An In Depth Look At The Best Attorney Credit Card Processing Services On The Market Today
As a law firm (whether small or large) in today’s market, there’re a lot of things vying for your attention.
Of course, you’re expected to have a functioning web presence that encourages future clients to use your services, but you’re also dealing with the powers of technological change in almost every nook and cranny of your law practice.
What may have been paper filings years ago are now electronic. Face-to-face interactions are largely replaced with virtual meetings and online introductions. All of this may leave one such modern-day attorney asking, “what next?”
Well, even though this ever-expanding technological presence is likely here to stay, one area of technological innovation that attorneys can take full advantage of for the betterment of their firm, the efficiency of their practice, and their clients’ convenience is the onset of more efficient credit card processing services.
Here, we’ll explain what these services are and how they operate, why we think every law firm should be using them, and the top four processors that we analyze and recommend for our own clients.
An Overview of the Credit Card Processing Service
Unless your law firm is operating on a cash or check basis only, it’s very likely that you may be at least peripherally familiar with credit card processing services, if not already using them.
To better understand the process by which they operate, here is a brief overview:
- The cardholder, or client, is the individual who possesses the credit card used for payment.
- The issuing bank (or cardholder bank) is the issuer of the card and the party that issues payments made by the cardholder. The specific ways in which the cardholder then returns these funds to the issuing bank is subject to the terms of the card agreement.
- The merchant is any party that holds a merchant account through a bank, which allows this party to receive credit card payments in exchange for goods or services.
- The acquiring bank (or merchant bank) is the party that allows the merchant to hold a merchant account for the purpose of accepting payments from cardholders.
Generally speaking, the process of authorization then settlement that takes places for any standard credit card purchase includes the communication between the processor to the issuing bank, then back to the processor with the needed approval.
Given all the parties involved and the numerous steps that take place in a standard credit card purchase, it’s easy to see how fees can become a critical actor throughout transaction processing.
Why Exactly is my Firm’s Credit Card Processing Service Important?
First of all, in today’s modern world, clients are simply expecting to have not only several payment options available to them, but also options full of convenience.
Whether your client payments generally encompass one-time, individual payments or complicated, ongoing payment agreements for big companies, having the option to pay via credit card across online platforms has become the accepted norm.
At the end of the day, you’d never want a client’s choice of legal representation to come down solely to which payment options are available.
Now that the importance of having a credit card processing option for your firm is clear, there are several factors to further consider when choosing which processing service is right for your law firm.
1. Processing Fees
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it can become incredibly important to fully understand the processing fees associated with credit card processing service providers.
While you may be under the impression that certain fees will apply or not on a transactional, daily, weekly, monthly, annual, etc. basis, it’s important to be very sure. The last thing you want to do is begin to utilize a processing service at your firm and on your firm website, only to find out that the provider’s fees don’t align with your firm’s budgeting needs.
2. Provider Platform
What kind of platform does your potential processing provider use? Without getting too technical here, the platform can be important in a variety of aspects, including the service’s user-friendliness and how secure the service is.
At minimum, the processor should be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, which is the financial industry standard for secure credit card processing. Given that not only precious client account and card data, but also firm accounting data, will be hosted by the provider, investigating the platform is necessary.
3. Account Processing
Depending on which credit card processing service you choose, you may have several (or not) functional choices for how the information is batched and made available to your firm’s accounting staff.
How billing, payments, escrow funds, retainers, etc. are all received and batched can either become a blessing or a curse for your firm’s accounting if they don’t match your specific attorney, clientele, and practice area needs.
The ways that a potential credit card processing service accounts for the billing and account receivables information of your firm should be carefully considered when weighing processor options.
4. Customer Service
In the same way that you want your clients to feel that they can depend upon you and your firm for any and every legal question, that’s how you should feel about your firm’s credit card processor. Given that many of these processors were borne and heavily operate online, expectations for 24/7/365 customer service availability may not be fully unfounded.
However, with customer service, quality over quantity often matters more – it’s much less important how often your processors are available, and much more important that they solve any questions or concerns in a timely manner.
Oftentimes, checking existing client reviews from other attorneys and firms can be quite helpful to ensure you know what kind of customer service to expect.
Latest Trends in Payments
Like many, many trends these days, the latest trends of the payment world indicate a continued increase toward fast, efficient, and digitized payment methods in transactions.
