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  5. 6 Best Credit Card Processing for Churches (Easy Setup) [2023]

6 Best Credit Card Processing for Churches (Easy Setup) [2023]

Ivana Shteriova Ivana ShteriovaFinance Specialist September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023
There are several factors to consider when choosing a payment processor for your church. Since most churches receive support in multiple smaller donations, your per-transaction fees will quickly add up. You’ll need to evaluate whether you can afford higher per-transaction fees or would benefit from subscription-based pricing. What about hidden fees? It seems every payment processor has them, especially those that look cheap at first.

There’s a lot more to consider: most credit card processors lack essential features like recurring billing and shareable payment links, which can help you build a stable donation flow. You’ll also need a processor that can seamlessly integrate into your donation flow. And, ideally, without any expensive setup costs.

Even for someone like me, with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, the credit card industry can be complex and confusing. Armed with two months of extensive research, I know exactly what the best credit card processing for churches is made of. My recommendations are easy to use, have affordable fees, offer free Point-of-Sale (POS) equipment, and have stellar support that will pick up – even during Sunday service.

Leaders Merchant Services (LMS), in particular, made me say Hallelujah! LMS’s custom pricing model and low fees are a match made in heaven for churches with simple needs. Jump to my LMS review to learn more about its benefits or keep reading to evaluate my other top options.

Short on Time? These Are the Best Credit Card Processors for Churches in 2023

  1. Leaders Merchant Services – Everything you need at inexpensive rates for small, established low-risk churches.
  2. PAYARC – Discounted rates for churches that meet 501(c)(3) requirements and support for international donations.
  3. Flagship Merchant Services – High approval rates and quick onboarding for churches with no credit or low credit history.

See 3 More Great Options | Comparison Table

What We Look For in the Best Credit Card Processing Companies for Churches

After months of research, I came confidently say these are the key features you must consider when selecting a credit card processor for your church:
  • Reasonable fees. I looked for credit card processing companies with payment models favoring organizations that process multiple small transactions monthly. All providers on my list have either affordable fees or discounted rates for churches.
  • Donation tracking and reporting. Most of my recommended credit card processors provide software that allows you to keep track of your donations, and in most cases, you don’t have to pay extra for it.
  • A range of payment methods. This is essential because you’ll want to accommodate diverse donor preferences.
  • Surcharging. Having the option to pass the credit card processing fees to your donors will result in more money for your mission.
  • Free POS equipment. Most of my options provide the equipment for processing in-person donations for free. Some also offer apps that can turn your mobile and tablet into terminals, enabling you to accept donations during events outside your church.

If you want to start collecting donations ASAP and expect at least $2,000 in donations monthly, LMS offers same-day approval and onboarding in most cases. The setup process is very straightforward. LMS provides all the essentials, but don’t expect advanced features like surcharging.

LMS offers an impressive selection of equipment and software. Clover Flex, for example, is portable and lightweight – perfect for passing along to members during service or to bring along to charitable events. Any Clover device will allow you to accept donations via PayPal and Venmo, which have discounted rates for verified charities. You can also process check donations with Magtek Mini-MICR.

LMS’s rates are among the lowest in the industry. Its pricing model is flexible, allowing you to pay only for the features that you really need. You can save even more if you already use another provider and switch to LMS, as it promises to meet or beat your current rates or give you a $200 gift card if it can’t.

Features and Benefits

  • Customized accounts. Talk to your sales representative about your industry, size, and challenges to receive a more personalized credit card processing solution.
  • Subscription and loyalty programs. These services cost extra but are essential for securing ongoing donations.
  • Free POS equipment. You can get one high-quality Clover device for free without a contract.
  • Flexible funding options. In times of fundraising drought or when you need a cash injection, you can get merchant cash advance from LMS. This type of funding doesn’t require you to put in collateral – LMS will take a percentage of each future donation, plus a small fee until you pay back the amount you owe.
Read our Leaders Merchant Services review to learn more.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, digital wallets, ACH, bank transfers, check
POS Equipment
  • Free equipment without a contract
  • 3 Clover devices, Magtek Mini-MICR check reader, First Data FD150 terminal and First Data FD150 Terminal & RP10 Pin Pad available to purchase
PCI Compliance Fee $129/year
Transaction fees on cheapest plan ~2% + 0¢
Monthly fee on cheapest plan $9.00

If your church is a registered 501(c) organization, you can take advantage of PAYARC’s non-profit program with discounted rates. It offers various pricing options, making it suitable for churches with different needs. If you expect a high volume of credit card donations, its subscription-based model with a low transaction fee of 0% + 15¢ (in-person & online) can save you the most. The flat-rate model, starting at 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person) and with zero monthly fees, is suitable if you’re a smaller church.

