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No one likes Late fees and wants to deal with late payment fees.
As a deterrent for consumers who do not pay their bills on time, late payment fees are sometimes included in invoices. Utilized by companies of all kinds, late payment fines encourage consumers to pay bills promptly.
Businesses of all sizes, especially those operating on a global scale, may benefit from late payment fees since they assist in defraying late payments’ expenses.
In the United States, late payments on invoices decreased by 53% in 2020 compared to 2019. However, the percentage of invoices more than ten days late in Europe increased by 70% over a year.
These numbers show how widespread the problem of payments being made late has become throughout the world, and it’s evident that action has to be taken to address this problem and to receive payment on time.
Late Fee Definition
The business may impose late payment fees if a customer fails to pay a bill by its stipulated due date. Payment terms and conditions must have been included in the initial contract, original invoice, or sales agreement before a late fee may be assessed.
In addition, if you plan on imposing a monthly late fee, you must provide both the due date and the percentage or amount of the late fee on the invoice you send to the customer.
Handling overdue bills is one of the trickiest choices facing small business owners today. Freelancers and small company owners especially feel the negative repercussions of late payments. Why? Having many invoices paid late may seriously affect a company’s cash flow and capacity to maintain day-to-day operations.
So, now the question rises about what are the late invoicing rules, should be the past due fee, and whether businesses should prepare a late payment policy template or use free invoicing software that can help. In addition, some businesses apply a monthly finance charge.
What Should be a Reasonable Late Payment Fee?
Each month, you’ll be charged interest on whatever balance is outstanding. However, business owners might choose to charge a flat rate instead. In most cases, a company will charge a late fee of between 1% and 1.5% of the total amount owed.
First, you’ll need to settle on an annual interest rate before you can compute a late charge. Interest rate calculations are easier if you divide the yearly rate by 12. As a reminder, this sum represents your monthly payment. The monthly late payment fees are calculated by multiplying the rate by the outstanding balance for that month.
Here’s a case in point:
Your interest rate is 10% per year. There is a one-month payment delay on $15,000. Project. To get the monthly financing charge, multiply the outstanding balance of $10,000 by the interest rate each month (1%, or.01). A $100 monthly financing charge is the result. Eleven thousand dollars would be a new balance due.
Is it Legal to Charge Late Payment Fees?
Though instituting late fee charges isn’t mandated by law, your company has recourse under the law if an invoice remains unpaid after 60 days. You have the right to collect the amount of the late fee your company has established and interest at the rate of eight percent per year on any outstanding balance after missing the payment deadline.
If you are content with the payment terms that are used to pay your bills and have not racked up any additional debt as a result of late invoicing, it is possible that it is not necessary for you to have a late fee payment system in place.
Late payment fees may be charged legally, but only if they are included in the original contract. The maximum amount a company owner may charge as a late payment fee varies from one state to the next.
How to Deal with Late Payments?
A delay in payment may have far-reaching consequences for a company. For example, suppose you don’t have a steady stream of income from providing services. In that case, you may have trouble paying essential costs like food and energy.
This is crucial if your company has a small profit margin. To ensure timely payment, you may implement a late invoice payment policy, implement a payment plan, or extend the due date.
1. Set Up a Payment Plan
It’s possible that a customer’s financial circumstances could change and they will be unable to make their scheduled payment. For instance, due to the influenza virus COVID-19, millions of people in the United States have lost their jobs. Therefore, offering a payment plan as an alternative to late fees is a good idea. Also, you can offer discounts too!
The minimum payment amount and the interest rate applied to the debt owed should be detailed in any payment plan. Consumers may avoid having their debt sent to collections if they keep making the minimum monthly payments.
2. Remind Clients to Make Payments via Sending Invoices
Despite their importance, most companies only send out payment reminders after the customer has been late with their payment rather than before. Apply the guideline of sending the payment reminder early as a matter of course to avoid late fees.
The customer may forget the due date for any number of reasons; thus, it is your responsibility to notify them in advance. Most of the time, late payments may be avoided simply by sending a friendly email reminder.
3. Allow for a Grace Period on First-time Late Payments
You may choose to provide a reliable client who usually pays an extra month on time if they cannot do so this month due to a lack of funds. You may set up 60-, 90-, or 120-day payment options to give your customers extra time to make their payments.
4. Provide Many Methods of Payment
Don’t limit yourself to just one or two payment methods; broaden your horizons. Offering a wide variety of payment options to your customers helps increase their loyalty to your brand.
