Credit cards welcome: How to take plastic for popcorn

Cash or check only? Not anymore.

Thanks to some handy new tech tools, it’s possible to accept credit cards at your unit’s next popcorn sale, carwash, or other money-earning project.

That eliminates a big reason customers give when choosing not to buy from packs, troops, teams, or crews at events like Show and Sells: “Sorry, I don’t have any cash.”

Enter the card readers. These free, pocketable devices plug into the headphone jack on your iPhone, iPad, or Android Phone. Just like that, you’re set up to accept credit cards.

They’re secure, they look professional, and they give you quick access to your funds. I even hear that some councils are giving them out at popcorn kickoff events.

Here’s a look at the three biggest card readers out there, each with its own special features: 

PayPal Here

PayPal’s triangle-shaped reader charges slightly less per transaction than Square and lets you accept checks.

Other notes:

  • You can accept PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and checks.
  • Compatible with iPhone or Android phone (not iPad, yet).
  • It will deposit funds directly into your unit’s PayPal account.
  • PayPal charges a 2.7 percent fee for credit card purchases and no fee for checks. (No other fees or monthly charges.)
  • Sends an e-receipt directly to your customers.
  • Includes a free card reader, available here.

Square

The Square Card Reader, the first to hit the market, has a more elegant user interface but charges a little more per transaction. It won’t let you accept checks but has more bells and whistles.

Other notes:

  • You can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
  • Compatible with iPhone, Android phone, and iPad.
  • Will deposit funds to the account of your choice the next business day.
  • Square charges a 2.75 percent fee for credit card purchases. (No other fees or monthly charges.)
  • Sends an e-receipt directly to your customers.
  • Offers in-depth analytics.
  • Lets your customers add a “tip” or donation to the pack, troop, team, or crew.
  • Includes a free card reader, available here.

Intuit GoPayment

Like Square and PayPal Here, the GoPayment device, which I left off my initial list (thanks to Jay and Ron for setting me straight), has no setup fees, cancellation fees, or monthly fees.

Other notes:

  • You can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
  • Compatible with iPhone, Android phone, Android tablet, and iPad.
  • Will deposit funds to the account of your choice the next business day.
  • Intuit charges a 2.75 percent fee for credit card purchases. (No other fees or monthly charges.)
  • Sends an e-receipt directly to your customers.
  • Includes a free card reader, available here.

What do you think?

Have you used either of these devices for Scouting? Leave your thoughts below.