How to receive payments: 10 tools for freelancers

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Working as a freelancer undoubtedly has wonderful perks and advantages – like being able to take on a job in the convenience of your own home and having more free time for yourself.

However, there’s always the worry of not receiving payment, particularly when working with clients who are thousands of miles away.

Also see: “What should you get paid on your first design project?

In case you’re wondering about the best ways freelancers can receive funds, here’s a roundup of the top 10 tools for receiving payments–as recommended by freelancers around the world.

1. PayPal

PayPal is considered one of the fastest, easiest and most popular options to receive online payments.

Once a payment is processed, funds are instantly credited to your account.

PayPal charges a nominal fee for every transaction, and they have very strict policies, so it’s a good idea to avoid any fraudulent or suspicious transactions.

2. Escrow

This is considered by many as the most secure method for buyers and freelancers to process payments online.

A freelancer only begins work after the client has deposited the money into an Escrow account (handled by an independent, trusted third party) for a certain fee.

The money gets released once the job is completed. Escrow is a recommended option when working on a big job with an unknown client.

3. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

In this payment system, funds can be sent from one bank account to another and there’s no intermediary party involved.

Essentially, you just need to provide certain banking information to your client and the funds will be wired to your selected account.

4. Google Checkout (Now Google Wallet)

Google Checkout is an integrated payment gateway that monitors your account information with its fraud protection program.

You’re allowed to accept free money transfers and integrate your Google account with other payment systems.

A good thing about Google Checkout is the low fees charged.

5. Moneybookers

Similar to PayPal, Moneybookers allows you to send and receive funds via bank account, debit card and credit card.

It processes payments instantly, without geographical limitations (unlike PayPal which has set limitations on certain countries like India).

However, a major drawback with this payment option is that you can’t use it for online shopping.

6. Western Union

Western Union money transfers are quick and convenient, albeit the fees are comparatively higher.

Having more than 300,000 locations worldwide, you can receive payment from clients on the other side of the globe.

To send funds, your client has to go to any nearby Western Union branch and deposit the payment which you can collect from the pre-selected location.

7. Cash Wire Transfer

Cash wire transfer is a safe payment method but it usually takes a few days to complete.

Your client goes to the bank to order the transfer and a code is sent to your bank to request fund disbursement.

Both the recipient and sender are charged with a fee for the service.

8. AlertPay

This is another fast and convenient payment option that functions like PayPal, although it’s not popularly used by many online businesses as of yet.

9. MoneyGram

MoneyGram is quite similar to Western Union except that it has fewer branches worldwide, approximately 100,000.

Also, there are transaction limits so it’s not an advisable option when transferring large sums of money.

10. Xoom

Xoom works like Western Union but it allows transfer of funds only and it’s restricted to online transactions. Your client can choose payment options like credit card, bank account or PayPal, and send the funds directly to your preferred account.

How do you receive payments?

There are many other money transfer methods available online. Just keep in mind to choose the right payment option that will safely and surely let you receive the payment for your hard work.

What tools do you use to receive payments from your clients? Leave a comment and let us know what works best for you!

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About Nel Pardo

Nel Pardo is a web content writer who writes on a wide range of topics and contributes to She’s a book enthusiast and loves to write short fiction stories in her spare time.

  • meligrosa and square.

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  • Gary Smith

    — For good clients who pay within 10 days, checks are OK.
    — For not-so-good clients who have been more than 30 days in paying once, prepay in full via ECT before I start the project, with follow-up billing and payment by check — but I hold the source files and copyright transfer until it’s all paid.
    After a total of 25 years as an independent creative director (freelancer), one of my three iron-clad rules in working with clients: “Don’t mess with the paycheck!”

  • April Greer

    I use PayPal primarily, and I use Square, too, like meligrosa. However, like Gary has mentioned, I have several clients who prefer checks.

    Always, I get a percentage up front, though! Usually 50%, or on large project, 33% and another 33% at the halfway point in the project.

  • Josten Dooley

    This is definitely something I needed to read. Because I usually just use paypal to accept payment. But the fees tend to get a little annoying afterwhile.

  • Dipika


    I am freelancer designer for the past five years, recently one of my client sent me the money through western money union but when I tried to withdraw it, they said the money transfer pin my client gave me expired. Then, his mail went off and not attending the calls. How to handle such situations.

  • Stacey Sansom

    I am going to check into a couple of those. I am trying to move away from PayPal for some of my stuff due to their lack of support and protection for digital item sales. I have started to use the Intuit Payment Network. I like it overall. It is a little bit higher on fees it seems with a credit card payment, but a lot lower if they do not use a credit card. The problem is getting them to use non-credit card payment. For large payment clients that is typically not a problem, for the digital sales that I was interested in using it for that is more of an issue as they want to use a credit card or debit card most of the time.

