Summer Camp Registration Fees: ACH vs Credit Cards.

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Cost Savings; Ach or Credit Cards

Alright, so if you’ve been following along at home, you know that I promised I would do a comparison of the cost savings a camp might realize if a portion of their clients opted to pay using ACH rather than a credit card.  You thought it was going to be a simple blog post.  Honestly, so did I.  Little did I know…  

The Cost Savings THEY Don’t Want You to Know About

Let me be straight with you: THEY didn’t want this information to come out.  They tried everything they could to keep the truth from the people. 

First, they tempted me to research and shop for lawn mowers with the ruse that my HOA was going to start leveeing fines (they are for sure on every HOA board that has ever been created).  An hour later, when that didn’t work, they tricked my wife into calling me to “remind” me that I had “promised” to pick up the “kids”.  Well played, ‘they‘, well played. 

Well, I played their little game, but then flipped the script on them: I had my kids mow the lawn (it’s a riding mower, so the 6-year-old steers while the 5-year-old pushes the pedals) which left me free to bring revelation to the masses, but they weren’t done.  Oh no, dear reader, not even close.  However, I optioned the rights to the book a couple days ago, so I am contractually prohibited from sharing the rest of the story.  Just know that someone who’s name rhymes with Bomb Crews* may or may not play a role. 

Parameters for Cost Savings Comparison

For the purposes of transparency and because grade school taught me that I always had to show my work, here is a rundown on how I arrived at my fee comparison numbers:   

  • All fees referenced are estimates and should not be taken as guarantees; your actual cost savings will vary.
  • I used the fee structures for both credit card and ACH transactions listed here.  Credit card fees were calculated using “Cost Plus Pricing”. 
  • For ease of comparison, I used an average ticket price of $500 to calculate the number of transactions contained for a given revenue total (i.e., Camp A at $2mil in revenue results in 4,000 transactions)
  • For ACH fees, I estimated the number of batches (that is, days where ACH transactions were processed) relative to the dollar amount processed.  In general, I estimated that each camp was accepting registrations roughly 9 months of the year.

For this comparison, I will reference 3 camps which correspond to the revenue below (hopefully your camp is somewhat represented in one these three categories): 

  • Camp A – $2,000,000.00 in revenue 
  • Camp B – $500,000.000 
  • Camp C – $100,000.00 

I also refer to adoption rates, that is the % of customers that switch from paying with their credit card in favor of an ACH transaction.  I show comparisons for rates between 5% (barely anyone uses ACH) and 100% (the camp only accepts ACH). 

Now before you go on, I want to remind you: they don’t want you to see this.  They will try to distract you by having you wish you were closer to camp A if you are camp B or C.  Don’t fall for it!  Do not forsake the words of Michael Scott, (et al)!  Here we go… 

Credit Card vs ACH

Credit Card Only (our basis for comparison) 

To compare any potential cost savings with ACH, I first needed to calculate the cost for processing all transactions with credit cards.  For our example camps that came to: 

  • Camp A – $43,350.00 in credit card fees for a total net proceeds of $1,956,650.00 ($2mil revenue – credit card fees) or 2.17% of total revenue 
  • Camp B – $13,600.00 for a total net proceeds of $486,400.00 or 2.72% 
  • Camp C – $3,000.00 for a total net proceeds of $97,000.00 or 3% 

As we can see, volume does lower the cost per transaction somewhat, mostly in the form of better rates.  You might be thinking, “Those fees are so low, how can ACH be lower than that?!”  If so, it’s likely you are also thinking, “I am so glad the world is flat!”  Now even though I think the way you worded your question, it seems like you meant it to be rhetorical, I am going to answer anyway, because that is what they want me to think, and when they zig…I also zig (because they think I am going zag and zigging fools them). 

