How to politely ask for a payment with email samples
Invoicing & Payments

How to politely ask for payment with email samples

Elorus Team
Elorus Team

The article was initially published in April 2020 and updated on December 5th, 2022, for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As an experienced entrepreneur or an Elorus blog follower, you know how to streamline your invoicing and billing process. You know how to write an invoice, how to send an invoice email, and how to structure your payment terms to protect your business. But, you still have to discover how to send payment request emails, in order to get paid on time.

Paying on time should be the norm — it would also relieve you from having to ask for payments in the first place. Still, clients who cannot or will not pay you on time will always come your way sooner or later. For this reason, you should be ready to deal with outstanding payments in the best possible way.

Asking for payment in an email can be awkward and hard to communicate effectively. 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?”.

Therefore, we thought of sharing the essential steps on how to politely ask for payment in an email.

The advice in this article concerns the first overdue invoice email you will need to send and any other “please, pay your invoice” follow-up actions. In addition, you will get advice on what to include in these payment request emails, what to avoid, and some suggestions if your client ignores your requests.

After all, you must exhaust all the available means to prompt your clients to pay you for your work.

How to structure your payment request email and what to avoid

When you start writing the email to your client, you must mention the total amount of the outstanding invoice and the due date. Of course, don’t forget to attach the actual invoice.

Regarding the email approach, your voice should be direct but not overly professional. You must be polite, not chatty, keep your email as short as possible, and add a sense of urgency.

Also, you should provide multiple payment options, such as credit card or extra payment providers like PayPal, Stripe, Revolut, Wise, and others.

If your client has an occasional payment difficulty rather than something regular, consider offering a payment settlement. If that is the case, have a mutual discussion with the client and set up a payment schedule that works for both parties.

On the other hand, you should avoid vague emails without mentioning the specific invoice or payment. And also, avoid emotional language or threatening your clients.

Requesting for Payment: Specific Time and Email Samples

We have prepared these email samples to help you ask politely for payment without damaging your business relations.

1: “The day approaches” invoice email

A great way to save yourself the trouble of asking for late payment is to send a kind reminder before the pre-agreed payment period comes to an end. This way, you will notify your clients of their payment duties and give them the chance to provide you with credible reasons if they intend to delay payment.

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

Email Subject: Follow up on 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, April 21st.

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

Thank you in advance.

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.

Have a positive tone and don’t show signs of frustration, as 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. So here’s how to politely ask for a payment in your email:

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.

3: Invoice #10430 is 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. If 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 for your convenience.

Thank you.

4: Invoice #10430 is 30 days overdue

A 30-day delay is far away from the limits of professionalism. So this is where knowing to politely ask for a payment truly pays off! 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 for 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 which 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.


What to do if a client ignores your payment requests

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 ask for payment politely 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 call them and explain the situation. So, what would be the next step after the above email sequence?

Call your client

After cross-checking that you have the right contact details, your next step would be to make a call and discuss the situation directly with the client about the overdue invoice. Be polite and friendly and ask your client what happened and how you could help to find a solution, like accepting a payment settlement. Also, describe your situation and the company risks you may face because of this outstanding invoice. Hopefully, your client will be convinced to proceed with the payment.

Stop delivering your product or service

Although you may have a contract with your client providing a service or product, consider pausing your work for a while. Also, inform your client about your decision mentioning that you will continue implementing your project when you get paid.

As a last resort, consider getting legal advice from your lawyer to learn your rights and the possible actions you can take. If you have a legally binding contract with your client, it would be easy for you to claim your money back. If not, you have to take the client to small claims court. However, it would be more beneficial for your company to resolve the issue without applying extreme measures and not jeopardize the relationship with your client.

How to Automate the Payment Request Process Using Elorus

As a busy entrepreneur, you may have more valuable tasks to implement during your day, from monitoring outstanding payments and overdue invoices.

With Elorus, you can issue invoices and send them to your clients via email through the platform. You can also create unlimited custom, automated reminders to eliminate repetitive tasks such as reminding your customers' balances each month.

You can set up reminders quickly for outstanding invoices that "are about to become overdue" or for those whose due date has elapsed.

Elorus Automated reminders for overdue invoices

Finally, you can set up the reminder's subject line and body from the same window, as appropriate. We've already prepared a sample text for each case, but you can always write your custom email copy. You can also take advantage of the available variables that allow you to enter information that changes in each reminder, such as the customer's name, balance, or due date.

Elorus Automated reminders for overdue invoices

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, faced with many responsibilities and a substantial number of incoming emails. If you know to politely ask for payment, you can settle any unfinished business without having to resort to more severe measures.

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