Art of Being Cheap: Church Credit Cards

The phrase “cheap accountant” seems redundant. With me, nearly everything is a cost-benefit analysis. If we’re deciding on a getting a cat: Cost = price of adoption, litter & food, vet bills, yowling and vomiting in the middle of the night (the cat…not me); Benefit = occasionally pet, something to kick. That’s just how my mind works. The hardest part has been shifting from immediate costs and benefits to also including the long-term costs and benefits.

When it comes to Church Credit Cards, I do the same thing:

  • COSTS: Rare late fee or financing charge; Employees more likely to overspend; Needing reimbursement for the occasional personal purchase; Stress of collecting receipts from problem employees
  • BENEFIT: Makes work easier for responsible employees; Possibly receive cash back rewards; Cut fewer checks by paying one credit card bill vs multiple reimbursements

The costs and benefits appear fairly even. Costs are rare and, if an employee has issues turning in receipts, just take away their church credit card, right? This is where I have often screwed up in the church world and offer my form of “grace.” My form of grace is more like a Get Out of Jail Free card…at least when it comes to misbehaving employees. This is not grace. This is shifting the pain from the one misbehaving to everyone else…especially the accountant. My advice, get rid of church credit cards. It’ll be cheaper in the long run. If you absolutely need a card, get a church debit card which only your most responsible employee (singular) uses. Everyone else can either go through the responsible employee or get reimbursed. And if they use their own credit card, then they get all the cash back rewards!


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