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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 surcharging, which allows you to pass some fees to your donors. Surcharging comes with legal and technical complexity, so you’ll need a processor that can seamlessly integrate it into your donation flow. And, ideally, without any expensive set-up 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.
Stax, in particular, made me say Hallelujah! Stax’s unique payment model and affordable fees are a match made in heaven for churches processing at least $8,000/month. Jump to my Stax review to learn more about its benefits or keep reading to evaluate my other top options.
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.
Stax offers a flat-rate subscription, zero markup on interchange fees, and the lowest per-transaction fees in the industry. Its monthly rate 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, which allows you to pass a 3.5% 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 POS 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.
Payment Depot, a Stax subsidiary with the same payment model, is a better option for small- to medium-sized churches with lower processing volumes as it offers a lower subscription price. Customers report an average savings of $400/month with Payment Depot.
That said, you still need a stable donation flow – at least $8,000/month is ideal for savings of 10% – 20% compared to traditional, non-subscription options. Savings of up to 40% are possible for higher volumes
Payment Depot offers an all-on-one, user-friendly dashboard for managing your funds. From the dashboard, you can easily create payment links and branded invoices for supporters to complete donations in seconds. Need to raise money for a new cause? Running promotions and monitoring performance is also possible through its impressive dashboard.
Features and Benefits
Fast and hassle-free onboarding process. With Payment Depot’s simple onboarding process, you can start processing donations in as little as 24 hours.
Free surcharging and recurring billing. Like Stax, these helpful features are included in your monthly rate, allowing you to secure ongoing support without paying extra.
24/7 risk monitoring. Payment Depot has different types of support available, including a dedicated risk prevention team that works 24/7 to protect your reputation by proactively monitoring fraud and changes in bank policies.
Free POS equipment. Every subscription comes with a free Dejavoo Z11 terminal, allowing you to process credit/debit card donations and contributions through digital wallets. If you need multiple terminals, you might be able to get them for free – just ask Payment Depot’s sales team.
If you want to start 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 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 but beware of extra fees. For instance, using its Authorize.net virtual terminal will cost you more than double your monthly subscription. You can save the most 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.
PaymentCloud has specifically designed merchant accounts for non-profits and the most 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. Still, PaymentCloud’s transaction fees are higher than the other options on my list, meaning it’s a good option if you’re considered a high-risk business.
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.
National Processing is one of the rare credit card processors that discloses almost all fees on its site. It does offer one of the lowest rates in the industry – provided you’re a low-risk merchant. While the monthly subscription cost is the same for most industries, non-profits get lower per-transaction fees, a free terminal, and a mobile reader.
Each contract comes with a free SwipeSimple mobile reader and app, but it’s worth noting that users frequently report connection issues with the device and bugs on the mobile app. You can also opt to buy more dependable Clover and Dejavoo devices.
You’ll get free hardware and a payment gateway setup with every contract, which is useful if you don’t want to deal with technical issues or pay someone to set it up for you. If you already have equipment, National Processing is one of the few providers that will reprogram it for free. In this case, you can opt for a monthly subscription and avoid the $495 – $595 early cancellation fees.
Features and Benefits
Meet or beat guarantee. If you’re already processing at least $10,000 elsewhere, asking for a quote can get you either a better deal or a $500 gift card. If you’re new, you don’t have to worry about meeting a processing minimum.
Free same-day funding service. National Processing offers a free same-day funding service (as long as your bank doesn’t put a hold on the money). This is a great option if you need access to your funds as soon as possible.
Surcharging. The service is available for $9.95 a month.
Pay-later donation options. National Processing allows you to collect donations with pay-later options like Klarna and Afterpay. A 2021 study shows that more than 60% of those who use this payment option for shopping would donate a higher amount if they could divide it into multiple installments.
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.
Flagship’s plans might have hidden fees related to using its payment gateway, non-compliance, and add-on features. Digging through customer reviews, I found that its sales agents aren’t the most transparent, so double-check before signing anything. I’d recommend you opt for the interchange-plus plan to avoid unpleasant surprises in your statements.
Features and Benefits
Personal account manager. The company will assign you a dedicated account manager to guide and assist you through the entire process.
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.
Better price guarantee. If you’re currently processing, it’s worth asking for a quote – if Flagship can’t meet or beat your current rates, you’ll get a $200 gift card for signing up.
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 have surprise-free, subscription-style payment models that work in your favor – the more you process, the more you save.
If you’re a well-established church processing a high volume of transactions, Stax’s unique subscription-based modeloffers unparalleled savings. It’s also the best payment processor for large transactions as it offers the lowest per-transaction fees. Plus, helpful features like surcharging, the ability to take donations via text, and recurring payments are included in your monthly rate.
If you’re a small-to medium-sized church with a stable donor base, Payment Depot is your best bet, as it provides almost all Stax benefits at a lower monthly subscription rate. Payment Depot’s all-in-one dashboard makes managing donations a breeze. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the industry’s fastest payout time at no additional cost.
If you’re a smaller church with a lower volume of credit card donations and only need essential features, LMS is my top recommendation. LMS offers one of the lowest rates in the industry, and if you currently process elsewhere, its meet-or-beat guarantee can net you some substantial savings.
The table below will help you identify the best payment system for your church at a glance.
Monthly fee on cheapest plan
Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Subscription pricing model with lowest per-transaction fees that provide up to 40% savings
Big churches with high-volume transactions, processing $8,000+/month
The best payment processing company for churches is Stax, as it offers feature-rich payment solutions for churches for a one flat price. Stax provides the lowest per-transaction fees, provided you process at least $8,000/month. It offers features like surcharging 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. For example, Stax can save you up to 40% over traditional options, provided you have at least $8,000 in monthly donations, while LMS is a better option if you process lower volume.
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 and Payment Depot 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.
Ivana is a full-time content writer and expert reviewer passionate about tech, finance, business, and too many other things to name. After getting her bachelor’s degree in Economics, she decided to ditch a career in accounting and turn her passion into a full-time writing affair. You can find her listening to finance podcasts, reading self-help books, glamming up, and rocking bold outfits. She’s also advocating for animal welfare and women’s rights.