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The Best Credit Card Processing For Nonprofits

Many credit card processors offer discounts and unique features for nonprofits. Here’s how to maximize your merchant services toolset, including implementing free credit card processing.

    Jason Vissers
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Frank Kehl
  • REVIEWED BY

    Frank Kehl

    Senior Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Finding the best credit card processing for nonprofits is crucial to controlling your nonprofit organization’s costs.

A great credit card processor can not only help your nonprofit save money when taking in-person and online donations — many also offer nonprofit features like donor management and hosted donation pages. We’ll be highlighting these processors, and then we’ll explore how free credit card processing for nonprofits can work.

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  • Best overall nonprofit credit card processor
  • $0/month
  • Pricing starts at interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 (qualified nonprofits get discounted pricing)
  • Best overall nonprofit credit card processor
  • $0/month
  • Pricing starts at interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 (qualified nonprofits get discounted pricing)

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  • Best for free features
  • $0/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction, 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • Best for free features
  • $0/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction, 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction

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  • Best for low-cost ACH/eCheck processing
  • $9.95/month
  • Interchange + 0.12% + $0.06 per transaction for nonprofits
  • Best for low-cost ACH/eCheck processing
  • $9.95/month
  • Interchange + 0.12% + $0.06 per transaction for nonprofits

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  • Best for nonprofits considered high-risk
  • Monthly fee not disclosed
  • Per-transaction rates not disclosed
  • Best for nonprofits considered high-risk
  • Monthly fee not disclosed
  • Per-transaction rates not disclosed

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  • Best for advanced customization
  • $0/month
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per online transaction for nonprofits, 2.7% + $0.05 per in-person transaction
  • Best for advanced customization
  • $0/month
  • 2.2% + $0.30 per online transaction for nonprofits, 2.7% + $0.05 per in-person transaction

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  • Best for great customer service
  • $14.99/month
  • 1.35% + $0.05 per transaction for nonprofits
  • Best for great customer service
  • $14.99/month
  • 1.35% + $0.05 per transaction for nonprofits

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  • Best for organizations processing over $10K/month
  • $12/month for nonprofits
  • Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08 per in-person transaction for nonprofits, interchange + 0.10% + $0.11 per online transaction
  • Best for organizations processing over $10K/month
  • $12/month for nonprofits
  • Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08 per in-person transaction for nonprofits, interchange + 0.10% + $0.11 per online transaction

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  • Best for accepting multiple payment types
  • $0-$30/month
  • 1.99% + $0.49 per online transaction for nonprofits, 2.29% + $0.09 per in-person transaction
  • Best for accepting multiple payment types
  • $0-$30/month
  • 1.99% + $0.49 per online transaction for nonprofits, 2.29% + $0.09 per in-person transaction

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  • Best for high processing volumes
  • $21-189+/month
  • Starts at int + 0.28% + $0.08 per in-person transaction & int + 0.48% + $0.23 per online transaction with volume discounts available
  • Best for high processing volumes
  • $21-189+/month
  • Starts at int + 0.28% + $0.08 per in-person transaction & int + 0.48% + $0.23 per online transaction with volume discounts available

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Table of Contents

Why Your Organization Needs Great Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

A solid nonprofit payment processor can allow you to:

  • Accept donations online
  • Take donations at events with a card reader
  • Set up recurring donations and ACH transfers
  • Set up an online store
  • Promote and sell tickets to events

Do Nonprofits Pay Credit Card Processing Fees?

Nonprofits have to pay credit card processing fees unless they pass those costs on to their donors with surcharging or convenience fees. Many payment processors offer discounted rates to nonprofit organizations, however.

5 Tools & Features To Look For In Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

Here are some tools and features nonprofits should look for when selecting a payment processor.

ACH Processing

You’ve probably used ACH for direct deposits and peer-to-peer transactions. ACH payments are the most common way of performing bank-to-bank transfers in the US. They’re low cost compared to credit card transactions, making them excellent for recurring donations.

