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Can You Take Credit Card Payments For Your Shoots?

Published: 03/02/2015
By: larry

SquareUpBraulio recently asked about how to take credit cards on his site:

I have been looking at the PFRE to find out a way to charge on my website, I have used Paypal and Stripe and they all charge 2.9% + 0.30 cents. Is there a cheaper way to charge on my website? Please, I need your help.

Yes, I agree, I don't particularly like PayPal either (for many other reasons than their cost per transaction). I use them for e-book transaction processing just because they have the best worldwide coverage (works in all countries except a handful of African countries) but if you are doing business just in the US or Canada I recommend you take a look at Squareup.com.

Squareup.com has a low per transaction charge (2.75% per swipe) and, their SmartPhone/Tablet Apps give you the ability to either take credit cards at a shoot or send an email invoice to the agent so they can pay afterwards with their credit card.  This approach is much more effective than taking the payment on your site, although if you can also do that too with Squareup. Taking credit cards at a shoot is a huge advantage and will cut down your accounts receivable, yet you still have the choice of emailing an invoice to the client that they can pay with credit card. Also, they have a very nice dashboard on their site for each account that tracks a lot of useful things. I've noticed recently that many restaurants and other small businesses are using squareup.com.

Anyone out there have a credit card processor they like better than Squareup.com?

23 comments on “Can You Take Credit Card Payments For Your Shoots?”

  1. I use Quickbooks for my accounting and have my merchant solution with them as well. Taking credit cards helps you get paid faster. You leran to live with the fees.

  2. I just started using the Intuit PaymentNetwork in my updated Quickbooks 2015 for Mac -- it is .50 per transaction. I send monthly statements to some of my customers that give me a lot of homes during a month, so I save some there because I have probably 5-10+ invoices in one statement - and paid with Quickbooks to my bank account for .50 - now I hope my bank does not charge me for some reason. I really like the customized "payment link" you can make too.

    Only stipulation is with Quickbooks - it has to be a payment from a bank account (savings or checking) using their routing number for the .50. Credit cards cost 3.25%

  3. No, I do not take credit cards for payment, I don't have enough business to make it worthwhile. 90% of my business is from one agency and I get a check from them every two weeks or so. They operate differently than most others because they work as a team and not individually. They are wonderful to work with. I averaged 3 houses a week throughout the last year. There were a few weeks I did 10. I don't really want too many more houses to photograph, does that sound strange to you? The reason is I've worked 51 years of my life mostly for sociopath/psychopathic bosses that tried to work the life out of me for lousy pay and and long hours. I will not do that to myself. Of all the jobs I've ever had, being my own boss and loving every minute of my work as a Professional Real Estate photographer is the most wonderful experience there is!

  4. I use square and its 2.75, as you said square and stripe are the same. looks like amazon swipe is the same too. if you're going to accept CC then you're going to have to deal with the fees because they aren't going away. try to get clients to pay with check or cash. sometimes for me though, its just easier to pay the fee and not wait 3 months for them to mail me $$$$! I want it now, don't you!?

  5. I use the Quickbooks Billing Solutions method. Most of my clients are not at the shoot because we have a long relationship and they trust my judgement on the shoot. I do not release images before I get paid so having the online payment system is a must to keep things moving. Once the shoot is done I will send an electronic invoice that they can pay with a Credit Card. As soon as I get the notification of payment I will send out their photos and/or tour. 3% is nothing compared to the expense of tracking AR. Some RE agents have a way of reprioritizing payment once they have the images. CC payment has been a time and money saver fo me. I would not be without it.

  6. It is rare that I take credit cards, but on occasion, will. Obviously not beneficial to set up a merchant account with at most, one or two charges every quarter. I do have a PayPal/Ebay required account, but also have another older PayPal based on a very old aol email that never inactivates and just collects spam. Yes, Paypal does charge a user fee which isn't the end of the world with the few I send, however, Paypal is also free when transferring to family and friends. At my client's discretion, may consider me a friend as they send the payment to my original PayPal account.

  7. I have been using Square Cash for over six months now. https://square.com/cash I just send the client an email with request@square.com in the CC field, enter the amount owed you in the subject field and attach the invoice to the email. Once the client approves the payment it gets deposited in my checking account within a day. The best part is there are no fees!! It is a totally free service from Square.

  8. I only use PayPal occasionally... so I haven't switched yet, but I noticed that this payments company promotes its service as "less than Square" and charge a swipe rate of 2.25% (their keyed rate is higher though) http://plusbyems.com

  9. For my staging business I use Amazon Local Register. It is 2.5% per swipe for all major cards and 2.75% for manually keyed in card information.

  10. Another Square user here. I had used traditional card companies with my previous business and despite their claims of 1.5% I could never see that because of all the stipulations in their fine print. (qualified cards etc.) In addition statement fees further eroded their claims of low cost.
    This was true of every processor.
    Moreover, their statements were almost impossible to decipher. Reconciliation was a nightmare requiring at least two hours every month.
    Square was a truly disruptive agent in this market by virtue of its simplicity, convenience and clarity of operation.

