Top 16 freelance payment methods (2021)
Last updated on: March 11, 2022
So, you’ve made arrangements with your client about the project requirements and deadlines in order to ensure that the client is satisfied and the project is fully functional – but, how do you ensure you get paid in the end?
Well, for starters, you’ll need a reliable payment processor, with the right features.
What you must consider when choosing a payment processor
- Transaction fees: how much it charges for each transaction
- Processing time: how much time it needs to process payments
- Country availability: can you receive payments in your country
- Currency support: can you receive payments in your currency
- Payment methods: does it support your preferred freelance payment methods
- Transfer limit: how much money can you receive at once
It’s typically the buyer or the client sending the money who pays for the payment processor’s services and fees, and not the receiver. But, considering that the buyer or client will likely be looking for the most affordable option, make sure you do consider the transaction fees before suggesting a payment option (a more affordable solution will also increase your chances of getting paid properly).
Here’s how to receive on-site and online payments with these 16 popular payment processors: PayPal • Payoneer • Cash app • Quickbooks Online • Google Pay • Skrill (Moneybookers) • Venmo • Dwolla • Authorize.net • Xero • TransferWise • Stripe • Escrow • Western Union • Moneygram • Xoom
PayPal is an online payment system with over 270 million users – you create an account on the PayPal website, connect your credit card and then the client can pay you via his/her own account before you withdraw the money from your PayPal balance.
PayPal payment processing time: 3-5 business days
- $0.30 for each US transaction + 2.9% of the amount you receive from the US
- 4.4% for each non-US transaction + fixed fee percentage depending on the country
Country availability: Available in over 200 countries. However, not all countries can receive payments (only send them), so check the eligibility of your country here before opening a PayPal account.
Currencies: Available in 26 currencies
Payment methods: Bank transfer, PayPal Debit Mastercard, Requesting a check
Transfer limit: up to $10,000 per transaction
- Barcode scanner
- Online invoicing
- Virtual Terminal
💡Clockify pro tip
If you’re looking for an easy solution to online invoicing, apart from PayPal, you can also try efficient tools that focus solely on invoicing – to make your pick, check out our list of the 13 best free invoicing tools.
Payoneer is one of the more popular PayPal alternatives – essentially, users can receive and make online payments in a couple of clicks, as well as track their account balance and entire transaction history. This tool is also one of the best answers to the question of how to receive payments online for free.
Payoneer payment processing time: 3-5 business days
- $2.99 for local bank transfer, or $15 for USD SWIFT transfer
- $4 or 1% of the amount you receive for USD and EUR transfers (fees cannot exceed $10)
Country availability: accepted payment method in 200+ countries.
Currencies: available in 150+ currencies
Payment methods: Bank Transfer, MasterCard, local eWallets, international checks
Transfer limit: Payoneer cardholders can withdraw up to $5000 per day (up to 20 separate ATM withdrawals per day)
- Single and mass payout
- Integrated payments
- No regular bank account needed – you get a virtual account in a US bank
Cash app (also known as Square Cash, and Square Cash App) is a mobile payment platform that enables users to transfer money by using their mobile phones alone.
Cash app payment processing time: immediate transfer, or 1-3 business days
Cash app fees:
- No fee, for standard 1-3 business days deposits
- 1%, if you use the immediate “Cash out” transfer option
Country availability: US (but not US territories such as American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Guam), Japan, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. All accounts are country-bound – you cannot create a Japanese account unless you live in Japan, and you cannot accept payment from Japanese accounts if you don’t have a Japanese account yourself.
Currencies: The country of your account determines your currency, and cannot be altered (for a new currency, you’ll need to open a new account).
Payment methods: Debit Visa card (also known as the Cash Card), Bank Transfer
- Unverified accounts can send up to $250 and receive up to $1,000 per week
- Verified accounts can send up to $2,500, and there is no limit to how much you can receive
- Bitcoin trading
- Sending money using Siri (on iPhone)
- An advanced fraud detection infrastructure
QuickBooks is essentially an accounting software, but there’s also an easy answer to the question of how to receive payments in QuickBooks online – you send out an invoice, schedule recurring payments, accept them, and then record all made payments to the software.
QuickBooks payment processing time: 1-7 business days
The monthly payment plan costs $16 per month + transaction fees of $1.00 per ACH transfer, but there’s also:
- 1.5% + $0.25 per swiped card transaction
- 2.9% + $0.25 per digital invoice card transaction
- 3.4% + $0.25 per keyed-in card transaction
Country availability: Available globally. For a full list of countries check out this list.