Reasonable Rates

Comparing payment processor rates can be tricky because not all of them use the same pricing model. Low-volume nonprofits may want to consider processors that offer flat-rate pricing with no monthly fee. Higher-volume nonprofits will generally be better off with interchange-plus pricing.

Stay away from tiered pricing if possible, though high-risk entities may not have a choice.

Nonprofit discounts are always nice, too, of course.

For a comprehensive explanation of pricing in the credit card processing industry, our complete guide to credit card processing fees is a great resource.

Donation Buttons

If you’re taking donations online, you want it to be easy for people to give you money. Many payment processors offer nonprofits simple buttons for donation processing that you can drop into the HTML of your website. Others will provide you with tools to build landing pages and websites.

Strong Security Features

Like any business, a nonprofit can fall victim to credit card fraud. While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of credit card fraud, you’ll want to select a processor with a good reputation for security. Also, you’ll generally want to choose one that takes PCI compliance out of your hands by keeping all credit card information on their server rather than yours.

Mobile Credit Card Readers

If you want to accept donations in-person at fundraising events, dinners, contests, etc, mobile credit card readers, when paired with a mobile POS app, can make accepting donations when on the go simple and easy.

While processors such as Square and PayPal offer their own proprietary devices, traditional merchant account providers typically offer third-party processing apps (and associated readers) such as SwipeSimple and Clover Go.

The Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processing Providers

Many top nonprofit credit card processing providers offer discounted processing rates for nonprofits. You’ll also want to consider providers that offer virtual terminals, ACH/echeck processing, eCommerce integrations, mobile point of sale, and other tools that help you take donations and communicate with donors.

  • Helcim: Overall Best Credit Card Processor For Nonprofits
  • Square: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Free Features
  • National Processing: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Low-Cost ACH/eCheck Processing
  • PaymentCloud: Best For Nonprofits Considered High-Risk
  • Stripe Payments: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Advanced Customization
  • Host Merchant Services: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Great Customer Service
  • Dharma Merchant Services: Best For Nonprofits Processing Over $10K/month
  • PayPal: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Accepting Multiple Payment Types
  • Clearly Payments: Best For Nonprofits With High Processing Volumes

How The Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processing Providers Compare

Monthly Fee Pricing Type Nonprofit Discount? ACH/eCheck Support?
Helcim $0 Interchange-plus
Square $0 Flat-rate
National Processing $9.95 Flat-rate or customized
PaymentCloud Undisclosed Interchange-plus or tiered
Stripe $0 Flat-rate
Host Merchant Services $14.99 Interchange-plus
Dharma Merchant Services $12 for nonprofits Interchange-plus
PayPal $0-$30 Flat-rate or interchange-plus
Clearly Payments $21-$189+ Interchange-plus or membership Undisclosed

Helcim: Overall Best Credit Card Processor For Nonprofits

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.4

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5



Pros

  • Discounted interchange-plus pricing for qualified nonprofits
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Excellent pricing transparency and customer support

Cons

  • No support for high-risk users
  • Pricey card reader
  • Not cost-effective for low-volume organizations

Why We Chose Helcim For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We chose Helcim as the best overall nonprofit credit card processor because it gives modern nonprofits the tools they need to conduct fundraisers and accept payments online, in-person, and over the phone, all while keeping your costs as low as possible.

While Helcim's mobile card reader isn't cheap, you'll get a virtual terminal, recurring billing, CRM, and payment portal pages for no cost whatsoever. A specialized donation platform might charge $100/month for these features.

Helcim Pricing

  • $0/month
  • Interchange + 0.30% + $0.08 to interchange + 0.10% + $0.05 per standard in-person transaction, with fees decreasing with processing volume
  • Online transactions start at interchange + 0.50% + $0.25 per transaction, with fees decreasing with processing volume
  • Nonprofits get lower interchange fees than standard users

Helcim Features

Helcim’s nonprofit-friendly features include the following:

  • Donate buttons
  • QR code payments
  • Payment links
  • Mobile credit card reader (sells for $109)
  • Recurring billing and membership management
  • Hosted donation pages
  • CRM functionality
  • ACH payments
  • Invoicing
  • Virtual terminal
  • International payment support
  • Your own merchant account

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Helcim’s agreements are month-to-month with no early termination fees — just provide 30 days’ notice beforehand, and your account will be closed.

