Accepting Venmo/online payment for one-person business in 2021?
January 14, 2021 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I recently started doing work as a virtual personal assistant. So far I've been receiving payments via Venmo, but I'm worried that my account will get flagged, payments frozen, etc. I would of course like to avoid paying the 3% Paypal merchant fee. What are my options?

I have 6-10 clients who pay me on a weekly or biweekly basis. The total amount I'm receiving is around several thousand dollars a month.

I'm in the US, so bank transfers aren't super common. Everyone seems to hate personal checks.

Does anyone have experience using Venmo for business purposes? What are the other options out there?
posted by Questolicious to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Well, Venmo charges fees if it's used for business reasons, but the limits on non-business is $4999/week rolling, and you aren't really coming close to that limit. So hypothetically you could keep on keeping on.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:38 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

Zelle is another option, and free through many financial institutions, but both your bank and theirs have to sign up for it.

In general though, if you're going paperless for money transferring, it will need to be paid for somewhere along the line by someone. Paypal will charge you 3%, so will Square and other payment processors. They all make their money somewhere.
posted by hydra77 at 12:50 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

Welcome to the world of "Merchant Services" I'm afraid it doesn't get any better if you are a small business. Be thankful you are not in the dark days of manual terminals running cards over dialup.

I have had very good results with in running small stores, both physical and online. I have also used Stripe just as the backend for running cards - but you will need a separate shopping cart or other app that connects with them if you want to allow clients or customers to pay you. You can use Stripe to manually run cards on your own.

If you have 6-11 clients and you are getting several thousands a month - I'm guessing your business or service is providing something professional of highish value. Many people on metafilter have recommended, they do online invoicing but also can be your card processor and let people pay their invoices via a card (for a % fee, of course). If you run your accounting with QuickBooks online, Intuit also offers an option to send bills and accept payments through their platform.

Also - last I checked Venmo was strictly no business... so thanks for this I will take a look at using them again.
posted by sol at 1:02 PM on January 14 [4 favorites]

You are right to be concerned about this. Are you working through a third party or for yourself? Credit card and processing fees are a write off. Consider setting yourself up as an LLC and getting a business checking account.

You can use PayPal or Stripe, both of which offer invoicing. Square is also good and I’ve never used Freshbooks but I see the recommendation above.
posted by amanda at 1:45 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

A friend got her Venmo cancelled and she can never have one again because she was using a personal account for business. If they find out, you're f-ed. Don't do it!
posted by misskaz at 1:59 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]

I have a one-person business, though I receive fewer monthly payments than you. I offer clients:

-- Zelle (definitely the easiest, if both your banks offer it; sometimes the first payment involves jumping through hoops but after that it's easy)
-- Venmo
-- PayPal "friend to friend" payment -- against PayPal's rules
-- PayPal business payment - but I tack on 3%. This is also definitely against PayPal's rules but I term it a "handling fee" not a "PayPal convenience fee."
-- Check

By offering these options, my clients self-sorted enough that I'm not doing too much with any one payment processor. I haven't had any problems so far, and I've been doing this for 7 years. (Knock wood.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:30 PM on January 14 [3 favorites]

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