One of the most daunting tasks I encountered when setting up my law practice (other than getting clients) was figuring out how to accept credit cards and pay for all the equipment, services, and fees. Running a new solo practice already provides a pretty slim profit margin, and the idea of finding the capital to buy the equipment and pay the monthly service fees and percentages seemed unlikely at best.
Which is why I was so excited when I read about a new credit card system called Square.
Square provides a free credit card reader to use with any mobile device that uses Android or iOS. After you have successfully signed up for an account and downloaded the software to your phone or iPad, Square processes your request and sends out the credit card reader (which is quite small and plugs in via the headphone jack). Once my reader shipped it arrived in about 3 days, but the processing period took weeks.
Square undercuts the competition for credit card processing as well. No merchant account is required, there are no monthly fees, there is no contract, and the percentage of the charge is far lower than other processors. With the card, the fee is only 2.75% + $0.15 per transaction.
And it’s fast too. I charged $1.00 to myself a few times just to test it out, and within 15 seconds of completion of the the transaction appeared on my account page on Square’s website, and within 60 seconds I had received the email receipt in my inbox. By the following day the money had been sent to my account. Keep in mind, though, that the timing on the receipt of the funds will be determined by the banks, so it still may take a few days for the money to actually appear in your account.
Currently I am only using this for flat fee transactions. There is a potential problem with using this for trust accounts in that it pulls the fee from the transaction rather than from a separate account, meaning that you would technically be misusing client funds every time you accepted a credit card payment for a retainer. I have yet to delve into that situation and see if there is any way to work with Square to set up a separate account that will work for trust accounts. For the time being, I have heard that Law Charge works well for that sort of situation.