When To Use Helcim

  • You want a full merchant account + all-in-one payments package for your nonprofit, and you don’t want to pay a monthly fee
  • You’re taking in upwards of $5K-10K in donations per month

Get Started With Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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Square: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Free Features

Total Rating 4.8
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.7

Contract4.3

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.9

User Reviews4.9



Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees
  • Impressive feature set
  • Affordable card reader

Cons

  • No discount rate for entities taking in less than $250K annually
  • Account stability issues
  • Does not support most high-risk entities

Why We Chose Square For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

Square only gives nonprofits a discounted rate if they take in $250K+/year in donations. Nonetheless, the sheer number of free features Square offers -- payment processing, business management, analytics, reporting, donor management tools, and more -- led to us including Square in this article.

Add in its numerous integrations with other software platforms, and the appeal of Square for nonprofits becomes obvious.

Square Pricing

  • $0/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction, 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • Nonprofits taking in $250K+/year in donations may get a discounted rate; otherwise, nonprofits pay the standard rate

Square Features

Square’s nonprofit page details its nonprofit benefits, nearly all of which are free.

  • Capture donor information in a Customer Directory
  • Donation links with customizable donation goals
  • Donation tracking
  • Virtual terminal
  • Free magstripe-only card reader
  • Inexpensive ($49) chip card reader
  • Hosted donation pages
  • Invoicing
  • QR code payments
  • Square Online (website/online store builder)

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Like all third-party processors, Square has no long-term contracts or early termination fees.

When To Use Square

  • You want to take advantage of Square’s package of free nonprofit-friendly features
  • Your nonprofit takes in over $250K/year in donations and thus qualifies for discounted pricing (smaller nonprofits can also benefit from Square, though)

Get Started With Square

Read our in-depth review

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National Processing: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Low-Cost ACH/eCheck Processing

National Processing

Total Rating 4.6
Fees & Rates4.8

Products & Services5.0

Contract4.6

Sales & Advertising Transparency4.4

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews4.4



Get a free Clover Go card reader from National Processing when you sign up. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Low flat-rate pricing
  • Low-cost ACH/eCheck processing
  • Month-to-month billing offered

Cons

  • Long-term contracts are required for a free terminal
  • Early termination fee charged in some circumstances
  • Few details provided regarding custom pricing for those processing over $30K/month

Why We Chose National Processing For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

National Processing's cheap ACH/eCheck processing package is well-suited to processing recurring donations, making the company a natural choice for this article. National Processing also offers some of the lowest flat rates around for payment processing, along with a solid feature set and integration list.

While the company no longer advertises discounted nonprofit rates, organizations processing over $30K/month can negotiate a custom pricing deal. If this is you, ask the company about getting interchange-plus pricing with discounted nonprofit rates.

National Processing Pricing

  • $9.95/month ($15/month more for ACH processing)
  • Nonprofit rates are interchange + 0.12% + $0.06 per in-person and online transaction
  • ACH/eCheck rates are 0-1.5% + $0.48/transaction (varies by transaction size)

National Processing Features

Notable features from National Processing include:

  • ACH/eCheck processing
  • Virtual terminal
  • Credit card terminals
  • POS systems (both in-house and third-party)
  • Mobile processing with Clover and SwipeSimple
  • API integration
  • Many eCommerce integrations
  • Proprietary donation tracking software
  • Nonprofit-focused analytics

Contract Requirements/Warnings

If you buy your POS equipment outright or don’t need such equipment, National Processing offers month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees. However, if you opt for “free” POS equipment, you’ll likely have to sign a three-year contract, though you should be exempt from any ETFs if you promptly return the “free” equipment.

