Compare wireless payment solutions for silent auctions

What options are there to accept credit card payments at special events such as silent auctions and what are the cost differences? With debit card usage now in the 50% range, merchants should seriously consider a wireless payment option that enables entry of pin codes to qualify for pin debit transaction rates.  The chart below expands on the article How can I accept credit cards at special events?

Recommendations are not based entirely on the cost of payment processing. If you have a fundraising event, how much more money would you receive, if instead of collecting pledges on paper that you then invoiced later, you had staff that goes from table to table with a wireless terminal right after a tremendous speech and request for donations? Or what if you have a live auction? Never miss a payment again when someone ‘forgets’ after a long evening when you can get payment at the table.

Based purely on transaction costs, you’ll need to process over $100,000 annually for it to make economic sense to go with wireless.  What impact will pin debit have on your overall costs? It depends on your average sale and overall number of transactions. The cost to purchase and operate wireless equipment may outweigh any cost savings from having pin debit. However, there are also other advantages, including, no chargebacks on pin debit transactions. This may justify the cost.

VENUE TRAFFIC/ # TRANS-ACTIONS AVG $ SALE wireless wireless with pin debit virtual terminal (key enter) USB Card Reader
trade shows, event admissions, silent auctions, B2B high over $15 GOOD BEST not recommended GOOD
any high under $15 BEST GOOD- pin debit feature not needed not recommended GOOD
any low any GOOD GOOD GOOD- cheapest option may be best GOOD
B2B* any any GOOD GOOD GOOD GOOD
ROUGH ESTIMATE**
Terminal cost and monthly fees $350-$575 avg plus $20/mth wireless fee and premium per transaction fee $500-900 plus $20/mth wireless fee and premium per transaction fee Any computer with internet access. $0-$25/mthAddress From $79 for magtek reader. $20-30/mth

* Verify you can collect invoice/PO # and sales tax AND that this data is passed through to the processor. Many systems collect the data, but do not pass it through to the processor. In that case, you may need a separate gateway that will pass the data if you want to qualify for the best interchange rates on corporate credit cards.

** Based on prices for new equipment January 2010.

See our pin-debit cost comparison chart for an example.

If you have one annual event, with volume under $100,000 the Virtual terminal may be the best solution. Merchants, including non-profits, can request a seasonal account so the merchant account is only open a short time, and avoid monthly fees. A card reader is also a good option. I recommend this instead of a wireless terminal because:

a) cost

b) virtually no training

c) no risk of lost units with volunteer staff

d) always PCI Compliant- no need to worry about equipment getting outdated or software updates

If your event is a fundraiser, and there is the opportunity to make use of the credit card terminal tableside or anywhere the donors are, I recommend a wireless terminal. Whether there is value in pin-debit, you’ll have to determine based on an analysis of needs, risk, and ROI.

Another factor to consider: mobile payments. Mobile payments, where a person makes a payment with the mobile phone and you get your money instantly is expected to take off in 2010.  If you want to accept mobile payments, please call for additional advice. With the right wireless terminal, and other items, you’ll be able to instantly accept wireless payments as it grows. Call for details.