Credit Cards + ACH Transactions – Camp A 

ACH Adoption CC Only Fees CC + ACH Fees Cost Savings 
5%  $    43,350.00   $  42,337.50   $     1,012.50  
10%  $    43,350.00   $  41,360.00   $     1,990.00  
20%  $    43,350.00   $  39,272.50   $     4,077.50  
35%  $    43,350.00   $  36,122.50   $     7,227.50  
50%  $    43,350.00   $  32,972.50   $  10,377.50  
100%  $    43,350.00   $  22,122.50   $  21,227.50  

Here’s how those fees can be lower, Mr/Mrs Flat Earther!  As you can see, Camp A can save somewhere between $1k and $21k depending upon how many customers switch to ACH.  At 100% adoption that would bring the total fees down to 1.11% of revenue.  And what’s more, it’s a savings that Camp A can realize without doing anything.  Let me say that again for the people in the back: the savings you can see from processing ACH transactions vs credit cards is money you get to keep without taking any effort.  No extra work required.  Don’t you wish all your donations required this little work? 

What Can You Buy with your 100% Adoption Savings – 3,537 bags of Huvudroll from IKEA (in store only which means you’ll likely need to borrow someone’s truck(s) ) 

Credit Cards + ACH Transactions – Camp B 

  ACH Adoption CC Only Fees CC + ACH Fees Cost Savings 
5%  $    13,600.00   $  13,277.50   $        322.50  
10%  $    13,600.00   $  12,897.50   $        702.50  
20%  $    13,600.00   $  12,135.00   $     1,465.00  
35%  $    13,600.00   $  11,447.50   $     2,152.50  
50%  $    13,600.00   $    9,847.50   $     3,752.50  
100%  $    13,600.00   $    5,622.50   $     7,977.50  

So here we see Camp B’s savings are less due to lower volume but even at a ¼ of the revenue, they can still lower their fees down to 1.12% of revenue if they move to processing ACH exclusively.  Even at the lowest adoption rate (5% works out to roughly 50 people a year) they are still saving over $300 for DOING NOTHING.  You got that part right?  The doing nothing part? 

What Can You Buy with your 100% Adoption Savings – 1,146 copies of Jurassic Park on DVD (there’s only 10 in stock right now, but I am sure they are busy making more as we speak) 

Credit Cards + ACH Transactions – Camp C 

  ACH Adoption CC Only Fees CC + ACH Fees Cost Savings 
5%  $      3,000.00   $    2,985.00   $           15.00  
10%  $      3,000.00   $    2,908.75   $           91.25  
20%  $      3,000.00   $    2,757.50   $        242.50  
35%  $      3,000.00   $    2,528.75   $        471.25  
50%  $      3,000.00   $    2,297.50   $        702.50  
100%  $      3,000.00   $    1,575.00   $     1,425.00  

At the lowest adoption rates for Camp C, honestly I am not certain it makes a lot of sense.  But even at 20% adoption, the camp is saving 100’s of dollars each year.  That’s nothing to shake a stick at. (which, honestly what would that do anyway?  A stick?  You’re embarrassing yourself!  And for what?  Them?  They?)  Oh yeah, and YOU’RE STILL DOING NOTHING TO EARN IT.  Unmerited favor in the form of cash. 

What Can You Buy with your 100% Adoption Savings – 44 Horse Masks** (with free shipping!!) 


So, we’ve talked about “What is ACH?”  We’ve talked about the myths surrounding ACH.  And now we’ve seen how processing ACH transactions rather than credit cards can make you and all your friends look like Bojack Horseman.  Friends, the time to act is upon us, as they say (not “THEY”, a different they).  If you are an UltraCamp customer, getting started is easy: Go to your My Settings Wizard and open the Client Payments Tab.  Click on ACH Transactions and click “Yes, I’d like to accept ACH” and someone from our payment processing team will reach out to you.  If you’re not an UltraCamp client yet, why not?  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to start a conversation with us, we’d love to learn about your camp and how we might be able to help. 

* – I’ll give you another hint: his name also rhymes with Dom Cruz 

** – I love that one of the selling points is “Awesome conversation piece” As if anyone will actually HAVE a conversation with you while you are wearing that thing.  But I guess if you have 44, then likely everyone at the party is wearing them, in which case the conversation goes something like this, “Why are we all wearing these weird horse’s head masks?” 

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