When To Use National Processing

  • You want a processor that offers a great ACH/eCheck package for taking recurring donations

Get Started With National Processing

Read our in-depth review

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PaymentCloud: Best For Nonprofits Considered High-Risk

Total Rating 4.1
Fees & Rates4.3

Products & Services5.0

Contract2.8

Sales & Advertising Transparency3.9

Customer Service4.2

User Reviews4.0



Exclusive Promo: PaymentCloud will give you $200 if they can't beat your current rate. Get Your Quote

Pros

  • High-risk specialist
  • Free credit card terminal
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Non-transparent pricing with no nonprofit discount
  • An early termination fee may apply
  • The company website could be more informative

Why We Chose PaymentCloud For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

PaymentCloud specializes in credit card processing for high-risk businesses, and nonprofits often get classified as such. As PaymentCloud is one of the most reputable and well-featured high-risk specialists around, we included it on this list.

The company pitches itself as a nonprofit solution, offering payment processing, an integrated gateway, a virtual terminal, a shopping cart integration, and ACH/eCheck processing. We just wish PaymentCloud offered discounted nonprofit rates or disclosed pricing details on its website.

PaymentCloud Pricing

  • Quote-based pricing — tiered and interchange-plus plans are available (get interchange-plus pricing if possible)
  • No further pricing details are provided, but no nonprofit discount is offered

PaymentCloud Features

Features offered by PaymentCloud include:

  • Virtual terminal
  • Free credit card terminal
  • ACH/eCheck processing
  • Integrated shopping cart software
  • Mobile POS integrations
  • Multiple payment gateways
  • QR code payments
  • Recurring billing
  • Your own merchant account

While the credit card terminal is free, you’ll have to ship it back to the company immediately if you close your account. Otherwise, you’ll be charged for the full cost of the machine.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Your merchant agreement will depend on whether or not your nonprofit is classified as high-risk. Low-risk merchant accounts get month-to-month agreements with no early termination fees, while high-risk accounts may have to sign a two-year contract and an ETF. However, high-risk nonprofits may still be able to get the ETF waived.

When To Use PaymentCloud

  • Your nonprofit is considered high-risk, and you want the best processing deal possible

Get Started With PaymentCloud

Read our in-depth review

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Stripe: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Advanced Customization

Stripe Payments

Total Rating 4.7
Fees & Rates4.7

Products & Services4.5

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.5

User Reviews4.1



Pros

  • Flat-rate pricing with discounted rates for qualified nonprofits
  • Excellent developer tools
  • Advanced reporting, tax, and bookkeeping tools

Cons

  • No discount if your nonprofit raises less than 80% of its funds via donations
  • Account stability issues
  • You may need developer expertise on your team to get the most out of Stripe

Why We Chose Stripe For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We chose Stripe for this list for its unmatched customizability for nonprofits needing an advanced processing solution. Stripe lets your nonprofit create a custom website experience, accept payments in any currency, and generate custom reports. Stripe is also one of the best processors for recurring billing.

Organizations that use Stripe include Unicef, Oxfam, and NPR, highlighting the usefulness of Stripe for nonprofits.

Stripe Pricing

  • $0/month
  • 2.2% + $0.30 online transaction fee for qualified nonprofits, 2.7% + $0.05 fee for in-person transactions
  • Your organization must raise at least 80% of its funds through donations to qualify for the discounted rate

Stripe Features

Stripe is best known for its strong developer support and excellent developer tools. Other features include:

  • International support
  • Recurring billing
  • ACH transactions
  • Numerous integrations
  • Hosted payment pages (Stripe Checkout)
  • Customizable donation forms
  • Manage taxes, reporting, and bookkeeping
  • Payment links

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Stripe offers true month-to-month billing with no early termination fees.

