Churches accept several donations in usually small amounts. These frequent donations can be made using checks, cash, mobile payments, credit cards, and other forms of contactless payments. Although swiping a card across a POS system at a church might seem a little unconventional, it’s becoming more and more normal. Plastic cards are now a common option for making payments at retail stores, restaurants, and for charity. So, it’s not uncommon to use them in a church for your donation. In fact, people find it more convenient, as they don’t have to carry cash anymore. The question is how do you choose from several merchant accounts for churches in 2024?
It’s not just about accepting payments. But, you are supposed to keep a record of all card and cash transactions, manage them in one place, and transfer the details of each transaction to your financial system to manage accounting. Moreover, you will have churchgoers visiting you and making small donations regularly. This means you will always have someone standing at your POS system to complete their transaction. To ensure a seamless transaction experience for your customers, you must compare the best merchant accounts for churches and choose the best. Here’s how.
What to Look for in Payment Processors for Churches
Most churches will receive small donations, so the per-transaction price can be a bit expensive if they choose a merchant account that comes with a high processing fee. A company that charges subscription-based pricing might be a good choice, but they can charge a hidden fee.
Unfortunately, you can’t choose a random credit card processing company, as they may not offer the shareable payment links or recurring billing service, which are a must for churches that receive frequent donations from regular churchgoers. A good payment processor for a church offers an affordable pricing structure, recurring billing plan, free POS and virtual terminal, and an excellent support service available round-the-clock.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve listed a few essential things to watch out for when comparing merchant accounts.
Ease of Use: You don’t need a complex payment processing unit for a church. Since you will mostly receive donations in small amounts, a simple POS unit with a straightforward interface and user-friendly features will suffice. Look for a system that has the required features, is easy to use, and can process credit card payments effortlessly. It should be easy for your administrators and members to handle the system.
Pricing: Processing fee varies significantly. Some have a flat fee for each merchant, no matter the size and nature of the company, while others charge a specific percentage of the transaction. A church processes small transactions but in large volumes every day. So, it’s important to look for a processor who charges a reasonable processing fee on a per-transaction basis and has clearly specified their payment structure.
Compatibility: Church management software comprises an array of features that make finance and billing easier for the financial team. This includes payroll, expense tracking, donations, pledges, campaigns, reporting and analytics, online giving, and so on. Before you sign up for a merchant service provider, check if the system they provide is compatible with your existing church management solution. You may not want to replace it or make significant modifications to your existing system to sync it with your payment processing solution.
Recurring Billing: As mentioned previously, some donors might commit to regular donations, which are payable weekly or monthly. Your payment system must provide automated and scheduled transaction options to enable these donors to make payments at their predetermined intervals.
Security and Compliance: Check if the payment processor has implemented the best and latest security tools to prevent fraudulent transactions. They must comply with the state regulations. Moreover, choose a provider who is familiar with the compliance requirements for charitable donations. Churches are not immune to fraudulent activities. All that a hacker needs is access to your POS unit and they will steal your funds and the donor’s confidential data easily.
Supported Payment Methods: The whole purpose of getting a merchant account is to provide people the flexibility to pay through a convenient method. They must be able to make payments through their preferred payment mode, whether it’s through credit card, cash, or digital wallets. Many people make donations online through your official websites. Or, they sign up for recurring billing plans. Check if the payment processor supports all types of payments for both in-person and online transactions. The processor should provide POS systems that are compatible with mobiles and accept payments through QR codes, digital wallets, and other mobile-based payment apps.
Great Customer Support: Not every church has an in-house IT desk team or a technical group that can resolve server-related and other tech-based errors quickly. Having a POS system that stops functioning during your peak hours or when you host a special event where your church receives significant donations can be daunting. Check customer reviews to ensure the payment processor offers stellar support service and is available for your help whenever required.
Reporting: A merchant account doesn’t just streamline payment processing for your business, but it presents a vast array of features that simplify your financial and account management. One of them is reporting. Reporting and analytics show you a detailed view of your past and previous years’ performances, donors’ information, current trends in the payment industry, and other such metrics that can help you upgrade your church management system and streamline users’ payment experience.
