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Aspiration’s Reforestation Initiatives Recognized in Climate Category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards

Aspiration’s tree planting initiatives that integrate sustainability solutions into the everyday actions of consumers and corporations were honored as an innovative program that will create far-reaching benefits to society. Aspiration has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas, highlighting Aspiration’s reforestation program, which has grown to become one of the largest in the world. We’re proud to say that through the support from both our consumer customers and corporate partners, Aspiration has funded the planting of more than 75 million trees in the last year. That means that Aspiration is funding more trees every few hours than the total number of trees in New York City’s Central Park, with tree planting taking place in countries including Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Honduras, Brazil, and the United States. Aspiration strives to empower individuals and companies to build climate change-fighting action into what they do every day in ways that make it easy, automated, engaging, and yet still enormously powerful. Our multinational reforestation program is creating a massive impact and has been named in the climate category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards. “We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.” Our reforestation initiative is supported by consumers using Aspiration’s Plant Your Change program, and businesses who sign up for large commitments to tree-planting through Aspiration. Plant Your Change allows anyone to link their debit or credit cards to reforestation simply by rounding up purchases and using that change to plant a tree. This simple act brings sustainability into the hands of consumers to directly impact their carbon footprint through daily actions.

Make Change Staff

May 10, 2022

Rainforest, Jungle, Stream, Trees, Forest, River

Could Payments for Ecosystem Services Be A Climate Change Solution?

Rainforest, Jungle, Stream, Trees, Forest, River A robust, thriving ecosystem provides abundant and reliable flows of clean water, fertile, nutrient-rich soil, and other services essential to humans, plants, and animals. However, many ecosystems worldwide are in danger of being annihilated.  To say that human activity has hurt ecosystems is an understatement. People routinely engage in environmentally destructive practices such as rampant deforestation, drilling in ecologically sensitive areas, and dumping toxic chemicals into the ocean. 

What is a payment for ecosystem service (PES)?

One of humanity's biggest challenges is how to entice individuals, communities, and governments into preserving environments instead of destroying them.  One method that has shown promise is Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). In this innovative approach, the beneficiaries of ecosystem services financially reward the providers of the services.  A PES scheme is predicated on two premises: ecosystems have quantifiable economic value, which can be used to encourage investment in their protection. PES agreements limit activities property owners can perform in exchange for money. In this way, both buyers and sellers of ecosystem services profit while saving fragile ecosystems. Paying for the benefits provided by wilderness areas, fertile soil, and other ecosystems is an excellent way to ensure that the benefits continue indefinitely. This is especially true when you consider that funding for natural resource management is dwindling rapidly. 

A crucial distinction 

The definition of a PES transaction encompasses more than money merely changing hands and delivering a valuable environmental service. It also means the payment caused the benefit to occur where it otherwise wouldn’t have. 

Why it’s essential to understand the economic value of ecosystems 

While PES programs have a proven track record of shifting land-use patterns for the better, they’re only effective if payments exceed the opportunity costs of alternative activities. If this doesn't happen, landowners won't change what they're currently doing. That's why it’s crucial to understand the economic value of ecosystems to those who benefit from them. Then, schemes can be devised that enable economically disadvantaged individuals to earn cash by restoring and conserving vital habitats This is a huge selling point because many people living in rural areas earn their living from pursuits such as forestry and farming. However, PES schemes aren't a cure-all because PES seldom provides all the financial resources a family or community needs.  Furthermore, PES schemes aren't always feasible. For example, in places where resource access and ownership are in dispute, it's not advisable to broker a PES agreement. 

Secondary benefits of PES  

Although a PES scheme might focus on protecting one specific ecological benefit, it usually safeguards other ones too. For example, reforestation might be done for carbon sequestration but also boosts water quality and biodiversity.  In addition, PES schemes can improve the economic conditions of landowners, boost rural employment rates, promote community unity, and prevent rural populations from migrating to urban areas. 

Types of PES schemes 

Public payment schemes for private landowners

This is an arrangement where a government agency or other public institution makes payments to landowners to manage their property to best protect vital ecological services.  For example, in 2008, the US-based Conservation Reserve Program paid $1.7 billion to farmers to protect endangered wildlife habitats, wetlands, and open spaces. 

Self-organized private deals

Self-organized private PES deals are forged between individual beneficiaries of ecological services and the providers of those services.  For instance, a company pays the landowners who live next to the spring where they get the mineral water they sell. In this case, the enterprise does it to ensure abutters engage in land-use practices that keep the water pristine. 

Certification programs

Certification programs reward manufacturers that help preserve ecological services. Customers not only pay for the products but for the environmentally friendly ways in which they’re produced.  For example, the Forest Stewardship Council established a labeling system that takes into account best forest management practices and timber extraction guidelines. The Rainforest Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Network issue certification for coffee, oranges, bananas, and other products grown in ecologically sensitive areas.  Certification programs include product-based schemes where consumers pay a premium to ensure an ecologically friendly production process and the preservation of vital ecosystem services. Ecommerce, Online, Marketing, Internet, Business

Examples of PES schemes 

One example of a PES scheme is paying indigenous peoples to plant trees that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Another one is paying landowners to preserve wilderness habitats at the headwaters of a river that provides drinking water to a city downstream.  In the second case, the people living downriver put a dollar amount on the value of a clean and consistent water source. Then, they pay the people upstream to manage their land so that this essential ecological benefit is protected.

