If your church wants to accept credit cards for congregation donations, you may be unsure how to get started. When you select a reputable payment service provider, it's easier than you think to incorporate this modern alternative to the classic collection basket.
This guide provides background information about the online payment process and answers all your questions about taking credit and debit cards as a church.
How Are Credit Card Payments Processed?
Since the credit card payment process can be complicated, it might help to break it down into three basic stages.
The authorization stage starts when you take someone's credit card and enter the details in your payment system. The payment processor transmits the transaction information to your bank, known as the acquiring bank. The acquiring bank contacts the credit card network to trigger transmission of an authorization request to the buyer's bank, called the issuing bank.
During this stage, the issuing bank authorizes the requested charges by checking the member's identity and address. The bank also ensures the person has the available funds to cover the transaction and checks the CVV security code on the bank of the card.
Depending on the results of the authentication process, the issuing bank will send approval or denial of the transaction back to your bank through the credit card network. Your payment provider places a hold on the issuing bank account for the amount in question.
Clearing and Settlement
After each business day closes, your payment service provider transmits a list of authorized transactions to the acquiring bank. Its processor connects with the credit card network to arrange settlement of these charges.
You'll usually receive the funds in your church's account within one to two business days of an online donation. The issuing bank takes a fee for this transaction and pays part of that fee to the credit card network, which in turn pays percentages to the acquiring processor and the bank.
The final phase of the process, clearing, occurs when the transaction appears on your monthly statement from your payment provider and on the member's monthly account statement from the issuing bank. The issuing bank receives its funds from the person's monthly credit card payment.
What Is a Payment Service Provider and Why Do You Need One?
Payment service providers manage the many moving parts of credit card transactions. They coordinate communication between the member's bank, known as the issuing bank, and your church's bank, called the acquiring bank. They also provide the other services you need to legally accept credit and debit card payments, including:
- A merchant account for your church
- Access to information about your transactions, usually through an online dashboard
- A payment gateway where members can enter their information to make donations or purchases
According to data from the research firm Nonprofit Source, online payments represented nearly half of total gifts to churches last year. What's more, 60% of congregants surveyed said they'd be willing to make digital donations. Churches that take credit and debit cards for donations see a reported 32% increase in overall gifts.
The Benefits of Using Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider
Partnering with a PCI-compliant payment provider like Pay.com improves the security of your church finances. We encrypt every transaction to shield sensitive data like credit card and contact information.
You can give your constituents the peace of mind of protection when they make church payments through our secure Pay Checkout or Pay Links. We even offer a virtual terminal so you can manually enter the necessary details.
Pay.com supports credit and debit cards, ACH electronic transfers, digital wallets such as Google Pay, and many other payment methods. You can select multiple payment methods so members can make donations with their preferred account.
In addition to making donations from their homes or offices, your congregation can give online right from their mobile devices when it comes time for collection during the service.
You can also set up recurring charges through your Pay Dashboard. Church members can easily arrange for regular donations and pay for subscription services with this easy-to-use system.
The Bottom Line
Accepting donations by debit and credit card could be the wave of the future for your church. It's more convenient for your members since they don't have to carry cash or checks to worship services, which could increase the level of giving among your congregation. You can also protect their credit card information by selecting a PCI-compliant payment service provider.
Pay.com is an easy and affordable way for churches to accept credit card payments. We have a transparent fee structure with a flat rate for every transaction, so you won't be subject to unexpected charges. It takes just a few minutes to set up your Pay Dashboard and create a payment service account for your church, even if you have limited online payment experience.