From American Express to Chase Financial, every major credit card issuer in the country has started issuing “green” credit cards that promote environmental conservation – but these cards aren’t as environmentally friendly as they appear.Watered-down rewards systems and misleading ads make these pieces of plastic little more than marketing candy.
If you really want to help the environment, make sure you shop around and avoid these not-so-green pieces of plastic the next time you go shopping for credit cards.
▪ The American Express Zync Card. The American Express Zync Card uses a customised rewards system to determine where you can earn double rewards points for your purchases. One of the “packs” that cardholders can pick up is the Eco Pack, identified by a lovely picture of a leaf.
This Eco Pack, however, has little to do with the environment. Instead, it merely allows you to earn double points whenever you shop at environmentally friendly retailers. That’s a pretty raw deal for Mother Nature when you consider that the Zync Card’s universal rewards rate is just one point per dollar.
And it’s an even worse deal when you realise you’re paying a $20 annual fee (plus an additional $25 for every other rewards pack) just for the right to pay retailers that support the environment.
▪ The Green America Visa. From the size of the Green America logo slapped on Visa’s newest eco-friendly credit card, you’d think that half of the money you spend with your card would be donated to the famous nonprofit.
Unfortunately, the actual amount that Green America receives from the promotion is much, much smaller. When you make a transaction, Visa gives a portion of the card’s 2% interchange fee to One PacificCoast Bank, the Green America card’s issuing bank. After One PacificCoast takes its cut, they give a portion of their portion of the original portion to Green America.
So in reality, you can expect Green America to receive about a tenth of a penny for every dollar you spend. But hey, at least the card is made of 55% recycled plastic.
▪ The Bank of America World Wildlife Fund Visa Card. The Bank of America World Wildlife Fund Visa card lets you choose from among several endangered animals for the image on the card’s face, but don’t be fooled. Bank of America isn’t spearheading any polar bear or tiger rescue programs.
Whenever you open an account with the WWF Card, Bank of America tosses the charity $100. After that, its contributions are reduced to $0.25 for every $100 that you spend. At that rate, you’d be better off just mailing the tigers a few tins of cat food every Christmas.
Be careful when it comes to buying eco-friendly credit cards. While sticking up for the environment is admirable, many of these green cards are little more than marketing ploys designed to win over checkbook conservationists.
Instead of buying into the hype, just pick out one of the best rewards credit cards available to add to your wallet and cut your favourite charity a check. It doesn’t have to be much – even $50 would do. That way, you’ll save yourself money, and you’ll give more to your favourite environmental cause than Wall Street ever will.