Costa Rica’s early use of PES 

The first PES program to be used nationally was in Costa Rica. It was a direct offshoot of Forestry Law 7575, which prioritized environmental services over other forest activities such as timber production.  The program hands out payments for ecosystem services that include mitigation of carbon emissions, biodiversity protection, and preservation of scenic beauty. At the conclusion of 2005, 95% of land enrolled in the program was under forest conservation contracts covering 10% of the nation.  Forest cover increased from 2.1 million hectares in 1986 to 2.45 million hectares in 2005. This early PES scheme prevented over 11 million tons of carbon emissions from being emitted into the atmosphere between 1999 and 2005. 

PES schemes in China 

China is a sponsor of one of the most ambitious PES schemes on the planet, the Sloping Land Conversion Program. It encourages Chinese farmers to replant trees on erosion-prone land in exchange for grain and cash subsidies. Another Chinese PES scheme is "Grain for Green," a landscape restoration project that involves handing out cash incentives to 32 million households. In the 20 years this program has been in existence, over 28 million hectares of habitat have been reestablished. 

The birds of Jamestown 

In Jamestown, Rhode Island, farmers typically harvest hay in their fields twice yearly. Unfortunately, this practice destroys the habitats of local birds. Professors from the University of Rhode Island and EcoAssets Markets raised cash from residents who wanted to help their avian friends Enough money was raised to compensate three local farms for the cost of reducing their yearly harvest and getting their hay from another source. This gave the birds plenty of time to nest and leave the grounds without being disrupted. The contributors to the project benefit because they get to experience the exquisite satisfaction of helping the birds, and the farmers benefit because they don’t have to work as hard. 

PES in Ecuador

In Ecuador, the Third Millenium Alliance pays farmers $1,821 over five years to reforest their own land. This will result in the removal of over 78 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for each acre that's reforested.  However, there are other benefits too. For example, endangered species habitat restoration, erosion control, and watershed protection. The scheme boosts farmers' earnings by 300% per acre. Profits from the initiative account for over 50% of the farmers' total annual income. 

PES in the Ruvu watershed

The Uluguru Mountains in eastern Tanzania are directly in the path of moisture coming from the Indian Ocean, resulting in an abundance of rain falling on the peaks. This precipitation flows into the complex stream network forming the Ruvu River, which supplies water to over four million people in the Dar-es-Salaam region.  In 2007, a study by CARE-WWF found a significant reduction in water quality in the area because of a dramatic buildup of silt and sediment. Human activity was found to be contributing to the problem.  The water quality was so bad that the government contemplated severely rationing the water supply. However, that proved unnecessary after upstream landowners were given economic benefits if they adopted agricultural practices to control runoff and soil erosion.  This ingenious PES scheme was a collaboration between downstream buyers, including the industrial Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation [DAWASCO] and Coca Cola Kwanza Ltd, and upstream farmers.

Make a world of difference with Aspiration 

At Aspiration, our mission is to help our customers make money while making a difference.  Too many banks believe in the "greed is good" philosophy. However, our beliefs are radically different because we know you don't have to destroy the planet to make a buck.  We are not only passionate about saving the planet — we're also intensely committed to creating prosperity for others. For example, our “Dimes Worth of Difference” program commits ten cents of every dollar of our earnings to charitable activities creating more economic opportunity.  Get started today!

Make Change Staff

May 1, 2022

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Ethane Cracker Plants: How They Impact the Environment

Industry, Sunset, Pollution, Dusk, Twilight, Smoke For years, plastics were manufactured from oil. These days, they're increasingly being made from ethylene, derived from ethane. To make this switch, petrochemical companies are investing wads of cash in building ethane cracker plants.  Plastics overwhelm landfills, kill marine life, and are a major contributor to the carbon emissions that drive climate change. It's estimated that plastics production will generate over 56 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. That's approximately 50 times more greenhouse gas emissions produced by all the coal-fired plants in the US in a single year.   Petrochemical companies invest in ethane cracker plants because it's an easier way to extract ethylene than other methods. The problem is that once all these facilities get built, it'll be a thousand times more difficult to wean ourselves off natural gas. This makes ethane cracker plants one of the dirtiest tricks fossil fuel companies inflict on the planet. They're par for the course for an industry fixated on using energy production methods that pollute instead of pivoting to the renewable energy future that’s our only real hope.  These facilities aren’t only horrible for the planet — they're terrible for our health because they spew an endless stream of carcinogens into our atmosphere. 

What’s an ethane cracker plant?

