Credit cards. Sure, they’re convenient, but they can also be more trouble than they’re worth if misused. When talking with ministries about their employee credit cards, I primarily hear the same two concerns: Appropriate use of the cards and monthly liability.
“A carefully crafted credit card policy is the key to controlling these issues,” says Larry Knight, pastor of church operations at Medford First Church of the Nazarene in Medford, Oregon. “Our church’s credit card policy is designed to make ministry easier, yet still emphasize accountability for how funds are spent.”
Whether you’re creating a brand new policy or just bolstering the policy you already have, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- For each person needing a card, issue it in his or her name and assign a monthly credit limit.
- Keep credit limits low with the ability to raise them via an approved request, based on events and seasons of the year. (Charges for going over the limit can come out of the staff member’s ministry budget.)
- To help control expenses and manage credit limits, consider a policy where staff members check out cards when needed and return them when they’re finished.
- Do not allow cash withdrawals or personal charges at any time for any reason.
- Give credit card statements to each card-holding staff member as soon as they arrive. Each person is responsible for attaching matching receipts and purchase orders for each charge to their statement and returning it to the bookkeeper within three working days of receipt of the statement.
- Ask your accountant for input on your credit card policy. He or she may have additional recommendations for what to include.
- Lastly, require each card-holding staff member to sign your credit card policy.
Used wisely, credit cards can keep staff efficient and your ministry humming. For more tips on managing employee credit cards, check out Vonna Laue’s article Credit Card Use in Churches Can Be Good, Bad, or Just Plain Ugly provided by the Engstrom Institute.