One of the concerns that weighs heavily on the minds of independent reporters and small- and medium-sized firm owners is getting paid in a timely manner. NCRA’s Realtime and Technology Resource Committee did the research into some online options to help you stay solvent.
Square is a free credit card reader that can attach to your cell phone. The credit card reader, which can work with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, will be sent to you when you sign up with Square.
“As an independent court reporter, I do work in the courtroom,” said Committee Chair Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR, of Germantown, Tenn. “There are occasions when an attorney has forgotten to hire a court reporter and then approaches me to ask if I can cover his matter as well. In the instance where an attorney is not known to you and you are unsure of the payment history, Square comes to the rescue. You have the ability to swipe their credit card on the spot for the attendance fee and never have to worry if you will be paid later.”
If you’re not already accepting credit cards, it may be time to reconsider. Among the benefits, according to Square, is that accepting credit cards can help you instill a sense of trust with your customers, showing that you are an established business. In addition, credit cards can help you bring in more customers and eliminate the possibility of bounced checks. If you are worried about security, the embedded chips in the most current crop of credit cards include sophisticated encryption to further protect you.
“Credit card payments can level the playing field with competition and bigger firms,” continued Mueller. She adds that Square is “great for online payments and makes it easy for your customer to pay you, convenient for the customer and clients, and legitimizes your business.”
PayPal is a way to send money or make and receive online payments, although it can also be connected through a smartphone.
“I also use PayPal for my online credit card payments,” said Mueller. “I can direct clients to my website and a button is displayed where they can click the link and take them directly to my PayPal account. Some clients like the convenience and security of entering their sensitive information themselves online rather than telling me their numbers over the telephone.”
An article on The Balance considers some of the pros and cons of using PayPal for a small business.
Committee member Myrina Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner from Wayzata, Minn., mentioned that she loves Freshbooks billing software. “It is integrated with PayPal. There is a button where [my clients] can click and pay via PayPal, and then it is automatically marked as ‘Paid’ in my billing software,” she said.
PayPal and Square may be the most used, but they are not the only online options for accepting credit cards. A November 1, 2017, article on Small Business Trends offered 20 different suggestions. If neither PayPal nor Square meets your requirements, don’t give up; keep looking.
“There are two iOS apps (there may be an Android app as well) that I like for when you are with a colleague or friend and out for lunch, for instance,” said Mueller. “Perhaps the restaurant doesn’t like to split the bill for each guest. With either the Cash or Venmo apps, you can send cash for your portion instantly to the person who paid for lunch! You can use these apps for tipping your hair stylist or any other service provider. I rarely carry cash with me anymore. It’s so much more convenient to just use one of these apps!”