Hack 18 Ask for Money in Your Own Way

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Generate your own PayPal payment links for use in email or your web site, and get a little more flexibility in how to ask people for payments. There are more ways available than using the Request Money feature.

Using Request Money [Hack #17] is a useful technique if you're sending invoices to customers for items already sold or services already rendered, especially when PayPal is the likely form of payment. (For example, an eBay seller who accepts PayPal might use Request Money to send a payment request to a customer who has just won an auction.)

However, Request Money isn't a good idea when you're uncertain whether a payment will take place at all. For example, recipients might find it presumptive and uncomfortable if a fundraising volunteer used Request Money to send donation requests. Likewise, it would be inappropriate to use Request Money to send a customer a product brochure or other advertising. Instead, use a more passive payment link.

The simplest way to ask for money is to send a PayPal payment link with the payment details inside, but without registering the request at the PayPal site. When the recipient sees the link, he can click it and be whisked to http://www.paypal.com to make the payment, or he can simply delete the email and be rid of it.

3.6.1 Creating a Request URL

Here's an example of a request URL to pay $10.00 for a baseball jersey, where me@mysite.com is your PayPal email address and the account into which the payment will be deposited:



Sending a link like this, along with some instructions, is easy to do and can be used almost anywhere, such as in an email message body:

Here is your last chance to get your own Cubs 2003 pennant race jerseys. On sale 

while supplies last:

Cubs 2003 Jersey Size Small: http://paypal.com/xclick/business=me@mysite.com


Cubs 2003 Jersey Size Medium



Cubs 2003 Jersey Size Large http://paypal.com/xclick/business=me@mysite.com


3.6.2 Choosing the Best Approach

So, between requesting money the PayPal way [Hack #17] and requesting money via email, which is the best way to request money?

Here are the benefits of using PayPal's Request Money feature over sending custom payment requests:

  • PayPal sends a PayPal-branded email to the recipient with one tamper-proof PayPal payment link.

  • The money request shows up as Unpaid in the recipient's and sender's accounts until the recipient denies the request, the sender cancels the request, or the money request is paid.

  • The recipient gets the payment request just by logging into PayPal, even if the email gets lost or deleted.

And here are the benefits of creating your own PayPal payment links over using the Request Money feature:

  • You're able to send a customized email directly to the recipient.

  • You can send a single email to multiple recipients as easily as to one.

  • You have the option to include multiple payment links in a single email, including one or more custom payment buttons [Hack #38] .

  • The request does not show up in the recipient's account (or yours) until it has been paid.

  • The recipient might feel less obliged to pay, which is useful for advertising or collecting donations.

Probably the most compelling difference between these two methods involves the record keeping. Unless you want PayPal to record your money requests, you'll probably want to create your own custom payment links. In the end, you might want to use both methods, either in unison or individually on a case-by-case basis.