Should Business Owners Accept Payment in Plastic?

COVID-19 may have accelerated the move to cashless payment however, it is much easier and less fees associated with accepting plastic payment for jobs than ever before.

Pay Credit Card Hand
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Not to date myself, but it wasn’t what seems too long ago that it would be absurd to buy a small item with a credit card. I distinctly remember looking over my shoulder to avoid the stare of shame because I was buying a hot dog at gas station with a card.

Well, times have changed. Now, not even counting the current COVID-19 cashless way of life, credit cards are the norm. So much so that nowadays, if you pay with cash, you might get that awkward stare. So comes the question, do you, as a business owner, decide to accept cards and pay their associated fees?

I will say emphatically, yes. It’s much easier to accept cards now, and also much cheaper than ever before. Fortunately, in our line of work deciding whether to accept them is less of an issue than for a convenience store, but it still deserves some consideration if you are not taking them.   

Let’s first look at why one wouldn’t.

Generally, the biggest reasons are the fees. The processors will charge you a monthly fee and a per-transaction fee of several percent. The bottom line is it will cost you to take a card. I think it’s all in how you look at it. If a client were to say, “I’ll give you the job, pay you in two days, but I need a 3% discount,” who wouldn’t do that? So rather than stressing over the fees, I look at the opportunity.  The more comfortable I can make it for our clients to use us and do business with us, the better -- and cards help that process.

Another reason people may not want to accept a card is for fear of a chargeback -- where a customer can dispute the charge. Perhaps they are not happy with your work and decide to file a dispute. Although rare, this can not only cost you money, but often card issuers side with the customer. So, in the event of a disagreement, there is a chance you could lose out. Fraud is also a possibility, though I think that risk is much more negligible in our work line.

If you do decide to take cards, do you adjust pricing to reflect the fees? Many issuers oppose this practice and it’s often included in their terms and conditions. However, it happens all the time, and often from significant retailers. We have chosen not to charge a fee, to keep things simple. However, if I know a client is planning to pay on a card, their quote might be slightly higher.  

A benefit to accepting cards – in addition to quick payment -- is that you can preauthorize funds with a merchant account. While I am not an advocate for taking deposits on a job, if you do, credit cards can make that process super easy and convenient for both parties. 

You potentially could also preauthorize money to hold a place on your schedule as well.  In the event of a collection issue where a client owes you but hasn’t paid, it’s often much easier to take a card over the phone than to get them to send a check.     

If you use QuickBooks, you can take advantage of their built-in processing, giving you access to processing electronic checks and enabling your customers to pay online. In addition to QuickBooks, hundreds of apps and platforms now allow online payments and many integrate that with your invoicing. It’s never been easier or cheaper. Several popular apps offer straightforward, low fees. 

The bottom line, in my honest opinion: you should take credit cards. Make it convenient for a customer to do business with you. You also will be helping your business cash flow by getting those receivables much quicker, and as you all know, money in the bank is the name of the game.