How to Accept Credit Card Payments as a Freelancer
Freelance work is a dream for many people. Getting out of the usual office 9-5, finding a comfy place to work, and getting paid for the skills you excel at seems too good to be true. Fortunately, it isn't.
Still, freelancers often find themselves wondering how to get paid. Accepting credit card payments through a platform like PayPal, Stripe, or Venmo is an easy and secure way for freelancers to bill clients. You can even use plugins to set up a credit card portal on your website.
In this article, we'll cover a few of the best credit card processing platforms available to freelancers. We'll also discuss important things for freelancers to consider before taking credit card payments.
Let's dive in!
Quick disclosure: This article should not be taken as financial advice. Information on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. Freelancers should perform their own research and discuss with a finance professional before accepting credit card payments or using third-party financial services. I do not receive affiliate commissions or monetary compensation from the products mentioned on this page.
Why You Should Accept Credit Card Payments as a Freelancer
There are lots of ways to get paid for your work as a freelancer. Once upon a time, they said that cash is king. In today's digital world, that's no longer the case.
After all, how can someone living across the country safely pay you in cash?
Fortunately, there are countless platforms for remote payment processing. But not all of them are convenient for your clients. Some may not want to sign up for a new platform. Others may be restricted by their company on how they can spend money to pay freelancers.
While it's great to offer multiple payment options, almost everyone has a credit card. Whether it's an individual in need of resume help or a large corporation hiring for their blog, the mighty credit card is now king.
Being able to accept credit card payments as a freelancer means you'll never have to turn down (or inconvenience) a client because of their payment method.
How to Accept Credit Card Payments as a Freelancer
Though accepting credit card payments as a freelancer can feel intimidating, the process is fairly straightforward.
It all comes down to your platform.
First, you'll need to determine which platform you want to use to accept card payments. We'll cover the important points to consider shortly.
Once you settle on a platform, you'll need to make it easy for clients to use. Most invoicing software lets clients pay through a link on the invoice. If you aren't using an invoicing platform, you'll need to provide your clients with instructions on how to access the payment portal and input their card info. This can usually be done by adding a link and some step-by-step instructions at the bottom of each invoice.
Another important factor to keep in mind when accepting credit card payments as a freelancer is the fees associated with doing so. These range from 1.2% to 5%, with most platforms hovering around 3% plus a fixed amount (usually about $0.25-0.30).
You'll need to decide if you want to pass those fees onto your client or absorb them as part of your expenses. Yes, credit card processing fees are a tax write-off for your freelance business.
Most freelancers I know include the credit card fee as part of the invoice, though. As long as you offer a no-fee payment method (such as direct deposit or a mailed check) this can be billed as a convenience fee the client pays for using a credit card.
What to Look for in a Credit Card Platform
When choosing which credit card payment platform you want to use, there are a few key points to consider. Remember, it is much easier to do the work upfront rather than hastily choosing a platform and then asking clients to switch down the road.
Some of the most important factors to consider are:
Fees / Price: Most platforms don't have an upfront cost, just fees. Search for a platform that offers all the features you need with the lowest fees and keep more of your money.
Cards Accepted: Most platforms accept all major credit cards (ie. Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex). Be sure your platform does so clients can pay with the card they already have. If you work in a market where many people use an obscure card, look for platforms that also accept it.
Payout Time: Some platforms take weeks to deposit money in your account after a client makes their payment. Others deposit in just a few days.
Should I Use Invoicing Software as a Freelancer?
As your roster of clients grows, you'll need to keep track of the many invoices you send out. Since each one has different deadlines, amounts, and ways for clients to pay, doing so can be a nightmare.
This is where invoicing software comes in.
Tools like Wave, Square Invoices, QuickBooks, and HoneyBook are great for keeping your invoices organized and in one place.
Freelancers who take their role seriously (see also: anything other than a small side hustle) should absolutely invest in good invoicing software. It will save you hours of valuable time that you can then dedicate to working for clients or growing your brand. Invoicing software also helps ensure you get paid for all of your work and that nothing slips through the cracks.
As a bonus, most invoicing software contains a built-in credit card payment platform. This allows you to create and send invoices as well as get paid for them in one place.
Best Credit Card Platforms for Freelancers
Now that we've covered the importance of accepting credit card payments as a freelancer, we can look at some of the best platforms out there. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and there are hundreds of options available to you.
PayPal has been one of the go-to names in online finance for decades for a good reason. It offers secure, easy payments. Though most people use PayPal to transfer funds from a bank account or their account balance, you can also accept credit card payments through the platform.
You give the client your PayPal email address and they can transfer money to your account using their credit card as a funding source. It's worth noting that you can do this with either a business or a personal account. A business account is the way to go for freelancers doing work outside of a side hustle since it offers purchase protection and other benefits. However, if you're freelancing casually or just starting out, a personal account works just fine.
Fees: 2.9% + $0.30
Cards Accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex
Payout Time: Up to three days
Another great option for accepting credit card payments is Stripe. The company's API connects well with WordPress sites, allowing you to create a custom payment portal on your website. This way, clients don't have to use a third-party platform or sign up for an account to pay their invoices.
Stripe offers quick payouts and secure processing while accepting a wide range of cards. This is a good option if your freelance business has a lot of clients, but may it be overkill for casual freelancers.
Fees: 2.9% + $0.30
Cards Accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex, JCB, Diners Club, China UnionPay, debit cards (plus others depending on your location)
Payout Time: Four business days to process, then payouts once per week (Discover, JCB, and Diners Club take 30 days to payout)
Though this one is best for the younger, "hip" client demographic, Venmo can be an easy and simple way to accept credit card payments. Like PayPal, clients can simply use their credit card to send funds to your Venmo account from theirs. While they will need to sign up for an account of their own, most clients who want to use Venmo already have one.
Fees: 3% (automatically charged to the client)
Cards Accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex, debit cards
Payout Time: Funds appear in your account instantly. Withdrawals to your bank take 1-3 business days for free or instantly for a 1.75% fee.
Your Invoicing Software
Perhaps the easiest way to start accepting credit cards is to use an invoicing software that features a built-in card processor. There are two main categories to consider.
The first is your website. Freelancers using a web builder like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly or Shopify should have access to this feature depending on the plan you're using. Most "business" level plans include payment processing options. With this, you can send invoices from your website's backend dashboard and clients can pay them through a portal on your site.
You can also send invoices with third-party software not built into your website (think QuickBooks, Wave, Bonsai, FreshBooks, etc.). These tools are set up for payment processing and allow clients to pay with a credit card directly from the invoice they generate.
Keep in mind that transaction fees usually still apply with both of these methods. Be sure to get the details before choosing one.
Other Ways to Get Paid as a Freelancer
If credit card payments aren't your preference, there are lots of other ways you can get paid as a freelancer. I'll cover some of them in detail in a future article. For now, a quick list of alternative payment methods for freelancers includes:
Check by mail
Cash (only if you're located in the same place as the client and can meet face-to-face)
PayPal (using a bank account or funded account)
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
Freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr
Accepting credit card payments is a great way to make life easier for yourself and your freelance clients. With the right invoicing software or payment platform, doing so is a breeze. Of course, keep in mind that there are always other ways to be paid if you don't want to accept credit cards.
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