One of the latest waves in churches is to have online tithing. It makes sense when you think about how the online payment processing industry has grown in the last few years. People are more comfortable putting their credit and debit card information on payment sites and it becomes a normal part of every day life. Why wouldn’t a church want to get into this arena? If it makes it easier for church members to give tithes online, it seems like it would be a real service to everyone. I was happy when our church set up their online tithing system, but I was surprised with the feedback I got from people I knew.
Those Against Using a Credit Card
It Feels Impersonal
A friend of mine (in his 30’s) said that he doesn’t like tithing with a credit card. He says that it feels impersonal and that he would rather bring a check or cash to the church when he gives. I can see his point because it might feel awfully similar to an eBay or Amazon transaction. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t tithe with a credit card.
The Church Gets Charged
This is a major reason why many people don’t like the idea of tithing online. Depending on the online payment service that you use, the church can be charged anywhere from 0.5% to 2.5% per transaction. That can really add up and cost the church significantly. With many churches already facing lower tithes, adding one more cost for receiving online tithes can hurt an already low church budget.
Those For Using a Credit Card to Tithe
It’s Convenient and Easy
I’ll be honest; I don’t carry around a checkbook. Most people I know just don’t carry one. The same is true for cash – I rarely have more than twenty dollars on me at any given time. Most of the things I buy are online or with a credit or debit card. Knowing that I can tithe with my credit card is just easier for me.
Giving is More Regular
Tithing with a credit card online helps me to stay accountable with my giving. I find that I give more regularly when I tithe with my credit card online. But why don’t I use a debit card instead? I have used a debit card in the past, but since my wife and I pay off our credit card regularly, we just default to using a credit card.
The Points are Nice
Whoa. Did you actually say that? Yes, yes I did. I know many people who tithe with credit cards and choose one card over another because it gives nice reward points. A word of caution – this should not be your motive for giving. If you give because you like to see your points add up, you’re tithing for the wrong reason. My wife and I are responsible with our credit cards and never carry a balance. I don’t see any difference if I tithe with a reward credit card or tithe with a debit card. It all comes out of our bank at the end of the month.
Before You Tithe with a Credit Card . . .
Consider your motives.
Are you giving because of the points? That’s not why we are called to give.
Consider the costs.
Remember the church is paying upwards of 2.5% or more for a transaction. If you like the convenience of tithing with a credit card, you might increase your amount by a little bit in order to offset the cost incurred by the church.
Remember why you give.
The ultimate reason why we give is to further God’s Kingdom. If online giving helps to do that, I think it can be a great tool for churches.
What are your thoughts? Have you tithed online before? Do you think it’s OK to tithe online?
Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan.
This article was originally published on Personal Finance by the Book on October 21, 2011.