Informal Opinion Number: 2019-08

Adoption Date: 2019

Rules: 4-1.0; 4-1.4; 4-1.15
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Safekeeping Property
Subject: Credit Cards; Trust Accounts and Safekeeping Property
Summary: credit card processing fees

Question: Attorney accepts payments from clients using credit cards. Is it permissible for Attorney to pass on the credit card processing fees to clients?

Answer: Attorney may pass on credit card processing fees to a client provided the charges are clearly communicated to the client in advance (ideally, at the outset of the representation), the additional charges reflect no more than the actual processing fees, the client gives informed consent to the arrangement (see Rule 4-1.0(e)), and the arrangement is consistent with the processor’s terms and conditions and with applicable law. If Attorney chooses to pay the credit card processing fee rather than pass the fee on to the client, Attorney must ensure that the processing fee is not deducted from Attorney’s trust account. Attorney is not permitted to deposit Attorney’s funds in the trust account for the purposes of paying credit card processing fees. See Rule 4-1.15(b). See also Informal Opinion 2014-05 regarding the ethics of accepting credit card payments for legal services.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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