PAYARC is the best credit card processor to use if you’d like to expand your reach globally. To accept international payments, you can integrate the Planet Payment gateway for an additional charge. The gateway accepts WeChat Pay, Alipay, Klarna and Union Pay, and its dynamic currency conversion allows donors to send money in their local currency for greater convenience.

PAYARC’s proprietary payment gateway is one of the most affordable I’ve come across.  Its API comes with easy-to-follow instructions on how to connect the gateway to your site. Although you’ll have to pay 1¢ per transaction tokenization, which is typically free at other processors, it’s a secure and reliable solution for accepting domestic donations.

Features and Benefits

  • Comprehensive dashboard for donation management. From the dashboard, you can easily create and customize invoices for supporters to complete donations in seconds. It also boasts in-depth reporting, allowing you to analyze performance and maximize donations.
  • Recurring billing. PAYARC provides you with the tools to schedule donations and send reminders to your donors to complete their contributions at no additional cost. It’s an excellent way to ensure you’re getting ongoing support and cut marketing costs for campaigns that result in one-time donations.
  • Free equipment with some plans. Some PAYARC plans include a free PAX A920 terminal. This particular model is portable and has a long-lasting battery, making it ideal to pass along to congregants during service. You can also use it to process payments at remote events.
  • No PCI compliance fee. PAYARC covers all PCI compliance fees for you, something that will cost you at least $100+ at other processors.
Read our detailed PAYARC review to discover more benefits.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, ACH, digital wallets, bank transfers
POS Equipment
  • Free terminal
  • 3 Clover devices (Clover Station POS, Clover Flex, Clover Mini), Magtek Mini-MICR check reader, First Data FD150 and First Data FD150 Terminal & RP10 Pin Pad available to purchase
PCI Compliance Fee
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
Monthly fee on cheapest plan N/A

3. Flagship Merchant Services: Best for Churches That Want to Start Processing Donations ASAP

In a rush to start accepting credit card donations? Flagship Merchant Services can set you up in as little as a few hours with its quick application and onboarding process. If you’re a new church without credit or have bad credit, Flagship will likely work with you as it has one of the highest approval rates in the industry.

Flagship offers two payment models: interchange-plus and tiered pricing, plus custom pricing for every business – leaving you room to negotiate a good deal. It offers flexible monthly contracts with no cancellation fees, allowing you to try its services risk-free. But to qualify for free and discounted equipment, you might need to sign a contract.

If you’re currently processing, it’s worth asking for a quote – Flagship will either meet or beat your rates or if it doesn’t, you’ll get a $200 gift card. Flagship’s plans might have hidden fees, so make sure you ask sales support for all associated fees before signing up. I’d recommend you opt for an interchange-plus plan to avoid unpleasant surprises in your statements.

Features and Benefits

  • Same-day funding. If you ever need funds urgently, Flagship gives you the option to access them the same day for an extra charge.
  • Personal account manager. The company will assign you a dedicated account manager to guide and assist you through the entire process. Digging through customer reviews, I found that agents aren’t the most transparent, so double-check before accepting anything.
  • iAccess Business Management Portal. As a Flagship customer, you get access to a powerful donation management and reporting tool.
  • Free high-quality equipment. I rarely see credit card processing companies offering expensive brands like Clover for free. With Flagship, you get a free Clover Mini or Verifone terminal as a welcome gift.
For more features, read our Flagship Merchant Services review.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, ACH, bank transfers, digital wallets
POS Equipment
  • Free Clover Mini or Verifone VX 520 terminal
  • 4 Clover devices, 1 mobile reader, and other terminal models available to purchase
PCI Compliance Fee $99/year for PCI and other compliance checks
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
Monthly fee on cheapest plan $7.95

Stax offers a flat-rate subscription, zero markup on interchange fees, and the lowest per-transaction fees of 0% + 10¢ (in-person) in the industry. Its monthly rate, starting at $99.00 isn’t the cheapest, but Stax’s payment model allows you to save up to 40% compared to traditional providers. This is ideal if you’re a big church with a high volume of transactions and $8,000+ in monthly donations. If you’re processing less, Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) is a better option.

