Taking Mobile Payments At Your Event

At past events taking credit cards was a little tricky. You either had one of those big bricks with carbon copies to swipe cards or used a fancy machine that cost a lot of money.

Now taking credit cards at your event has become very simple thanks to the introduction of several apps and card swipers that plug into your mobile device.

Here is a sampling of some credit card readers and their apps.

  1. Square is one of the most robust of these. The apps that work with Square includes being able to setup a register and keeping track of inventory for if you are selling shirts or other merch. Square is 2.75% per swipe with no additional fees. The card reader is free via their website (squareup.com) or $9.95 in stores.  That amount is later credited to your account to make the card reader free.
  2. PayPal is one of the most commonly used methods of taking payments. If you’ve purchased anything from eBay, you have a PayPal account. With the PayPal mobile app, you can take payments with a card reader or transferred from an attendee’s PayPal account. PayPal charges a fee of 2.7%, and you can have access to those funds the day you take payment.
  3. GoPayment is a great option if you use QuickBooks for your business books. GoPayment is also free, but working with QuickBooks is the major difference between this app and the others. Find out more info at GoPayment.com to see if this is the right card reader for your event.

All of these apps work with an Apple or Android device, and that’s great flexibility for whoever is helping take payments.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I’ve only worked with Square. It was quick to learn and easy to use, but what we found was it took longer to get our money. When we tried to contact them to ask about that, no one returned our email. When using an app like this, finding a company with the best customer service is very important.

Have you used an app and card reader to take payments at your event? What has been your experience?

Seeing Green: Ways To Accept Payment for Your Event

Accepting payment is an important, but often confusing, part of arranging an event.  Let’s look at three of your options, and you can decide what would be best for you and your clients.

  1. Accepting cash or check, in person.  Receiving cash or check from an attender is nice, because you don’t have to pay any transaction fees.  You do need to plan ahead and make sure you can keep their money secure and accounted for.  That would mean you don’t stuff their cash into your wallet or purse and decide you’ll “try to remember” to write that amount down and who it came from later.Whether its an envelope, a zip-up deposit bag or a cash box, be sure you have a way to keep money given to you separate and secure.  Secondly, write down the amount of money given to you and who it is from.  You can purchase a receipt book or simply record each transaction on a legal pad.
  2. Taking credit card payments, in person.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but many people no longer carry cash. CNN Money reports that 43% of Americans go a week or more at a time without paying cash for anything.  Accepting credit card payments can help you take payment from all of your clients.If you have a smart phone, or iPad, you can use an app like Square or PayPal Here to take credit card payments.  You’ll need to download the app, go through a set up process and wait a few days to receive the free card reader in the mail.  The card reader plugs directly into your device, and you’re ready to swipe away.  Square charges 2.75% per transaction, Paypal Here 2.7% per transaction, and neither have monthly or annual fees.  Money received is available the next day in your account. These services need a data plan or reliable wi-fi connection to work, and can provide a receipt via email to your customers.
  3. Online payments.  One of the clear benefits of accepting online payments is  convenience for your customer.  It might be difficult to get all of your event attenders in one room and accept payment from each of them.  However, if you send out an invoice via email, and they can pay with the click of a button … you see the advantage.  Again, you have lots of options, but Paypal is a simple and cost-effective option.  Set up an account, send invoices via email, and accept payment for a per-transaction fee.

I’ve focused on services that fit for people who will be taking payments from a group once or twice a year.  Think about your options, and make a plan.  All of these choices need a bit of lead time to set up and utilize.  Don’t wait until the last day of your event and then try to begin taking payments from people.  Event organizers agree that taking payment before an event is much preferred than trying to track people down after it is over.