Currencies: available in 150+ currencies
Payment methods: Credit Card, Debit Card, ACH Bank Transfer
Transfer limit: depends on your processing volume (the amount of money transferred within your account in the last 30 days)
- Online invoicing
- Scheduled recurring payments
- Invite your accountant to partake in your transactions
💡Clockify pro tip: Apart from its role as a payment processor, QuickBooks online mainly serves as an effective automated accounting software – for more tools like QuickBooks, check our list of best accounting tools.
Google Pay (combines and replaces the previously used Android Pay, Google Pay Send and Google Wallet) allows you to send and receive payments for free, from your mobile or desktop device – your clients just need to enter your email address or phone number to send you the money. Once you create an account, you get a PIN number you’ll use to manage all transactions.
Google Pay payment processing time: up to 10 business days
Google Pay fees:
- No fee for Debit Cards and Bank transfers
- A 2.9% fee for Credit cards
Country availability: available in 30+ countries overall, but also available on watches that support Google Pay for the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Currencies: available in 10+ currencies
Payment methods: Debit card, Credit Card, Bank transfer, PayPal (in the US and Germany)
- Up to $9,999 per transaction (or up to $3,000 for Florida residents every 24 hours)
- In order to claim transactions that are over $2,500, you’ll need to have a bank account connected to your Google Pay account
- Integration with other Google services
- Analytics for traffic, affinity, and engagement related to your brand
- Claim your money through SMS, by requesting a link
Skrill is an online payment processor that allows you to make international money transfers at a low cost.
Skrill payment processing time: up to 3 days for the Skrill review team to approve the transfer, and up to 24 hours to have the payment transferred to your account.
- 9% of the sent amount (no more than €20 or the equivalent currency) + a currency conversion fee of 3.99% for Skrill’s exchange rate
Country availability: Skrill is globally available, except for a smaller number of countries you can find in this list.
Currencies: available in 15+ currencies
Payment methods: Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, digital eWallet
Transfer limit: Between $135 and $25,000 per month, depending on whether your account is verified or not.
- Email transactions
- Improved fraud management
- 20 local payment methods + 80 direct bank connections
Venmo is a digital wallet (owned by PayPal) that lets you transfer funds online or via a Venmo app – the platform also includes a feed that resembles regular social media feeds where you can comment on transactions for your friends to see.
Venmo payment processing time: instant, or up to 3 business days
- 1% of the transferred amount (for the Instant transfer option) with the withdrawal limit of $0.25 – $10
- 3% fee every time you fund your account
- Bank transfers are free but take longer (unless you’re using a specific Visa or Mastercards Debit card for a faster, 30-minute cash-out, which costs $0.25 per transfer)
Country availability: Only available in the US – International transfer is not supported
Currencies: United State Dollar ($)
Payment methods: Credit Card, Debit Card, a Checking account
- up to $299.99 per week for unverified accounts
- up to $2,999.99 per week for verified accounts.
- Bill sharing (for projects with multiple clients who’ll need to share your bill)
- Users can share how satisfied they are with your purchases on the Venmo feed and increase the distribution of your brand
- Especially suitable for selling event tickets
Dwolla is a US-only online payment and mobile payment system that’s best at ensuring easier ACH payments.
Dwolla payment processing time: typically 1-2 business days
Dwolla fees: Transactions under $10 are free, and larger transactions ask for a flat $0.25 fee
Country availability: US
Currencies: United States Dollar (USD)
Payment methods: No Credit or Debit Cards, Dwolla connects directly to your Bank account in order to reduce costs.
Transfer limit: usually up to $25,000
- Mass payments
- A dashboard meant to help you manage customers, as well as analyze transactions and insights
- On-demand bank transfers that allow you to collect your payments from the clients’ bank accounts (as long as your given client permission to do so)
Authorize.net is a payment processing and management platform that allows you to easily accept payments via checks and credit cards online.
Authorize.net payment processing time: usually 2-3 business days
- Within the All-in-one plan – $25 per month for gateway fees, plus a 2.9% + $0.30 fee per transaction
- Within the Payment gateway-only plan – $25 per month for the gateway, plus a $0.10 per transaction + $0.10 fee for daily batch
- Within the Enterprise plan – customized based on your business requirements
Country availability: Available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and specific European countries
Currencies: Available in 13+ currencies commonly used in the supported countries.
Payment methods: Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Checkout, E-checks, and more
- a $5,000 limit for the monthly volume
- a $100 for the maximum size per transaction
- An Authorize.net verified seal for merchants
- Accept mail and telephone order payments
- Advanced filters for fraud detection
Xero is essentially an accounting software, but it also allows you to accept payments indirectly, by connecting the software with popular payment processors such as PayPal and Stripe.
