I got an email the other day asking whether I thought family law attorneys should accept credit cards as payment for their fees. I’m stunned that we’re still discussing this issue.
Of course we should accept credit cards. That’s how the world works now. We pay for things with plastic.
Just thinking back through my day today I paid with my card at Starbucks, my dentist, a restaurant for lunch and a gas station where I stopped for a diet Pepsi. I paid for some advertising online with my card and I bought some stuff from Amazon and paid with plastic as well. I don’t actually have any cash in my wallet and I don’t know where my checkbook is.
If they don’t take plastic, I’m not buying. I don’t go anywhere that doesn’t take plastic except for this weird little shoe repair stand run by this ancient Korean guy. That’s the only place I can think of that doesn’t accept credit cards. My lawn guy takes my card. Psychologists take cards. Every doctor I know takes plastic. Every dry cleaner, car dealer, grocery store, etc., etc. etc.
If you’re not taking plastic then it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. If you don’t accept credit cards your clients are wondering why. More importantly, you’re making it harder for your clients to pay you. That’s crazy. Eliminate friction, make it easy to hire you and easy to pay you.
We have a merchant account at our office. We’ve negotiated a good rate with the card processor. There are many, many processors in the marketplace and the rates are very, very negotiable. We’ve got the best rate now that we’ve ever had and the vendor threw in three machines plus three check processing machines. Don’t accept what your bank offers. Dig around and see what kind of deal you can make. We renegotiate every year or so.
Square just made it easier to accept cards. They have a little device that plugs in to your iPhone and links up with an app you can download. This hardware/software combination allows you to accept cards right from your phone. Square basically gives their setup away and makes their money by charging you 2.75% on each transaction. That’s a bit more than we’re paying, but it’s quick and easy and you might not get a better rate until you’re handling a higher volume of transactions. It’s worth considering and it’s a totally mobile solution which suits lots of lawyers.
Two last things, first, don’t do any weird stuff with charging the client the processing fee. It’s a cost of doing business. Build it in to your fee. Can you imagine your dentist telling you that you have to pay an extra $2 if you want to use your card to pay? Second, figure out the rules in your state for using credit cards for payments to a trust account. You may have to set up your merchant account so that the processing fees come out of your operating account and not the trust account or jump through some other hoop. Make sure you comply with the rules.
Start taking credit cards. Today.