NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Don’t have any change to spare for the guy ringing the bell at the Salvation Army kettle? Soon, you may be able to pull out your credit card to make your donation.
The charitable organization known for its holiday bell-ringers and red kettles, will be getting a 21st-century update today 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 all transactions.
While the payment service is generally used by small merchants and individuals, it’s now 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 to which a receipt for the transaction may be sent. The smartphones have been donated by Sprint, though Square will still be getting its usual fee for each donation.
For now it’s unclear how many bell-ringers will actually be equipped with the ability to take credit cards; the organization says that the option will only 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.
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.