Xero payment processing time: usually from 2-10 business days
Xero fees: Depend on the main payment processor you’ve connected to Xero
Country availability: Available globally
Currencies: Available in 160+ currencies
Payment methods: PayPal or Stripe (+ Apple Pay)
Transfer limit: depends on the Xero plan you’re using, but usually up to 1,000 transactions per month
- Financial reporting and inventory reports
- Attach files to financial data
- Bank reconciliation
TranferWise is an international transfer service that lets you carry out transactions by matching your transfers and taking a small commission fee. There are no border-crossing fees for international transfers because the money doesn’t travel internationally – it just travels from one Transferwise account to another.
TransferWise payment processing time: Depends on the currencies, countries, amounts, and payment methods involved. For example, $1,000 sent from the US will arrive to France as €1,115 in approx. 4 days, and £1,000 sent from the UK will arrive to France as €1,290 in approx. 3 days.
TransferWise fees: Also depend on the countries, currencies, and amounts involved (for GBP ➡ USD, it’s 0.4% + £0.80 flat transaction fee, etc.). You can calculate your specific Transferwise fees here.
Country availability: Available globally
Currencies: You can receive transactions in 20+ currencies. However, there is a catch – you cannot send and receive the same currency (the currency exchange process is mandatory), and you can only receive the official currency of your country (for example, you can only receive Canadian Dollars in Canada).
Payment methods: Yet another aspect that depends on the countries, currencies, and amounts involved. Bank transfers, Visa cards, and Mastercards are all an option.
Transfer limit: Limit depends on currencies, amounts, and payment methods – if you’re under or over the limit for a transaction, you get an error message on your screen.
- Recurring transfers with recurring senders and recipients for multiple projects (and payment deadlines) for the same client
- The option to send personal verification documents
- A personalized TransferWise card for payments
Stripe is an online payment processing system specialized for handling payments within an internet business.
Stripe payment processing time: 5-10 business days
- If your business receives under $1 million per year, you pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Country availability: available in 20+ countries
Currencies: available in 135+ currencies
Payment methods: Credit Card, Debit Card, Bank Transfer
Transfer limit: You schedule your money transfer dates to process automatically, with no official limit to the amount that can be transferred (the technical limit within the app is 999,999.99, regardless of the currency)
- Authentication and advanced fraud protection, including dispute handling
- Dashboard for analysis purposes
- Consolidated and Financial reports
Escrow is another online payment platform that allows clients to hold funds, and freelancers to collect funds once both parties are satisfied.
Escrow payment processing time: checks and money orders are approved after 10 business days
- For amounts between $10-$5,000 – 3.25% ($10 minimum) of the processed amount, or 6.5% ($100 minimum) + 3.05%
- For amounts between $5,000.01-$25,000 – $162.50 + 0.26% for amounts over $5,000 or 0$325 + 0.52% for amounts over $5,000
- For amounts higher than $25,000 – 0.89% or 1.78% from the total amount
- For more information, consult the Escrow fee calculator.
Country availability: Globally available, except in several countries, including Cuba, Belarus, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Moldova, Nigeria, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.
- Available in USD, AUD, EUR, and GBP for wire transfers
- For Credit Cards and PayPal, the only available currency is USD
Payment methods: Credit cards, wire transfers, money orders, PayPal, checks
- For Credit Cards and PayPal the limit is $5,000 + additional fees
- For checks and money orders the limit is $2,000 + a 10-day business hold
- Cross-border payments
- Buyer pays for Escrow
- Price negotiation through the “Make offer” button
Western Union is a money transfer company that offers online payment and on-site payouts on over 500,000 worldwide locations.
Western Union payment processing time: usually between 2-5 business days
Western Union fees:
Depend on the countries involved, the transaction amount, and the payment method used, for example:
- Domestic transfer where the sender sends cash and the receiver collects cash, the transaction fee is $5
- If you handle the transaction through an online bank account, the transaction fee is $11
- If you handle the transaction through a debit or credit card, the transaction fee is up to $49.99
Country availability: available in 200+ countries
Currencies: available in 140+ currencies
Payment methods: Cash pickup, Bank transfer, Credit card, Debit card, the Western Union website, over the phone, in person
Depends on your transaction history, and whether you’re making a domestic or international transfer:
- Within the In minutes or Three days option transfer – the limit is $2,999 per transfer
- Next day payment option – the limit is $500 per transfer
- Payments carried out at agent location – there no limit
- Payments organized via phone – the limit is between $300 – $2,500
- Backup for recipients who haven’t disclosed their ID
- Advanced encryption technology
- Special ways for students and the military to receive payments
Moneygram is another money transfer company that offers both domestic and international transfer – it’s mostly geared towards international transactions with over 360,000 on-site agent locations (over 25,000 in Africa alone).