When To Use Stripe

  • You want a nonprofit processor offering discounted rates and some of the most advanced developer tools available from a merchant services provider

Get Started With Stripe Payments

Read our in-depth review

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Host Merchant Services: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Great Customer Service

Host Merchant Services

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services5.0

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency4.7

Customer Service4.6

User Reviews4.8



Pros

  • Discounted interchange-plus pricing for nonprofits
  • Good customer support
  • Many nonprofit-friendly features

Cons

  • US-based organizations only
  • No pricing details given for card readers
  • $14.99 monthly fee

Why We Chose Host Merchant Services For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We picked Host Merchant Services for this list because it combines transparent nonprofit-discounted pricing with solid features, excellent customer support, and a great reputation in the industry.

Additionally, you won't have to sign a long-term contract, and there are no early termination fees if you jump ship. While the company doesn't publicly disclose pricing details for its credit card terminals and card readers, it's not alone in this regard.

Host Merchant Services Pricing

  • $14.99/month
  • 1.35% + $0.05 per transaction for nonprofits
  • Offers discounted nonprofit pricing through its HMS Gives program

Host Merchant Services Features

Host Merchant Services provides several features that nonprofit organizations can make use of, including:

  • Virtual terminal
  • Web hosting and a basic website
  • Credit card terminals
  • Mobile processing and card readers
  • In-house Bonsai POS system
  • Shopping cart integrations
  • eCheck processing
  • Your own merchant account

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Host Merchant Services offers month-to-month arrangements with no long-term contracts or early termination fees.

When To Use Host Merchant Services

  • You want a nonprofit-friendly payment processor with discounts and the most helpful customer support around

Get Started With Host Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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Dharma Merchant Services: Best For Nonprofits Processing Over $10K/month

Dharma Merchant Services

Total Rating 5.0
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services5.0

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5



Pros

  • Month-to-month billing + discounted interchange-plus pricing for qualified nonprofits
  • Virtual terminal, recurring billing, and donation buttons
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • Pricey mobile card reader
  • No support for high-risk organizations

Why We Chose Dharma Merchant Services For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We chose Dharma Merchant Services for this list because its transparent, nonprofit-discounted interchange-plus pricing, tools for accepting donations both online and in-person, and a wide array of eCommerce and POS integrations make it ideal for nonprofits processing over $10,000/month.

With Dharma, the benefits for larger nonprofits more than outweigh the monthly fees charged for the core service and some of the add-on features.

Dharma Pricing

  • $12/month for nonprofits
  • Nonprofit rates are interchange + 0.10% + $0.08 per in-person transaction, interchange + 0.10% + $0.11 per online transaction

Dharma Features

Dharma’s nonprofit page details its features for registered charities, which include:

  • Donation buttons
  • A virtual terminal
  • Recurring billing and invoicing
  • eCommerce integrations (for an additional $10/month)
  • Hosted donation pages
  • Customer database
  • ACH processing (for a monthly fee)
  • Payment links
  • Mobile card reader ($149)
  • Your own merchant account

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Dharma offers month-to-month billing with no ETFs, but it does charge a $49 account closure fee when you permanently close your account. This fee won’t be charged if your organization only operates seasonally, however.

When To Use Dharma Merchant Services

  • You want a payment processing package specifically tailored to the needs of larger nonprofits

Get Started With Dharma Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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PayPal: Best Nonprofit Credit Card Processor For Accepting Multiple Payment Types

Total Rating 4.2
Fees & Rates3.8

Products & Services4.2

Contract4.6

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews3.3



Pros

  • Flat-rate pricing with discounted rates for nonprofits
  • Extensive integrations
  • Good developer tools

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Inconsistent customer support
  • Pricing is high if you take lots of very small online donations

Why We Chose PayPal For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We included PayPal in this article because it accepts payments in just about every form imaginable, from QR payments to cryptocurrency payments to everything in between. It's important to cater to the preferences of as many potential donors as possible.

PayPal offers discounted nonprofit rates for online transactions, but even this rate includes a $0.49 fixed fee, which is steep if you accept lots of small online donations (though in-person donations only incur a $0.09 fixed fee). However, PayPal's combination of discounted rates and nonprofit-friendly tools (both in-house and third-party) still equals a compelling package for nonprofits.