Of course, credit and debit card payments have been around for a while, making them a necessary integration for your firm in today’s market.
Beyond just credit card payment options, here are a few other options that are gradually increasing in popularity and availability:
- eChecks by ACH processing
- Click-to-pay invoicing sent to clients via email
- Mobile payments via apps
- Automatic interval billing
- And more
The Top Four Attorney Credit Card Processing Services Currently on the Market
While credit card processing services that target small business efficiency have started to explode in recent years, there are some credit card processors that particularly stand out from the others – especially for their expertise in working with law firms. Take a look at some of the best credit card processing services for attorneys on the market:
Perhaps one of the best-known credit card processing services for law firms is LawPay. And, there’s good reason for this: LawPay has been recommended by over 60 bar associations for its work with law firms.
LawPay also helps law firms stay in compliance with trust accounts in accordance with the American Bar Association (ABA) and Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA).
LawPay allows your firm’s accounting to be separated based on clients’ trust funds or your firm’s fund, making it much simpler to ensure that earned and unearned fees are not confused.
Your firm’s unearned fees can appear in a trust account, separated from the earned fees that appear in your law firm’s operations account. LawPay also deducts all processing fees once monthly from the firm’s operations account, meaning that paying for services is generally a breeze.
- Plans include: $20/monthly or $180/annually
- Processing fees: 1.95% + $0.20 for all non-specialty cards
- Contact: Call 866-376-0950 or visit them online
LexCharge is a credit card processing service that prides itself on being specific to law firms. Based on the services offered – full integration with the practice management software Rocket Matter, for example – LexCharge can be beneficial to many law firms.
Though LexCharge does not offer a flat rate for processing fees, they do offer to match competing processor rates. As with LawPay, LexCharge is trust account compliant and offers to separate funds amongst clients’ trust and the firm’s operations accounts.
Plans include: varies
Processing fees: between 1.5% and 2.5% + $0.20 – $0.30 (varies based on volume of processing)
Contact: Call 888-522-9918 or visit them online
LawCharge gives itself the accolade of being a processor “Designed By An Attorney For Attorneys.”
This processor prides itself on being innovative in providing law firms with the first merchant accounts made specifically for attorneys. LawCharge specifically works with law firms to offer credit and debit card payments, electronic checks, and the option of recurring billing.
As with the other processing services, this processor makes it possible to separate trust accounts from firm operations accounts, with processing service fees being deducted from the firm’s operations account every month.
- Plans include: varies (see website for specific options)
- Processing fees: varies (see website for specific options)
- Contact: Call 877-720-7447 or visit them online
Headnote is an attorney-specific credit card processor that is known for its easy-to-use interface and ability to quickly provide your client with a payment link electronically (via email, for example).
It is best for providing an easy way of accepting credit card payments securely (using tokenization in place of encryption) from clients, though if your firm already utilizes a practice management software with online payments functions built in, Headnote may not be as advantageous.
This processor also offers payment processing that is compliant with trust standards, though it does not allow credit card payments into trust accounts.
Overall, Headnote and its user-friendly interface can help firms easily introduce credit card payment options to clients, manage their accounts receivables easier, and stay in trust compliance.
- Plans include: all-inclusive pricing (1.9% for eCheck payments and 2.9% credit card payments) or Headnote AR Pro for the all-inclusive pricing + $249/monthly
- Processing fees: varies (see website for specific options)
- Contact: Call 888-384-3236 or visit them online
If your firm is less interested in seeking a credit card processing service that is law firm-specific, then several other processing services that work for all businesses could be a great fit for your firm.
Other notable processing services include:
Looking to Improve Your Firm’s Efficiency? Contact us Today
If you’re looking to improve your firm’s efficiency and offer your clients a much faster and more convenient way of paying for your services – something that will also save you time and money – consider obtaining a credit card processing service that will do the heavy lifting for your firm’s payment acceptance. Then, be sure to call us today.
Here at Black Fin, we offer many services specifically designed to help small- and medium-sized law firms improve efficiency while delivering their legal services to clients. Always tailored to your firm, we work to improve search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, we offer expert web design, and we provide excellent content and social media services for all of your firm’s marketing needs.
As you look to optimize your payment acceptance process with convenience in mind, look to us to make your online business environment much easier for you and more successful for your firm.
If you’re ready to see how we can help you take advantage of your potentially untapped digital market, reach out to us today. Contact us online now so that we can get started immediately.