Dear Danielle: How Do I Process a Client’s Payment Myself?

Dear Danielle:

Some time ago you shared that using the credit card authorization form, you go into PayPal and “pay yourself.” Do you log into the client’s account? Forgive me if I seem clueless. –TK

Nothing to forgive. It’s a good question. :)

Okay, so the credit card authorization form is an agreement between you and the client where the client provides you with their credit card details and allows you to keep them on file so that when their fee to you is due, you can simply run the credit card yourself instead of waiting for them to do it. This is an excellent way to take another detail off of your client’s plate while ensuring you are paid on time every month. My client’s love it and I never pay myself late, lol. ;)

It’s best for clients who are on retainer or otherwise owe you a set amount on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what credit card processing service you use.

With regard to PayPal specifically, as you ask, there are a couple ways you can process the payment.

The first is that, yes, you can log into the client’s PayPal account if they wish to provide you with that information. However, it’s not necessary and for many reasons I really don’t recommend this. There needs to be a great deal of trust there already for a client to provide you with their PayPal account info and a) that level is usually only established with clients who have been with you for years, and b) you don’t want to get blamed for any problems with their account just because you are the only other person who happens to have access to it. Know what I mean?

I advise the second option, which is that you simply process the payment as a guest. As a guest, you don’t need to log into a client’s PayPal account to process their payment. As long as you have their credit card details and the proper legal authorization form on file, you can process any payment without the client even needing an account. And even if they have an account, you don’t need to log into it.

What I recommend is that you set up a “payment” page on your website. Here’s an example of my payment page from my old website:

Get the HTML code from your PayPal account (found under the Merchant Services tab) and insert a PayPal generic “Pay Now” payment button on that page. Then, whenever you need to process a payment on behalf of a client, you just go to that page of your site, click on the option where it says “Pay with your debit or credit card as a PayPal guest” (see image below) and then enter the amount due and their credit card information. Easy peasy!

Let me know if that helps :)

4 Responses

  1. Hi Danielle,

    Do you do this option every month (paypal as a guest option on your client’s behalf)? Have you had any issues with this option?

    Last month I processed a client’s payment this way (he doesn’t have a paypal account yet). 3 weeks later I went to process the card again the same way and PayPal stopped the process and said this person was required to create a paypal account to continue because the Guest option is limited.

    Have you had any issues with this option?

  2. Yes, I’ve encountered that once or twice before. There are various reasons that it might do that, but what you can do in that event is process the payment in halfs or thirds. If that doesn’t work and you have the permission and access, you can log into the client’s account and the payment usually goes through then. If they don’t have an account, ask the client if you can set them up with an account just for business so that you can log in on those occasions for this reason.

    I haven’t found out the rhyme or reason yet for those times when the payment doesn’t go through and they have the money there and everything else is in order, but it has never been much of an issue and happens very infrequently in my experience. And I’m lucky to have clients who have been with me now for going on 10 years so they trust me implicitly with their accounts if I do need to log in in order to process their payments.

    That said, if you do have ongoing issues with this, I would get the client set up with a PayPal account, or, if that just isn’t the solution, to get either a PayPal merchant account or a *real” merchant account.

  3. There is another option, which is to request your client to add you as an additional user in his/her Paypal account. He/She can assign limited privileges to you at his/her discretion (ie. allow you to create buy now buttons but not allow you to view her balance or send money). Here’s how to do it:

    1. When inside your Paypal account, click Profile.
    2. On the left side, click My settings.
    3. On the right side, beside Manage Users click on Get Started.
    4. Click on Add User button.
    5. Enter a designated name for you as User’s first and last name, give you a User ID, and assign a password.
    6. From the options below, check which privileges he/she would like to assign.
    7. Click the Save button.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Hey, Jonathan! Thanks for adding that! I had heard wind of that a few years ago, but since I’ve never needed it, completely forgot about that option. See, that’s why it’s great to have colleagues to help each other out. :)

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