Should You Tithe With a Credit Card?

Credit-Card-Tithe

My wife and I use a credit card to pay for our tithe and I’d like to address the issue of churches accepting tithe from credit cards. Is it something they should be doing? Also, should you pay your tithe with a credit card? Here are a few points to consider.

Should You Tithe With a Credit Card?

Some churches only allow online tithing through debit cards, not credit cards. Having a credit card option can be a good thing for those who want to tithe online, but consider this if you choose to use a credit card for your tithe.

The church pays a higher fee for credit cards compared to debit cards.

Debit card fees range from 1-2% and credit card fees can range from 2-4% for each transaction. If you choose to tithe because of credit card perks (and you’re responsible with your credit cards) consider adding a couple of dollars if you want to cover the cost of the transaction. On a $100 tithe, that’s about $2-$4. Do you have to do this? No. But if you’ve never considered the cost that the church pays and you feel compelled to take care of the fee, simply adjust your gift by a few dollars.

Don’t use your credit card to tithe unless you’re responsible with it.

If you’re having trouble making your payments or can’t seem to remember when to pay off your credit card, you should not use it to tithe. That’s being financially irresponsible and you don’t need to be using your credit card – probably at all.

Don’t go into debt to give.

2 Corinthians 8:12 (NIV) says, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” Tithing isn’t a popularity contest and going into debt because of giving isn’t something I find in the Bible. In this scripture, Paul is telling the church in Corinth to give what they can. Going in debt to give doesn’t make sense and I don’t think it’s biblical.

Is Tithing With a Credit Card for the Reward Points Wrong?

I mentioned before that my wife and I use our credit card to pay our tithe because we put just about every expense on it for the rewards. We don’t tithe because of the rewards – we tithe because we want to further the Kingdom of God. If your motivation to tithe becomes so focused on credit card points, you should take a moment to reevaluate your motives.

What’s your opinion about using a credit card to tithe? Leave a comment!

This article was originally published in 2010 at FaithandFinance.org.












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22 Comments
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  1. I share a very similar opinion to you on this topic. As long as you’re using the credit cards responsibly, I don’t see any reason to not using it to tithe. I try to put as many things as possible on my credit card so that I can get the maximum rewards. Being that I pay it off monthly, I don’t see why it’s a problem.

    • Jake –

      Curious to hear your thoughts on my comment below. Specifically this part…

      “Question: When you collect rewards, cash-back, points, or miles, are you not (at least in part) “profiting” from those who are in debt and paying interest on their credit cards? That “free money” comes from somewhere and one of the ways CC companies make money is from interest payments from those who are in debt. Therefore, are you not participating in, and making good on, a system that takes money from those who are in debt and then funnels some of that money to those who are not in debt and collecting those rewards, cash back, points, or miles?”

      -Derek

  2. I didn’t even know this was an option! I always tithed in cash. Never even entered my mind to tithe with a debit OR credit card. We live in a very rural part of NY, and I don’t think this is even an option with the churches out here. We’re lucky if the church has a website, let alone an option to tithe online.

  3. John VanDerMeulen

    I find it very hard to justify paying a tithe with a credit card. I think any credit card use is a slippery slope that can only get you into trouble. There is just too much opportunity for overspending to occur. There is too much information out about the number of people that do not pay off the balance of their credit cards, even with the best of intentions. I attend a smaller church so there is no option of paying online. The only way I can justify this would be if a debit card is used. From a churches standpoint I can see where they would want to switch to credit card or debit card use. It is easier to use and typically people spend more using a credit card rather than cash or by check. Larger churches would certainly benefit from this just because of the amount of transactions that would take place at a given service. But again, I would recommend a debit card only.

  4. I disagree with paying your tithe with a credit card. Currently I don’t use any credit cards, but I have in the past. The inherent danger with credit cards is that you don’t “feel” the cost. That lack of feeling makes it easy to buy things you can’t afford. When tithing, I think we need to “feel” it or it loses it’s meaning. Keep in mind it is a heart thing, God doesn’t “need” your money. If tithing is only a formality that is paid with a credit card, I think the point of tithing is missed. My 2 pennies.

  5. I would imagine that it is safe to assume that the majority of people carry a balance from month to month on their cards. And that this is really a conversation for two different groups. Those that pay their card off and those that do not.