An ethane cracker plant takes ethane, a component of natural gas found in shale, and turns it into ethylene.  Ethane is flared high into the air at fracking sites. Petrochemical companies capture this ethane and send it to an ethane cracker facility by pipeline.  Intense heat is applied to the ethane until the chemical bonds holding it together are broken apart. The resulting compound is transformed into tiny little pellets, which are shipped all over the world to make plastic products.  A typical ethane cracker plant costs approximately five billion dollars to build and creates about 10,000 jobs during construction. However, because operations are so heavily automated, there won't be too many permanent jobs. Some people believe that constructing ethane cracker plants is a sneaky way to increase natural gas demand, and they’re probably right. Ethane cracker plants need a steady supply of natural gas so they can continue to run.  Fracking has made natural gas cheap, which causes more ethane cracker plants to be built. Ethane also happens to be a byproduct of the fracking process. So, a boom in ethane cracker plant construction virtually guarantees fracking will continue unabated. 

The dangers of methane 

A few would-be experts who think they know a thing or two about climate change might be thinking, "What's the big deal? Natural gas gives off a lot less carbon dioxide than coal does."  However, carbon dioxide, while being the greenhouse gas that contributes the most to global warming, isn't the only carbon emission driving the climate crisis. The average fracking site emits over 4.2 metric tons of methane into the air every week. All this methane can trap incredible amounts of heat, helping to speed up climate change.  Fossil fuel companies are responsible for approximately 25% of all the methane emissions produced worldwide. Even though methane doesn’t hang around in the atmosphere nearly as long as carbon dioxide, it traps about 84 times more heat over a two-decade period. 

The dangers of fracking wastewater 

To go into the fracking business, you need massive quantities of H2O. This kind of demand tends to quickly deplete local water sources. To get the fracking process started, you combine water with chemicals and inject this hazardous mixture into the shale layers underneath the earth's surface. The water you remove after you’re done fracking is loaded with deadly volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including xylene and radioactive materials. You can’t just dump this wastewater into barrels and call it a day.  Instead, you must pump it back into the ground, which can contaminate groundwater. This practice has been known to cause lifelong mental impairment in children and increase seismic activity. 

Health impacts of ethane cracker plants 

Ethane crackers aren’t only bad for the planet — they’re also bad for human health.  Individuals working in these facilities are subjected to all kinds of health risks, increasing the elevated risk of brain cancer.  Employees and people around ethane cracker plants are exposed to VOCs such as propylene and ethylene, which form ozone when combined with sunlight. Ground-level ozone (also known as smog) increases asthma, respiratory infection, and cardiovascular risk.  Here are a few other dangerous atmospheric contaminants lurking in these facilities:
  • Benzene (linked to cancer and childhood leukemia)
  • Toluene (causes brain, liver, and kidney problems, infant mortality, and birth defects)
  • Formaldehyde (something that’s carcinogenic)
  • Particulate matter (causes cardiovascular and respiratory disease and lung and bladder cancer)

Industry, Sunrise, Fog, Germany, Factory, Ruhr Area

 

How ethane crackers perpetuate the poverty and pollution cycle  

Most US ethane cracker plants are located along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana. These places already suffer from air pollution levels significantly higher than the national average. In fact, the people call the region between New Orleans and Baton Rouge “Cancer Alley” because of extensive chemical contamination.  New facilities are being proposed in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to serve as a replacement for coal. Areas in these states are used to dealing with pollution and heavy industrial activity in their communities, which is probably why fossil fuel companies are trying to put their plants here.  Unfortunately, ethane cracker plants are only proposed for economically disadvantaged areas, not affluent neighborhoods. The poorer sections of these states don’t seem to have elected officials willing to fight for their constituents. This makes an already bad environmental justice problem even worse.

Why are fossil fuel companies building so many ethane cracker facilities? 

Fossil fuel companies see the handwriting on the wall in the form of reduced demand for fossil fuels. The world is increasingly turning to renewable energy to power automobiles and generate electricity, and the big petrochemical conglomerates feel like they’re being left in the dust.  They need a different way to rake in profits. There's an insatiable demand for cheap single-use plastic packaging, which can be met by the ethylene produced in ethane cracker plants. That's why fossil fuel companies are investing billions in ethane cracker infrastructure. 

Our societal responsibility 

The trend is to do away with single-use plastic, and the plastic bag and straw bans worldwide are evidence of this.  However, the voracious hunger for cheap plastics is fueling the rise in ethane cracker plant construction. Cheap plastic discourages companies from using recycled plastic in their products because virgin plastic is more inexpensive. This is more than a little disturbing when you consider we have over nine million metric tons of plastic finding its way into the ocean each year. Unfortunately, plastic manufacturers bear zero financial responsibility for what happens after making their products.  This shouldn't deter us from our responsibility to work tirelessly towards banning single-use plastics in every city and town in the nation. The downside is that if there's a reduced plastic demand, petrochemical companies will simply export their product to other countries. Hopefully, individuals in these places will find a way to turn these short-sighted American industrial polluters away. A report by the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania found that since 2007, companies profiting from fracking have spent more than 70 million dollars promoting the idea that ethane cracker plants are safe. Of course, we know this safety isn't accurate. Even worse, tax dollars are being used to boost ethane cracker construction, which is unconscionable. We need to find a way to stop both this and public subsidies for the petrochemical industry if we’re going to turn the insidious tide of global warming.  It's taken years to gain traction on moving towards renewable energy sources. To have all that effort canceled out by a dramatic spike in carbon emissions from ethane cracker plants would be a shame. 

