Using the wrong payment provider wastes time and money
You did killer work and finished launching that e-book on Amazon, your client loved it, they agreed to pay your rate and now the only thing left is determining how to actually transfer the payment from the client to your wallet. Are you using the best payment methods as a freelancer?
It’s always best to select a payout method and include it in your contract with a client long before you start doing work for them
This brings up a challenging decision: Which payment method should you use to cash out?
It’s an important decision that can be easily overlooked because you’re so focused on completing high-quality work.
But no worries, I’ve made just about every mistake possible when requesting money from clients — so at this point, I know exactly what NOT to do.
Let’s dive into some popular payment methods to see if you’re using the best one for your freelancing work.
Table of Contents
- Google Pay/Apple Pay
- Cash App
Would it even be a proper list of payment methods if I didn’t include PayPal?
Founded by Elon Musk and friends, PayPal is probably what you’re probably already using to manage payments from clients. I still use it on an everyday basis and it’s my go-to payment method.
But is it my favorite payment method? Nope!
- Widely available for use around the world
- Reliable and made for integration
- Can be used to send and pay invoices
Opening a business account is the first step of turning your side hustle into a business. But on PayPal is not necessary to effectively use this service, even though I suggest you do.
Similar to opening a business bank account and getting a business credit card, a business PayPal account helps keep your personal finances and your business finances separate.
Enjoy sending invoices? You’re in luck, you can use PayPal to send an invoice to any client via email, even if they don’t have a PayPal account.
Have a website? PayPal can be easily integrated into websites, newsletters and a ton of other online platforms.
However, just because I use PayPal often doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its drawbacks.
- 2.9% transfer fee
If you’ve ever dabbled with PayPal before then you know what I’m talking about here. The 2.9% transfer fee that comes with this payment method is a great way to turn a $100 payday into a $97 smack in the face.
But don’t fret, this is avoidable! Clients can pay via a “Friends and Family” payment. Basically, they opt to pay the 2.9% fee for you.
I’ve asked clients in the past to write Friends and Family PayPal payments into my contracts and they usually don’t mind. After all, you deserve every cent as a freelancer!
If I could choose any method to use for my payments right now, it would be Zelle.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this story that’s not possible. Why? Find out below.
- Instant transfers
- No fees
Say hello to Zelle and goodbye to transfer fees for payments. Also, say goodbye to waiting for your payments.
The money sent via Zelle comes instantly and without either party having to pay any fees. It’s truly a thing of beauty and I STRONGLY suggest you take any client up on this offer if it’s available.
Keywords here: If it’s available.
- Many banks don’t offer it
Of course, the best services are always limited. Many banks don’t offer Zelle right now and it’s been that way for a while. More and more are slowly adopting it, but it’s not being picked up fast enough — in my opinion.
If more banks offered Zelle then this article would be over here and now. It would be the winner.
But I digress, onto the next.
You might’ve heard about Payoneer, you might not have. Personally, I use it when I get paid from writing for content mills and have never had a problem with it.
But I have heard horror stories about it and I’m here to share them.
- No fees
- Widely available
My favorite feature of Payoneer is that I’ve never paid a cent in fees for using the service. I’m honestly not sure if the people sending the money have, but the receiver definitely does not.
On top of that, I’ve received payments from way over in the United Kingdom before and they arrive when they’re scheduled.
Payoneer has never really done me wrong before, however, it’s not perfect.
- Can take a day or two to hit your account
- Works on a relay system
Typically, when a payout is sent via Payoneer it takes at least a full business day, sometimes two for it to hit your bank account.
On top of that, mine always hits my account at a weird time of the day. Usually around 3 in the afternoon I get a notification that money was deposited and I really can’t figure out why, but this bugs me.
Also, Payoneer works sort of on a relay system. What I mean by that is the payer sends the money to Payoneer, and then Payoneer automatically sends it to your bank account.
