I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to write this post. Nevertheless, here it is.
My wife and I attend a local church. We never place anything in the offering basket when it comes around during service. Why you ask? Well our church allows you to donate/tithe online. Better yet, they allow you to tithe online with a Visa or MasterCard (so unfortunately this doesn’t help with my AMEX cards).
First off, I prefer to tithe online because it leaves a nice paper-trail for the purposes of filing taxes. I can easily see how much in charitable donations I’ve made throughout the year. Secondly, I pretty much never carry cash or a checkbook so tithing during service isn’t really feasible. Lastly, I’ll be honest, I love earning miles and points.
Keep in mind I had been working on drafting this post for a while. One of the leaders of my church comes up to give an update on our church’s annual budget. He highlights that the church’s preferred donation method is via checking accounts. The leader then notes the large amount of fees that the church pays for credit card transactions. Of course I’m sitting there thinking about all the tithes I’ve made using my credit card.
Now on average let’s say it costs about 3% per transaction to run my credit card. Therefore, if I make a $100 donation, my church would only receive $97 instead of the full $100. It’s not that much, but it definitely adds up if everyone is donating via credit card.
Because of the transaction fees, I tend to tithe a little bit extra (around 2-5%) than we would normally tithe. I also try to do only one or two large donations per month since sometimes there is a per transaction charge that some payment processing centers charge. This is probably just me trying to rationalize my desire to earn points/miles on all of our monthly expenses. I feel somewhat conflicted about whether I should just donate via our checking account. I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer in this case. I guess it’s just personal preference.
All this to say, if your church or local charity accepts donations via credit card it may be a great way to meet your minimum spending requirement. However, keep in mind that the organization may not be receiving every dollar of that donation because credit card transaction fees.