By Laura Vestanen—This article contains my practices regarding acceptable forms of payment for general (non-loan) notary work. I hope sharing this information helps you determine what works best for you.
When I did loan work, I got very tired of waiting weeks or months to be paid. The title companies sat on my money, earning interest, while they made me wait. I no longer tolerate that. My only exception: Payments for my Reverse Mortgage work (the only type of loan work I do now). That title company reliably pays within 2 weeks.
In my state, notaries are required to quote our travel fees before we accept the assignment. When I do this, I just tell them I accept payment in cash only. Even when they will be traveling to me, I tell them the notary fees so they bring enough cash. I always tell them that the state sets the fees and every notary will quote the same. (I do this so they won’t start calling my competition thinking they can get lower fees.) Once in a great while, someone will forget to bring cash. If they live/work in my town and are dressed nicely, I will usually accept a check. Otherwise I just wait for payment until they get back from an ATM a few blocks away from my office. I hang on to the documents and finish my journal work while they go to the ATM. No one has ever said a word against about this arrangement or even frowned.
The people who have me meet them at their doctor’s office to notarize medical reports usually forget to bring cash. These people are usually adopting a baby from abroad or getting ready to take a job overseas so they have lots on their mind. If they can afford to go overseas, they are not going to have a problem with having enough money in the bank to cover my check.
Some of my business clients pay me by company check. I always accept those if the business is in my town or the next.
There are a few reasons why I am reluctant to take checks from my non-business clients. One is that the bounced check fee to me is pretty stiff – $25. Another is that I get angry when people don’t pay me. I would go to the person’s home every day until I am paid in cash in full. That is a silly use of my time. Telling people I only accept cash averts any potential rubber checks.
CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS
I don’t accept credit or debit cards and I’ve never had a problem with that. Only a few people have even asked if I accept them. If you look into the cost of accepting credit cards, you will discover that the bank fees add up quickly. Fee to set up a credit card merchant account, transaction fees, monthly fees, terminal fees, approval fees, etc.
FUNDS WIRED INTO MY BANK ACCOUNT
I have one business client in Los Angeles who has investors living in my area. LA guy sometimes needs these investors to sign paperwork that needs to be notarized. (I did a job for him last week for $160.) He prefers to wire payment to me. Our routine: he emails paperwork to me, I travel to the investors’ offices, do the work, email an invoice to LA guy, he wires the payment into my account, I verify the transfer with my bank, then I drop off the notarized docs to FedEx using his account number.
I don’t like people having my bank account information, so I maintain a free checking account in which I keep very little money. It is for clients to wire payments to me. It is also how I access my PayPal account. When I am expecting a chunk of money, I tell the bank to transfer it to another account right after I learn that the payment has entered this special account.
I have heard of notaries having trouble with clients using PayPal so I no longer offer that form of payment to notary clients. Many people like to pay for my notary marketing ebook via PayPal so they get the free bonus SEO article. But using PayPal makes me nervous because of the big problem they have with hacking so I change the password frequently.
One client in Guam sent me payment via Western Union. A relative of his lives in my area and the family needed notary services. He wired the money to me and then I traveled to his relative’s home and did the work. The family needed the notarized docs quickly and didn’t have time to set up a PayPal account. The guy in Guam wanted to pay for everything. It was a bit of hassle going to a store that dealt with Western Union (long line). But that was the easiest and quickest way for the fellow in Guam to pay me. He had a deadline so speed was important.
This may be too much information but I wanted to give you some considerations to mull over regarding what would work best for you when you provide notary services for the general public.