Few things are as satisfying as hitting "send" on a brand new invoice. In just a few short hours (or days, depending on your payment processor!) that money will be sitting in your bank account. 

But, there's one pesky problem — as a freelancer you have to pay to get paid. Payment processors, like PayPal and Stripe, take a percentage of your money just for the honor of using their system.

It's a frustrating but unavoidable part of being a freelancer. 

However, not all payment systems are created equal. If you are looking to keep a bit more of your hard-earned freelance dollars in your bank account, you're in the right place.  

As a freelancer, you have a ton of options for accepting payments. For example, Clarrow makes it easy to accept both PayPal and Stripe payments. Some freelancers might also take: 

  • Checks 
  • Electronic transfers or ACH
  • Zelle
  • Venmo Business 

So, which payment processor is the most affordable? We'll explore how to save money on client invoices fees — and the pros and cons of each method — below. 

Accept Paper Checks 

It might be old school, but accepting paper checks is the simplest way to avoid payment processing fees. With checks, there are no processing fees, no risk of exposing your bank account, and you won't have to worry about signing up for another payment processing app. 

But, paper checks do have some drawbacks. You have to wait for the check to arrive in the mail, and there's a risk the check could bounce. If your bank doesn't accept e-deposits, you'll have to make a trip to the bank. Still, checks are the cheapest way to get paid in 2020! 

Pros

  • No payment processing fees
  • Easy to deposit via online banking systems

Cons:

  • Takes longer to get paid 
  • Could require a trip to the bank 
  • Payments must be added manually to online invoicing systems like Clarrow

Set up Bank Transfers Through a Processor Like WePay 

Bank transfers, also called wire transfers, allow clients to send money directly from your bank account from their bank account. It is fast and usually pretty secure. WePay is one of the most affordable payment processors, and it is extremely user-friendly.  

WePay processes ACH payments for 1% of the transaction plus a $.30 fee and charges 2.9% and $.30 per transaction for credit card payments. 

Pros

  • The platform is easy to use 
  • Allows you to send invoices
  • Allows you to accept ACH payments, which have a lower processing fee over credit cards 

Cons: 

  • Credit card rates are just as high as PayPal, so you won't save any money 
  • Money can take two to three days to post in your account 
  • Reviews report slow response to customer service requests 

Use Zelle to Accept Bank Transfers 

Zelle is a digital payment network that allows users to send money between US-based bank accounts quickly. With Zelle, you can share your email or phone number with clients and easily receive money without sharing your bank account information. 

Zelle does charge processing fees, like every other payment processor, but it is a little cheaper than PayPal. Zelle charges 2.5% of the transaction amount versus PayPal's 2.9% processing fee and .30 per transaction

To get started with Zelle, you'll need to set it up through your bank account

Pros

  • Lower transaction fees than PayPal 
  • Money posts quickly and goes directly to your bank account 
  • More secure as you don't share banking information directly with clients 

Cons

  • Does not support invoicing 
  • May not work for international clients 
  • Zelle does not integrate with most business management apps 

Bill Clients Less Often 

Most payment processors charge a percentage of the transaction amount (usually 2.9%) plus a $.30 fee per transaction. If you bill a client $100 weekly, you'll pay around $13.88 per month and $166.40 a year in processing fees. 

If you bill once a month, you'll pay just $6.10 a month in processing fees for a total of $73.20 per year. That's an annual savings of $93.20 per year for just one client. 

That could quickly add up over the course of a year! 

Pros: 

  • Save hundreds on processing fees over the course of the year
  • Reduce the number of invoices and paperwork 

Cons: 

  • Billing less often also means you get paid less often 
  • You'll have to carefully track your work to make sure you bill the correct amount 

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Paid as a Freelancer 

If you've still got questions about how to get paid as a freelancer, we've got answers. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about popular payment processors. 

Can I charge clients for PayPal fees? 

No, you cannot charge clients more for using PayPal. Here's the section in the terms that prohibit charging clients for PayPal fees:

You can, however, build in the cost of payment processing into your prices. And, don't forget you can write off any payment processing fees you pay on your taxes! 

Can I use Venmo to get paid from freelance clients? 

Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment service. You cannot use a standard Venmo account to accept payments for the sale of goods and services. 

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Venmo does offer a business account that is used by companies such as Poshmark, Urban Outfitters, and Forever21. However, you'll need to integrate with PayPal or Braintree to use this function. 

How can I keep my banking information safe while using bank transfers? 

The best way to keep your banking information safe while using payment processors or banking transfer apps is to use long, complex passwords. According to security experts, a longer password is more secure than shorter, more complex passwords. Using a password manager tool like LastPass can also help. 

Consider using a processor like Zelle or Stripe that does not expose your banking information to the client. 

Final Thoughts 

Paying to get paid is part of being a freelancer. However, there are several ways to save money on those fees and keep more of your hard-earned money in your bank account, where it belongs. 

Don't forget you can write off those payment processing fees as a business expense. Clarrow makes it easy to track expenses automatically so you can spend more time on the work you love and less time on paperwork.