Top 7 Alternative Payment Methods for Membership Organizations

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Top 7 Alternative Payment Methods for Membership Organizations

Content Strategist
7 minutes read
Last updated: October 12, 2023

Your members are embracing new payment methods like never before. Mobile payments, PayPal, digital wallets - people are using them all to purchase goods and services online. Should you consider integrating some of these alternative payment options into your membership site? Which ones make the most sense for your membership model and target audience?

In this post, we'll explore seven of today's most popular alternative online payment methods and discuss the pros and cons of each. This will help you determine which options may be the best fit for your organization and membership program.

Key Takeaways

  • Alternative payment methods increase accessibility and drive membership sales by catering to a broader audience.
  • Lower processing fees and enhanced security features of alternative payment methods offer cost savings and increased transaction safety for organizations.
  • Direct debit and mobile wallets provide a simplified, seamless payment experience, appealing to demographics favoring convenience.
  • Robust systems like Glue Up membership management software streamline financial processes, ensuring smooth operations and a positive experience for members.

What are Alternative Payment Methods (APMs)?

Alternative payment methods refer to any payment options beyond the traditional credit cards and bank transfers that have long dominated online transactions. These include newer payment technologies like digital wallets and cryptocurrency as well as old ones like money orders and prepaid cards that are getting modern makeovers.

The key benefit is that you are able to provide your members with more flexibility regarding membership payments and donations.

Benefits of Accepting Alternative Payment Methods

1. Drive More Membership Sales

Offering alternative payment methods beyond just credit cards can significantly expand your potential member base.

Many people do not have credit cards or bank accounts, so allowing options like prepaid cards, mobile payments, and direct bank transfers enables you to accept payments from unbanked or underbanked members.

This flexibility makes it much easier to attract new members by emphasizing your inclusiveness to a wider demographic.

2. Save Money

Certain alternative payment options like direct debit from a bank account or prepaid account cards tend to have lower processing fees compared to traditional credit card payments.

The savings per transaction may seem small but can add up to major overall savings for your organization with enough volume.

Make sure to thoroughly research the fees associated with any new payment method you are considering to ensure it will provide meaningful savings compared to your current costs. The payment processor you use can also impact the pricing.

3. Additional Security


Some alternative payment methods provide extra layers of security and payment authentication.

For example, authorizing a direct debit from a bank account requires your members to provide their account details. This gives you a verified connection to their bank, providing more certainty that they have sufficient funds.

Mobile payment options like Apple Pay also utilize tokenization and biometrics for verification. Highlighting such enhanced security can reassure customers that these new options are safe and reliable.

Types of Alternative Payment Methods for Membership Organizations

1. Prepaid Cards

prepaid cards

Prepaid cards allow members the convenience of paying with funds they have pre-loaded onto the card ahead of time.

Popular prepaid card options include GreenDot and NetSpend, which function similarly to debit cards but without being linked to a bank account. Members can purchase these cards at many retail outlets and pharmacies, load them with funds, and then use them to pay dues online or over the phone.

The prepaid card funds are deducted when the payment is processed.

2. Cash-Based Payments

Enabling cash payments through services like PayNearMe gives members the ability to pay in cash at participating retail stores.

Members receive a barcode that they bring to the store along with their cash payment. The store associate scans the barcode, collects the cash, and the funds are transferred to your organization's bank account.

This allows your members without bank accounts to pay their dues in a convenient way using cash.

3. Bank Transfers

Allowing bank transfers through services like ACH or wire provides a cost-effective way for members to pay dues right from their bank account. These electronic transfers take the payment directly from the member's account.

Bank transfers are fast and avoid credit card processing fees. However, they do require your member to provide their account details.

4. Direct Debit

With direct debit, your members can set up automated recurring payments to be deducted directly from their checking account on a set schedule. This allows for convenient automatic bill payments without having to manually make a payment each time.

Direct debit helps members streamline their payments and avoid late fees. It also benefits you by ensuring on-time payments. However, make sure that your members are aware of overdraft fees if sufficient funds are not in the account on the payment date.

Overall, direct debit provides a reliable method for managing recurring payments from a checking account.

5. Mobile Wallets

digital wallet

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay allow members to pay online seamlessly. This provides a fast and convenient payment experience.

Accepting mobile wallet payments requires NFC-enabled payment terminals. While the hardware upgrade cost is a consideration, mobile wallet usage is rising steadily, especially among younger demographics.

Allowing contactless mobile payments caters to your members' preferences. It also helps you access additional signups from people who appreciate the speed and ease of paying with their smartphones.

6. Digital Wallets

Digital wallets like PayPal and Alipay allow account-based payments without needing to enter their card details each time.

Once your member links their funding source like a bank account or card, they can check out with just an email or username and password. This provides a frictionless payment experience that they appreciate. You can easily integrate many digital wallets through your payment processors.

Digital wallets are popular worldwide, with PayPal having over 300 million active user accounts. Thus, enabling your members to pay with their preferred digital wallet helps you access key demographics and new opportunities.

However, make sure you weigh the processing costs and transaction fees associated with each digital wallet.

7. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

buy now pay later

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) financing lets your members split their membership dues into interest-free monthly installments. This makes joining and renewing more affordable by avoiding a large upfront cost.

BNPL provides flexibility and improves conversion rates as more people can budget the smaller payments. However, there is an increased risk of your members defaulting on future installments if you use this method. To minimize the risk, we advise you to collaborate with a provider that handles installment collection and has measures in place to prevent defaults.

Overall, offering BNPL as a payment option caters to consumer preferences for flexible financing. It can help drive membership acquisition and retention.

Automate All Your Finance Processes with Membership Management Software

Managing your payments can be challenging, especially if you have a large membership base and limited staff. A robust membership management software like Glue Up can save you time and money by
automating all member dues, new member registrations, and event fees.

Here’s how it can streamline the entire transaction experience for your organization and community members:

  • Instant Online Transactions: It enables immediate processing of online payments, fees, and donations. You also have the option to utilize its dedicated payment processor.
  • Automated Member Communication: Improve communication channels with members through automated sending of invoices, emails, newsletters, and maintenance requests.
  • Quick Access to Reports and Analytics: You can instantly generate and access financial reports, analytics, and membership summaries, aiding in efficient and informed decision-making.
  • Mobile Payment Functionality: The software comes equipped with a mobile app that accepts payments, providing convenience for both you and your members.

All-in-all, Glue Up Membership Management Software eliminates the need to depend on multiple systems by integrating various functionalities into a single, user-friendly platform. This integration significantly reduces your workload associated with coordinating several payments and invoices simultaneously while ensuring a smooth user experience.

To explore Glue Up’s financial features further, get a demo today and experience its key functions firsthand.


1. What are the most popular alternative payment methods?

Globally, the most widely used alternative payments are digital wallets like PayPal, Alipay, and Venmo. These allow quick online transactions and transfers. However, regional differences may exist.

2. Are alternative payments safe?

Yes, reputable alternative payment providers utilize encryption, tokenization, and other security measures to protect transactions and user data. But, be sure to verify licensing, compliance, and security protocols when evaluating a provider. Only use trusted brands with a track record of keeping customer payments safe.

3. How do I accept alternative payments?

To start accepting alternative payments, you'll need to set up merchant accounts with the specific providers you want to use. Make sure to consider transaction fees, processing times, and payout options.

Platforms like Glue Up can integrate many alternative payment options into one seamless system for your membership requirements.

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