These were a few to name. To ensure your church operates flawlessly and accepts payments without any hassle, you must choose a payment processor that offers advanced features for streamlining transactions while easily integrating with your existing payment software.
Top Merchant Accounts For Churches in 2024
Payarc offers a fast, secure, and reliable way to process credit card transactions. It has a clear pricing policy with no hidden fee. Payarc has a special discounted program for non-profit organizations and your church might qualify for that. Its subscription-based model is the best choice for churches processing a large volume of transactions daily.
The transaction fee for the subscription service is 0% + 15 cents. Smaller churches that receive small donations with fewer transactions a day can stick to its flat-rate pricing model, which costs 2.49% + 30 cents per transaction with no monthly fee.
They accept all major credit cards, including Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard. You get a free payment terminal and Clover products for in-person and online transactions. In addition to these credit cards, the company supports ACH transfers, bank transfers, and nearly all the latest methods of contactless payments.
- Intuitive Dashboard: Payarc offers a comprehensive dashboard with easy-to-use features and church-friendly functions. You can create and customize invoices, allowing your church members to make donations with a few clicks.
- Recurring Billing Plans: Its software supports a recurring billing module, which schedules the donation for each member and sends them a reminder to complete the transaction.
- Free Equipment: The company supplies a free terminal, which has a long-lasting battery and is portable. You can use it for all events, including remote charity events.
- Multiple Payment Options: Payarc supports multiple payment methods, including ACH transfers, credit and debit card payments, digital wallets, bank transfers, etc. Your members can make donations through their preferred mode of payment.
- Chargeback Prevention: Payarc has implemented chargeback prevention tools that protect users from incurring chargeback disputes in the first place. These security measures include address verification, transaction monitoring, and fraud prevention programs.
Payarc doesn’t charge a PCI compliance fee or any other hidden charges. You can check their website for more information about their fee and payment policy.
Offering one of the best approval rates, Flagship serves as one of the leading payment processors for churches and non-profit organizations. Those with bad credit scores or businesses in high-risk industries count on Flagship for the best and most efficient payment processing services.
They have the fastest application approval and onboarding process, which makes it easier for churches to get started with payment processing within a few hours. There is no contract that locks you into a 2-3 year agreement with Flagship, nor does the company charge an early termination fee. Supported payment methods include EMV chip cards, mobile payments, swipe, and contactless transactions. You can work with their support representatives to install and configure the point-of-sale system.
- Free Mobile App: Flagship provides a free mobile app to its merchants. It works as a virtual terminal that allows you to accept payments on the go and keep tabs on your financial statements, reports, and other metrics. You can use its console setting to set permission levels for users.
- Pricing Plans: The interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans offer customers a choice to select a pricing structure that fits their needs and budget. The company hasn’t disclosed the per-transaction pricing or a monthly fee, so you will have to get a quote from their customer representatives. They might also charge a hidden fee, so it’s best to discuss the pricing in advance. Or, you can choose the interchange-plus plan to avoid surprising fees.
- Hardware Options: You can get a full-fledged POS solution that consists of bundled products or a mobile card reader and other portable devices to receive payments on the go. Their hardware options consist of Clover products mainly. They offer a free virtual terminal for online payments, but you must check with the team to know if you qualify for a free device.
- Same-day Funding: Churches that need the same-day funding option can use Flagship. The company supports same-day funding but for an additional charge.
- Account Manager: To help you with the setup and configuration, Flagship assigns a personal manager to all its merchants. They will guide you throughout the account opening and configuration.
Flagship charges $99/year for compliance and supports all forms of payments, including ACH transfers, digital wallets, and credit/debit cards.
Stax is a reputable credit card processing company that serves large and small businesses and offers one of the best and most affordable processing fees in the industry. Its flat-fee subscription-based model can save you up to 40% on your transaction fee compared to traditional credit card processing services.
