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Imagine this scenario: you have a great client half-way across the world that you helped with an online project. After delivering a great result and getting praise from your client, you send off your invoice. Next, you get a response that your customer doesn’t have an account to pay you in United States Dollars. What do you do next? Dealing with foreign currency in invoicing is not easy.

Fortunately, we have reached a time where invoicing and payments in foreign currencies are no big deal. Let’s take a look at your option to get paid and make payments when cross border relationships are involved.

Don’t limit yourself to US based clients

It’s 2017, and any business can have a global reach. With the internet, freelancers can work from anywhere in the world, and at the same time serve clients anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter what you do, if it is a computer based service it can generally be done anywhere regardless of location.

There are just over 320 million people in the United States, which is a lot. But there are more than 7.5 billion in the world according to the United Nations. The US is just a small part of what is possible. With online marketplaces, you can work with people almost anywhere. I have worked online with people from places like India, Ukraine, England, and the Philippines, and I am just a one-man operation. Don’t limit yourself to arbitrary borders. Take advantage of the web to reach clients looking for good work with no preconditions.

Getting paid by foreign clients

When you land your first international client, you are likely to wonder how to get paid. You can’t just deposit a check in a foreign currency in a bank, and you can’t accept an ACH payment from a foreign account. However, many international companies have options to send payments in dollars due to the strength and importance of the United States currency.

If they don’t have an option to send you payments in dollars directly, your easiest option to get paid is through a digital wallet. Most major digital wallets today allow sending and receiving funds in multiple currencies. You can store funds in those currencies in your wallet or pay a fee to convert to dollars. In some cases, international clients can send a payment in dollars from their digital wallet account. The currency is already converted to dollars when it lands in your account.

Another great option is to take payment via credit card. If you are setup to take card payments, you can charge your foreign clients just like everyone else. Outside of the United States, the familiar Visa and MasterCard brands are a dominant player in card payments. You can charge your customer in dollars and get paid in dollars. On the customer credit card statement, they will pay a foreign conversion fee if applicable and see the transaction in their local currency. Card payments are typically the easiest option for international payments, particularly if you have a website or payment service where customers can enter their own card information and submit a payment.

Foreign currency in invoicing conversion rates and fees

When dealing with foreign exchange, be aware of rates and fees. Foreign exchange companies and banks make money from foreign exchange with a combination of those two methods.

Fees are a straightforward option for banks to charge for foreign currency conversation. For example, many American credit cards charge a fee around 3% for foreign purchases. In this case, the bank converts the currency at the current market rate and makes money from the fee.

In other cases, a currency converter may offer a less optimal rate to you in place of or in addition to a fee. For example, if the current exchange rate for Great British Pounds to United States Dollars is 1 pound to 2 dollars. If you charge a client $100, at the market rate you would be paid £50. This is the equivalent of $100. But in the currency exchange process, you might only get $1.98 per pound or $1.96 per pound or worse. In this case, there is an implied fee that you are paying for the conversion. If you get $1.96 per pound that is an implied 2% fee. If you get a 2% loss in the exchange rate and have to pay a 3% fee, it is like paying 5%.

On $100 that is only $5, but at higher payment volumes the fees can add up fast. Beware what you pay in fees if you are paying the conversion fees rather than the client.

You can be a global business

With marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelance.com, and others, you can quickly dive into the world of international business. In some cases, you can get your first client in less than 24 hours!

With so much to gain and so little to lose, expanding to work with international clients is a no brainer. And when you get those Euros, Pounds, Yen, Pesos, Shekels, Dinar, or anything else converted back into dollars, it spends exactly the same. With modern payment systems, international payments are a piece of cake!

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally from Denver, Colorado living in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and baby girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog Personal Profitability.

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