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No one likes paying PayPal fees to receive money they’ve rightfully earned. I know I don’t!
But this seems inevitable, and not something you can change. Right?
NO! When it comes to accepting payments virtually, why do we let online payment systems rob us of our hard-earned income?
After being tired of giving up my freelance income on PayPal transaction fees, I started looking for other options.
Over the past few months I’ve found 5 simple ways to decrease PayPal fees as a freelancer.
Include the PayPal fee in your invoice
The best way to avoid PayPal fees is to have clients pay the fees for you! You can include the PayPal directly on client invoices as a small percentage business fee.
PayPal charges anywhere from 2%–6% to accept payments from clients, so this could save you a lot of money. And since this is the most widely accepted form of online payment, most clients request it. This is why it’s totally okay to include a standard PayPal percentage fee on invoices sent to clients.
Apply for lower merchant fees with PayPal
There is a simple hack that only takes a minute or two to help you pay lower PayPal fees. If your PayPal account processes $3,000 or more transactions per month, you can apply for lower merchant transaction fees. This could take the normal 2.9% fee to 2.5% or even 2.2% if you qualify.
Follow these steps to apply for lower merchant fees with PayPal.
- Log into your PayPal account
- Access the Merchant Rate Application form
- Fill in your details on the short form
- Check the box to indicate you have read the User Agreement
- Click “Submit”
You’ll immediately find out whether or not you PayPal account is approved for a lower percentage rate.
Request direct deposit as a preferred method
Avoid paying PayPal invoicing fees by requesting direct deposit instead. Not only will the funds be deposited into your account much faster than a 2-day transfer request from PayPal, but you will save money on transaction fees.
Here are some of the best direct deposit services to use as a freelancer.
- Dwolla – Dwolla makes it easy to transfer funds from one person to another and works with many of the best accounting services. The best part? No matter how big or small the payment transaction is, Dwolla’s fee is only $0.25. And if the transaction is under $10 there’s no fee at all.
- WePay – WePay has an online payment portal that’s completely customizable. It works with invoicing service such as FreshBooks, Zoho and more. WePay accepts all major credit cards and ACH payments. But we’re going to focus on the direct deposit (ACH) payment processing as it’s only a 1% fee plus $0.30 per transaction. This is quite a big savings over PayPal’s standard 2.9% fee.
- Payroll deposit – Many business clients work with multiple freelance contractors so they may have a payroll system set up for paying invoices. Using a payroll service like Gusto or Plooto, you can have your monthly invoice payment direct deposited into your checking account. There’s no fee for you to pay, as the client pays the fees to the payroll service.
I work with several clients who pay me via direct deposit using payroll services and it’s honestly my preferred payment method. I currently use Dwolla because it integrates with my GoDaddy Bookkeeping software.
But I’ve also used WePay in the past to avoid PayPal fees and still save money. Any of these are excellent options for decreasing PayPal invoicing fees.
Use accounting software like FreshBooks
Several accounting programs have a deal worked out with PayPal that can save you quite a bit of money on PayPal fees.
For example, for loyal customers who use FreshBooks Invoicing you get access to the PayPal Business Payments option. This only costs you $0.50 per bank transfer payment received from clients.
In order for this to work clients must choose the “PayPal Transfer” option and have the funds taken out of their bank account. This process takes 3-4 business days longer than being paid via standard PayPal or credit card. But in most cases this added savings is totally worth it.
I mean, who doesn’t want to keep more of their hard-earned money? Here’s how it works.
Start by creating a new invoice
Click the “New Invoice” button to create a new invoice for a client, or you can replicate your template from a past invoice.
On the right-hand side of your new invoice, look under the Online Payment Options section and you’ll see the different payment options you currently offer your clients.
Choose the PayPal Business Payment option
Be sure to check the “business” PayPal Business Payment box under the PayPal tab when creating an invoice, and you’ll only be charged $0.50 per transaction — no matter how large your invoice.
Here’s a screenshot of what it looks inside FreshBooks. Please note, this is only available for older FreshBooks account holders.
Here’s how it works for me
So the process looks like this –> New Invoice –> Accept Payments Online –> check boxes for different payment options, the PayPal Business Payments option is under the PayPal tab.
You can’t use it with credit cards, only a direct transfer from a bank account. But most of my clients use this option and I’ve never had an issue. I also pay my small team of freelancers, and have a bookkeeper who helps me keep everything running smoothly.
We all use FreshBooks to clock our time with client projects, bill for expenses and services, and then receive payments each month. For the most part I bill out about $7,000 a month for client work.
If you’re calculating this you’ll see I was wasting over $210 a month in PayPal fees. ($7,000 x PayPal’s standard 3% = $210)
I also know another small business owner who use this service, and it helps saves her over $1,500 a year in fees.
Yes, FreshBooks charges a small monthly fee to use their services (about $20-30 a month), although they do have a free service with less features. But that’s small change compared to the fees PayPal charges, and how much money you could save using this invoicing hack.
Beware though, this does not include a credit payment option. So in order to receive the $0.50 per invoice paid option your clients have to be willing to pay via this method only. However, it can be worth the savings (in my opinion and experience) and most clients don’t mind using this payment process at all.
This is mostly only available for U.S. currency but if your clients pay you using this method, it could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year. The only way you can take advantage of this simple hack though, is to use an online invoicing service (like the ones mentioned above).
Consider wire transfers online
If you work with international freelance clients it might make more sense to set up wire transfers to receive invoicing payments. Otherwise you may have to pay currency conversion rates and other fees to access your money.
The only thing is that this can cost your clients $20-40 per international wire transfer so it’s a bit expensive. In addition, it can take several business days to process the payment into your bank account.
One way to avoid the expense of a wire transfer is to use a service like TransferWise. They are fully transparent with their fees and don’t hike up the cost for currency conversion (like most banks do). TransferWise is cheaper and faster than traditional wire transfers!
PayPal fees are tax deductible
In the end you may do what you can to avoid PayPal fees but it’s not full proof. Transaction fees are just part of doing business online. The good news though, is that PayPal fees are totally tax deductible as a business expense.
At the end of the year, simply calculate PayPal fees that you paid. Then include the total amount of fees on your self-employed tax return, Schedule C. At the very least, paying PayPal fees can help reduce your tax bill at the end of the year!
If you’re still losing your hard-earned money to PayPal fees, try these tips to decrease your PayPal fees. It will only take a few minutes to apply these money-saving tips so you can keep more of your hard-earned money!
Got any other ways to avoid PayPal fees?