How to Receive International Payments as a Freelancer
When you’re ready to do work, freelancing to support a lifestyle outside of the traditional office job is a great way to do it. For many, it is also an opportunity to work with exciting companies in different countries.
However, international customers can also cause difficulties. Most banking services charge a percentage, while other services offer poor exchange rates.
Here are some tips you can use to get payments from your customers overseas, as well as some banking services you might want to check out.
Receiving International Payments: The Big Challenges
Before we discuss the solutions for accepting international payments as a freelancer, let’s take a closer look at the major challenges. Here are three of the biggest.
1. Exchange fees
One of the biggest challenges in receiving international freelance payments is dealing with exchange fees.
If you live in one of the major global markets like the US, UK or the Eurozone, your customers may be able to pay you in your home currency. But if you live anywhere in Sweden or India you may need to convert.
Knowing where to get the best exchange rate is important if you need to convert the currency in which you paid. Otherwise, you limit your earnings unnecessarily.
2. Receive payments
When doing business overseas, the bank account you use for your day-to-day expenses may not be helpful when taking payments from elsewhere.
Different countries have different banking systems. When your customers are outside of your country, you need to find a way to get their money.
When invoicing for international payments, please also note that you may need to provide additional information. For example, some banks ask for the international bank account number (IBAN) of the person who pays you.
3. Multiple sources of income
Having multiple sources of income is a nice problem, but keeping track of your payments can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true if you are being paid in more than one foreign currency.
In addition to keeping track of your bills and due dates, it’s also a good idea to have bank accounts in more than one currency. Some online banking options allow you to do this easily, as you will learn later in this article.
How to choose a payment provider
Almost all international online banking methods process payments in the major global currencies. However, unless you work with companies in any of these countries and operate in markets closer to you, you should look for services specifically tailored to these currencies.
While global payment traffic has made massive advances in recent years, problems persist. It’s important to consider waiting times when choosing a location that accepts international payments as a freelancer.
This is especially important if you have significant monthly expenses or monthly tax deadlines.
International payment solutions for freelancers
While PayPal is widely used for online purchases, the platform can also be used as a freelancer to receive payments. As a freelancer, you can upgrade your business account to PayPal, which gives you more permissions than a regular account.
Benefits of Using PayPal
If you use PayPal for Business, you can also send professional-looking invoices with ease. This eliminates the need to search for templates online or invest in software designed for that specific purpose.
It’s also relatively easy to transfer money to another account with PayPal. You can link your bank account and transfer funds within seconds of receiving it. You can also connect it to your accounting software to get your money faster.
Cons of using PayPal
The biggest gripe for many freelancers who use PayPal for international payments is the exchange rate. Often times you will find that the price you get with PayPal is lower than what you would have gotten elsewhere.
Another disadvantage of PayPal is the payment of high fees for every transaction. It could charge you 2.9% of its value for online transactions plus an additional $ 0.30. If you use the service regularly, it adds up quickly.
While PayPal processes your payments quickly, you may have to deal with delays – especially at the beginning. The service can hold funds for up to 21 days in some cases. While these are often easy to resolve, they are frustrating and time consuming.
Wise (formerly TransferWise)
Wise is an international payments specialist that enables users to process payments in a wide variety of currencies. In addition to receiving online payments, you can also pay a bank card to use your money directly.
Benefits of Using Wise
With Wise you can create bank accounts in multiple currencies. You can open separate accounts for US Dollars, British Pounds and Euros. If you work with companies in Australia and New Zealand, they can also pay you in their home currency.
In addition to opening accounts in numerous currencies, you can also convert and hold money in your local currency. This means that you can subsequently transfer money directly to your bank account without being exposed to the exchange rate of your bank.
Cons of using Wise
Using Wise is convenient and offers complex solutions for international payments. There are a few challenges, however.
Even though you get a better exchange rate, you still have to pay some fees. That includes converting your money to other currencies while using the app. On the other hand, the company is transparent about its fees.
If you want to use the Wise credit card, in some cases you can only apply if you have a personal account. And for all of them, it costs $ 5 / £ 7 / € 10 to get one.
Benefits of Using Payoneer
As with Wise, Payoneer allows you to open business accounts in multiple currencies. Customers can pay in USD, EUR and GBP. You can also send your funds directly to your local bank account.
Payoneer can also be easily connected to freelance marketplaces. Upwork and PeoplePerHour are two of the different platforms that integrate the service.
Cons of Using Payoneer
Transferring funds in your local currency is not a problem if you have a bank account in the same currency that you can receive payments through Payoneer. However, if you are using a smaller currency like the Danish krone, then you will.
Get paid for what you love in an international market
Freelancing is a great career choice for people who prefer to live where they want while doing something they enjoy. The endless possibilities of international expansion are also exciting.
However, when working with customers in other countries, it is important to limit the fees. Fortunately, there are many banking options for freelancers and small business owners who operate internationally.
After you’ve done your research, weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.
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About the author
(85 articles published)
Danny is a freelance technology writer based in Copenhagen, Denmark who moved there from his native UK in 2020. He writes on a wide variety of topics including social media and security. Outside of writing, he’s an avid photographer.
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