost of the transaction. Depending on the speed of the bank, these pending charges will remain on their statement and hold funds anywhere from 1-5 business days."

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