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[again] Accepting credit cards at shows

Hi group-

I am considering accepting credit cards at art shows. Most of these
shows are outside and have no electricity. Does anyone have advice on
the best set up? Do you ever take credit cards that are not good? I
would appreciate any advice or comments,


Hi Jean,

I do a touchtone process over the phone after the show. During the
sale, you must get all of the cc numbers, expiration date, zip code,
and cvv number on the back of the card. Plus, I also make sure to get
the billing address, phone number and email of the customer, and I
insist that they sign the invoice-- I keep the original. There are
terms on my invoice such as–

returns for defects only, since they signed the invoice this will
help to avoid fraud.

I also check to make sure the signature is a match. Problem cards
are a rarity. In the 10 years I’ve been in business it has happened
twice and both times I was able to get a different form of payment by
calling the customer. The company I use is called TransFirst through
my bank WAMU. You can check out their website at
I pay a monthly fee of $15 which pays for itself with a fairly low
rate. Different cards will carry different rates-- atms are lower
than cc cards, mileage and business cards carry the highest charges.

Some banks can waive the monthly fee, but the rates are so high over
the busy holiday season they make a killing. Also, I didn’t even buy
the knuckle cruncher machine. Less to haul around, and I find writing
the numbers down works just fine. After the charge has been approved
I black out the card number for added security.

I think you will find that it is well worth the work to get this

Good luck. My Best,


My merchant account allows me to call in (with my cell phone) credit
card orders. It’s quick and easy and the discount rate isn’t
prohibitive. This was my solution to shows that don’t have access to
power or phone lines. Accepting debit/credit cards is critical at
shows - I honestly don’t know how a vendor could survive otherwise.

JeffreyDesign Jewelry

I just started takiing credit cards - you can have it set up so you
get authorization via your cell phone while the customer is right in
front of you - - so you know the card is good.

Hi Jeff -

I just got a similar set up where I can call in credit card orders.
My question is, do you call it in at the time of purchase or do you
just take down all pertinent make an imprint and call
them all in that night after the show? And if it is the latter, have
you ever had problems with the transactions afterwards? My first show
of the season is next weekend and I’ve yet to use my new credit card
taking abilities. It just seems like calling in each one at the time
of purchase is kind of long and might hinder other sales you could be
making…What say you?


I am considering accepting credit cards at art shows. Most of
these shows are outside and have no electricity. Does anyone have
advice on 

If you can afford the investment, see if your merchant account
provider is compatible with a portable credit card machine. I use a
Nurit 8000, which charges like a cellphone (so no electricity needed)
and otherwise acts like a regular land line terminal. Swipe card,
punch in total, and it connects wirelessly to its own network
(displays reception strength on the screen like a cellphone).

A bit expensive up front (and there’s a monthly wireless fee), but
it’s certainly making its money back.

I can call in credit card orders. My question is, do you call it in
at the time of purchase or do you just take down all pertinent
make an imprint and call them all in that night after
the show? 

I do them at each sale. I’ve had enough cards declined that I
wouldn’t do it later in a batch. I have the phone number and my
merchant number, etc., all pre programmed into my cell phone(s) so it
can be all done within 20-30 seconds per transaction, or faster if
there is more than one transaction to do. If the card is declined
usually the buyer has another card that will work. I have only had
one occasion when they were declined and they didn’t have any other
form of payment, but at least I was covered on my end. I’ve never had
a chargeback selling Jewelry. I do recommend using the infamous
"knucklebuster" to make an imprint of their card - this is for
insurance in case there ever is a chargeback. Of course, online sales
doesn’t afford the opportunity to get an imprint, but you can collect
the validation code on the back of the card - you just usually aren’t
supposed to store that data (check your merchant agreement.)

Think about it this way - how many pieces of your hard work would
you have to sell to make up for ONE bad credit card sale?

As for speed and loss of potential sales, I have my wife and daughter
help me with sales and I do the credit cards/final sales. We kind of
have the whole thing choreographed to minimize time. Preparation is
essential. One thing I have learned is that the more bodies there are
around my booth the better, so if I hold people up just a few minutes
while I run their credit cards, it’s good for attracting more people
to my booth. Just don’t hold them too long. I make sure each client
feels well taken care of.

