Socially Responsible Credit Cards: Do They Add Up?

Many readers of Triple P consider themselves socially-responsible investors. But what about socially-responsible creditors? How do banks use the profit they make from interest fees, late fees, annual fees, and balance fees? Which banks use our money to further projects of greater worth, and which invest in projects that degrade the plant and contribute to global income disparity? The cover story of this month’s Real Money, distributed by Co-op America, gives us the inside scoop on the best credit cards for our conscience. Many of these cards have great APR, no annual fee, and directly fund several social/eco endeavors.


Conscious credit cards fall into two categories: “affinity cards” and “cards connected to better banks.” Affinity cards are issued by major banks (read: banks that have been historically linked to socially “un”responsible investment practices), in conjunction with a specific organization or charity. The issuing bank donates a percentage of every dollar spent to respective social or environmental groups. Examples of affinity cards include “Working Assets” Visa Card and “Brighter Planet” Visa Card. Both cards are issued by Bank of America.
A smarter choice, according to Co-Op America, is to go with credit cards that are issued by socially responsible banks, credit unions, and community investing institutions. Examples of these type of cards include: WainwrightBank Visa Card, Permaculture Credit Union Visa Card, and Redirect Visa. For more recommendations, see their list here.
Where you put your or your company’s money matters. By switching to a credit card with a mission, you send a message to major institutions that it’s time to get real about responsible investing.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at www.misselectric.com.