There are a wide variety of ways to send payments these days, but it’s hard to find a simpler option than a good old bank check. If you do decide to issue client payment via check, however, you should really consider opening a checking account specifically for your business. Many banks have a free business checking option, so this shouldn’t be an extra expense, and it will make your business look that much more professional than if you’re using your personal checks.

In most cases, there are no charges or transaction fees on a check. There are some expenses involved with this method of payment, however, namely the cost of the printed check itself and the postage it takes to mail it to the client. If your bank offers free bill pay with your checking account, that’s a simple way to avoid both of these costs. With bill pay, your bank will issue, print and mail the check for you for no additional charge, so there’s no need to purchase paper checks or stamps to mail them.

If checks aren’t an option, you may want to consider PayPal. PayPal is fast, and the money from the sale of the client’s items may already be in your account. PayPal does charge a transaction fee on every payment transfer that you can either pay yourself or pass on for the client to pay. If you don’t keep a balance in your PayPal account, you can also use them to process eChecks.

That said, not everyone has a PayPal account, and you can’t exactly force your client to open one to claim their payment. This is an issue with most electronic forms of payment; while it’s common for sellers like us to have accounts at these services, regular people seldom do. While it can seem like the obvious solution to you, it may not be a practical solution for your client.

Another option is to pay via money order. Money orders are easy to get and are sold everywhere from your local post office to Walmart. That said, most money orders have a maximum value they can be issued for, must be purchased in cash, and can cost anywhere from one to several dollars to purchase. You’ll also still have to delivery or ship them to your buyer, which would require the cost of a stamp. Wire transfers, bank drafts, MoneyGrams etc. are also all fast, but the costs can eat into your profits.

No matter what method of payment you choose, make sure there is a paper trail so you can prove that you paid your client as promised. There’s no way to prove that your client received your payment if you paid them via money order or cash. A canceled check or transaction record from a site like PayPal, Western Union, or MoneyGram all show that your buyer received their payment, and that’s much better than just having your word against theirs.

Photo by Tony Webster