Accepting credit cards when you are broke
August 27, 2012 10:18 AM Subscribe
Is there any way to accept credit cards via Square or similar WITHOUT having an expensive cell phone plan or shelling out lots of money?
posted by threeturtles to technology (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, I am a seamstress and having a growing business selling steampunk clothing and stuff. I have vended at a few conventions, but have not been able to accept credit cards. Due to the increasing popularity of Square credit card readers, buyers are starting to expect that you take cards. I haven't missed out on any large sales, but I have lost $25 here and there as a result (sending people to an ATM doesn't seem to guarantee they will come back, even when you hold an item for them.)
Here's the problem: I don't have an iphone or Android, and can't afford to get one. I am disabled, although denied for benefits. Our budget is very tight, like struggling to pay for food some weeks tight. We used to have cell phone service through AT&T, with the cheapest possible plan, but we weren't using our cell phones enough to justify it. So we switched to prepaid cell service through Tracfone. Our cell phone bill went from $80/month to about $20 every three months. So obviously that was a good financial decision. So we can't afford to sign on to whatever data plan and unlimited plan we would need to get an iphone or android.
Most (but not all) of the areas I've vended at have wi-fi coverage, so I looked in to getting a way to accept credit cards through a laptop and wifi, but all of the services that will allow you to do that charge a monthly fee, the cheapest I found being $30. And since I don't sell every month, that's not a justifiable expense. For example right now I may not do another in-person vending event until March.
Square doesn't charge a monthly fee or have any equipment costs, they just take a percentage of the transaction. It works with iphone and android devices. I know it works with ipad, so assumably it can work with just wi-fi access. But I can't really afford to buy an ipad just for this one thing.
So here's the question, hivemind. How can I get this to work in a way that is financially feasible? Is there a device I can buy that is reasonable ($100?) that will allow me to accept cards? Is there a way to use a jailbroken device in some way that will work? I really am not knowledgeable about these things, never having owned a smartphone or tablet or anything. Is there any kind of service I could sign up for just on the months I need it?
Anyone have any ideas/solutions?