    For those that do using a credit card to pay their giving isn’t terrible but is it biblical?

    For those that carry a balance, I would imagine that if they give $100 to the church and than are charged interest on that $100 of say $5 for the month. Wouldn’t the church benefit from the $105 more than the $100?

  6. Ronald Kimble

    This is a personal decision we should not set rules for how people want to honorThe Lord
    I use my credit card because it is convenient and it goes to the church whether i am there or not .

  7. Interesting read, but I rather just keeping tithing with cash then use credit/debit.

  8. I respectfully disagree, but not for the reasons you think. Yes, credit cards are debt and the Bible does not condone debt. Yes, you could give a little extra to cover the processing fees. However, using credit cards – even when paying them off every month – is feeding the industry that is harming our neighborhoods.

    Think about it: Where do the rewards come from? The credit card companies. How do they get the money and still be profitable? They get it by charging service fees, late fees, over-the-limit fees, and interest. Who pays for these charges? Everyone. Using credit causes prices of items to rise to cover the processing fees and financially hurts those who do not pay their cards off every month.

    I choose not to support the credit card industry just as I would not support smoking, payday loan stores, or t-shirts with explicit messages. I don’t condemn those who do but I certainly don’t want to help the companies who produce and market such things.

  9. Agatha

    Hi,

    I don’t agree with tithing with a credit card. One, a credit card is in esence a loan, and has nothing to do with your actual income that you’ve earned. I don’t agree with giving God tithes from something that you have not actually earned as income – something that you have not actually worked and sweat for. For example, God used Jesus as a tithe of sorts to redeem His family back to Himself from the fall of man – He didn’t use an adopted son. He used His very own begotten Son – something that actually cost Him – a true sacrifice. Christ was the first of all other sons.

    If you pay tithes from a credit card, then it means that you would have to pay the debtors before you pay God your tithes, wouldn’t it? Isn’t that backwards? God said He requires your first, as tithes – not AFTER you’ve paid everyone else. Believe me, I understand what you are saying in choosing to “just pay your tithes” but at the same time, you must ask yourself the question, “Is God really and truly , FIRST?” even in how you choose to pay your tithes. Honestly, I really think and feel this matters a lot. I know that taxes and other things come out of your pay before it even gets in your hands (a necessary evil I honestly don’t like) but here I’m talking about something that we choose to do with our own will and ability to control ourselves. Just some food for thought.

  10. Cherie

    I’ll go on the other side of the fence.

    The problem with credit card rewards is that the percentage gained by the parishioner is much less than the merchant fee percentage paid by the church. If you increase your donation to cover the church’s loss on the fee, then where is the benefit from the rewards?

    The winner is the credit card company every time.

    And for the churches that have the credit card machines in the lobby…that’s makes a place of worship look like just another business where you bring out the plastic…in my opinion.

    We choose to use our bank’s BillPay program (no fee to us or the church) and have a check automatically mailed each paycheck. This gives me the most control to change the amount as our income increases or decreases or to give more for special occasions.

  11. “I mentioned before that my wife and I use our credit card to pay our tithe because we put just about every expense on it for the rewards.” (Quote from the post.)

    Question: When you collect rewards, cash-back, points, or miles, are you not (at least in part) “profiting” from those who are in debt and paying interest on their credit cards? That “free money” comes from somewhere and one of the ways CC companies make money is from interest payments from those who are in debt. Therefore, are you not participating in, and making good on, a system that takes money from those who are in debt and then funnels some of that money to those who are not in debt and collecting those rewards, cash back, points, or miles?

    I am actually not sure of the answer myself. But if you simply follow the money, it seems to suggest that this is, at least in part, true. No?

    If this theory is true, I think it would and should affect our involvement in the CC system. A system that I believe takes advantage of people. A system that I have labeled as “legalized theft” in the past.

    Seriously, if it weren’t for the whole cash back thing, why bother having a CC in the first place?
    And, who is on the other side of the arrangement?

    So, I’m not sure of the whole tithing with a CC idea for the reason suggested above. I am also not sure about CCs in general partly due to the theory above. (“Theory”… because I am unsure if the thought is correct)

    Last, if you are in CC debt and aren’t able to keep up with the payments, you are stealing from the CC company and giving that money to a church. Interesting. What church would even want you to do such a thing? (This only applies if you aren’t at least making your monthly minimum payments or defaulting on loans or CCs.)