Their subscription fee ranges between $99 and $199 and can be a bit expensive for small churches. But Stax offers customized pricing plans that fit all types and sizes of churches and their unique budget. The pricing plans are perfect for churches that receive a minimum of $10000 in monthly donations.
- Payment Supported: Stax supports a wide range of payment methods, both in-person and online. They accept swiped and keyed transactions. You can pay through its mobile app as well. The app supports iOS and Android and can help you pay in person or online.
- Seamless Integration with Third-party Apps: Stax is compatible with multiple business apps that you might already be using for church management. It integrates with Slack, Microsoft Team, Asana, QuickBooks, and Zoho Accounting to name a few. In addition, Stax can be linked to different eCommerce platforms, including Magento and BigCommerce.
- Processing and Subscription Fee: You can get Stax’s subscription-based service, which charges you a flat $99 or $199 per month with no markup on interchange. You will only pay the transaction fee, i.e. 0% + 8 cents for in-person transactions and 0% + 18 cents for online, card-not-present payments. The monthly fee is charged in advance and the term is renewed automatically unless you or the Stax cancel the subscription. If your church processes transactions worth more than $500,000 annually, you can get a custom quote from the company.
- Intuitive Dashboard: Stax’s intuitive dashboard enables church members to quickly view their financial reports, store donor’s information, set up recurring billing for certain members, and get real-time information about the church’s financial status in one place. The free recurring billing plan helps donors make automatic payments at their preferred schedules without visiting the church. And the feature doesn’t cost extra.
- No Contract or ETF: Stax has a month-to-month plan renewal policy, which automatically charges you the fee for the month in advance. They don’t lock you into a fixed contract, thus saving you the early termination fee.
If you have been turned down by other merchant service providers, PaymentCloud will most likely accept you. With a whopping 98% approval rate, PaymentCloud works with businesses across different industries and of varying risk levels. They offer custom accounts to non-profit organizations, including churches. The company offers a customized donation page, which comes in handy for churches and charity companies. PaymentCloud supports payments through QR codes. You can also get flyers with these codes to allow church members to pay instantly.
Processing Fee: PaymentCloud has not disclosed its pricing plan on its website, so you will have to get a custom quote. They offer interchange-plus and tiered plans to offer their audience a choice of pricing plans. Negotiation is possible, although it depends on your risk level, processing volume, and other factors.
An Account Manager: The minute you initiate a query with PaymentCloud regarding a merchant account for your church, you will be assigned an account manager who will understand your requirements and guide you throughout the setup and installation process.
Contract Length: They haven’t disclosed information about the contract either. The contract length at PaymentCloud is based on the banks you work with, so you can expect variations in contracts for different merchants. Since churches are low-risk businesses, payment processors usually implement a month-to-month pricing policy with no early cancellation fee. Still, it’s advisable to discuss the term with their support representatives before moving ahead.
Customer Service: PaymentCloud is known for its stellar customer support service. You can get in touch with the team over the phone, tickets, and email. They have a dedicated and responsive support team that offers quick assistance at all times. For your general queries, you can visit their blog section and social media pages.
Robust Security: PaymentCloud has earned a stellar reputation in the payment industry for its robust security systems. They are a PCI-compliant group offering a secure transaction experience to both merchants and customers. With its tokenization, end-to-end encryption, and fraud detection programs, the company guarantees the best security to all users.
Hardware: PaymentCloud offers a free Payanywhere credit card reader, plus a wide range of POS units and payment terminals for a small fee. They support a wide range of payment methods, including but not limited to, credit/debit card transfers, ACH transfers, MOTO, bank transactions, and cryptocurrencies.
We’ve reviewed dozens of credit card processing companies and have picked these top choices for churches and non-profit organizations. A few features we’ve considered when reviewing the best merchant accounts are personalized services, dedicated solutions for donations, an affordable fee structure, flexible contracts, and reasonably-priced hardware. Each payment processor in this list has an excellent reputation and is known for their dedicated payment processing services. Compare their processing fee and get a custom quote from each before choosing.