We're in a bit of an odd situation with Lisa working at the private school where the kids go. While we do get a tuition discount, we still owe each and every month. And it's about triple what it might have cost in a Lutheran school in Wisconsin. Anyhow, since we owe money each month, I want to find the best way to pay it both for me and my kids' school. Sadly, that's not always the same answer.
I don't love writing checks, but I will if it makes sense. This past year, we wrote monthly checks for the tuition payment. Basically eleven checks. It's a waste of a small amount of time, the need to remember, and the paper. Eventually, we'll have to reorder more checks, especially when we're writing one a week for church, too. That's over 60 checks a year going to one place, and that means we'll have to reorder checks more often than if we don't write them. In fact, I have a checking account I use for my business that is still on its first book of checks. I've written maybe six with it over the past three years. So why not do the same when it comes to donations?
Well, the reason I kind of waited was because I decided to research how much the church and school pay to have the online service. It costs them more to process a credit card than direct deposit, and I think it's 3% for credit cards. I don't like donating to a bank along with to my church, but since the church and school don't disclose this to us or offer a discount for checks, it's hard to pass up doing the whole thing online.
If I use my 1% cash back Discover Card, I can get over $100 back from my church and school payments over the course of a year. On the other end, the church and school will lose $300 because I've decided to do this. Maybe they're OK with it because it's automatic and easier for them. No one has to file my check and run it to the bank, so I guess if every parent and parishoner paid this way, there'd be less time spent with bookkeeping.
It's kind of a moral dilemma, even though neither the church nor school make it feel that way. I guess there's no late payments, and if you do a weekly church donation, you're not getting out of donating on those weeks you're out of town, so the church makes up for the 3% that way. Keep in mind, if the school offered a 1% savings for paying by check, I'd do that instead, because I'd know the school is saving a processing fee and I'm saving my 1% so that I can buy more checks.
If you run a church or school, these are the nuances of online payments you might want to consider. People like the convenience, but some of us are also looking to save our own or the church's money when we can.