    My wife and I tithe straight from our bank account. Neither of us even have a CC.

    Interesting question. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    -Derek

    • Hi Derek,

      I fully understand your skepticism of the industry in general. I have been in the Credit card industry for years and to answer your question regarding credit card companies using interest garnered to pay rewards, it is a common misconception. The rewards are actually paid by the merchant, church, or business that is accepting the credit card.

      The true benefit of having a credit card is actually in your ability to grow your credit. The world we live in is driven forward at a dramatically faster rate due to our ability to borrow. For instance the average home owner has a mortgage and without that mortgage or that debt they may never have the privilege of owning a home. Building the credit score required to get a loan of that size without a credit card would be close to impossible.

      The benefits to the merchant are also quite vast. Primarily I would say versatility, in that many people don’t have cheques now a days. I know personally I don’t, so if you only accept cash and cheque you limit my purchasing power to the few dollars I have in my pocket which I also try not to carry, relying primarily on debit myself. In addition to versatility cheque fraud is pervasive and the medium is extremely insecure.

      I hope this answer helps you understand the benefits of the V/MC system.

      Cheers

  12. Amanda

    As someone who is trying to get out of credit card and student loan debt, I think “credit card tithing” is irresponsible and impersonal. It removes the thought of gratitude that occurs when you place Gods portion in the plate and reduces it into yet another bill or worldly internet purchase. I expect a higher standard of monetary responsibility out of religious institutions. They (although unknowingly) are encouraging more credit card debt. If you pay it off every month, GOOD FOR YOU, but not everybody can or does. There are people in congregations with real spending problems, and accepting this form of payment would set a bad example for them. Likewise, would churches accept money from Check cashing institutions? Essentially a credit card is an upper-middle class check cashing store with high percentage rates and frequent flyer miles. Churches should do their part to encourage people to live within their means and give what they can afford. Not what visa/mastercard says is left on their card for the month. Tithing should come from the top not the bottom.

  13. Tithing is vital to any congregation, it’s that thing that fuels it. It makes use of the contributions by members to further the scope of reaching out or realizing a project, but using a credit card to offer your tithes is a no no to me. Be very careful in using your credit card online. A lot of scams are just lurking and you might fall prey to this opportunistic hackers. I would prefer giving tithes at your own will without the use of a debit nor a credit card.

    Let’s say you go to mass, make it a habit to spare some cash in your wallet to do away using credit cards…. It is as simple as that to be safe from being scammed

  14. To me, the tithe is an issue of the heart, and the way in which it is given is an issue of the mind.

    I wear one hat when I am deciding the “what, when, and where” of giving. But I put on a different hat when doing the actual giving.

    It would be inappropriate to try to give to a visiting evangelist via credit card if it’s obvious he or she is not set up for such a transaction, just as it would be inappropriate to give a check to a homeless person. But if a worthy individual or organization is set up for credit card transactions, then make the transaction in a way that maximizes the value of the gift—credit card or not.

  15. Using credit card should be the last option! You don’t want to have problems in your finances just because you overused your credit card. Same term applies if you want the economy to recuperate, alongside the current forex trading. Great post, by the way. It’s very well written.

  16. I don’t tithe with a credit card but in reading the comments, I didn’t see any that were basing their decisions from Scripture. There are some Biblical principles:

    1. We are to give of our first fruits.
    2. We are to give regularly.
    3. We are to give proportionately.
    4. We are to give sacrificially (that means I give up something in order to give).
    5. We are to give joyfully.

    A tithe should only be the beginning. Everything we have belongs to Him and we should give out of gratefulness for what He’s done for me in proving my salvation.

    Regarding credit cards, it would seem my attitude and response are key. It’s not how much will I get on my rewards but how much actually goes into His work. If the church has to pick up the cost of the credit card transaction, then I need to be honest on what I am truly giving to the Lord when I make out my income tax, etc.

  17. Correction of word “proving” in third paragraph. Should be “providing.”

  18. moms2

    Paying with credit card should not be a option. Paying with debit card is just like writing a check and deduct out of your checking account. God knows your heart and please give what you can afford. I don’t always give 10% and I use to feel bad when I could not give 10%. I know God will have love me whether I will give 10% or not.

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