A close-up shot capturing a manicured hand holding a credit card, placed on a vibrant nail salon table adorned with colorful bottles of nail polish and a sign indicating "We Accept Credit Cards."

Do Nail Salons Take Credit Cards? Everything You Need To Know

With the rise of cashless payments, you may be wondering if you can pay by credit card at your local nail salon. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most nail salons do accept major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover these days.

However, some smaller independent salons still operate on a cash-only basis.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about paying with plastic at the nail salon, including an overview of the credit card landscape, tips for avoiding awkward situations at the register, and best practices for maximizing rewards on your mani-pedi spending.

The Rising Popularity of Credit Cards at Nail Salons

Increasing acceptance of credit cards industry-wide

The use of credit cards for payment has been rising across many industries, and nail salons are no exception. An increasing number of nail salons now accept major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.

This reflects the overall growth of cashless payments and digital transactions.

According to a 2022 survey by PYMNTS.com, over 70% of nail salons reported accepting credit card payments, up from just 35% in 2015. Industry experts cite the steady decline in credit card processing fees as a key factor enabling more small businesses like nail salons to adopt card payments.

Customer demand and convenience

Apart from industry trends, customer preferences and demand for convenience have driven the popularity of credit cards at nail salons. Most customers now carry cards instead of cash and prefer the ease of tap-and-go payments.

Using a credit or debit card eliminates the need to withdraw cash at an ATM before a nail appointment.

Surveys indicate over 80% of patrons would prefer to pay via card instead of cash at personal care businesses. Customers also appreciate the ability to pay precise amounts, the faster checkout process, and the record of transactions that credit cards provide.

Lower credit card processing fees

While credit card processing involves transaction fees for businesses, the costs have reduced considerably over the past decade making them more viable for small businesses. Average processing fees for nail salons are now less than 3% per transaction, compared to 5-6% earlier.

Many companies now offer customized packages with low monthly rental costs for card readers. Newer technologies like Square allow businesses to accept credit card payments from a smartphone or tablet cost effectively.

Consequently, even independent nail salons with tight budgets can adopt card payments profitably.

Which Nail Salons Accept Credit Cards?

Large chains are most likely to accept

If you’re wondering whether a nail salon takes credit cards, your best bet is to visit a well-known chain location like Luxury Nails, Pro Nails, or Happy Nails. Most national chains have modern point-of-sale systems that accept all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover according to Foot Gear Hub.

Some examples are Luxury Nails which has over 200 locations across 30 states, Happy Nails with 100+ salons, and Pro Nails which operates in dozens of states. So if you visit a chain nail salon, you can feel confident whipping out your plastic to pay.

Most individual salons take credit but some only take cash

While prominent chain nail salons often accept credit card payments, smaller individual nail salons have more variable policies. A 2021 survey by Work Hands found that an estimated 72% of nail technicians accept credit cards.

However, some smaller nail shops only take cash due to the extra processing fees associated with plastic payments. Your best bet is to call ahead and ask if you plan to visit an independent nail salon just to be sure. Most individual salons will happily take your Visa or Mastercard though.

Higher-end salons more likely to take plastic

If you’re headed to a luxury or high-end nail salon for manicures, pedicures, or specialty nail services, rest assured they will gladly accept your credit card payment. According to BYRDIE, higher-end nail salons charge more, with manicures averaging $35+ and pedicures in the $55+ range.

Salons in this premium price niche cater to clients who expect and appreciate upscale amenities and features like Credit Card acceptance. After enjoying premier pampering services, just present your preferred payment card at checkout for seamless transactions.

Call ahead to avoid awkwardness at the register

While most chain and higher-end nail salons accept major credit cards, smaller independent shops may vary. Nothing ruins a perfectly wonderful salon visit like awkwardness at checkout when your card is declined.

Spare yourself potential embarrassment by taking a quick minute to call the salon before your appointment and ask if they accept credit. Knowing the payment policy ahead of time brings peace of mind so you can relax and enjoy flawless nails.

Tips for Paying with a Credit Card at the Nail Salon

Have a chip card ready

Most nail salons these days have chip card readers to process payments more securely. When it’s time to pay, have your chip credit card ready to insert or tap. This will lead to a smoother checkout experience compared to swiping a magnetic stripe card.

Chip cards offer enhanced security features to combat fraud.

Keep your rewards program top of mind

If you have a rewards credit card, using it at the nail salon is a great way to rack up points or cash back. Just don’t forget to pay off the balance in full. Some popular rewards cards for beauty spending include the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, which offers 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.

The Chase Freedom Flex card also earns 5% cash back bonus categories each quarter, including at drugstores and pharmacies where you may buy beauty gift cards.

Ask about add-on charges beforehand

Before getting your manicure or pedicure service started, ask the nail tech or receptionist if there are any additional charges beyond the advertised service price. Some salons charge extra for premium nail polish, nail art, paraffin wax treatments, etc.

Knowing the full pricing upfront prevents surprise charges at checkout when paying by card.

Leave a tip in cash if possible

It’s standard to tip your nail technician 15-20% on top of the service price. Leaving gratuity in cash allows the staff to receive it immediately instead of waiting for the next payroll cycle. But if you don’t have cash, adding the tip to your credit card payment is fine too.

Just be aware that with credit card tips, the nail salon may take out processing fees before passing along the full amount to workers.

Maximizing Rewards on Nail Salon Spending

Use the right card for bonus categories

Many credit cards offer bonus rewards on certain spending categories, so pick a card that specifically awards extra points for salon purchases. The best options include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 3x points on dining and select travel, including nail salons
  • Citi Premier Card: 3x points on dining, entertainment, and select travel, including nail salons
  • Capital One Savor Rewards: 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, including nail salons

With category bonuses like these, you can potentially earn hundreds of dollars in rewards each year just from your nail salon habits. Just don’t forget to pay your balance in full each month!

Pay attention to sign-up bonuses

Many rewards credit cards offer generous sign-up bonuses, like 50,000 points or more, when you meet a minimum spending requirement within a certain timeframe. Pay attention to these, as the bonus alone may offset months or even a year of nail salon costs.

Some great options include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Capital One Venture Rewards: 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Citi Premier Card: 80,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in first 3 months

Just make sure to pay off your balance each month so interest doesn’t negate the value of the rewards.

Leverage salon credit card promotions

Many individual nail salons and larger chains like Luxury Nail Spa and Nail Bar & Salon offer credit cards with perks like 10% off treatments, bonus reward points, free services after a certain amount is spent, and more.

If there’s a salon you visit often, check whether they have a salon card and consider getting one for the savings.

Just be mindful of fees, interest rates, and your overall credit utilization when opening new accounts.

Watch out for foreign transaction fees

If you frequently visit nail salons operated by immigrant communities, be aware your purchases may code as foreign transactions. Many credit cards charge a 3% fee on these, so make sure your card doesn’t have this.

The Capital One Savor Rewards card is a good pick as it offers no foreign transaction fees.


As more nail salons embrace digital payments, you’ll continue to see increased acceptance of major credit cards for manicures, pedicures and other services. But it doesn’t hurt to call ahead or come prepared with a backup payment method, just in case your salon is the exception.

With a little planning, you can optimize rewards earnings and enjoy the convenience of paying by plastic.

By understanding the credit card landscape and using the right strategy, you can make the most of paying with plastic at the nail salon.

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