Can You Buy A Gun With A Credit Card?

Georgette Siqueiros  | 

Trying to Buy a Gun With a Credit Card

When purchasing a gun, there are many different aspects to think about. While you have probably already considered concealability and caliber, brand, or whether you want a revolver or semi-automatic, you may not have put much thought into what method of payment you will use. If you were planning on paying with your credit card, you may be surprised to find out that you may not be able to complete the transaction.

You should consider the form of payment you plan to use — especially when using a credit card. While most merchants and major card companies, like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, usually have no issue with handling the payment, card processors used to read the credit cards might.

Why Can’t I Use My Credit Card to Buy a Gun?

Firearms of any kind are considered a “high risk” purchase, which makes paying for guns with a credit card a tricky process. High risk purchases are an industry term that includes a variety of businesses that sell products that are more likely to have issues such as chargebacks or fraud.

High Risk Credit Card Processing

While the merchants, credit card companies, and banks that issue credit cards may not have a problem with high risk purchases, card processors often do. This includes PayPal, Stripe, and Square, all of which do not accept high risk purchases. Of course, these processors are not the only ones available to use. If a merchant finds a card processor that accepts firearm sales, then you will be able to use your credit card to buy the gun without a problem.

Another aspect to consider, however, is that sometimes processors that accept this will still charge more for high risk purchases. In effect, you will likely pay more to use your credit card to buy a gun. Although it is illegal for a merchant to add this kind of surcharge, they will instead include the charge in the price of the gun and offer a discount to customers paying with cash.

Can You Buy Guns Online?

If card processing makes buying a gun in person feel like a headache, then buying a gun online would seem to be just as problematic, if not more. Though there are a couple extra steps, the difference is in fact a relatively small one.

Credit Cards and Online Gun Dealers

Buying a gun online will come with the same caveats as buying a gun in person when it comes to using your credit card. It will come down to the card processor and may result in paying more than you would with another form of payment, such as a debit card.

In addition, purchasing a gun online differs from buying other merchandise in that the gun will not be sent directly to your home. Instead, the gun will be sent to a dealer with a Federal Firearms License, or FFL. You will need to pick up the gun in person, and you will complete the necessary paperwork and background check with that dealer. There is also an extra charge associated with the transfer of the weapon.

Credit Cards and Private Gun Sales Online

The rules are once again slightly different with private gun sales online in comparison to buying a gun in person or from a dealer online. A private seller can post a gun online in a classified ad and sell it to someone online, but it is illegal for a gun to be sold to anyone who would not likely be able to pass a background check. However, these regulations are hard to enforce over the internet. Of course, online shopping always carries certain risks even if you aren’t buying guns or other regulated products.

In most instances, the two parties will need to meet up in person to transfer the firearm from seller to buyer, though in specific cases it can be delivered by mail. This again adds, in most cases, the extra step of physically going to pick up the gun rather than having it sent directly to your door.

While it is possible to buy a gun with a credit card, it may not be the best idea. The variables include whether you find a merchant whose card processor accepts credit cards, your ability to pay for extra charges, and what kind of delivery you are willing to accept. It is usually easier to use cash or debit cards when purchasing firearms, or any type of high risk product.


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Georgette Siqueiros is a writer from Boise, ID with a background in journalism. When she's not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.

This post was updated February 27, 2018. It was originally published January 16, 2018.