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Group Gifts: 4 Easy Ways to Collect Money

The items on Americans' wish lists this holiday season are pricey - from iPads to flat-screen TVs to laptop computers. So it's only natural that many will be teaming up to give these items as a group gift. A Samsung survey found that nearly 80% of respondents had chipped in for a group gift last year, either for a birthday or around the holidays.

If you're the leader of the pack and in charge of collecting dues, life's gotten a lot simpler recently. Here are some great Web solutions that can help you easily collect money from a group, all without the hassle of knocking on doors, harassing emails, or checks in the mail.

Pay It Square
Pay It Square uses PayPal's payment system. Organizers create a Web page to explain what they are collecting money for, list the friends they want to collect money from, and set a contribution amount per person. The group can pay using their credit cards, PayPal accounts or bank account transfers, although the organizer will need to have a PayPal account. Contributors pay a transaction fee of 99 cents or .25% of the payment amount (whichever is greater) if they use an online bank account or PayPal; if they use credit cards they'll pay a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents.

ChipIn
Another PayPal-powered site is ChipIn. Group gift organizers can either embed a ChipIn widget on their own Web sites or create a personalized ChipIn page at yourname.chipin.com. The site says it doesn't charge any fees to organizers and contributors that send payments directly to the organizer's PayPal account. However, PayPal Premier or Business accounts may be subject to fees from PayPal.

FrumUs
This site is best to use before you make a group purchase. At FrumUs you can create a personal group gift page with the financial goal and a description of the gift. The site sends collection notices out to all group members, and once you've hit your goal, you can shop for the gift directly via the site's retail portal, which includes big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. To use the site's services, you need to have a PayPal Premium account. Fees are 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.

WePay
Does your group have a more complicated, ongoing need to share bills? A group can manage a collective account more transparently at WePay. The administrator gets full access to the account, but all members can monitor account activity, balance, transaction history and sent bills. The site charges a 50-cent fee for each deposit made to the group account from a member's bank account; the fee is 3.5% (though still with a minimum of 50 cents) when the deposit is made from a credit card account. A competitive advantage: WePay's accounts are insured up to $250,000.

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