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October 21, 2017
 

Accepting Direct Credit Card Payments from Clients as a Freelancer

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http://squareup.com/I'm not sure how advanced your freelance office setup is, but if you're like most freelancers, you probably do not have a credit card merchant account that enables you to accept credit card payments. Identifying the best merchant account for your needs, applying for the account, ensuring you have the proper web platform set up, installing the merchant account on your site, and then paying the minimum monthly fees, which can sometimes run into the hundreds of dollars, is all that is necessary. Of course I'm joking. But in all seriousness, setting up a merchant account to accept credit card payments from clients is no easy task, and therefore, I imagine the great majority of freelancers out there do not accept payments by credit card directly.

I was in the same boat until about three months ago when I created an account with a new company called Square (http://squareup.com). Up until then I had always invoiced clients via e-mail and received payments either by check or in some cases, direct deposit. There were some rare occasions when I used PayPal, but I never felt PayPal was a very professional solution. You see, I have always tried to portray myself as somewhat bigger than I actually am, which is a one-man shop, and I never felt the use of PayPal fit that identity. I have always wanted to accept credit cards from clients and on more than one occasion I actually looked into various merchant accounts, but the process and the cost were always more than I wanted to take on.

For about a year I was having issues getting one particular client to pay on time. I never had the sense he was actually avoiding paying me, but rather that he was just too busy and a little disorganized to pay his bills on time. Of course, that didn't make him the greatest of clients but it was what it was. One day he asked if I accepted credit cards. I told him I didn't but that I would look into it and get back to him. That's when I started researching merchant accounts again and came upon this new company called Square.

At the moment Square only works with iPhones, iPads and Android devices, but if you have one of these devices, along with a need or desire to accept credit cards from clients, then you might want to look into creating an account. What I like most about Square is the monthly fee, which is $0.00. You do pay 2.75% per swipe for all major credit cards, which is standard. Payments are then sent via direct deposit to your bank account the next day. Square currently accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Registration and setup is quick and easy and you can often take your first credit card payments in a matter of minutes.

In my particular case I rarely meet with clients face-to-face. So I need to be able to charge credit cards with what is called a phone authorization, and Square allows for this. You also get a free reader which attaches to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device when you create your account. The reader allows you to actually swipe a credit card and process payment with what's called "physical authorization." So depending on your particular needs, the card reader could work quite well for you.

Most of my clients still pay by check, but now they also have the option of paying by credit card, and I feel much more professional as a result. I'm sure my clients look at me as more professional too just for offering the credit card option, regardless of whether or not they actually use it.

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