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Salvation Army takes plastic

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Posted: 3 pm ET

Thanks to a tiny white plastic credit card reader, some Salvation Army bell ringers will be doing more swiping than jingling this year.

The charity -- known for its red kettles and bells during the holidays -- is testing out Square, the mobile credit card reader, in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New York. The device hooks up to certain smartphones and, voila, a credit card can be swiped through it.

The Salvation Army said it wants to make it easier and faster for Americans to donate this year, even if they aren't carrying coins or bills.

Sprint is donating the phones and wireless service for the experiment, the charity said.

Square debuted earlier this year, the brainchild of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and his friend Jim McKelvey. The pair came up with the idea after McKelvey's glass-blowing business lost a sale because he didn't take credit cards. The goal was to create a device that could empower even the tiniest small business.

Katie Bynes, a spokeswoman for Square, told me earlier this year that Square has been used by individuals for garage sales and craft festivals. Even Girl Scouts are carrying them when they go door to door selling cookies.

So far, the company has sent out 800,000 Square readers, which are compatible with iPhones, iPads and Androids. Getting one is easy. Wal-Mart, Target, RadioShack, Apple retail stores and Best Buy all sell the devices. Or, you can order a free one from Square's website.

The company takes 2.75 percent per swipe for all major credit cards. Merchants receive a direct deposit into their bank accounts the very next day for their credit card sales.

Would you make a donation via Square?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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