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How to Process Credit Cards at a Fair or Market

A common question asked online is how to accept credit card payments at a fair or market. Generally when this question is asked it is implied that the merchant will be somewhere where they can’t bring a traditional credit card terminal because they do not have access to a phone line or electricity. Naturally this represents special circumstances under which the merchant has to operate.

Naturally to get started the merchant will need a merchant account. This is discussed here and online in great detail so we won’t go into detail here. Naturally anyone needing help with that can ask for it in our forums.

There are two ways of doing this:

  1. Use a wireless terminal

    A wireless terminal works just like a cell phone. Anywhere you can make a phone call you can process credit cards. Wireless terminals are self sufficient as they do not need a telephone line (they are wireless) or an external source of electricity as they are battery powered. This means you can bring it to your stand and process just as if you were n a typical retail store.

    This is great as it gives you immediate feedback about the transaction. You can complete the sale with the same level of confidence as if you really did have a true retail store. Plus by swiping the credit card through a credit card terminal you qualify for the lowest rates available from the major credit card issuers. The downside is the cost of wireless terminals. The Nurit 8000 (probably the best wireless solution out there) will run you close to $700. Plus you must pay wireless fees just like you do for your cell phone. Usually it is a flat rate per month of around $20 – $25. This is in addition to the processing fees you are already paying. Plus if you are located someone where their is no wireless signal you cannot use it. So if you travel frequently to remote locations this may not be a reliable solution for you.

  2. Use a manual imprinter

    An alternative to high tech wireless terminals is the old fashioned manual imprinter. You might think we are pulling one on you but anyone who is in the credit card processing industry knows that not only have the not gone out of use but they are as important as ever. And for mobile and remote merchants they may provide the best solution to accepting credit cards.

    What the merchant would do is imprint their customers’ credit card orders at the fair/market and have them sign the imprinted credit card slip. The merchant will give them a copy as a receipt and take theirs back to your home or office. You will then manual key enter your orders into your basic credit card terminal so you can receive payment. For large or suspicious orders the merchant can call for a voice authorization on their cell phone to verify and freeze the funds on their credit card. You then can claim those funds from a basic terminal like the Verifone Trans 380 that you have back your home, office, or even hotel room.

    This is great because your upfront costs are lower then a wireless solution. Plus this works anywhere as you are not dependent on any external forms of power or communication. The downside is that you do not get an immediate response for your transactions and it is possible for a sale to be declined long after the customer is gone. Plus, if you choose to make frequent phone calls for approval, you will be charged a fee around 60¢ for each call. That is why this should be reserved for large or suspicious orders.

For mobile merchants who are not accepting credit cards in a typical environment there are no ideal solutions. But they are choices available and both are viable solutions. Do the math and decide which is best for you.

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One Response to “How to Process Credit Cards at a Fair or Market”

  1. Sally

    Thanks, it helps a lot!

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