Cookies on credit -- Gazette.Net



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Do you have a Samoa fix, but no cash? Do you need to curb your Thin Mint craving, but you’re short on dough?

Your neighborhood Girl Scout might let you pay for your cookie order by credit card.

The Girls Scouts recently adapted to the technological curve, thanks to Spark Pay by Capital One. This feature lets Girl Scout troops across the region accept credit cards, after years of cash-only payments.

“This is an optional agreement depending on what troops think will work best for their group,” said Nancy Wood, the public relations director for the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital.

Troops that want the electronic payment option will get credit card readers that can attach to smartphones and tablets.

“Working with Capital One is very exciting for the Girl Scouts. We have a good relationship with the company and I think having this optional way to pay for cookies is a great thing to add,” Wood said.

For its Spark Pay system, Capital One does not charge a transaction fee until there have been at least $1,000 in sales.

A Spark Pay Web page says that after that threshold, there is a 2.70 percent fee per swipe if the user does not pay a monthly fee. For a $9.95 monthly fee, the rate drops to 1.95 percent per swipe.

Wood said that, on average, a local troop sells about 150 boxes of cookies when it sets up a booth for a few hours in a public place.

Knowing how many boxes of cookies they sell, troops can predict if they will hit the $1,000 threshold.

“The troops get together at the beginning of every month and discuss all pieces of events going on. Last month, we worked out all minor details and decided that accepting credit cards would work for us.” said Girl Scout parent Miriam Christenson of Silver Spring.

Cookies are $4 a box.

As more people prefer electronic payments, the acceptance of credit cards could be a benefit, Christenson said.

“I think this way we will sell more cookies. For those people who hardly carry cash, we will be more convenient,” Christenson said.

On average, troops in the Council of the Nation’s Capital receive about 70 cents per box sold, which meant total earnings of about $3 million last year, according to the Girl Scouts.

The rest of the money stays within the council to support essential operations, such as volunteer training, camp maintenance, and financial assistance to deserving girls and troops.

With credit card fraud a hot topic, Christenson said she hopes customers aren’t skeptical of using the new payment option.

“I hope customers don’t shy away from buying the cookies because they think that might be a problem. We’re the Girl Scouts, so I think we’ll be fine,” Christenson said.

After the sales period, troops can evaluate whether to use the credit-card option again next time.

Troop leaders will allow Scouts to process credit-card transactions if they think they can handle them. Otherwise, parents will assist.

“... It’s really up to the troop leader or person in charge to say whether or not that can happen.” Wood said.

“Many of the girls are excited about the new change, but mainly our parents will be the ones handling the credit card processing, so hopefully it runs smoothly.” Christenson said.

Credit-card sales will add a new element to the financial literacy lessons the Scouts get.

“The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the country where girls learn goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics that are essential to leadership and success in life,” Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon said in a news release.

Girl Scouts started their cookie sales to families and friends first, than expanded to booths at local grocery stores and businesses on Feb. 21.

To find a Girl Scout booth, go to www.gscnc.org, or download the app “Girl Scout Cookie Locator” and enter your ZIP code, or dial **gscookies on a smartphone.

Girl Scout cookie sales will conclude March 30.