Yes. There are a growing number of so-called green credit cards available today. Most major credit card banks and financial institutions such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase offer green or responsible credit cards. Many smaller regional banks like OneCalifornia Bank offer such cards as well. There are also several specialized credit card companies, such as Working Assets, that issue green credit cards.
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The trick to getting a green credit card is in understanding what makes a credit card green and finding a green credit card that matches your beliefs.
What is green?
There was a time when green strictly meant environmentalism. Not anymore. Green has become a catchall term that includes more than just concern for the environment. These days, green means being socially conscious, too.
Green can encompass all types of ethical consumerism, including:
- Environmental sustainability
- Human rights
- Civil rights
- Peace and freedom
- Economic justice
- Social justice
- Voting rights
- Fair-trade practices
- Cruelty-free products
- Organic and natural goods
The cool thing about such an all-encompassing term is that under the umbrella of green, you can find a green credit card that caters to your unique green concerns.
How can a credit card be green?
Most popular credit cards marketed as green credit cards offer some sort of reward for using the card, just like many non-green credit cards. However, the rewards on green credit cards specifically support green causes.
Some green credit cards contribute money to green causes based on a percentage of purchases made by the cardholder. These types of credit cards are called affinity credit cards. Most green credit cards are affinity cards. These types of green credit cards give support directly to green causes.
With other green credit cards, card users earn points every time they use the card, and those points can be used to buy green products. These types of credit cards are called rewards credit cards. Rather than directly supporting a cause, holders of these types of green credit cards indirectly support green causes.
Both types of cards are considered green because they ultimately support green causes. The level of support varies from card to card and from company to company. This is where cardholder choice comes into play.
Which green credit card should I choose?
The first step in selecting a green credit card is to settle on a green cause. Are you concerned about environmental issues? Human-rights issues? Animal cruelty? Organic farming? No matter what your cause, there is a green credit card for you.
The second step is to look at your options. If your cause is very specific, say the World Wildlife Fund, Democracy Now! or Room to Read, there is a specific affinity card you would choose. In the United States, the WWF green credit card is administered through Bank of America, while both the Democracy Now! and the Room to Read green credit cards are connected with Working Assets.
If, however, your cause is less specific, say simply animals or human rights or the environment, you need to do some research on your own to find a card that caters to your general cause. Most major banks offer some type of green credit card. Working Assets has over 40 causes in which to choose.
Is my green credit card green enough?
So here’s the rub when it comes to green credit cards. The card you choose may not be green enough.
The argument is that major banks and financial institutions use the money they earn off your fees and/or interest to support non-green causes. If you get a green credit card from a major bank or financial institution, their non-green donations are canceling out your green donations.
It is a valid point. It also puts you in a catch-22 situation. What do you do?
The solution, of course, is to do some research before you apply. Dig around. Ask some questions:
- Who is the company behind the green credit card?
- What is their reputation?
- What causes or issues do they support?
- Are those issues in contrast to the issue or cause supported by the green credit card they offer?
Perhaps the trade-off is worth it to you. If so, more power to you. If not, you might be forced to find another way to donate to your favorite cause. Whatever you do, make an informed chose.
Use the FREE credit card finder to start your search for green online credit cards now!