Move boldly toward a carbon-neutral future with Aspiration 

Ethane cracker plants emit thousands of metric tons of planet-killing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every single day. To counteract environmentally destructive practices like these, we need an army of committed individuals to be fierce warriors who'll fight for the earth.  That’s where you come in.  Perhaps you’re not ready to tackle a huge environmental project. But you can always start small by using the Aspiration Zero — the carbon-neutral credit card. With every swipe, we’ll plant a tree to reduce your carbon footprint. Think of how much that can add up to over time.  Apply today if you’re ready to make a change! 

Make Change Staff

April 30, 2022

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New Mexico Climate Change Report: Progress and Setbacks in 2022

Desert, Mesa, New Mexico, Us, Stormy, Landscape, Travel On March 31st of this year, the Biden Administration announced $420 million for water infrastructure projects. This is intended to help alleviate the effects of the more than two decades of devastating drought that has plagued Western states, including New Mexico.  Most scientific experts blame this shortage of cloud-borne precipitation on climate change. Unfortunately, climatologists expect conditions to get even more extreme.  This means more intense and frequent wildfires, massive desertification of previously green and fertile areas, and other kinds of catastrophic changes. Spring is coming earlier, summers are getting hotter, and winters are becoming less predictable. Human activity has raised the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by almost 50% since the eighteenth century. Greenhouse gases have also increased the earth's temperature by one degree since 1972. Although it might not seem like much, even a temperature rise this minuscule can have disastrous long-term consequences. 

Reports from the intergovernmental panel on climate change

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first of three reports, which was about the current state of climate change. On February 28th of this year, the panel published the second one, which discusses climate change’s impact on human beings and the environmental vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. The third and final report is scheduled for later this year and will outline ways to minimize the worst effects of climate change. The report unequivocally states that if the planet’s temperature warms by approximately 2.7 degrees in the next two decades, a climate disaster of unprecedented proportions is inevitable. 

Perceived inaction on the part of the governor 

Visionary leaders and environmental groups in New Mexico say one of the most compelling conclusions to be drawn from the reports is how crucial it is to minimize greenhouse gas emissions before they cause catastrophic climate collapse.   Jeremy Nichols of the Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians stated, "This report is the loudest wake-up call yet that the governor and her administration need to lead New Mexico away from dependence on oil and gas. With the costs of the climate crisis mounting, New Mexico can't afford to remain tethered to the oil and gas industry." Nichols believes that Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, is too cozy with oil and gas industry lobbyists. During her 2018 election campaign, she promised that she would take serious action on climate change. Grisham even pushed for new methane emissions regulations in the gas and oil industry and was firmly in favor of policies that would bring more renewable energy to the state.  However, there’s still a belief among climate change activists that she isn’t doing enough. This puts pressure on other leaders to step up to the plate.  One of these leaders is US Representative Melanie Stansbury.  She believes that climate change is an existential threat to humankind and that if we don’t immediately act, the world could face dire consequences. Stansbury is intensely passionate about energizing politicians, ordinary citizens, and companies to take massive action to combat climate change.  That's one of the reasons she was such an ardent supporter of the Build Back Better Act. This bill is intended to beef up investments in renewable energy and increase restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. This ambitious bill is the most significant investment in climate action undertaken in the US. 

The clean future act 

Governor Grisham announced late last year that she would sponsor a bill to ensure New Mexico does its part to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.  Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club's Rio Grande Chapter, said New Mexico must pass this bill, known as the Clean Future Act. It sets strict limits on emissions through 2030.  Feibelman thinks that continued dependence on fossil-fuel extraction is not only a threat to humanity's future but unnecessary. She said, "Many other states make plenty of revenue without any oil and gas drilling. New Mexico can too, and we will be better off for it." 

The renewables portfolio standard (RPS) 

The Union of Concerned Scientists undertook an analysis that revealed that renewable energy is New Mexico's most cost-effective way of meeting their long-term energy needs.  That’s fantastic news, considering that New Mexico has much untapped renewable energy potential. A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a regulatory mandate to boost energy production from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and biomass. This is something many states have implemented in the last decade or so.  New Mexico took the plunge in 2004, setting up strict milestones for renewable energy use. The latest benchmarks are that 40% of all retail electricity must be from renewable energy sources by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2040.

