How to ask for payment without being rude (templates included)

How to request payment from clients

So, you’ve just completed a project for a client. You’re waiting for them to pay you for all the work you’ve done.

But, they don’t.

It’s a common scene that happens to all freelancers and small business owners.

Unfortunately, you’re likely to experience it many more times in your business.

How can you ask customers to pay you without jeopardising your relationship with them?

Firstly, asking customers to pay you for work that you’ve completed for them is not unreasonable.

However, there are more effective ways of asking for payment than sending off quick angry emails.

Set up a schedule of when you will email customers


Don’t leave chasing up clients for payment until it’s too late. You don’t want to appear rude and last minute to clients. Set up a messaging schedule to contact customers about payment so that your business looks organized and professional.  Set up payment reminders like the following:

  1. A week before payment due date 
  2. On the day of the invoice payment due date
  3. A week after the due date
  4. Two weeks after the due date
  5. A month after the due date

You can set up automated payment reminders with Bookipi’s small business invoicing solution.

Set up payment reminders

Step 1: Remind customers to pay you before the invoice due date

Send emails to clients that are polite reminders before invoices are due.

You don’t want to come across as too pushy or demanding. Make sure your email is:

  • Friendly
  • Gives customers notice to get payment sorted
  • Concise and clearly outlines what you want them to do
  • Helpful and that your business can be contacted if a customer has any questions

Example email that you can send before the invoice payment due date:

From: [Your name]
To: [Your client's name]
Subject: Payment for [work you did]

Hi [client name],

I hope your customers are enjoying [the work you did]. It was great to work with you.

I've attached the invoice for the work I completed. Like we discussed, the total comes to [cost] which you can pay via [payment options].

If you've got any questions, feel free to contact me. 

Thank you and please let me know if there is any work I can do for you in the future.

Kind regards,

[your name].

In the above example of a client payment reminder, you’re reminding the customer of payment in a helpful way. You’re also flagging the opportunity to do more work with the customer in the future.

Step 2: Ask for a payment on the due date

An invoice payment reminder email that you send clients on the due date should also be polite. However, this time you should be more direct about the action you want to take.

Make the focus of your email content about the invoice payment. Make sure to continue using polite language.

Example email that you can send on the invoice payment due date:

From: [your name]
To: [your client's name]
Subject: Invoice payment due today

Hi [client's name],

I trust that you are a bit busy but I just wanted to send you a quick reminder that the payment for [the work you did]  is due today.

I've attached the invoice to this email. The total cost is [insert amount] and you can pay via [payment methods].

Please let me know if you have any questions about the payment.


[your name].

This invoice payment reminder email should directly state the fact that the client needs to pay you today.

Avoid adding any other content to your email that could distract your customer from the fact that they have to pay you. The language used is still polite and informative.

Step 3: Ask for a payment when your invoice is overdue

So you’ve emailed you customer several times but you haven’t heard back from them and they still haven’t paid you.

Don’t go into panic mode straight away. It may because payment slipped your customer’s mind.

Once an invoice is overdue, you should be firm about the fact that it is overdue and your customer needs to pay you.  However, don’t be rude because it might mean that they are less likely to pay you.

Ensure that your overdue invoice payment email reminder:

  • Emphasizes that invoice payment is overdue
  • Firm but does not personally target your customer
  • Clearly states that your customer needs to pay you as soon as possible
Email template for overdue invoice payment reminder
Below is an example of an overdue invoice payment reminder email:
From: [your name]
To: [client's name]
Subject: Overdue invoice payment

Hi [client name],

According to my records, I have not yet received payment of [payment amount] for invoice [invoice number] due on [due date].

I've attached the invoice with the amount due which you can pay via [payment methods].

If you have already made the payment, please let me know.

If you have not made the payment, please do so as soon as you can.


[your name].

This invoice payment reminder email template can be used at any point past the payment due date. You should also mention any late fee policies that are written in your invoice terms and conditions or contract.

Refrain from being rude and unprofessional. Threats and accusations will only ruin your business reputation and threaten future work.

Table of Contents

Get paid faster with automated due date reminders (and without the awkwardness).

