Monday, May 14, 2012

Taking Electronic Payments

I've written about the Square for the ipad before, but I thought that the topic of electronic payments merits a revisit.

Until a couple of years ago I only took cash or checks, then I got a paypal account. That made it possible to accept credit card payments, but the majority of people who hired me still wrote me a check.

Within the last 6 months or so, though, I've noticed a trend toward electronic payments over paper ones. Last week every single payment that I received was electronic, either through square, paypal, or people calling me with a credit card number over the phone.

I still accept paypal, but I think that you have to have a paypal account to use it even if you're just sending the payment to someone. Some people don't have an account, and they don't want to go through the trouble of creating one just to send the payment.

With the Square reader you can accept payments in person without having to go through the paypal website, or you can accept payments over the phone by typing the account number in. The advantage to that is that clients who don't have a paypal account can still use their credit cards.

I've found that when I send out invoices I get payments a lot faster when I include a way for people to pay electronically. Instead of having to write out a check and find a stamp to mail it, people tend to go click through the payment process and they're done.

There are a lot of different services that charge different rates, but remember that those are bank fees that are deductible. One thing to watch for, though... If you plan on charging surcharges to cover the fees you'd better find out if that's legal or not. I guess you could go the ticketmaster route and charge a "convenience fee." But keep in mind that everyone who buys tickets curses ticketmaster for charging that, so it might be better to just eat the fee and write it off on your taxes.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA


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