Living with credit, New products

Girl Scout Cookies: How do YOU pay for them?

Jeff Herman

Thin Mints, Caramel deLites or S’mores – what’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie? And what’s your preferred method of payment – cash, check, plastic or mobile payment?

Girl Scouts are knocking on doors and selling cookies now at the front of stores and restaurants here in Central Texas.

Some Girl Scouts are kicking it old school with order forms and pens and taking cash and checks, and others enter orders online and process card payments on their personalized cookie websites, which process card payments.

Some other girls, like Ava (see photo) here in Austin, are wielding smartphones and Square card readers, allowing even those consumers who no longer carry cash to indulge in a sugary (and in one case gluten-free) cookie treat.

Ava selling Girl Scout Cookies with her Square mobile card reader.

Ava sold cookies using Square for the first time to editor Jamie Gonzalez a year ago. Ava explained that using the card reader came with one caveat: It’s a two-box minimum for card orders to cover the card processing fees.

No doubt this minimum order helps sell more boxes of cookies, too – if you have a hankering for a Thin Mint, having to get two boxes likely won’t deter you from purchasing some.

Cookies go cashless, bring in more dough
Because cookie sales are so important to the organization, it’s vital that the girls be able to sell their cookies to as many consumers as possible, including those who don’t use cash.

As a result, the Girl Scouts have been rolling out new payment options in recent years almost as fast as the bakeries have been adding new cookie choices.

In 2011, Girl Scouts tested credit card payments by smartphone in a limited test in Ohio – and sales jumped 13 percent. In 2014, cookie sales went mobile with the introduction of the Digital Cookie platform, bringing in $10 million in online sales.

Of course, you could always order cookies online and pay by card, but many consumers still want the instant gratification you get when you see those colorful boxes outside a storefront.

In fact, with so many people, especially millennials, caving in to impulse purchases, it’s probably more likely that a hungry cardholder will buy cookies on the spot with cash, credit card or mobile payment.

Kim Carmona, a former colleague who is a graduate student now, says she used to buy her favorite Thin Mints and Trefoils from Girl Scouts pulling wagons on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

“Previously, I used to pay using cash,” Carmona said Thursday. “But once they started using Square, my life has changed for the best.

“The one bad thing about Square is that I order more now,” she says.

No matter how you pay, though, Reyna Martinez, public relations executive with Girl Scouts of Central Texas, emphasized that every cookie purchase does good in your community.

“Many people don’t realize when they are purchasing a box or boxes of cookies from our girls, they are helping fund endless possibilities – from helping with a community service project to allowing a girl to learn how to code,” she said in an emailed reply to questions.

To check when Girl Scout cookies will be available in your area, enter your ZIP code at Find Cookies.

See related: Move over cash: Mobile payments go small

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