Do Tattoo Shops Take Credit Cards?



Getting a tattoo can be an exciting experience. However, it also requires careful planning and budgeting. One of the key considerations is how you will pay for your new ink. A common question that arises is whether tattoo shops accept credit cards. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about paying for tattoos with credit cards.


  • Many tattoo shops do accept major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. However, there are some shops that only take cash or debit cards.

  • Accepting credit cards allows shops to attract more customers who don’t have enough cash on hand or want to spread payments over time.

  • There are some downsides for shops in accepting credit cards, such as processing fees and risks of chargebacks.

  • You should always call ahead to the tattoo shop and ask about their payment policies before your appointment. Don’t assume they take credit cards.

  • If a shop doesn’t accept credit cards, ask about alternate options like debit cards, payment plans, or visiting an ATM before your session.

Do Most Tattoo Shops Accept Credit Cards?

The ability to accept major credit cards has become more commonplace in the tattoo industry. A recent study showed that:

  • 67% of tattoo shops in the U.S. accept Visa credit cards.

  • 63% accept Mastercard.

  • 45% take American Express cards.

  • 41% will accept a Discover card.

Many shops have realized the business benefits of accepting plastic over just cash or checks. By taking credit cards, they are able to cater to a wider customer base who may not be able to pay for larger tattoos all at once.

However, there are still a sizable number of tattoo shops that do not take credit cards. These tend to be smaller, independent studios. The reasons for not accepting credit cards generally boil down to:

  • Processing fees – Credit card companies charge transaction fees that can take a cut of profits, especially on smaller purchases.

  • Risk of chargebacks – Customers can dispute charges if they are unsatisfied, leaving the shop without payment.

  • Record keeping – Detailed bookkeeping is required when accepting cards. Some shops aren’t set up for this.

Why Do Some Tattoo Shops Not Accept Credit Cards?

As outlined above, there are some valid reasons why a tattoo shop may decide not to accept credit card payments. Let’s explore these in more detail:

Processing Fees

Every time a customer pays with a credit card, the shop is charged a processing fee by the card company. This is usually a percentage of the total transaction amount.

For smaller tattoo shops who rely on high volumes of customers rather than big ticket purchases, these fees can quickly add up and eat into profits. Most find that the flat rate of cash or check payments works better for their business model.

Risk of Chargebacks

One of the advantages of paying with a credit card is the ability to dispute charges if the customer is unsatisfied. This process is called a chargeback.

If a chargeback case is opened, the funds are immediately withdrawn from the business account until the dispute can be resolved. For tattoo shops, this creates a huge risk.

Unlike most retail transactions, their services cannot be returned or exchanged. So if the customer gets a chargeback, the shop is out the cost of the tattoo plus materials.

Detailed Record Keeping

Accepting credit card payments also requires the business to track and record each transaction in detail in case of an audit. This includes keeping receipts, invoicing properly, and inventory management.

Some smaller shops simply do not want to deal with the administrative burdens of tracking credit card transactions. They find it easier to operate in an all-cash business model.

How to Pay for a Tattoo If the Shop Doesn’t Take Credit Cards

So what should you do if your chosen tattoo studio doesn’t accept credit cards? Here are some options to consider:

  • Ask if they take debit cards – Many shops that don’t want the risks/fees of credit cards will accept debit cards linked straight to your bank account. The funds are immediately withdrawn.

  • Inquire about an ATM on-site – Some shops will have an ATM in the lobby so customers can easily withdraw cash before their session. Ask if they offer this option.

  • See if you can pay a deposit – For larger tattoos done over multiple sessions, a shop may let you put down a deposit in advance via cash/debit and pay the balance later.

  • Request a payment plan – If you have an established relationship with the artist, they may allow you to make incremental cash payments over time until the full cost is paid off.

  • Consider crowd funding – For a very expensive or meaningful tattoo, you may be able to raise funds through an online crowd funding campaign. The backers would then pay with their own credit cards.

With some creativity and open communication, you can usually find a solution that works for both parties if a shop doesn’t accept plastic outright.

How to Confirm If a Tattoo Shop Takes Credit Cards

Rather than show up to your appointment only to find out you can’t pay with your credit card, it’s wise to confirm the payment policy ahead of time. Here are some tips:

  • Check their website – Most shops list what forms of payment they accept right on their website. This is the first place to look.

  • Give them a call – Don’t see it on their site? Pick up the phone and call the studio. Simply ask if they accept Visa, Mastercard, etc.

  • Read online reviews – Check through reviews of the shop on Google, Yelp, etc. Previous customers often mention if it’s a cash-only business.

  • Visit in person – If you are nearby, swing by and ask the front desk staff about their credit card policy. Now you’ll know for sure.

  • Ask your artist – If you already have a tattoo artist in mind, reach out to them directly via phone, email, or social media to inquire about how they handle payments.

Taking a few quick minutes to check their payment methods in advance will save you the headache and embarrassment of finding out after the work is done that your card isn’t accepted.

Pros of Paying for a Tattoo With a Credit Card

Assuming the shop does accept credit cards, here are some of the benefits of putting your tattoo purchase on plastic:

  • Spreads out payments – Big or multi-session tattoos can be paid off incrementally over time rather than one huge lump sum.

  • Rewards & cashback – Many cards offer generous rewards points or cashback on purchases that can help offset the cost.

  • Builds credit history – If you pay off the balance each month, making purchases with a credit card and paying them off responsibly helps boost your credit score.

  • Fraud protection – If your card gets lost or stolen before you pay off the balance, you won’t be liable for any fraudulent use.

  • Smooths cash flow – You don’t have to wait until payday or arrange financing if you don’t currently have enough in your checking account to cover the tattoo cost upfront.

Just be sure to practice financial discipline and avoid getting in over your head. Don’t spend more than you can realistically afford to pay off.

Cons of Using a Credit Card for a Tattoo Purchase

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to be aware of if you will be charging your tattoo to a credit card:

  • Higher total cost – Interest charges add up quickly if you carry a balance month to month and can increase the total paid.

  • Overspending risk – It’s tempting to overspend on a bigger, pricier tattoo since you don’t have to pay it all immediately.

  • No option to dispute – You lose the ability to do a chargeback if you have a disagreement since tattoo services can’t be returned or refunded.

  • Impact on credit – Maxing out cards or missing payments will damage your credit utilization ratio and payment history.

  • Cash back rewards exclusions – Some cards exclude “quasi-cash” transactions like tattoo shops from earning rewards. Check your card terms.

Avoid potential pitfalls by only charging what you can comfortably afford to pay off in the next billing cycle. And be sure to thoroughly vet your artist. No refunds mean you’re stuck with their work permanently!

Tips for Using a Credit Card at a Tattoo Shop

If you do plan to pay for your new ink with a credit card, keep these tips in mind:

  • Stick to reputable studios and artists with plenty of reviews. Don’t risk subpar work or potential infections.

  • Confirm exact pricing ahead of time and make sure it falls within your budget. Designs are priced by size, complexity, colors used, etc.

  • Ask for an itemized price

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