We often get asked if we think using a credit card for a church is bad or if churches should only use debit cards. The short answer: we prefer churches use debit cards, but probably not for the reason you think.
Because credit cards benefit the most when you carry a balance (not pay it in full each month), the entire strategy around their cards are built to encourage you using this card, from points to miles to cash back. Additionally, credit cards often set higher monthly credit limits than what most ministries spend in a given month. None of these things are inherently bad, but it takes a really, really detailed and dedicated person to keep track and actively manage it.
Conversely, debit cards tied to your specific ministries account gives you guardrails in your monthly spending. You have access to only the funds in your account and when they're gone, they're gone. The "spending limit" is directly tied to the funds in the account for your ministry.
Here's the simplified version of our bank/debit card process:
The one concern we hear from churches when considering using bank accounts is with a bank account, they can spend everything that's in it. A credit card prevents that fraud because you can dispute charges and it's not taking money from your account immediately. We understand their concern and would offer the following rebuttal:
While there are both risks and benefits with each, we've had the most success in increasing the financial health of the church with using debit cards. It's not because we think credit cards are the root of all evil. We find debit cards are easier to manage, give better guardrails for spending and fraud, and can be implemented into a system that provides better cash flow for the organization.