Stax’s monthly subscription includes free surcharging capabilities that allow you to pass a 3.5% credit processing fee to donors who use their credit card. It also provides fully compliant surcharging technology, so you won’t have to navigate the complex laws by yourself.

Churches get a free terminal for in-person payments. You can also turn your mobile into a terminal with the Stax mobile app and collect donations from anywhere.

Features and Benefits

  • Easy-to-use dashboard and robust analytics. Stax’s free all-in-one software allows you to oversee all your donations, securely store donors’ data, set up recurring payments, and access reports.
  • Free recurring payments. This feature, included in your monthly rate, is a breeze to implement with Stax and can save you up to 40 accounting hours a month. You can set up recurring billing for both credit and debit cards. It’s also a great way to get support from those who may not be able to visit your church.
  • Unlimited Text2Pay mobile payments. With this feature, you can collect donations by sending your donors text reminders, and they can authorize the payment by simply replying to your text. It’s an easy and frictionless donation method you can rarely find elsewhere.
  • Monthly contracts with no cancellation fees. Unlike competitors that will lock you into multi-year contracts, Stax offers flexible monthly agreements and allows you to cancel for free at any time.
Read our expert Stax review for more details.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, ACH payments, digital wallets, Text2Pay, bank transfers
POS Equipment
  • Free Dejavoo terminal
  • Dejavoo terminal models, 4 Clover devices (Clover Flex LTE or WI-FI, Mini LTE, Station Solo, Station Duo, and SwipeSimple B250 mobile reader available to purchase
PCI Compliance Fee PCI compliance fee not included
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 0% + 10¢ (in-person)
Monthly fee on cheapest plan $99.00

5. POS Pros: Best for Churches That Collect Donations From Memberships and Events

POS Pros integrates with MemberLeap, a comprehensive member-based management system. You can create a donor database and encourage your regular supporters to enroll in recurring donations. The software also offers tools to maintain their engagement, such as newsletters and text messages.

You can also use MemberLeap’s event management tools to increase your funds through charitable events. It allows you to set up a campaign, run promotions, and set up event registrations – all within the same dashboard. With MemberLeap’s volunteer management system and built-in CRM, you can also grow your volunteer base and maintain a more personal touch with each participant.

With monthly fees starting at $5.00 and transaction fees starting at 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person), it’s one of the cheapest options for small- to medium-sized churches. But pricing isn’t set in stone, so make sure you read your contract carefully before putting your signature on it.

Features and Benefits

  • Free POS device and consultation. POS Pros has an impressive range of hardware from 25+ brands. You’ll receive a free consultation with a POS specialist to help you select the best equipment for your needs. You can also qualify for a free terminal.
  • Payment gateway at a discounted rate. If you use MembersLeap through POS Pros, you’ll get access to Authorize.net for less than what you’d pay directly to Authorize.net. Through this advanced payment gateway, you’ll get additional invoicing, subscription, and security tools.
  • Next-day payouts. POS Pros releases your funds to your bank account within 24 hours as standard.
  • Generous price-match policy. If you’re processing credit card donations elsewhere, POS Pros promises to either save you money on your current rates or give you $500 if it fails to offer a better deal. POS Pros will even pay any early termination fees you might encounter at your current processor just to win you as a customer.
Curious to learn more? Take a look at our full POS Pros review.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, ACH, bank transfers, digital wallets, QR codes ( depending on the POS brand used)
POS Equipment
  • Free Dejavoo Z11, Clover Mini, or Clover Flex terminals
  • A wide range of POS terminals, systems, and accessories available for purchase
PCI Compliance Fee PCI non-compliance fee applies if PCI self-assessment questionnaire is not submitted within three months
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person)
Monthly fee on cheapest plan $5.00

6. PaymentCloud: Specific Accounts for Non-Profit Merchants

PaymentCloud has custom merchant accounts for non-profits and reasonable rates for high-risk merchants. This provider has a 98% approval rate, meaning that if you have had difficulty getting accepted elsewhere, PaymentCloud will likely work with you.

PaymentCloud offers unique features for churches, like bidding and customized donation pages through its Payslay integration. You can also collect donations with QR codes. You can print flyers with scannable codes and leave them on each seat during service or distribute them in the community. Donors don’t need to download or install anything – they simply need to scan the code to make a contribution.