  • BPL

    PayPal has a limit of $10k per transaction, so if you expect to take in more than that or if you aren’t comfortable giving your clients multiple invoices to cover a bill that exceeds $10k that can be a problem. The best alternative is to be able to accept payments directly.

    If your client wants to pay via AMEX corporate card you need to become a certified vendor in order to accept payments. Having gone through this process multiple ways, I suggest applying to AMEX through your bank. Most banks will have a Merchant Account services division that will help you apply and though it’s just theory on my part, you probably have a better chance of being approved. Especially if you have a good relationship with your bank.

    If you have great credit and own your own home, you could be approved even if you don’t have a history of charging more than $10k per transaction. Or, if you DO have a history of charging more than $10k per transaction this can also help you become approved.

    If none of this works out, I suggest getting an accountant who can take payments for you through Intuit or another source that is reputable. They may charge a small fee, but it will be less than many third parties who process credit card payments (who may charge as much as 15%) and you’ll look professional.

  • Daniel

    Don’t forget

  • Lyndi

    When doing design or development work I have a policy of 50% down. After discussing the project I write up an estimate for time as well. Try to keep the feedback loops short and the decision aka check writers up to speed with progress, hurdles and delays. Normally get paid on time, however I have found that PayPal and checks have been pretty reliable for me. We just launched a billing product for that acts as a vertical terminal called BizeeBee billing. I have only taken a handful of credit cards personally, but billing works well for those I do reoccurring work with.

  • Paul Rand Pierce

    Why anyone would use any service that charges a fee is beyond me. I used PayPal once, until I saw they had lopped off whatever % they take, which for that project was around $100. Never again.

    Keep it simple…check or EFT, period. Those are the easiest solutions for both parties, and you keep every dime that you earned.

  • melissa

    Don’t forget about Intuit PaymentNetwork. They only charge $0.50 per transaction, no matter what amount you are receiving.

  • melissa

    Don’t forget about Intuit PaymentNetwork. They make EFT payment simple, and only charge $0.50 per EFT transaction no matter what amount you are receiving.

  • Yogi Liman

    I have used PayPal for years, but last year (2012), I learned that PayPal leans toward the buyers.

    I had two cases where, the client paid, I submitted my works, and within days, the client submitted a dispute. Of course, in no time, the fund was taken from my PayPal account.

    The clients have their Websites and I do not have anything.

    Thank you PayPal for “investigating” the matters.

  • abdelkarim

    I prefer western union

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  • Peta-Ann Smith

    This post is old, but does anyone have any thoughts on Payoneer?

    • April Greer

      Wish I could answer your question, but you might post this on the GDB Insiders Facebook page to get more eyes on it.

      Good luck!

  • Angela Tague

    Does anyone know of a payment system that offers an escrow account? I’m looking for something where the client deposits money, I do the work, they review it and when they are satisfied the payment is sent on to me. Thanks! ~Angela

  • John William

    Nice List !

    Would like to introduce with one more useful tool for freelances i.e. Invoicera.

    It is an online solution helps freelancers to invoice their clients easily and get paid quicker. Multiple payment gateways, languages and currencies simplify the payment processes with international clients.

  • Steven Baer

    I would add Transpay into this. The newer systems have
    figured out what PayPal and Payoneer couldn’t in their time, how to become
    faster and cheaper. When I use Transpay, I know that the money I send will get
    to my freelancers within hours and I won’t pay the surprising fees other
    services come up with

  • MilenaS

    Nice Read !

    Fanurio is another amazing invoicing solution for freelancers.

    Fanurio can export invoices to HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word 2007, OpenOffice OpenDocument and other formats so they can be printed or e-mailed. Invoice templates can be created manually, with a visual editor (Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Word or OpenOffice) or with the built-in template editor.

  • Jay M

    it`s Great Published!

    I would like to suggest small and user friendly invoice tracking application. i.e.moon invoice its Mobile application to track your invoice, Payment tracking on each task. Moon invoice also support cloud based so you can access or use anywhere from your iOS Device.

    Marketing Executive (

  • Rob Israch

    You may also want to consider Tipalti ( Tipalti is a multi-method payment platform so your freelancers can choose which global payment method they prefer (PayPal, ACH, Wire transfer, Echeck / Intl ACH, prepaid debit card, etc) and also choose to receive their funds in over 100 local currencies.


  • Arafat Bin Sultan

    Good read, thanks. Paypal is a great payment method for freelancers. For many reasons you may need a different payment option other than PayPal. Payoneer can be a good alternative to PayPal to receive funds from freelancing marketplaces. I enjoyed Moneybookers in 2011, but (now) Skrill has changed their policy so people from our country are facing difficulty with this. If I were to choose top 3 payment methods for freelancers, I would select PayPal, Payoneer and Skrill. Here is why: