Comparing Credit Card Transaction Fees for Law Practice Management Software Billing Portals

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Accepting credit cards from clients used to be a complicated mess. And it still can be, since many firms need to work around ethics rules that require transaction fees to come out of a lawyer’s operating account for trust account deposits. But if you use practice management software, chances are your provider has an in-house option that makes it easy to accept payment via credit card—including advances.

What’s not easy is figuring out how much it will cost you. MyCase, for example, has a simple, flat fee of 3% for all transactions. Many practice management software options integrate with LawPay, which has a more complicated monthly fee plus a flat fee on each transaction and a percentage of each transaction. Clio is also powered by LawPay, but Clio waives the monthly fee, presumably because Clio Payments is only available with its more expensive plans.

Oh, and how do you know which fee? Well, the lower fee only applies to plain credit cards. If it has a benefit like miles, hotel points, or cash back, the card is a specialty card and subject to the higher transaction fee.

But wait, there’s more! Except for MyCase Payments, every transaction is also subject to pass-through fees from the card brand network. If someone with a foreign American Express card pays your bill by telling you the credit card details over the phone, for example, you will pay an additional .85% on that transaction. But it will only be .15% if they pay the same invoice through your Clio billing portal. Visa charges a mystifyingly named “$0.00 Floor Limit Fee”—which is 10¢—on some transactions. In fact, Visa pass-through fees range from a 1.95¢ flat fee to 1.25% + 16.45¢. If you want to know what the possible fees are, LawPay has a helpful page it keeps up to date.

Because of all the pass-through fee variables, I have represented the example fee as a range. (Here is my spreadsheet if you want to check my work.)

So all of those caveats aside, I hope this chart will still be useful to you:

Payment SystemMonthly FeeVisa, MasterCard, & DiscoverAmerican Express & Specialty CardsFee on $3,000
Clio Payments
(powered by LawPay)
$01.95% + 20¢2.95% + 20¢$58.72–114.21
MyCase Payments$03%3%$90
PantherPayments*
(powered by LawPay)
$15 or $201.95% + 20¢2.95% + 20¢$58.72–114.21
(plus the monthly fee)
Rocket Matter Payments$151.9% + 15¢2.9% + 15¢$57.17–112.66
(plus the monthly fee)

*LawPay also powers AbacusLaw, CaseFox, CosmoLex, TimeSolv, and other partners, with the same fees as PantherPayments.

To get an idea what each option would actually look like for your firm, set up a spreadsheet with all the payments you received last month. Treat each payment as a credit card payment and calculate the fees for each provider. That should give you a pretty good idea of what it will cost you to accept credit cards.

One more complication. Many practice management software providers offer additional integrations. If you prefer Stripe or PayPal, you can use both with Practice Panther or hook them up to Clio with Zapier. LawPay gets along with lots of practice management software, too. So don’t write anything off before you explore the options.

2016-09-14 Update. Switched to displaying the example transaction fees as a range, because vagueness is, in this case, more accurate.

2016-09-16 Update. Clarified the meaning of specialty cards in the table.

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  • Shaun Clark

    Disclaimer, I founded InvoiceSherpa and we do payments for attorneys.

    I think the way this reads it almost looks Visa & MasterCard will all get charged at a lower rate, but in effect I think most of the time those Visa & MasterCard’s actually fall under speciality card status.

    I think it might be worth asking, “What is a specialty card?” because if the answer is anything that has a points or rewards system in it I would say that’s about 100% of cards these days. If you look into your wallet right now how many cards have no points or no rewards, my bet is 0.

    So if that’s the case the card mix will skew way up to speciality cards for most transactions and in effect the pricing will be at the higher tier of 2.95% + $.30, making the lower tier more of an illusion than a reality. I think it’s fair for people to know they are really going to end up paying the higher rate most of the time if this indeed the case.

    • That wasn’t clear from the “specialty cards” descriptions I read, so thanks for the clarification. I’ll update the post, too, so nobody misses it.

  • Aaron Chang

    Mycase payments do not accept AMEX cards. One reason I signed up with LawPay today.