You can negotiate your fees with PaymentCloud, but to secure the best deal, you might need to sign a two-year contract. While PaymentCloud’s pricing plans are based on your business’s risk category, it’s still a good option for high-risk businesses.

Features and Benefits

  • Dedicated account manager. In your first interaction with customer support, you’ll get a personal agent to support you throughout the entire setup and onboarding process.
  • Zero-cost credit card processing. If your state allows it, you can automatically add a surcharge to your donors’ credit card transactions. PaymentCloud also provides you with a surcharge-compliant card terminal.
  • PCI compliance fee included in the monthly rate. This is an extra I rarely see included in the subscription price. PaymentCloud can potentially save you an average $70 – $120 annually, an amount you’d have to pay for PCI compliance elsewhere.
  • Advanced security and fraud protection. PaymentCloud provides an additional layer of security, thanks to its payment gateway and encrypted software specifically designed for high-risk industries like the non-profit sector.
Check out our expert PaymentCloud review for more info.

Supported Payment Methods Credit and debit cards, digital wallets, ACH/eChecks, MOTO, bank transfers, cryptocurrency
POS Equipment
  • Free Payanywhere credit card reader
  • A range of POS hardware available to purchase
PCI compliance fee PCI compliance fee included in the monthly rate
Transaction fees on cheapest plan Around 2.1% + 15¢
Monthly fee on cheapest plan $14.00

Increase Your Donations by Selecting the Best Credit Card Processor for Your Church

I’ve researched dozens of services that claim to be the best credit card processors for churches, but I gave my amen only to six. Of those, my top recommendations offer affordable rates, personalized accounts, and reliable donation management software.

If you’re a smaller church that only needs essential features, LMS is my top recommendation. LMS offers one of the lowest rates in the industry, and you can really score a bargain with its meet-or-beat guarantee if you already process elsewhere.

If you need international processing support, go with PAYARC. You can also use its proprietary payment gateway, which is one of the most affordable gateways in the industry, to process domestic donations. If you’re a registered 501(c) organization, PAYARC will offer you discounted rates.

If you’re eager to start collecting donations as soon as possible, consider Flagship Merchant Services. With one of the highest approval rates in the industry, Flagship offers a fast onboarding process and flexible monthly contracts, plus custom pricing to suit your church’s needs.

The table below will help you identify the best payment system for your church at a glance.
Best Feature Best For Monthly fee on cheapest plan Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Leaders Merchant Services Personalized payment solutions and support at industry’s lowest rates Small or new churches that are looking for essential features $9.00 ~2% + 0¢
PAYARC Support for international donation processing and discounted rates for registered 501(c) organizations Churches that accept (or want to start accepting) donations from all over the world N/A 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
Flagship Merchant Services Fast onboarding with a dedicated account manager Churches that want to start taking credit card donations ASAP $7.95 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
Stax Subscription pricing model with lowest per-transaction fees that provide up to 40% savings Big churches with high-volume transactions, processing $8,000+/month $99.00 0% + 10¢ (in-person)
POS Pros Comprehensive association management software and an impressive range of hardware Churches that want to organize fundraising events to secure ongoing support $5.00 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person)
PaymentCloud Merchant accounts specifically designed for non-profits High-risk merchants that want access to advanced charity and security features $14.00 Around 2.1% + 15¢


What is the best payment processor for churches?

The best payment processing company for churches is Leaders Merchant Services, as it offers essential payment solutions at the most affordable prices. LMS provides features like payment links and recurring payments, which are critical for establishing a stable donation flow.

How to choose the right credit card processing company for a church?

To choose the best church credit card processor, consider your congregation size, donation frequency, and required features. Leaders Merchant Services, for example, is the best option if you process lower volume. PAYARC, on the other hand, can help you accept donations from around the world with its international payment gateway integrations.

Do churches have to pay credit card fees?

Yes, churches must pay fees when accepting donations through credit cards. Some of the best credit card processors for churches like Stax offer surcharging services that allow you to pass the credit card processing fees to your donors. Surcharging doesn’t apply to debit card payments.

How to get free credit card processing for churches?

There’s no free credit card processing for churches, but to reduce your costs, explore partnerships with payment processors that offer surcharging capability. It allows you to have congregants cover the credit card processing fees as part of their donations. You’d still have to pay your subscription cost, including any extra fees for services not covered in it.

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