Finding new ways to the keep the land alive - Albuquerque Journal

The environmental impact of climate change in New Mexico

Unrelenting megadroughts 

Approximately 63% of New Mexico suffers from a drought so bad that it's severely interfering with agricultural production.  This "megadrought”, or a drought lasting over two decades, has earned a place in the history books as the second-worst one in 1,200 years.  This prolonged water scarcity upsets the delicate ecological balance by increasing dust storm intensity and raising wildfire risk to dangerous levels. In Ledoux, New Mexico, villagers have used a rugged network of irrigation ditches – acequias – to water their crops for hundreds of years. These channels depend on annual snowmelt and regular rainfall for replenishment.  However, the unrelenting dry spell has caused most of the water to evaporate. This has elevated tensions in Ledoux to a fever pitch. Farmers now squabble endlessly over the water rights that become increasingly less available with each passing year. 

Destruction of plant life

In New Mexico, climate change transforms verdant rangeland into a bleak and barren desert. Higher temperatures put tremendous stress on plants, rendering them more susceptible to diseases and insects. Drier conditions created by climate change are causing desertification of previously fertile areas in New Mexico.  The piñon pine, New Mexico's state tree, is one of the casualties of climate change. Even though piñons are a beloved ingredient of Southwestern cuisine, they tragically could vanish altogether by 2030.  It used to be commonplace to see countless cars on the side of the road near piñon groves in New Mexico in September and October every year, all there to harvest the tiny nut from the Pinus edulis tree. However, this isn’t happening nearly as much because of the effects of climate change.  Scientists have discovered that seed cone production has fallen by more than 40% because of the ravages of global warming. Piñon nuts grow best when the weather is cool and wet. If trees don’t get much rain, or if the weather is too hot, the trees won’t produce any.  It's natural for there to be long gaps between seed years. Under normal conditions, those intervals can be up to five years, and climate change is causing these gaps to be even longer. 

Diminishing snowpack

Snowpack is the snow that accumulates on mountaintops during the winter. When temperatures start to get warmer in the spring, it melts, replenishing streams, lakes, and ponds.  Because of climate change, snowpack is melting far earlier than it should. Dams retain a lot of this water for use later in the year. However, water from melting snowpack upstream from reservoirs isn’t retained, meaning there isn’t a continuous water supply. To compound the problem, global warming is causing precipitation that would have fallen as snow under normal weather conditions to come down as rain. This also dramatically decreases snowpack.   Reduced snowpack extent and depth is horrible news for the thousands of individuals in New Mexico who depend on it for drinking water, hydropower, and irrigation. In many western river basins, snowpack is relied on for water storage even more than human-built reservoirs. Decreasing snowpack in northern New Mexico is shortening the ski season and other kinds of winter tourism and recreation. 

Climate change’s impact on New Mexico’s tribal communities 

The Ogallala aquifer is one of the most crucial groundwater sources in New Mexico, and thousands of members of the Navajo Nation rely on its lifegiving properties. For example, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe derives 70% of its drinking water from the aquifer.  Unfortunately, the Ogallala is being drained faster than it can be refilled, and tribal members are suffering because of the massive depletion of this vital water source. Climate change is only making the problem worse. Because the water supply at the Ogallala aquifer is no longer as abundant as it once was, the Navajo Nation is forced to look for alternative solutions.  The good news is that historically underfunded New Mexico tribal communities are finally getting the money they've been demanding for years to increase their access to clean water. Many of them had water rights they couldn't exercise because they didn't have the cash to build the necessary infrastructure.

Go carbon neutral with Aspiration Zero 

Aspiration Zero is the card to get if you want to neutralize your carbon footprint while earning up to 1% cashback. Every time you swipe our card to make a purchase, we'll plant a tree. Think of how much difference that could make over a year. The solution to climate change starts with you. And at Aspiration Zero, we make it super easy for you to do your part. Get started today! 

Make Change Staff

April 29, 2022

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What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate?

Thunderstorm, Wallpaper, Clouds, Storm, Lightning, Sky Many people don't think there's much difference between weather and climate change. And that might just have been what prompted Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe to bring a snowball to the Senate floor during the speech in which he questioned the science behind climate change back in 2015...  "Do you know what this is? It's a snowball," Inhofe said as he looked at the frosty white lump. "It's just from outside here, so it's very, very cold out..." To the senator, this snowball was proof that global warming was a massive hoax.  As Vizzini from The Princess Bride might say, he “fell victim to one of the classic blunders”. Besides getting involved in a land war in Asia, that is, the senator also confused climate (change) with weather. 

What’s the difference between weather and climate?

"Weather" means local atmospheric conditions occurring over short periods, such as the rain, thunderstorms, or snow happening at this precise moment.  "Climate", on the other hand, refers to massive long-term shifts in meteorological patterns.  For instance, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) measures climate baselines over 30 years for a specific location. Climate change occurs if weather conditions have shifted significantly from the time the first measurement was taken to the present moment.  For example, let’s say you’re heading out into the woods to do a little cross-country skiing. You notice that there seems to be considerably less snow than there usually is at this time of year.  That’s climate change. However, what you're likely really thinking about is the blizzard your local meteorologist predicted for this afternoon in your neck of the woods. You wonder, "Will I get stuck in the middle of it? Maybe I'll get trapped and need to build a snow fort so I don't freeze to death."  That’s weather. 

How does global warming change our climate?

