Crafty Biz 104: Accepting Credit Cards

crafty-biz It’s one of the questions us girls here at Handmade Detroit get asked – “Do you think I should accept credit cards at craft fairs?”

For most crafters, the answer is a emphatic “Yes!”

It may be a little bit of work into research and ordering the right supplies, but accepting credit cards at craft fairs can also boost your sales by 20, 30 or even 50%. Let’s be honest, most of us bring a budgeted amount of cash when shopping at a fair, right? Ever been debating on whether to spend those last few bucks and then the seller threw you that line you just couldn’t help but grab onto, “I can take a credit card too!”  Works like a charm, doesn’t it?  Not to mention, the ATM always seems to broken or out of money by the end of the day at a show. Don’t let that hurt your sales, swipe that plastic!

There are a few things you’ll need to do in order to accept credit cards. If you’d like to for this upcoming holiday craft show season, get moving on this right away!

First, you’ll need to sign up with a credit card processor. If you sell at craft shows each month of the year, and would expect to run at least a couple hundred dollars of credit cards a month, you may want to look into a few different online payment gateways (one very popular one is Ask what the minimum of sales each month is, what the transaction fee and discount rate is, and what the fee is if you do not hit your minimum. For example, you may have a transaction fee of 10 cents on each card, plus 3% of the sale, and the contract might be for a minimum of $50 in fees a month from those combined, but if you would  not incur $50 in fees, you would be charged $50 anyway. Try to work to get the lowest minimum, transaction fees, and discount rate that you can.

Your bank may also be a good option to turn to for running credit cards. Talk to a business account representative at your local branch and ask what their fees are. Sometimes they will even loan you the equipment you need, or rent it to you for a low cost if you have an account with them!

If you only expect to be selling at shows where you would like to accept credit cards a handful of months a year, Paypal is a great option for you! If you have a Paypal account already, you’re halfway there – you can sign up to use their Virtual Terminal under Merchant Services, and simply turn it off for the months you won’t expect to use it. The monthly fees may be a bit higher of a percentage than other gateways, but in total you would pay less since you won’t be using it as frequently!

Some crafters will run credit cards through their computer at shows, or using Iphone or other cell phones equipment, but the simplest and cheapest way is usually to just get what is lovingly called a “knucklebuster”, a compact, old school, carbon copier that makes an imprint of the card that you can write a receipt on for the customer and all the info for you to enter at home later on your gateway’s website to run the card. The credit card imprinters usually can be bought online for less than $20, and credit card slips are also fairly cheap. This is the machine I own myself!

Using a knucklebuster can occasionally be troublesome, as it’s a little tricky to get the copy just right, but with a little practice it’s easy. Since you don’t process the card until later, make sure to get the customer’s phone number in case the card is declined, so you can get another form of payment later. And make sure to black out (with a magic marker) the customer’s credit card number on their copy of the receipt, so they won’t be open to getting  their card number stolen if they lose the receipt later. Also, be sure to destroy your copy of the credit card slip after 6 months, to be extra safe! Credit card companies can fine you if you are liable for someone’s identity or card number being stolen, if you do not do your best to protect their information.

It sometimes takes 1-2 weeks to get your account set up and verified with a payment gateway, and to get your supplies ready to accept credit cards, so if you’re ready to up your sales this holiday by accepting credit cards at craft shows, now is the time to do your research and get moving on set up!

If you have a favorite gateway, supply shop or tip on accepting credit cards, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

This Crafty Biz blog post was based on a question from a reader! Have a question about anything business-y you’d like me to answer? Email me at Bethany[at] rewarevintage[dot]com, and I’ll do my best!