Ask politely for a payment in an (overdue) invoice email
Irene Kalesi in Payments

How to politely ask for a payment with email samples

As an experienced entrepreneur or an Elorus blog follower, you know how to streamline your invoicing and billing process. You know how to write up an invoice, how to send an invoice email, and how to structure your payment terms to protect your business. However, clients who cannot pay you on time will come your way. Consequently, you should always be ready to deal with outstanding payments in the best possible way. Naturally, asking for payment in an email can be awkward and hard to communicate effectively. Therefore, we thought of sharing the essential steps on how to politely ask for payment in an email successfully. The advice in this article concerns the first overdue invoice email you will need to send as well as any other “please pay your invoice” follow up actions. After all, you need to exhaust all the available means to prompt your clients to pay you for your work.

You may be asking yourself questions like “Which tone should I maintain with my clients?”, “How can I ask for payment without looking desperate or overly strict?” and “How to deal with long-lasting outstanding invoices?”. All the above sound typical when professionals need to ask politely for payments without damaging business relations or facing cash flow issues.

Step 1: “The day approaches” invoice email

Undoubtedly, we know that paying on time should be the norm. It would also relieve you from having to ask for payments in the first place. However, you should always be prepared to face any payment shortcomings without fear or shame for asking to be paid for your work.

A great way to save yourself the trouble is to send a kind reminder before the pre-agreed payment period comes to an end. Then, you will be able to notify your clients of their payment duties and give them the chance to provide you with credible reasons if they intend to delay payment for an x amount of days. This way, your mind will be at ease, expecting remuneration in the near future.

So, be sure to send this precocious email around 5-7 days before the due date and choose any weekday but not a Friday since a weekend intervenes.  For this email, please keep it short and simple. It should not look like a warning but a friendly reminder.

Email Subject: Follow up to Invoice #10430

Email Body:

Hello Mr. Jackson,

I hope this email finds you well and healthy. I know this is a busy period for you, but I wanted to remind you of the payment for invoice #10430. It will be due next Monday, on April 21st.

Feel free to reach out with any questions about the payment or the invoice itself.

Thank you in advance.

Step 2: “Today is the big day” payment reminder email

If you have not heard anything from your client, then this payment request email is crucial to the future actions you have to take. This is your first action statement asking your client to settle their debt before it becomes overdue. You can still ask politely for a payment. So, have a positive tone and do not show signs of pressure. They still have time to pay you within the timeframe you have set. However, you should refer to the total amount your client is obliged to pay.

Email Subject: Today is the due date for invoice #10430

Email Body:

Hello Mr. Jackson,

I hope you are fine. Today, April 21st is the day that invoice #10430 is due. You can proceed to the payment online through PayPal or through a payment to my bank account, as previously agreed upon.

For any questions, feel free to reply to this email, and I will promptly answer.

Thank you.

Step 3: Invoice #10430 overdue for 1 or 2 weeks

At this stage, you are writing an overdue invoice email to a client. They have an outstanding payment towards your business that they have to settle. Thus, your tone cannot be as casual and nonchalant as it was when sending your last payment request email. The “please pay your invoice” approach has not worked this far. So, from now on, you should be specific regarding the full story behind the whole billing process. In the case that the client has not reached out at all or has not communicated adequately after this email, you will have to point out the charges that will apply soon.

Email Subject: Your payment to invoice #10430 is one week late

Email Body:

Hello Mr. Jackson,

According to our records, you have not paid off the amount of $350 for invoice #10430. The outstanding payment is one week late, so I would be grateful if you looked into the matter and respond to this email.

However, if, in the meantime, you have already settled the amount, please ignore this reminder. In the case that you have unintentionally lost or deleted the invoice, then you can find it attached in this email, for your convenience.

Thank you.

Step 4: Invoice #10430 is 30 days overdue

A 30-day delay is far away from the limits of professionalism. Through this invoice overdue email, you will address your client with a stern but not rude tone. You should emphasize that they will be penalized according to your payment terms and conditions section. That section was part of the contract agreement you both had signed before you were assigned the project. Therefore, there can be no complaint about any late fees of subsequent actions you are legally entitled to take.

Email Subject: Invoice #10430 is 30 days overdue

Email Body:

Hello Mr. Jackson,

You have made no contact or sent any payments for invoice #10430 that has been outstanding for 30 days. The amount of $350 needs to be paid as soon as possible. A late fee will apply, starting from tomorrow, as agreed in the payment terms of our agreement.

Please reach out to discuss any issues or questions regarding this invoice. If everything is clear, please pay your invoice today.


Preferably before or even after this “please finally pay your invoice ” email, you should also cross-check the contact details that your client has provided you. This way, you will be sure that your efforts to politely ask for a payment have not been in vain. At the same time, if the client has been informed thus far due to wrong contact information, you can always give them a call and explain the situation. This move will save yourself any unnecessary legal action and help you settle everything amicably.

Closing words

Bad payers are not always bad entrepreneurs. Sometimes, businesspeople just want to get away without paying you. Other times, they are just extremely busy people, faced with many responsibilities and a substantial number of incoming emails. So, be sure to go the extra mile to settle any unfinished business and politely ask for outstanding payments without resorting to more severe measures.