PayPal Pricing

  • $0-$30/month (depending on the online checkout flow you use)
  • 1.99% + $0.49 online transaction fee for approved nonprofits, 2.20% + $0.09 per in-person transaction
  • 2.89% + $0.49 online transaction fee for donations if your organization does not yet have nonprofit status

PayPal Features

Our PayPal nonprofit guide contains a full nonprofit-specific feature rundown, but here’s a summary of what you’ll get:

  • Donation buttons
  • QR codes
  • Inexpensive mobile card reader with a PIN pad
  • Virtual terminal (though you have to pay a monthly fee for it)
  • Donation links (PayPal.me)
  • Hosted donation pages
  • Invoicing
  • Countless shopping carts, POS, CRM, and accounting integrations
  • Detailed reporting

Contract Requirements/Warnings

All PayPal merchant agreements are month-to-month — no long-term contracts and no ETFs.

When To Use PayPal

  • You want a payments package for your nonprofit that includes extensive support for a broad range of payment types

Get Started With PayPal

Read our in-depth review

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Clearly Payments: Best For Nonprofits With High Processing Volumes

Clearly Payments


Visit Site


Pros

  • Offers interchange-plus and membership pricing plans
  • Month-to-month billing
  • Next-day funding included with each account

Cons

  • Clover software subscription fees not disclosed
  • Very little merchant feedback available
  • Monthly fee

Why We Chose Clearly Payments For Nonprofit Credit Card Processing

We chose Clearly Payments for this list because despite being relatively new to the processing industry, its impressive range of features and extensive pricing disclosures are good indicators of its quality and trustworthiness. The company's pricing scheme makes it a great fit for organizations with higher processing volumes.

Clearly advertises itself as a solution for nonprofits, though it does not specify whether or not nonprofits get a discounted processing rate. If you're considering using Clearly Payments, ask a company rep if your nonprofit can get processing at a discount.

Clearly Payments Pricing

  • $21/month with interchange-plus pricing, $99-189+/month with membership pricing (only available to Canadian entities)
  • Pricing for the interchange-plus plan starts at interchange + 0.28% + $0.08 per in-person transaction and interchange + 0.48% + $0.23 per online transaction, with substantial discounts available as your processing volume increases
  • Pricing for the membership plans start at interchange + $0.08 per transaction, with lower rates available in plans with higher monthly fees

Clearly Payments Features

Features offered by Clearly Payments include:

  • Next-day funding
  • Mobile processing
  • Countertop terminals and POS systems
  • Virtual terminal
  • Online invoicing
  • Analytics and reporting

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Clearly Payments offers month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts and no early termination fees.

When To Use Clearly Payments

  • Your nonprofit has a high processing volume, and you want to take advantage of the company’s significant volume discounts

Get Started With Clearly Payments

Jump back to comparison chart

Payment Processing Rating Methodology

Merchant Maverick has been researching the payment processing industry since 2009. Our writers have reviewed hundreds of credit card processors, merchant account services, and mobile payment apps, evaluating each provider carefully on several different metrics.

When comparing different payment processing companies and applications to one another, we consider numerous data points. Our experts start by comparing credit card processing rates, the presence of additional fees, contract length, sales practices, and the presence or absence of additional features and services, like point of sale software. Each provider is judged on its own merits and how well it stacks up to industry standards; then it is weighed against the other providers on the list.

We spend an average of 10-15 hours researching and updating each one of our lists, making sure every company or application included meets our internal standards for quality and reputation. Any list of recommended payment processors on our site might contain a mix of standard merchant accounts, third-party payment processors, mobile payment devices, and high-risk payment processors, depending on what our expert feels is the best fit for certain scenarios or business types.

For additional details about Merchant Maverick’s review and rating processes, please refer to any or all of the following methodology pages:

15

Years reviewing payment processors

100+

Providers evaluated

25

Attributes and features assessed per vendor

40+

Years combined experience


How To Get Free Credit Card Processing For Nonprofits

Yes, free credit card processing exists for nonprofits. However, this means that you pass your processing costs down to your donors.

