Freelance Credit Card Processing Redux
July 2, 2010 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Freelance writer needs a credit card processing service that a) takes AmEx, b) lets me (rather than the customer) enter the CC info, and c) is not a big hassle or expensive for me to use.

I am a freelance writer with a Fortune 50 client that requires me to take AmEx. After posting this question, I went with Google Checkout because it takes AmEx and did not require me to do a lot of hoop-jumping.

All was well for a while, until the client started telling me that their Purchasing department does not want them to respond to online payment requests like Google Checkout's because of security concerns. Instead, they want to email me the credit card info (! ! !) and have me enter it. (Let's assume that chances are nil of getting this corporate behemoth to recognize that this is totally ludicrous.)

So, two-pronged question: first choice, is there a way to do this with Google Checkout? Alternatively, can you recommend another CC processor that meets requirements a-c above? Thanks!
posted by ottereroticist to Technology (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There's an iPhone credit card terminal app that seems to take Amex. Although obviously you need to already have an iPhone for that not to be expensive... Not used it myself though so can't comment on how good it is.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:49 AM on July 2, 2010

Are you a Costco member? Costco has a business partner that will set you up with a credit card processing terminal. You'd need to shop around for the best rates, but Costco seems to do pretty well on small business items.

Alternatively, is a site I've used before to process payments but it's probably too much like Google Checkout.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:56 AM on July 2, 2010

I've read up on this before, and it seems that the most widely used service for this purpose is It's more expensive than PayPal - I believe there's a one-time $99 fee, a monthly $20 fee, and then the transaction fee. It allows you to enter the card numbers manually (I believe the feature for this is called "virtual terminal").
posted by helios at 6:00 AM on July 2, 2010

What about Square?
posted by schmod at 6:20 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just dropped in to say Square but see schmod beat me to it. Confirmed that they do accept AMEX.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:23 AM on July 2, 2010

Square requires the card to be swiped, as far as I know.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone is actively using Square now, and if they are if it does accept manual entry of cards - the site accepts signups but is not yet shipping the card-reader attachment.
posted by zepheria at 9:42 AM on July 2, 2010

Square lists its "Card-not-present (keyed-in) rate" as 3.5% + 15ยข

So presumably, you can key in the card number.
posted by schmod at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2010

Thanks for checking, schmod! Their FAQ clarifies that keying in is a backup method for swiping and merchants must have a swiper before they will be authorized to key-in card numbers.

Unfortunately, they aren't yet shipping swipers to newly signed-up merchants.
posted by zepheria at 10:45 AM on July 2, 2010

I've had good experience so far with Freshbooks (there are several other similar project tracking/invoicing services). They allow you to email invoices to clients who can pay online, or I believe you can enter the credit card payment as well. Freshbooks is free for a small number of clients (not sure what cc fees are). Seems like a good fit for your freelancing in general.
posted by nuffsaid at 12:55 PM on July 2, 2010

Paypal credit card processing. My small law firm faced precisely this problem -- we were processing cards through one Google Payments account, which Google informed us was a no-no -- and Paypal has worked great.

It meets all your requirements and does accept AmEx.
posted by jayder at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2010

Response by poster: jayder, I originally started out with PayPal, but it wouldn't take my client's corporate AmEx. (Unsure whether that was because of the AmEx part or the corporate part.) Has that changed recently, do you think? Are any of the AmEx you've processed with PayPal corporate cards?
posted by ottereroticist at 5:17 AM on July 3, 2010

Response by poster: From the PayPal User Agreement: American Express has decided to decline PayPal credit card transactions that are funded with an American Express Corporate Card. As a result, any attempts to register or use an American Express Corporate Card will be denied.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:11 AM on July 12, 2010

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