Global warming refers to the long-term rise in temperatures primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels.  This raises the level of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the planet’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and other emissions act like a blanket, trapping some of the heat that might have otherwise radiated into the deepest recesses of interstellar space.  The scientific consensus is that human activity has increased the earth's global average temperature by approximately 1.8°F (1°C) since before the Industrial Revolution. This number rises by about 0.36°F (0.2°C) every ten years. This means that people are experiencing warmer weather in almost every part of the planet. 

How does climate change affect our weather?

One way climate change affects our weather is by making conditions more humid. That happens because warmer air can hold more water. Humidity increases about 3.5% for every degree the temperature rises.  Humidity also increases precipitation levels. When the climate gets warmer, more rain falls. However, each storm produces more significant amounts of rain because there's significantly more water vapor than there used to be in the air. In other words, greater water vapor density.  Climate change is increasing the intensity of hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey, a 2017 Category 4 storm, was another extreme weather event. It dumped over 60 inches of rain and resulted in $125 billion in damages.  This made it one of the most devastating storms in history. Professor Kerry Emmanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge calculated that Texas only had a 1% chance of seeing a storm of that magnitude. Now, the chances are approximately 6%.  However, not all meteorological events will get more intense.  For example, most climate models indicate that tropical cyclones (equatorial storms) and extratropical cyclones (a storm in higher latitudes) will in fact become less common as a result of climate change. This decrease in extratropical cyclones makes pollution worse because these storms circulate the air from higher altitudes to lower ones.  This effect helps remove pollution and stop heatwaves. With fewer extratropical cyclones, polluted air lingers in the atmosphere.  Because climate change plays havoc with weather patterns, some parts of the country (like the Northeast) are seeing more flooding. Other regions (such as the Southwest) are experiencing fewer floods. As meteorological patterns shift, areas that are getting drier will see less flooding even after a major storm. 

What is an extreme weather event?

An extreme weather event is one that's significantly different from the usual weather pattern. These events often have a devastating impact on ecosystems, communities, farms, and homes. Here are some examples:
  • HEATWAVE: An interval of unusually hot weather and can cause wildfires and droughts if it gets bad. 
  • DROUGHT: An extended period without rain, usually 15 days in length or more. 
  • COLDWAVE: A larger-than-average drop in temperature of prolonged duration. 
  • TORRENTIAL RAIN: An unusually high amount of precipitation. It can cause flash floods, landslides, and other hazards.
While meteorological records reveal a rise in weather-related disasters since 1980, you can't blame climate change for every extreme weather event. Even if global warming isn't responsible for a particular storm, rising ocean levels can worsen its impact. In the New York City area, sea levels rise by over an inch every ten years, twice as fast as the global average. Climatologists predict that sea levels will rise between 11 and 21 inches by 2050 in this region of the planet. In 2012, a nine-foot storm surge birthed by Hurricane Sandy hit the city at high tide.  This made the sea 14 feet higher than average at the tip of Manhattan. Flooding from this hurricane had a devastating effect on beaches and neighborhoods in the outer boroughs.

Other examples of extreme weather events

Weather scientists say the number of extreme weather events has significantly increased in the last five decades and will only worsen.  In December 2010, unusually heavy snow blanketed the UK, with super-frigid arctic air causing temperatures to plummet significantly below normal. This was considered an extreme weather event because it varied wildly from the established meteorological baseline.  The largest, deadliest, and costliest tornado outbreak ever recorded was in 2011, when tornadoes raged across the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern US. The most severely affected states were Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.  The National Weather Service confirmed more than 360 tornadoes touched down in 21 states. Four tornadoes were rated EF5, the highest-ranking on the Enhanced Fujita scale. Usually, these tornadoes only happen once a year. 

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3 not so wacky ways to stop global warming 

Climate change is no laughing matter. However, the length some scientists go to pretend it doesn’t exist is. Here are some of the most outlandish solutions ever proposed for the problem: 

Create massive plankton blooms 

Plankton is a carbon sink, which is anything that absorbs significantly more carbon than it produces. Even though these organisms are tiny, they soak up lots of carbon dioxide and are basically sea-going oxygen factories.  Because of these two things, a scientist came up with the brilliant idea of putting enormous wave-powered pumps in the Pacific Ocean. These pumps would force nutrient-rich water from the cold water at lower depths to mix with warmer surface water. This would give plankton blooms more to eat, causing them to experience explosive growth. 

Cover Greenland in white blankets

Greenland's enormous glaciers are melting at a prodigious rate. With fewer ice sheets around, light isn't being reflected into outer space. Instead, it's being absorbed into the ground in the form of heat energy.  This is causing temperatures to rise not only in Greenland but in other areas too. Jason Box, a prominent glaciologist, proposed covering the region in hundreds of miles of white blankets to solve this problem. The scientist believes that this massive ivory shroud would keep things cool. 