Moneygram payment processing time: up to 24 hours
Depend on the countries involved, the transaction amount, and the payment method – bank transfer requires lower fees, and a credit card or debit card require higher fees.
- Online bank transactions cost $11.00
- Debit card transactions cost $49.99 for amounts between $50 and $900
- Debit card transactions require a 2% fee for amounts over $900
Country availability: Available in 200+ countries
Currencies: Available in over 45+ currencies
Payment methods: Cash pickup, Bank Transfer, Mobile Wallet account, Debit card, Home Delivery
- up to $899.99 per transaction
- up to $3,000 in a span of 30 days
- Track the money transfer from send off to delivery
- No need for an official bank account
- Payments carried out online or through agent locations
Xoom (a PayPal service)
Xoom is an online international money transfer system (from the PayPal service family) that lets you send and receive money online in minutes and from either your desktop or mobile devices.
Xoom payment processing time: usually 2-3 business days
- Bank account transactions cost between $0 and $4.99
- The Credit and Debit Card transaction fee is a minimum of $4.99, but may be much higher, depending on the amount sent and countries involved
Country availability: Available in 55+ countries
Currencies: Available in USD or local currencies
Payment methods: Credit card, Debit card, Bank account transactions,
Transfer limit: up to $10,000 per transaction
- Your (the receiver’s country) bank hours schedule and banking system is available, so the sender can pick the optimal time to send the money
- An anti-fraud verification system
- Instant updates on the status of your transaction
Popular payment processors you’d be best to avoid:
- Payza – charged with a money laundering lawsuit in 2018, accused of several frauds, and rated poorly because of this.
Caution: Scammers appear in most of the most popular payment processing systems, so always be careful when doing business with strangers regardless of the payment processor you’ve chosen.
How to include a payment option to your freelance website
Once you’ve selected a payment processor, it’s best that you include it to your personal freelance website – remember, the easier the payment process, the more likely that clients will pay you on time.
Not all of the listed payment solutions are suitable for a website, but let’s look at how you can add PayPal to your website, as an example:
- First, procure and set up a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to make sure all data is encrypted and protected
- Once you have an SSL certificate, register your website with a digital authentication service – it will provide proof to you clients that your website in legit, and help you validate customer/client information as they enter it
- Go to the list of available PayPal payment buttons
- Select your button – the current options are the “Buy now”, “Add to cart”, “Donate”, “subscribe”, “Installment Plan”, “Automatic billing” buttons. For example, if you’re selling multiple items on your website, include the “Add to cart” button, and if your business sells only one item, include the “Buy now” button.
- Enter your name and the price for the service/item, and click “Create Button”
- In order to select the button code, click on “Select code”
- Copy the code and paste it on your website
- Once you’ve included the button, you’ll be able to customize and edit it further on the “My saved buttons” page
Now, your clients and customers will be able to securely pay for your products/services directly from your freelance website.
💡Clockify pro tip
Want to learn more about the benefits of a personal freelance website and the ways to utilize it? Check out our guide on How to start freelancing (even if you have a full-time job) for more great starter tips.
Bonus: keep track of your earnings with Clockify
Before you request payment from your client with a payment processor, you’ll first need to make sure you know exactly how much money you’ve earned – for this purpose, Clockify is an effective, free time tracker solution. You’ll be able to add your hourly rates, track the time you spend on tasks and projects, and then have your exact earnings calculated automatically in Reports.
Later on, you’ll be able to save these Reports as links and send them out to your clients, so they can track your project progress in real time, as well as the amount of money they’re due thus far.
You’ll also be able to:
- Add 4 different types of hourly rates for you (and your freelance team), each more specific than the previous
- Add time manually, for activities, projects, and tasks you forgot to add previously
- Invite an unlimited number of team members to your workspace, for free
- Receive automatic reminders to track time, in order to report the correct time you spent working and the correct earnings
- Analyze, filter, and extract your time tracking data from Summary, Detailed, and Weekly Reports
- Generate comprehensive pdf, CSV, and XLSX files based on your Reports
- When sending your client reports of the work you’ve accomplished (and the amount they’re due), you can brand your reports with your freelance business logo