You should accept all primary forms of payment, including cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards, and electronic methods. You should also include payment gateways since they promote timely payments.
5. Place a Late Fee Charge
Charges for delayed payments are one option for dealing with overdue debts. However, if you want to know how much interest you may legally charge, you must know the usury rules in your state.
Is there anything further that can be done to make sure customers pay on time and avoid late payment fees?
If imposing a late payment fee isn’t your thing, there are other ways to guarantee timely payment for your services.
With free invoicing software, you can send invoices to clients and accept payments from anywhere, using any device. In addition, your payments may be accelerated using this.
How Much Can I Charge % for Late Fees?
The first thing to think about when determining a late payment fee is the state in which you currently reside. Examine the interest rates in light of the laws in your nation to arrive at a ballpark estimate of the total price. You can also charge a flat fee.
Second, consider the philosophy behind your late payment fee policy and your invoice amount. Keep in mind that this action aims to get paid on your invoice in a timely manner, not to generate more income or earn a bonus. Maintain a price structure that is both fair and within the law.
Let’s see how late payment fees work.
1.5% of the interest rate each month on outstanding bills is a widespread practice for service-based enterprises, small firms, and even freelancers.
If a client’s overdue payments total $10,500, for instance, extra costs would be calculated as follows, assuming a monthly interest rate of 1.5%:
3,500 × 1.5% i.e. 10,500 x 0.015 = 157.5$
Due to the late payment fines, the total amount due on the invoice will increase by $157.5.
How Late Payment Fees Impact Business?
The issue of late payments has led to severe implications for enterprises, including the closure of several. But you may get through the difficulties of late payments with invoice financing.
Due to a lack of available funds and unpaid invoices, and not enough money, the company is unable to:
1. Take on Further Work or Make Additional Sales
Firms’ potential for investment and growth is hampered by late payments. With inadequate funds, the company will be unable to take on new projects, fulfil huge orders, or invest in the necessary equipment for fear of increasing its financial risk.
Since this is the case, the company will gradually begin to lag behind its rivals due to unpaid invoices. Spending so much time and energy pursuing client payments is a drain on resources and will slow the company’s growth.
2. Having Trouble with Day-to-Day Business Costs Because of a Decreased Cash Flow
Because their cash flow is often lower than more extensive, established enterprises, SMEs are hit more by the restricted cash flow.
Without sufficient funds, firms would struggle to cover their day-to-day expenditures, hurting their capacity to function normally. To offset costs like this, they may have to take out loans.
3. It might Lead to the Company’s Closure if Things Go Bad Enough
The consequences of payment delays might be so severe that the business is forced to close. A company’s capacity to pay its suppliers, maintain normal operations, and cover its operational expenditures is severely hampered when it does not get paid when due.
Moreover, in some of these circumstances, the damage is so extensive that businesses that cannot correctly manage their few resources are compelled to shut down.
That’s why it’s so essential for companies to have a well-oiled collecting system in place to guarantee punctual payments from clients.
4. The Inability to Make Timely Payments to Your Suppliers May Negatively Affect Your Business Relationships in the Long Run
The companies’ inability to pay their suppliers on time directly results from the constrained cash flow they experience due to the late payments they get from their customers. Suppliers won’t be pleased if they have to pursue payment from your company, which might harm business ties.
Suppliers are less likely to work with a company that takes a long time to pay its bills, and they will not hesitate to terminate relations with a company that consistently pays late.
As a result, your company runs the risk of harming its relationships with its suppliers and, in extreme situations, losing the source altogether (In such situations, the late fee policy helps!)
5. The Inability to Satisfy Your Creditors May Adversely Affect Your Creditworthiness and Future Credit-access Options
Any consumers who are late with their payments to a company will also affect that company’s credit.
Suppose consumers don’t pay within a specific period. In that case, it might leave a company short of cash and unable to make loan or credit card payments. Credit bureaus utilise information on whether or not you are late on payments to determine your credit score, which may hurt a business’s ability to get future financing.
With a lower credit score, future access to credit facilities would be more difficult and costly.
Everyone would appreciate prompt payment without having a late payment fee on the plate if you have trouble paying your bills on time; however, whether because of COVID-19-related financial difficulties or simple forgetfulness, you may need to deal with this issue head-on.
If you are having trouble being paid on time, you may want to revise your payment conditions or the wording on your invoices that pertains to late payments. Also recommended is using accounting software like Moon Invoice and automated invoicing systems.