) -- Don't have any change to spare for the guy ringing the bell at the Salvation Army kettle? You may be able to pull out your credit card to donate.

The charitable organization known for its holiday bell-ringers and red kettles will be getting a 21st century update thanks to Square, an electronic payment service that provides a means for anyone with a smartphone to accept credit card payments. Square is a small plastic card reader that connects to a smartphone's headphone jack, then uses an app to let the user take credit and debit cards just like any other business. The company gives away the card reader and app for free and makes its money by taking a 2.75% cut of transactions.

Select Salvation Army kettles will now accept charitable donations via credit card.

While the payment service is generally used by small merchants and individuals, it's coming to the charity world. Select bell ringers will be getting a Square device and an Android smartphone, and good Samaritans who opt to donate with plastic can swipe their card and enter an email address for a receipt. The smartphones have been donated by

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For now it's unclear how many bell ringers will be equipped with the ability to take credit cards; the organization says the option will be available in select markets, including New York, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. But if one comes to your local mall, forget using that old excuse of not having any change in your pocket.

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