It’s a hands-free payment service, which might sound like a good thing but really it’s not. It takes about a day for the money to go from the client to Payoneer, and then another day or two for it to hit your account in the afternoon.
Yeah, I’m way too impatient to wait that long for payment.
The app we all used in college to send payments for beer and utilities. Yeah, Venmo is still around and some clients use it.
Do I suggest using Venmo for freelance work? No.
Have I used it in the past for freelance work? Yes.
- Instant payments
- No fees
I’m under the belief that I loved using Venmo in college because it was instant, didn’t charge me fees, and I was only paying money to my friends and family members.
But once you grow out of that stage, you realize there are a few downsides that come with the service.
- All your Facebook friends can see your transactions
Unless you specifically hide your transactions from your profile, all of your friends on Facebook will see what you’re up to.
Not a huge deal, but enough of a deal that makes me avoid Venmo as a payment method for my freelancing. I’ve used it before and found myself hiding the transaction from my timeline, which left a bad taste in my mouth.
Why should I have to hide my transactions?
And why are they on a timeline for all of my friends and family to see in the first place?
To me, Venmo is great for paying back your friends for utilities, paying rent, or splitting the bill on pizza.
I don’t advise running your freelance empire from Venmo though. Especially since I’m starting to see a lot of stories about hackers stealing money and information through the app.
Google Pay/Apple Pay
I like the idea of sending a text message or email that contains money, but at the same time, it scares the shit out of me. It feels like a college student is one drunk text from messaging away their savings account.
- Easy to use
As I said, these services were designed so you can pay people via text message and email. It makes the services extremely useful for anyone who has an iPhone or Gmail account.
- Too easy to use
However, being able to send money via an email or text message might not always be a great thing.
Don’t let your one greedy friend see your phone because now they are $50 richer.
Don’t type an extra 0 because you might send $100 instead of $10.
I’m just not a big fan of how easy these services actually are to use, but at the same time, I’m biased because I haven’t tried either before.
I recently received my first payment from Cash App and I have to say, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I didn’t have to use my actual name, I was given the opportunity to deny or accept the money, and I could’ve even invested it in stocks or crypto after I accepted it.
Due to my side hustle as a reseller, sometimes I receive money from buyers on Cash App. I’m under the belief that Cash App just gets a bad rap, but I enjoyed my time using it.
- Instant transfer
- Can be anonymous
You can change your Cash App name to almost anything you want, send it to your client, and instantly get paid without any fees. That is a thing of beauty.
It’s a great service to keep your identity under wraps if you freelance under a pen name while also avoiding fees.
- Has a bad rap — for some reason
Unfortunately, Cash App gets a bad rap. Maybe it’s because there are a lot of news stories out there about hackers. But realistically speaking, what money transfer service hasn’t been in the news regarding getting hacked?
Or maybe it gets a bad rap because random Twitter accounts tweet things like “Drop your Cash App below for free money.”
If a client wants to pay you via check, I strongly suggest offering other payment methods to them and explaining the internet. But obviously, if that’s the only way they can pay then never say no to the money.
But it’s 2021, who really writes checks anymore?
We’re living in a society of digital cryptocurrencies being valued at tens of thousands of dollars per coin and you want to write me a check?
It’s almost a bit disrespectful of a notion when you think about it that way.
But I can’t imagine too many clients offering to pay for an online service like graphic design or a blog post via check, so I wouldn’t stress it too much.
I’m not even going to do pros and cons on this one, it’s simple:
Just don’t accept checks.
Finding the right payment service for you
Finding the right payment service is all about using the one that fits your needs the most.
If you don’t care about how quickly you receive your money, a service like Payoneer could fit you best.
If you want quick, fee-free payments then discuss using Zelle with your client.
If you want to go with old reliable then you’ll be stuck with good ole PayPal.
Try a couple different payout methods if you have the ability and see what you like. You might even be pleasantly surprised by using a service like Cash App or Apple Pay.
You can also accept credit card payments as a freelancer.