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5 Ways to Get Paid as an Independent Contractor

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Last editedMay 20232 min read

Learning how to get paid as an independent contractor is one of the first crucial steps in becoming one, and thankfully there are plenty of contractor payment solutions available.

In this guide we will discuss the typical payment terms for contractors, show the differences between ACH payment versus wire transfer, and give you all the information you need to start getting paid as an independent contractor.

Contractor payment solutions

Let’s look closer at each of the five typical payment terms for contractors, which include:

  • cheque

  • ACH transfer

  • wire transfer

  • online payment systems

  • freelance platforms


Traditional paper cheques are a somewhat old fashioned way to be paid as an independent contractor these days. They are easy enough for the client if you don’t mind the extra time it takes to actually receive the funds, and the need to physically deposit them in the bank yourself. However, that extra time is often a major negative for many independent contractors.

Another issue caused by the extended payment timeframe is that, while there might have been enough funds in the client’s account when they wrote out the cheque with the amount on the contractor invoice, there could be insufficient funds by the time you cash it. There’s also the potential for a cheque to get lost in the post.

ACH payment

Also known as a direct deposit, the ACH payment method is how most organisations pay their employees, and it is also one of the contractor payment solutions. It works better if the contractor is being paid regularly for multiple jobs or an ongoing project, but also for a one-off payment if the contractor feels comfortable providing their bank details to the client.

ACH transfers are fairly secure, and usually do not incur additional fees like wire transfers do. Even though they are a paperless transaction, you will still need to provide a contractor invoice so the client knows how much to transfer.

Wire transfer

Wire transfers are another electronic transfer method similar to the ACH payment, but even more secure. It is one of the rarer typical payment terms for contractors because wire transfers incur additional fees which makes them more expensive for the client. However, they are indeed more secure than ACH transfers and thus might be a good option if the amount being transferred is particularly large.

This kind of transfer is also very fast, often completed within 24 hours. This may also be another negative for clients though, as wired payments are much more difficult to reverse should there be an error.

Online payment systems

One of the most modern contractor payment solutions – often the most convenient – for independent contractors is via an online payments system. There are many around today, so independent contractors would be wise to have accounts on at least the most popular ones. There are some with automated invoicing software included which makes the process much easier.

The fees incurred for deposits are usually small, and the convenience and security of using online payment systems makes them a very good option for both client and contractor.

Freelance platforms

It is worth mentioning freelancer platforms as they are certainly one of the contractor payment solutions available. Clients often find freelancers via these websites and the hiring and payment happen through the website’s own system, with payers vetted by the platform to ensure security.

Again, fees are sliced off the top for each transaction, so each freelancer will have to do the maths to see if this method is worth their while.

Accounting Software for Contractors

It is worth mentioning the importance of using a good contractor payment software to keep on top of all your finances. It is especially useful if you are working with multiple clients and need to bill them monthly with different amounts, helping you record all payments while tracking expenses and tax requirements.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin you need to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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