ACH Payments as an Alternative to Credit Cards

by Brian Dickey / July 11, 2024

ACH Payments as an Alternative to Credit Cards

As many as 18% of Americans don’t use credit cards at all. Others may not want to use credit for large invoices. But even if your client doesn’t want to use their credit card, they may still prefer the convenience of online payment compared to paying their bills by cash or sending checks in the mail.

For today’s law firms, modern payment solutions have to offer clients flexibility. Thankfully, there are solutions that can accommodate this need for flexibility while providing significant benefits to both the client and your law firm. One particularly effective option is ACH payments.

What are ACH payments?

ACH, which stands for “automated clearing house,” is a type of electronic payment in which a transfer is made directly from a bank or credit union.

ACH payments allow law firms to:

  • Accept payments online
  • Automate your billing system
  • Provide an alternative payment system to credit cards or checks

ACH payments are becoming increasingly common in today’s payment landscape, even if we don’t always realize it. Examples of ACH payments include your employer depositing your paycheck via direct deposit, and when you set up an automatic bill payment directly from your bank account.

What are the benefits of accepting ACH payments?

From convenience to cost, incorporating ACH payments into your list of payment options can benefit both the client and the law firm. Consider these factors when weighing whether to add ACH to the list of your law firm’s payment methods.

How ACH payments benefit your law firm’s clients

For clients, ACH payments offer a convenient alternative to credit card payments.

If your clients are among the 18% of Americans who don’t use credit cards, then ACH payments provide an avenue for them to take advantage of online bill payments, which are typically faster and easier than payment by cash or check.

ACH payments are also:

  • Safe and secure, with a more predictable arrival time compared to snail mail
  • An easy form of contactless payment
  • A reliable way to reduce paper usage for both environmental and cost purposes
  • Convenient for clients who do not want to add to their credit card debt

Finally, unlike credit card payments, ACH payments do not require a surcharge. For clients who have a fixed budget or need to manage their costs, this can be an appealing benefit.

How ACH payments benefit your law firm

Similar to online payments via credit cards, ACH payments provide fast and easy payment options for your law firm, saving you both time and money.

  • ACH payments save time: Facilitating online payments with an alternative to credit cards can encourage clients to pay online who might previously have relied on check or cash payments. This reduces the number of administrative tasks to complete every month, freeing up time for more important tasks.
  • ACH payments save money: When clients have a payment option that fits their needs and constraints, they are more able to pay on time, in full. This leads to more on-time payments and fewer collection calls.

Are there any drawbacks to ACH payments?

ACH payments are growing in popularity thanks to their numerous benefits to law firms and clients. But what about the drawbacks?

All financial transactions carry some risk

No financial transaction is completely, 100% risk-free, but ACH payments are a low-risk payment option. There are numerous internal controls protecting ACH transactions (even most U.S. federal government payments are made via ACH).

For any business, there is always some risk of phishing by bad actors. If you have clients who are not used to the online payment process, it may be helpful to provide step-by-step documentation on how to submit their ACH, as well as how to identify red flags for phishing scams, i.e., “We will only ever email you via _____.”

It’s important for your law firm to complete due diligence on any financial transaction platform. Tabs3Pay, for example, ensures PCI compliant and secure transactions, as well as additional security features such as restricted user access to client data.

How can law firms accept ACH payments?

Adding a new payment method can feel like an intimidating process. Thankfully, there are ways to streamline the process for quick and easy adoption:

  • Choose your ACH provider, preferably one that specializes in law firm payment processing to ensure compliance. If you are already using Tabs3Pay, then you’re all set. Tabs3Pay offers ACH payments as an “eCheck” payment method for clients, alongside online credit card payments and trust accounting.
  • Communicate this payment option with your clients. For new clients, this can be easily integrated into the onboarding process with notice regarding their payment options. For veteran clients, this can be an opportunity to let them know about ACH payments and answer any questions about the options.
  • For clients who preferred writing checks in the past, this may not change moving forward. Some clients have well-established preferences. However, others may just be nervous about trying something new. Make sure to provide clear explanations and have resources on hand if they’re curious and want to learn more about the process.
  • When you send out your monthly invoice, add a note alerting clients that they can now pay by ACH for fast, easy, and secure payment processing.

The verdict on ACH payments for law firms

ACH payments are an easy alternative to credit cards for firms that want to provide added flexibility for their clients. They are a streamlined, simple, and secure payment method.

For law firms looking to provide ACH payments, the best option is to work with an integrated legal billing system that offers both online credit card payments and ACH payments in one convenient place for your clients.

Tabs3Pay enables law firms to provide a simple and easy billing process for their clients, with options for credit card payments, ACH, and trust accounting. Tabs3Pay is part of the Tabs3 suite of fully integrated billing, accounting, and practice management tools designed to help law firms increase productivity and profitability.

Start your free trial or schedule a demo and explore how Tabs3Pay’s client- and law firm-friendly payment tools can benefit your practice.