Short Answer: Don’t pass them along to your clients! It’s illegal and unethical.
Don’t Break The Law Or Be Unethical
Depending upon your state and licensing board, it may be unethical or illegal to charge a processing fee or surcharge to your clients when they use a credit card to pay for therapeutic services.
In many states it’s strictly illegal. And in my personal opinion, it just feels yucky and gives out an impression to your clients that $3 is going to mean the collapse of your business.
A Cost Of Doing Business
You run a business. You’re going to have costs associated with running your business. Credit card processing fees are a cost of doing business. Period.
You don’t charge an additional $1 for the use of Kleenex or an additional $2 for the tea and snack that your client had in session. So why charge them extra for paying you?
I know the credit card processing fees can add up. A meager 2-3% doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a year. However, these fees need to be conceptualized just the same as your rent.
Make It Convenient To Get Paid
Clients like doing business with those providers who make it easy to do business with them. I want to make it as easy and as convenient as possible to receive payment for my services.
Having the option to use a credit card for payment is convenient for your clients. As an added bonus, having a credit card on file is helpful for collecting no show and late cancellation fees.
Personally, I would never go to a provider who would not take a credit card. I don’t always have cash or checks on me, and sometimes I don’t have the money in my account at the time to cover the service.
Clients will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to run to the ATM before their appointment, ensure that they have the money in their account, or remember to bring their checkbook to the session.
Set Your Fees Accordingly
As mentioned earlier, credit card processing fees are a cost of doing business. Therefore, you will need to factor this into your session rate.
So let’s say that you want to begin accepting credit cards and your fee is currently $120. For clients that are going to use credit cards, the processing fee will typically be a little over $3. You can adjust your fee to $125 and that will more than cover the credit card processing fees.
Let’s Test Out Your Knowledge
Which transaction would you (and your clients) prefer?
(Hint: Only one is legal and ethical.)
Therapist: It will be $120.
Client: I would like to use my credit card.
Therapist: Oh. That will be an extra $3.78 then.
Therapist: It will be $125.
Client: Here’s my card.
Therapist: Thank you.
Scenario 2 just feels better doesn’t it? And remember, scenario 1 is actually illegal in many states, not to mention an unethical practice.
How Do You Collect Payment?
In my business I use Simple Practice, a practice management software that does it all. I love it for the easy integration with Stripe, an online payment processing system that allows businesses to accept payment over the internet.
When clients complete their intake information in the Simple Practice client portal, they are also required to enter in a credit card that will be kept on file for payments.
After I have completed a session, I click a button in my Simple Practice app and I’m paid. Super easy, right? It gets even easier. You can also set it up so that your payments are all collected automatically at the end of the day.
I highly recommend Simple Practice to all therapists because of its simplicity and wealth of features. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can click here to receive a free 30-day trial and a $50 credit on your account should you decide to sign up.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Starting a private practice is a big deal. It's super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.
Happy Climbing, Cindy