Back to Blog

How to choose the best payment method for your business

If you’ve started a business, you’ve definitely faced this question: what’s the best way for my customers to pay me? Down the line, this is the same question that you have to ask in regards to all your business expenses - rent, utility bills, taxes, vendors, suppliers and more.

So how should you make business payments? There’s no one size fits all answer. But here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each payment method, so that you can figure out what works best for your business.

Cash

When you work with a lot of local businesses, this is an easy option. Because no business ever said “I have too much cash,” your vendors and suppliers might offer special discounts for all-cash payments. Since there’s no way to track this, it requires a really strong relationship with a lot of trust between you and your local vendors.

Pros:

  • Exclusive discounts

Cons:

  • Not trackable
  • Requires in-person meeting
  • Not safe to send in the mail
  • Not good for tax write offs

Check

Around 47% of small business owners in the U.S. use checks. Why? Most vendors are comfortable receiving payments this way, because that’s just how they’ve always done it. Writing and sending checks requires more time in the back office and costs some businesses an extra $1,600 per year (checkbooks, envelopes & stamps). Another irritating part is that until your vendor has that check in their hands, they will keep bugging you. You sent it, but now it’s up to the post office. 

Pros:

  • Trackable
  • Easier for accounting and tax purposes

Cons:

  • Cost
  • Time consuming (writing them out, getting postage, mailing them, waiting for the mail and depositing to the bank)
  • Lost checks
  • Lots of back and forth (“where is my check?”)
  • Security (sensitive info on the check, can lead to check forgery)
  • Takes 5-7 business days to arrive

When you send checks through Melio, your sensitive info is not included on the check.

Credit card

Paying with a personal or business credit card is super convenient. Who wouldn’t want to simply charge everything to their card and get all those extra points? Along with rewards, it can also help you improve your cash flow. Credit cards are paid off monthly, so if you schedule a payment at the beginning of the month, you don’t have to pay your credit card bill off until your billing date. That means more cash on hand to use now. So what’s the downside? Many companies, vendors and suppliers don’t accept cards for business payments.

Pros:

  • Trackable
  • Control cash flow (defer payments to next billing cycle so you have more cash on hand)
  • Collect points

Cons:

  • Fees
  • Some companies, vendors and billers won’t accept card

Use Melio to pay by card even where cards aren’t accepted.*

Debit card

Businesses who use debit cards like to see how much money they have now. They don’t want to have to predict next week or next month. They make a payment and it immediately comes out of their bank account. They get their financial overview directly from their bank account and then there are no surprises. The issue with this is cash flow. If they have a lot of upfront costs, for supplies, rent, salary or other expenses, they might not be able to stay afloat through the next months or down seasons.

Pros:

  • Trackable
  • Can use if you’ve reached your credit limit or don’t have a credit card

Cons:

  • Fees
  • No control over cash flow

Bank transfer

Many businesses like to send and receive ACH bank transfers. TL;DR - ACH bank transfers are trackable, secure, reliable and relatively fast (it takes 3-5 business days to receive one). And now the full answer to the question, what’s ACH? ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. These payments are a type of electronic funds transfer (EFT) made through a network of financial institutions (also known as clearing houses). This network allows for the secure electronic transfer of money between bank accounts in the U.S. 

Pros:

  • Trackable

Cons:

  • Fees
  • Need to get bank details from vendors in order to send
  • Takes 3-5 business days to arrive

You can send and receive ACH bank transfers for FREE with Melio.

International wire transfer

Every industry has different needs - some businesses only work with local vendors, some have international suppliers and others partner with local companies and outsource some work to freelancers abroad. Sending international wire transfers across borders can cost anywhere from $35-$50 per transaction when you do it through your bank. When it’s a need, it doesn’t matter how much it costs, but those fees add up.

Pros:

  • Allows you to work with companies and vendors abroad
  • Trackable

Cons:

  • High fees (anywhere from $25-$40 per transfer)

You can send international payments for a flat fee of $20 with Melio, no matter the payment size.

So how do I choose?

If you’re looking for an easier way to make all your business payments, consider signing up for Melio. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to set up. ACH to ACH bank transfers are free and you can pay with your credit card for ALL your business bills. You can use debit cards and make international payments too. Best part? You can pay one way and your vendors can receive payment a different way, so everybody gets what they want. 

*Subject to card network limitations

Read more