Drop tree bombs 

Trees are the most effective way to capture and store carbon. That’s why a few inventive scientists came up with the decidedly out-of-the-box idea to drop tree bombs from old warplanes.  Each botanical torpedo would be packed with hundreds of seedlings that would scatter as soon as it made landfall. This would create instant forests, filling a formerly barren area with a profusion of greenery. This is probably not as ludicrous as it sounds because geo-engineers have had some limited success regenerating mangrove forests after devastating hurricanes. 

Save the planet by banking with Aspiration 

Here at Aspiration, we never use customer deposits to finance environmentally destructive practices, such as oil and gas drilling.  We're 100% committed to saving the heart-achingly beautiful planet we all live on. Our passionate dedication to that mission shines forth in all kinds of ways. From the trees we plant every time you swipe your Aspiration Zero card to the investments we make in renewable energy, we're in it for the long haul.  When you bank with us, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're doing business with a company making a difference every day.  Get started today!

Make Change Staff

April 28, 2022

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50 Ways to Reduce Climate Change

Warming, Global, Environment, Nature, Earth, Pollution Our planet is under attack from environmentally destructive forces of all kinds. Coal-burning power plants still exist, spewing massive amounts of toxic emissions into our skies. These harmful discharges include mercury, fly ash, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide.  Beautiful rainforests formerly rich in stunning biodiversity are being systematically destroyed to make way for livestock and palm oil plantations. Wildlife is being relentlessly hunted to the brink of extinction for bushmeat and medicinal products, and overgrazing is causing widespread soil degradation.  These days, climate change is a hot conversational topic. However, if we're going to save the planet, we need to move from discussing it to doing something about it.  Here are 50 ways you can reduce climate change: let’s get started! 

Urge governments to take drastic climate action

Call your representatives to share your views on environmental topics, and vote for politicians who take a stand to support environmental issues

Hold a climate-themed art show 

Taking action to reduce global warming doesn’t have to be deadly serious all the time. Instead, get creative by putting on a climate-themed art show. 

Cut down on the mountains of junk mail 

On the scale of environmentally unsound practices, you might rate junk mail low. However, it adds up over time. Services like CatalogChoice.org get your address removed from catalog listings.

Take a shower instead of a bath 

Reveling in the sumptuous delights of a leisurely bath is one of life's greatest pleasures. Unfortunately, it consumes more resources than a quick shower. 

Don’t run the water when brushing your teeth 

Turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth can save up to five gallons of water every day. 

Recycle hangers

You probably have tons of wire hangers in your closet. Unfortunately, most recycling centers won’t take them. The solution is to take them to a dry cleaner. 

Cut down on clothes buying 

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. By purchasing fewer new clothes, we can conserve our cash while slowing down the pace of climate change. 

Say no to half loads 

Running a full load of laundry saves 3,400 gallons of water a year. Try to do this as much as possible — even if it means doubling up with others. 

Dry clothes outdoors 

Many people throw their just-washed clothes into an electric dryer, which transforms their home into a sweltering jungle. Because doing this isn’t good for the planet, hang your clothes on a rack indoors or outdoors instead. 

Recycle your cell phone

Millions of cell phones are thrown into landfills every year, causing toxic chemicals to leak into the ecosystem. Recycle yours instead. 

Reuse instead of disposing 

Reusing as much as you can helps to decrease the amount of trash in landfills. For example, transform an empty coffee tin into a storage container for miscellaneous household items.

Don’t waste paper 

If you need to use paper, don’t let any of it go to waste. This means printing on both sides and using every inch when taking notes. 

Shop at thrift stores 

Few pleasures in life can rival snagging a once-in-a-lifetime secondhand store bargain. Even better, thrift store purchases cut down on the manufacture of new products, thus reducing carbon emissions. 

Clear out your attic 

You probably have a ton of junk in your attic you don’t need. By taking it to your local thrift store, you’ll be cutting down on the manufacture of new items and reducing the waste that goes to landfill.  

Take breaks from being a carnivore 

The decisions we make about food can have profound environmental consequences. For example, reducing the amount of meat in your diet helps decrease greenhouse gases.  Salad, Salad Platter, Salad Plate, Plate, Cutlery

Chow down on leftovers 

Aim to meal prep to avoid wasting groceries, and opt to eat leftovers instead of ordering out. 

Try organic gardening 

Growing your own veggies decreases carbon emissions. For maximum benefit, stick to organic gardening. If you need to buy gardening supplies, remember to use your Aspiration Zero card

Reduce use of gasoline-powered lawn tools 

Because using a gas-powered mower for an hour pollutes up to 12 times more than the average automobile, try using human-powered tools like push mowers and hand clippers when gardening. 

Create a certified wildlife habitat in your backyard 

By creating a certified wildlife habitat in your backyard, you provide a way for wildlife to cope better with climate change. 

Host a climate-themed dinner party 

Invite friends, family, and acquaintances for a fabulous climate-themed dinner party. Serve delicious farm-to-table food or have everyone bring a vegan dish. 

Learn a new environmental skill 

Your local adult learning center often has classes on environmental topics like gardening, composting, and recycling. Check to see what's available and bring a friend along. 

