Whether you deal with clients on a daily basis or you work primarily through bids and contract jobs, there’s one thing that you absolutely need to know before you start a job ー how do you get paid? And with paying by check and cash becoming more rare, as a small business owner, you should be well-versed in as many payment options as possible.

Today, there’s such a variety of electronic payment methods that can save you trips to the bank, help you avoid tracking down your client, and expedite funds into your account. We’ve provided a breakdown of three popular options besides the traditional cash or check variety.

Accepting credit cards is easier than ever

Paying via credit or debit card has become one of the most popular payment methods in commerce today. No matter if your client has cash on them or not, by accepting credit cards, your business can get paid no matter what.

The best part of all is how inexpensive and easy it is to set up credit card payments. All you need is a smartphone and a portable credit card reader. For just $10, you can get a mag-strip/chip reader that plugs directly into your smartphone’s headphone jack or charging port. The device is ultra-small and ultra-portable. For $25-$35, you can opt for a “touchless” card attachment that’s able to accept Google and Apple Pay, as well as any credit or debit card.

Credit Card Payment Pricing Once you have the hardware to physically take the payments, all you need next is to set up a Point of Sale (POS) app on your phone. Square and PayPal both offer POS apps for Android and Apple smartphones. All you have to do is link the payments to your business/merchant account, and you’re ready to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card. The POS apps are free, but typically charge a 3% processing fee on every transaction. Returns are also easy in these apps.

Pros:

  • Payments are same-day and secure
  • Inexpensive and easy to set-up
  • POS system is portable to any job site

Cons:

  • Fixed processing fees of around 3% per transaction

ACH transfers offer scheduled and direct deposits

If your client won’t be on the job site to make regular in-person payments, or they simply don’t want to worry about getting payments out on time, ACH (Automatic Clearing House) transfers may be a solution for you.

An ACH transfer is a form of financial transfer that deposits funds from one account to another. This method can be a good way to ensure your business is regularly paid on extended jobs. You can also use ACH for one-time transfers.

To set up an ACH, your business will need the client’s authorization to access to their financial account. Once the payment schedule is set, your business will be able to regularly transfer wages or expenses associated with the job.

If your client is worried about potential fraud with ACH transfers, remind them that they are protected under federal law from electronic banking transfers under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Under this law, the client can challenge any electronic bank transaction, and even stop payment if they suspect malfeasance.

ACH Pricing There are several dedicated tech companies such as BluPay and Stripe that offer ACH transfer services for your business. Major lenders such as Discover, Ally, Bank of America, Capital One, and CitiBank can also handle the ACH transfer process. Unlike credit and debit card POS transactions, ACH services typically only charge a small fee (usually $3 or less) or no fee at all to process payments. ACH payments are not as fast as credit card payments, though, and can sometimes take up to 5 business days to process.

Pros:

  • Easily detect fraud and trace transactions via bank statements
  • Can set a regular transfer schedule
  • Clients can easily cancel transactions
  • Negligible processing fees

Cons:

  • Transactions are limited to the U.S.
  • Potentially long wait time for transactions to process

Wire transfers are fast and can be sent from anywhere in the world

A wire transfer option may be needed if your client is out of the country or needs to get a payment to you in a hurry. The service is ultra-fast (payments can sometimes be received between parties within minutes) and does not require any special online service providers or apps to make a transfer.

Wire transfers are also the most accessible form of payment for international clients, but they aren’t cheap, they aren’t reversible, and they’re a one-off payment option. When using a wire transfer, just make sure that your clients knows it’s safe to send funds to your business. To make them feel better about the transaction, you should stay in contact with your client and let them know when their payment is received.

Wire transfers can be made at dedicated service providers such as Western Union or through banks. Banks, though, will typically charge higher fees than dedicated wire transfer services.

Wire Transfer Pricing Western Union international wire transfer fees vary by the size of the transaction, but $100 can be sent from the U.S. to Canada for $7 and sent to Mexico for $8, with no recipient fee.

International wire transfers through banks can be as high as $45 to send and $15 to receive the funds.

Pros:

  • Transfers can be made anywhere in the world
  • Transfers are fast

Cons:

  • High transfer fees for both parties
  • Transfers are not reversible