Invoices and payment processor for low-transaction contractor?
June 28, 2014 11:37 PM   Subscribe

My new boss apparently prefers to use more convenient and/or flexible methods to pay me, an independent contractor (web dev). He suggested I invoice him through PayPal the first time he paid me. I have a general dislike of PayPal, and I like automation, so I'm trying to decide on a payment processor or other method of billing that can take the same money sources as PayPal.

I know of Square and Stripe, and a cursory search has turned up Braintree and Balanced, and of course there are Google Wallet and Amazon Payments.

Square seems to fit the use case of charging for independent services best. The one single time I paid through Square, it was a swipe of my card to pay a barber. Their rate is the lowest at 2.75%, where all the others are 2.9% + 30¢ - a few dollars a month, so not a big thing. I don't see excellent API support across languages like with Stripe, though.

The rest seem to be geared more heavily toward business-to-customer retail transactions. When I threw together an invoice on PayPal, the most suitable thing to do that was immediately apparent was to charge for X "items", where each item cost my hourly rate, and the item name specified the job title and "per hour".

I intend to add an invoicing and payment system to my website to make the process easier, for this job and for other odd jobs I acquire. Is there an easy-to-integrate payment processor that supports charges for services by-the-hour? If you've done this kind of thing, what would you recommend?
posted by WasabiFlux to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You don't say who will be paying the fees (I ask the client to, for PayPal), so this may not be useful to you. Some services offer cheaper fees. If you send money from one PayPal account to another, you avoid fees (see at the bottom of the page, under “Sending & Requesting is Usually 0”).

I've used Intuit Payment Network for billing in the past, and it's okay. They charge $0.50 for an "e-check", which is basically an ACH transaction. You send a link to your boss for a certain amount, and he clicks the link, enters his routing and account number for his checking account, and you get the money minus fifty cents.

It would be a pain to automate, though — it doesn't seem to have an API. I was generating an email to myself, then copying the link in that email and pasting it into an email for my client, because I didn't like the format the email was in.

I always included a separate invoice, and just used IPN for the actual payment.

There's also Square Cash, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to automated.

Balanced supports ACH debit, too, though it's more expensive.

If automation is more important to you, then Stripe offers subscriptions, and a way to modify the amount charged every cycle. I wouldn't be surprised if Braintree and Balanced had similar features.
posted by Renegade Duck at 12:16 AM on June 29, 2014

You could also take bitcoins as payment via coinbase. They have very low fees and it's fairly low risk because you can withdraw them as cash as soon as they come in.
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on June 29, 2014

I'm uncertain based on your post so just in case: have you seen Square Invoices?
posted by JackBurden at 6:46 AM on June 29, 2014

I've gotten paid a couple times with Square Cash. It works really well and there aren't fees right now. You can get up to $2,500 a week if you provide some identifying info, and you can email request@ along with your boss' email to submit your invoices. The payments go straight from his debit/credit card to yours. Just keep a draft email and hit send after your last item for the week.

Besides that, I know you don't like Paypal, but maybe you haven't heard of Paypal Business Payments. They're a 50c flat fee bank-account-to-Paypal-account transfer and integrate really well with Freshbooks and Harvest - you can have your invoices go out on a regular schedule based on time entered, break down work by task type, project number, etc. I always found the $10-20/mo fee paid for itself in time saved/prompness of payments received. Unfortunately, you can't get Paypal Business Payments outside of these invoicing software partners and so far Balanced/Square/Stripe/Braintree seem unable to get themselves integrated that well (if I'm wrong, please point it out - that would be excellent news.)
posted by michaelh at 6:48 AM on June 29, 2014

Lately I've been getting some contract work paid by Chase Quickpay. If I had a Chase bank account, I could set it up to invoice too. It works great.

Also, it's ambiguous from your question but it sounds like the person you call your boss might be setting himself up not actually as a boss to you but as as client contracting your services. IANYL TINLA. In case you're not already, make sure you two are on the same page about this and you understand what that means (for your work, taxes, and working relationship).
posted by Salamandrous at 8:45 AM on June 29, 2014

I just integrated a site I work on with Braintree and it was the simplest payment gateway i've ever used.

They're also currently running a deal where you get your first $50k free of transactions.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:38 PM on June 29, 2014

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