Churches are organizations that have unique needs when it comes to their credit card choices. Each church has varying expenses and functions that are important to take into account when applying for a credit card. In this article, we have laid out all of the important factors to take into consideration when applying for a credit charge for your church.
Church Credit Card vs Personal Cards
When it comes to the credit card purposes for a church, there actually is not as large of a difference between a business and personal card. Depending on the size of your church and the size of your expenditures you can determine which card is best for you.
For example, we would recommend having a personal credit card in the name of the pastor/financial advisor if you are a small congregation with minimal weekly expenses.
But for a larger church that has larger and more frequent expenditures, for example, a church that often puts on large events, we would recommend a business credit card in order to protect personal credit.
Additionally, business and personal credit cards have their own specific sets of rewards that could be beneficial to different churches depending on their needs.
Rewards and Points
Each credit card has its own reward system that can be beneficial to your church depending on your needs. If your church participates in many conferences and trips, you should consider looking at a business or personal card that offers the largest amount of cashback/points on travel expenses such as hotels, air travel, and gas.
If your church frequently spends money, you may look into business cards that have cashback/ credit rewards for spending a certain amount of money within the first 90 days of receiving your card. The rewards programs that are the most enticing to many churches are charitable giving programs.
For example, the Charity Charge credit card gives 1% cashback for any donations made to certified 501c3 nonprofits.
Authorized Users and Card Security
Having authorized users and “employee” cards is another factor to take into consideration when applying for a credit card for your ministry. Once again, this all goes back to the size and financial needs of your individual church. Having multiple authorized credit card users is recommended for larger churches that have larger and more frequent purchases.
But, this comes with its own sets of challenges.
If your church does decide that it requires multiple employee credit cards, then it is important that your church chooses a card that has increased security measures. This includes frequent fraud alerts and monthly itemized statements so that you can keep track of purchases and make sure that your employees are not using the church card for personal expenses.
Establishing a Church Credit Card Policy
The final, and most important, thing to consider before applying for a church credit card is having a strict credit card policy in place for yourself and any authorized users. We would suggest setting up a monthly meeting to review the monthly statements in order to ensure that there was no misuse of the church’s card.
Additionally, we would suggest that it be required to take documentation and receipts for any purchases on the card so that you can compare them to the monthly statement.
Also, according to this Wallet Hub article, it is important to separate the person paying the card from the people who are actively using the card. Having this separation and oversight prevents card misuse and the disappearance of funds.
Reimbursements are a very important part of establishing a church card policy. Reimbursements help to ensure that the church credit cards are not used for personal charges.
First, it is important that purchases that individuals plan on being reimbursed for are approved before the purchase is made.
Next, it is important that individuals turn in an expense form in order to keep detailed records of reimbursements. Expense forms should include:
- The name of the individual being reimbursed
- The date the item was purchased
- The reason for reimbursement
- The use for the purchased item
- A signature from an approved staff member
- An attached receipt
- Having all of this information recorded will be beneficial to both your church and the reimbursed individual.
Reimbursements are very important when establishing your church’s card policy. The IRS has specific guidelines when it comes to churches and travel expenses.
These guidelines are important to note when creating your church’s credit card policy. When it comes to using the church credit card for travel, it is important to not use a registered church credit card to fill a personal vehicle with gas.
According to the IRS, doing this can be considered a part of taxable income. In order to avoid this, we would suggest that you establish a milage reimbursement system.
This is different from a general reimbursement because there is a specific IRS reimbursement rate that your church can take advantage of in order to save money. As of 2019, the IRS mileage reimbursement rate was $0.58 per mile.
In order to provide reimbursements, we would advise that church members turn in a documented log of the miles traveled so that they can be reimbursed by the church at a later date according to the IRS set rate.
As with any credit card, one of the most important parts of having a credit card of any kind is making timely payments. This is particularly important when it comes to a church credit card.
The timeliness of payments affects your church’s credit score. Having a good credit score shows creditors that you are reliable enough to pay loans. If you consistently pay your church credit card’s statement on time or even early it can be a great investment in your church’s financial future.
For example, let’s say that your church is planning on doing a major renovation. If your church has consistently made timely payments on your credit card the bank is much more likely to approve your church for a loan.
Paying your church credit card statements on time is also important because it greatly reduces the financial risk factor for the church.
Overall, there are many factors that go into choosing a credit card for your church. It is important to weigh the options between personal and business credit cards for your church.
Once you have made this decision between a business and personal credit card, it is important to look at what rewards will best serve your church’s unique needs. After you choose a card there are certain precautions that need to be put in place.
These include card security measures, a credit card use policy, a policy for making reimbursements, and a schedule for making timely payments.
Each church is unique, and therefore there is no exact blueprint that every church can follow when applying for a card. In this article, we have laid out some general tips to consider that can help your church get the most out of their credit card.