    2.75% is a bargain. I hope they all get rich at the expense of all the other villains in the processing world.

  11. I email each agency a single invoice on the 24th of each month and they make a direct deposit into my bank account. No fees and charges, no taking cash or cheques to the bank, it's convenient for agents and it makes my business look professional. Sure, sometimes I have to resend last month's outstanding invoice with this month's but I'm not worried - there's enough in the bank to handle bumps and everyone's eventually paid. Simplicity and convenience - agents appreciate that.

  12. Almost all my clients pay me by e-transfer. It's so quick and easy for both of us - I email the invoice along with the link to the photos, and they email me the money. Maybe it's just a Canadian thing...

  13. Yes, I do take credit cards. I've been with Square since nearly the beginning. I find that I use it around 5% of the time. Most agents think to write checks.

  14. I use square; I can swipe or take over phone, and enter on my smart phone while the customer is reading the cc info. Instantly emails me a record of the transaction, and I can pull my history on-line in a format quickbooks can use, and emails the customer a receipt.

    Under 3% which for me is easily worth it as I don't have to take time to wait for a check, deposit and wait to clear.

  15. Ah, world of electronic payments. I've had to deal with both ends of the spectrum: small business (mine and my wife's) as well as major corporate engagement involving PCI compliance. Setup is almost always something of a pain, but once it works, it's great.

    For my photography business I have only ever been paid via credit card. While I'll take cash or check, I've yet to have someone (other than a larger concern that I'd invoice) -not- want to pay by card.

    I have Square and expect to transition to it fully in coming months. Currently I use Bank of America for my merchant accounts. Their mobile app is primitive relative to Square (big part why I'm changing), but I really like being able to use it to photograph checks I receive for invoices, and deposit w/o having to go to the bank. I haven't deposited a paper check in-person in a couple years now.

    PayPal I use for my sites' gateways. Works well, easy to implement, and no one's ever complained. It's common enough. if you want to pay them extra, you can even get it so the PayPal interface is never even displayed to the user.

    The real key is to evaluate whether to take cc payments in a Pro/Con manner. For instance, what costs do you offset, by paying 3%? If you need to make an extra trip or two each week to deposit checks, there's mileage and time spent off-task. There's also perception. I don't even -carry- a check book any more. I rarely have cash on me, either. Even my barber started taking credit cards a couple years ago...because his customers never had cash and had to (including me) walk across the street to an ATM so we could come back to pay him. If you're check only, for me, it's the last time i'd deal with you for -my- convenience.

    $0.02

  16. I just signed up with Square today and their invoices need serious work. I called them and asked about putting default notes on every invoice--cannot do it. Asked about creating a client database so I wouldn't have to enter name and email every time for the repeat agents I work with--cannot do it. This seems really easy and basic and they can't do it? I'm going to have to stay with Hiveage just for the invoicing side of things.

  17. Most of my clients pay with a check, but many prefer credit cards. About 25% of my clients use plastic.

    Square is the way to go for me as well. I've been using them for over two years now and there have been some great improvements over that time. I'm a big fan of the item list feature... especially on the mobile app. Being that I don't just shoot real estate, it allows me to have a color-coded button for each service and item I sell, including discounts. Tap "real estate", tap "20% discount", tap "8x10" (if they wanted a print), etc. It automatically adds sales tax and totals.

    Another nice feature (though does need some work as Mike stated) is the invoice feature. I've had client really take to receiving invoices via email and having an electronic payment option. The invoices are quite lacking in detail, but thoroughly functional.

    Considering that 100% of my delayed and late payments are in the form of a check, the small fee for accepting credit cards is well worth it.

  18. I use Freshbooks. I invoice electronically, and the customer has the otion of paying with a credit card, which goes into my business checking account in 2 days. Freshbooks even records the CC fee as an expense for me.

    Recently, Freshbooks has offered to tie to my business checking account, downloading my checks and debit card purchases daily and giving me the option to categorize the expenses.

    In addition, I use a phone app called MileIQ that automatically runs on my phone in the background and records all of my drives. At the end of the day I log the drives as business or personal, memo my invoice numbers as part of the drive log, and imports directly as an expense into - you guessed it - freshbooks. $29 a month, but I couldn't do business without it.

  19. Most agents pay by check. But for those that "forget" their checkbooks, I use Square on my iPad. Love it! I got so tired of agents saying "Oh, I forgot my checkbook, I'll have to send it to you later", and then having to chase them down. Just recently I started charging a 1.5% fee if they pay with a credit card. No one has complained.

    One agent pays me using some email transfer method...not sure what it is, but he just pulls up the app on his phone and sends me the money while we're on-site. And there's no fee. I wish all agents were that tech savvy.

  20. I use both square and PayPal. I prefer check but for those that wish to use this credit card, I do the forementioned while adding the services fees as a surcharge. This has never been an issue for my clients.

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