A past due invoice is a billing statement that hasn’t been paid by a client by the invoice payment due date. Past due invoices are commonly known as overdue invoices. It’s important that small businesses track past due invoices to preserve cash flow. Overdue invoices record outstanding debts for effective accounts receivable management. Thousands of small businesses use simple invoicing software like Bookipi to track overdue invoices. Businesses can easily follow up invoice payments by automating sending overdue reminders or imposing late fees.

Unfortunately, clients not paying you may be part of running your business. 

However, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself. To avoid non-payment by clients, follow the below invoice payment tips:

  • Always record the work you are doing. Maintain clear documentation of the work you’ve done and the communications you’ve had.
  • Make it as easy as possible for your clients to pay you. Offer different payment options like card payments. Give clear instructions on invoices about how clients should make payment. You can include bank details in the notes of invoices.
  • Send invoices to customers straight away. The longer it takes for a client to get the invoice, the longer you’ll need to wait for them to pay it. With Bookipi, save time by making recurring invoices for regular work. 
  • Create a contract. Invoices aren’t always legally binding on their own but a contract is. Contracts can protect you from clients who do the wrong thing, especially when the services you are doing cost a lot.
  • If possible, ask for a deposit from your client or get paid upfront before you perform the service. There is no better way to prevent clients from dodging a payment than to get them to pay for it in advance.

Emails can be often ignored and lost in your customer’s inbox. In those cases, you should call them.

Generally, a phone call is enough to spur customers into action.  You might realise that the reason customers weren’t paying you had nothing to do with them but was an error on your behalf.

Whatever reason they give you for why it hasn’t been paid can be sorted out over the phone. You’ll probably reach a solution quicker than you would over email.

For the best success when calling a client, make sure you do the following:

  • Clearly explain who you are and your business
  • Tell them why you are calling
  • Avoid bringing up anything not related to invoice payment
  • Speak clearly and politely
  • Don’t make any accusations regardless of how heated your customer may become
  • Explain what your customer needs to pay you
  • Explain how your customer can pay you
  • Define any late fees that customers are required to pay

Your customer may make an excuse as to why they can’t pay you. If it’s reasonable and acceptable, ensure you ask them to define when they will pay you. With a date, you appropriately follow up with them on that date.

If they don’t pick up your phone call, don’t panic. They might be in the middle of something else or they might not recognize your phone number. Follow the call up with a text and then call them back either in a few hours or the next day.

If you customer appears to be ignoring you and not paying the invoice, you can try visiting their office.

You can take the following steps if your customer owes you money for products or services provided by you but refuses to pay:

  1. Clearly communicate the need for payment. Explain the terms of your transaction with reference to invoices, contracts or other documentation. Talk to your customer in a respectful manner about non-payment
  2. Write a letter of demand. In the event that talking does not work, you can send your customer a formal demand letter requesting payment. Write a letter in which you state the amount owed, the date by which payment is expected, and the consequences of non-payment.
  3. It may be helpful to hold a mediation. For large amounts, consider using a mediator for a non-payment dispute. Both parties can reach an agreement with the help of a neutral third party.
  4. Consider a debt collection agency for substantial invoice amounts. Be careful which agency you go with if you go down this route and try to find one that is registered to an official debt collection association.  Keep in mind that this method will require you to pay the agency a percentage of the debt recovered.
  5. Taking legal action may be your last resort in recovering the debt. The best course of action should be determined by your lawyer.

Clients not paying you is something that all small business owners will face at some point in the careers.  You might feel uncomfortable about chasing them up or be worried that you’ll come across as rude.

Always remember that you are well within your right to ask for the money you’ve worked for.  In summary, you can ask for payment from customers professionally with our tips below:

  1. Be direct in your approach but use professional and friendly language when doing so.
  2. Try to set up a messaging schedule so that your payment requests come across as professional conduct rather than pushy demands.
  3. Outline what your customers need to pay you and how they can make this payment in your payment reminder emails.
  4. Never make accusations as more often than not, someone has just made a mistake along the way or slipped up.

Remember that you are defined by your professional conduct and that the most important thing about business is maintaining good relationships.

Learn how to make an invoice to ensure timely payments with our tutorial.