A nonprofit is one of the few types of organizations that can get away with asking customers to cover processing costs without incurring resentment. Walmart.com would not enjoy that privilege.

Check out our guide for the best free credit card processors that allow you to pass processing costs onto your donors. Other methods of offsetting credit card processing fees can also lower your overhead costs, too.

Surcharging

In addition to the actual charge, surcharging means the processing costs are added to the amount afterward, and the payment card user must pay this additional amount.

Convenience Fees

With convenience fees, the net result is the same as with surcharging — the card user pays the processing costs — but you must offer a way for the donor to pay if they don’t want to pay the convenience fee.

Facts Regarding Free Credit Card Processing For Nonprofits

  • You can eliminate some or all of your processing costs
  • You may be charged a monthly fee for using the feature
  • You’ll still be responsible for chargebacks and other incidental fees
  • You’ll need to inform your donors clearly that they’re paying the costs
  • You may turn off some potential donors, though this is less of an issue than it is for for-profit businesses
  • You may be liable if you do not implement this feature correctly — follow the laws and guidelines of both your state and payment processor

Can Nonprofits Use Venmo?

Nonprofits can use Venmo to collect donations and even get a discounted rate of 1.9% + $0.10 per transaction. In addition, with Venmo’s Charity Profiles, nonprofits can access additional features to improve their fundraising.

Check out our Venmo for Nonprofits article to learn more.

The Bottom Line On Choosing The Best Credit Card Processing For Nonprofits

When you’re choosing from the best online credit card processors for your nonprofit, following these steps will help you make the right choice.

Step 1: Know How You Want To Take Donations

  • Will you be accepting donations online, in-person, or both?
  • Do you anticipate mainly taking recurring donations, one-time donations, or a mix of both?

Step 2: Know The Additional Features You'll Need

You don’t want to end up with a solution that doesn’t provide what you need, nor do you want to pay for features you don’t need. Consider whether or not you’ll require the following:

  • A mobile card reader
  • A virtual terminal
  • Recurring billing
  • Invoicing
  • Donor management tools
  • Accounting tools
  • A website builder

Step 3: Consider Your Processing Volume And Average Ticket Size

Organizations processing over $10,000/month will benefit from interchange-plus pricing offered by the likes of Helcim and National Processing. Those processing under that amount will benefit from the flat-rate processing offered by Square, Stripe, and PayPal.

Average ticket size is another important consideration. If you mainly take small donations, the 49-cent fixed fee charged by PayPal for each online transaction will hit you hard. If your average donation is large, however, that fixed fee will be less significant.

Final Tips To Remember

  • Beware of long-term contracts, especially those that include an early termination fee (ETF). Many processors now offer month-to-month packages or will at least waive your ETFs.
  • Steer clear of independent sales agents and deal directly with a company when possible.
  • Get everything in writing!

FAQs About Credit Card Processing For Nonprofits

How can a nonprofit accept credit cards?

Nonprofits can use integrated payment processing built into donation software, but they can usually save more money by using a merchant account or a third-party payment processor.

Do nonprofits need to be PCI compliant?

Yes, nonprofits must be PCI compliant if they accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information. There are no PCI compliance exemptions for nonprofit organizations.

How do I ask donors to cover processing fees?

If you want your donors to pay your processing fees, consult your payment processor’s policies and your state’s guidelines on surcharging. You’ll want to communicate clearly to your donors that they are paying the costs.

Alternatively, you can charge convenience fees, which face fewer state-level restrictions.

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Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Senior Staff Writer at Merchant Maverick
Jason has been writing about small business software platforms, services, and financing since 2015. Jason’s expertise has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Time/NextAdvisor, Home Business Magazine, CreditCards.com, GoBankingRates, TheLadders.com, and other publications. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from San Diego State University and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jason Vissers
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