JeffreyDesign Jewelry

I work in a retail store, and we have credit authorizations refused
all of the time. I can only imagine that it would be worse at a
show. if a card is refused after the customer leaves, you will never
see that money - you just gave that person a gift of your hard earned

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

do you call it in at the time of purchase or do you just take down
all pertinent 

I have a service where I call in each transaction with my cell at
the time of purchase. I use the old fashion card swiper. I have not
had problems so far. It does take time, a few minutes does not seem
to be too much of an issue at most sales. You can call in the
verification after the sale, if you are busy. It was an inexpensive
option for me because I do not do show on that regular of a basis.

If you do not like that set up, many credit card services offer
other options, like getting a machine to run the card through. It
does not do verification until you plug it into a land line, and
usually charges per batch entered. Or you could get a cellular
machine that will call for verification when the card is swiped and
print a receipt. But I heard a rumor that one of the major cellular
companies went out of business and dropped customers who had to
purchase costly machines that only worked with their service. Plus,
not all cellular services are in the range of all the art events you
may be doing, so it would be worth checking to make sure they cover
the shows that you are doing.

Melissa Stenstrom

Hi Rachel,

I have the same set up. I do call in each sale as it comes. It
doesn’t take that long…maybe a minute…if that. It’s worth it and
most people don’t mind. I started doing this after taking a bad card.
The guy had all the proper ID, but the card was bad and I was in a
rush and didn’t call until later. Just my $175.00 worth.

Good luck, Scott

I use PayPal as my credit card processor. They are a little pricey
at $30 a month but I like that I have access to my funds immediately
rather than waiting 3 days. PayPal also provides checkout and payment
functionality for website sales. Something I have yet to take
advantage of. What I do is take an imprint with the knuckle buster
then process my transactions in batch. I haven’t been hit by a bad
card yet, knock on wood. I also take my laptop to shows with a
wireless card I can process cards and get approval immediately. The
problem is with outdoor shows is it is hard to see a laptop screen (I
use an EZ-Up because it lets in lots of light) and battery power is
also limited. I suppose I could construct some sort of shade like you
see NFL refs using when the do a review of instant replay and could
always rig up some sort of battery.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

We call ours in at night after the show and we have never had a
problem. However, if the charge is for a large amount, determined by
you, you might want to call that charge in at the time. We only do
local juried art shows, not even street fairs. I think with a less
selective crowd, I would opt to call in charges during the show more

I believe Verizon has a hand held wireless credit card authorization
machine that can be sued in the field, real time and print a receipt.

David Geller

I would like to thank all of the responses on my credit card dilemma.
I have made a decision that works for me- knuckle buster at the show,
machine to punch in the data when I get home. I could also call it in
at the show on my cell phone but probably won’t unless I get skunked
sometime. Lo and behold I found the best price and interest rates
right here in my own area of western MN. That nifty wireless machine
is much to expensive for my minimal business right now but if I were
a bigger operator I would surely use it! Many thanks group.

Jean Menden

Hi All -

Thanks for the responses so far. I’ve been burned a few times with
checks so credit cards make me even more nervous! I think I will
call them in as I go (providing my cell phone works in the area and I
have a second helper) and reevaluate the process later if need be.
Here’s to hoping that allowing credit card transactions really do
increase sales. Thanks again for all of your input.


I get their phone number and full address, and call them. It is
usually just a mix-up, not deliberate theft. They send me a check or
use another card. My customers are usually pretty nice people.


I use ProPay for my website and for shows. I have the ability to call
in a charge while I’m at a show, or I can do it on the computer that
evening when I get home. Sometimes there is no cell service so I
can’t do it “live”, other times I’m just very busy and don’t want to
spend the 1 (ish) minute it takes to process over the phone. Also,
my comfort level with processing them later has increased over time,
so more and more I don’t do it while the customer waits. Just be sure
to get a phone number in case there are any problems. Not to say you
don’t trust the person, anything can happen- you accidently accept a
Discover card when you can’t actually accept them, your imprinter
didn’t do a good job and you can’t read the number, they
accidentally gave you their expired card & you forgot to check the
date- note these are all “accidental” things that should be
avoidable, but sometimes we’re in a rush at a show & don’t check
everything fully. Things happen. Oh, and I use a “knucklebuster” and
charge slips I got off eBay for about $25. I’ve spoken with a lot of
vendors at shows and they usually always say they’ve been doing it
for years and have never had a bad card. Knock on wood (really
hard!), I haven’t either, although I did do that accidental Discover
card thing (now I can accept all major cards, so I don’t have to
worry about doing that again), and when I called the customer they
were very nice about it and gave me a different card number and it
all worked out fine.

Designs by Lisa Gallagher