We all can turn over a green leaf in 2021 by saving the planet starting with the credit or debit card we use. I’ve been with the same bank for 25 years. The same big bank among many that use over $100 billion a year of clients’ deposits to fund pipelines and drill for oil (Source: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2018). It got me wondering what greener options exist out there to make saving the planet as easy as swiping a credit card.
Much to my delight I found seven eco-friendly credit and debit cards that reward you for dining, drinking, and traveling greener. You get points for off-setting your carbon footprint instead of frequent flying points. One provider plants a tree every time you swipe the card.
I like this go-green thinking and reward system because consumption isn’t eco-friendly, unless a portion of your spending goes to save the rainforests, oceans, animals, air and life on earth as we know it.
You don’t have to be Leo DiCaprio — the wolf of saving our planet — and start a green foundation or drive an electric car. Just choose a conscious card that plants a tree every time you swipe like Aspiration does.
Let’s dive in and green-up our spending in 2021.
1. Aspiration Debit Card
Aspiration CEO Andrei Chemy believes that profit and purpose should go hand-in-hand. Called a financial firm with a conscience, Aspiration makes its spend and save account available to anyone in the U.S. who wants to make the world a better place by saving the planet.
The debit card can put an extra $545 into the pocket of the average American, according to Chemy, and ensures customer deposits are 100% fossil fuel-free. Aspiration also offers investing and retirement accounts as well as charitable giving guidance.
The Aspiration fee-free, fossil fuel-free account offers unlimited cash back on every debit card transaction, provides extra rewards for socially conscious spending and earns up to 2% APY interest.
2. Green America Visa Platinum
The Green America Visa, from TCM Bank, supports Green America’s green-economy programs. By switching to this credit card, you’ll be supporting Green America’s work to build fair trading systems, advance clean energy, get GMOs out of our food supply, and saving the planet. There is no annual fee for this card. Apply here for this green card.
3. Sustain Green Credit Card
The Sustain Green credit card advertises that it will reduce your carbon footprint by 2 pounds for every $1 in net purchases. Commerce Bank purchases carbon offsets through the American Carbon Registry each time you make a purchase with your card while also saving the planet.
When you charge at least $1,250 of purchases to the Sustain Green card in a quarter, you receive a bonus 2,500 pounds of carbon offsets.
There is no annual fee for this card. Apply online for the Sustain Green Card.
4. Clean Water Action Credit Card
The Clean Water card is a Visa Platinum card designed to make the world a better place, starting with clean water. There is no annual fee. Apply here.
5. Amazon Watch Visa Platinum
You can protect the Amazon rainforest and indigenous people by carrying this card. Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon is at a 12-year high. Since 1996, Amazon Watch has protected the rainforest and advanced the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with Indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.
Beneficial State Bank issues the Amazon Watch Visa Platinum card. A pre-set percentage of your purchases are given to Amazon Watch, the environmental social justice and conservation group. You receive reward points for every dollar you spend. There is no cap on points earned and you can apply your points for merchandise or towards travel.
Every transaction you make with your Amazon Watch Visa® Platinum credit card adds power to our campaigns through a percentage of interchange income. It also helps direct the flow of money into environmentally responsible financial investments and not into the mega projects and companies we seek to stop. With our new credit card, you will be putting your everyday transactions to good use for the Amazon and the planet.
6. Defenders of Wildlife Cash Visa
If saving endangered and threatened species is you thing, this is your new credit card. Use your spending to help save an animal species like polar bears. For each dollar you spend, Bank of America will donate five cents to green charities. The program gives you three percent cash back at gas stations and two percent at grocery stores on your first $1,500 in combined categories spending, with one percent base on all other charges.
Defenders of Wildlife is a solution-oriented organization dedicated to saving rare animals and plants, conserving habitat and building a broad constituency for protecting wildlife and wild places.
There is a $200 Cash rewards bonus offer for joining and saving the planet. Apply here.
7. AmEx Recycled Green Card
American Express is now offering its redesigned Green Credit Card, made of recycled ocean plastic collected by Parley for the Oceans. Amex has also recently announced a recycling service for its credit cards, which will roll out in 2020. You need a 750 credit score to be eligible for a green American Express card.
While making your spending “greener” is a good idea, using the “green” credit cards listed above can only help the planet so much.
Being conscious of your purchases might be better for the environment than finding an eco-friendly or “green” credit card. If switching to a “green” credit card is right for you, another option is getting a credit card with good rewards and simply making your own donation to the environmental group of your choice.
Final Word of Advice
When choosing a card, look closely at the financial firm’s loan history. The Sierra Club reported that 33 international banks backed polluting fossil fuel projects that cost $1.9 billion from 2016 – 2018.
And before you mourn the loss of giving up frequent flyer miles as a reward, consider how much healthier the air was to breathe in 2020 when most planes were grounded.
“Consumers don’t see the true environmental costs of their air travel because low flight prices don’t reflect their environmental impact. Emissions from flights stay in the atmosphere and will warm it for several centuries. Because aircraft emissions are released high in the atmosphere, they have a potent climate impact, triggering chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that heat the planet. “David Suzuki Foundation