Take part in a neighborhood cleanup 

You don't have to dedicate years of your life to volunteering for some far-away environmental project. By helping a local group clean up, you'll be helping to beautify the planet. 

Take kids for a hike 

One of the best ways to foster environmental awareness is by starting them young. Taking kids for a hike is a terrific way to instill an appreciation of our planet. 

Do a fun project with your kids 

Another way to teach your kids about global warming is by doing a fun environmental project with them. 

Purchase a reusable water bottle 

90% of plastic water bottles don't get recycled. That's one humongous reason to invest in a refillable water bottle. 

Find greener ways to get around town 

Find ways to get around town that are more environmentally sound, such as carpooling and bicycling. This will help you save the planet and lose weight. 

Invest in a cargo bike 

Cargo bikes are the workhorses of the bicycle world, allowing you to transport up to 300 pounds of goods. Using one for errands instead of driving helps cut down on harmful greenhouse gas emissions. 

Transform old junk into something beautiful 

Upcycling is repurposing old items to create something new, and it's also good for the environment. If more people upcycled, fewer products would need to be created from scratch, saving on raw materials and energy consumption. 

Volunteer for an eco-friendly charity 

Volunteer your time to help a local charity working to mitigate the effects of climate change. For example, staffing tables at cool ecological get-togethers. 

Choose fair trade

By buying Fair Trade products, you're saving the environment from unsustainable manufacturing processes. You also ensure that artisans in developing nations make a decent wage for their efforts. 

Shop locally

Even if your support of local businesses cuts down on only a tiny amount of environmentally destructive greenhouse gases, every bit helps. Using your Aspiration Zero credit card allows you to track your carbon footprint when you shop! 

Power down appliances and devices 

Powering down your computer before you hit the hay saves energy and money. Unplugging appliances like televisions and hairdryers when you're not using them is another fantastic environment-saving habit. 

Develop a company-wide initiative

Ask your boss if you can create a recycling program, implement ways to reduce power usage in your department, or do other things to reduce your company's carbon footprint.

Purchase reusable grocery bags

Single-use plastic bags are a big environmental no-no. By forgoing them in favor of reusable grocery bags, you'll reduce the manufacturing of plastics that hurt our planet. 

Harness the power of social media 

Social media has immense untapped potential if used as a force for good. For example, go on Facebook to share articles about charitable organizations that combat climate change. 

Buy sunscreen that doesn’t harm coral reefs

Did you know there are chemicals in some sunscreen lotions that hurt coral reefs? Ensure your beach products are "reef safe" before letting them wash into the ocean while swimming. 

Engage in a bit of self-education 

Read a book on the effects of climate change, watch a documentary on renewable energy, or attend a workshop that will help you learn about ecological issues. 

Go on a walk to raise climate change consciousness

Becoming an environmentally conscious Forrest Gump is a powerful way to shine a spotlight on climate change, even if you don’t walk across the country. 

Make sure your toilet works

Because most high water bills are due to an always running toilet, make sure yours works properly. Better yet, invest in a water-saving toilet

Weather-proof your house 

Make your residence more energy-efficient by sealing drafts and ensuring that everything is sufficiently insulated. You can even get tax credits for these kinds of home improvements. 

Keep your tires properly inflated

If every US citizen kept their tires properly inflated, we could save up to 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline every year. 

Invest in carbon offsets 

Counterbalance the carbon you create by buying carbon offsets. Doing this adds clean power to the nation’s energy grid in place of the fossil fuel you use. 

Check the air filter on your furnace 

A filthy furnace filter slows down airflow, making your heating system work that much harder. This increases energy costs, costing both you and the planet. 

Dial back your water heater temperature 

Most water heaters are set at  140°F. What many people don’t know is that 120°F is probably sufficient. By turning your thermostat down, you’ll save money while saving the planet. 

Eliminate unnecessary accessories from your automobile’s roof 

Roof racks and storage shells reduce fuel efficiency by approximately 5%. Take them off and store them when you don’t need them. 

Use a laptop instead of a desktop

Because desktops use four times as much energy as your average laptop, you should use a laptop when possible. Also, turn your computer off when you’re away from your desk. 

Lobby for a carbon tax 

Carbon taxes make it super expensive to pollute. If your city doesn’t have a carbon tax, lobby for one. 

Don’t fly as often

Because flying creates such a gigantic carbon footprint, consider more environmentally friendly travel options such as buses or trains. 

Reuse hotel towels 

Reusing your hotel towels instead of getting new ones every day saves water and energy. 

Cut down on heating and cooling expense 

Instead of cranking up the heater, put on a sweater. Try to use the air conditioner less and fans more.

Help reverse climate change with Aspiration Zero 

At Aspiration, we’d like to add one more way of reducing climate change to the list: planting trees.  For every purchase you make with our Aspiration Zero carbon-neutral credit card, we’ll plant a tree on your behalf. Trees remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse emissions from the air, helping to cool our planet. Being a card-carrying member of our neobank puts the power to take decisive environmental action right in your wallet.  Apply for the Aspiration Zero card today! 

Make Change Staff

April 27, 2022

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How To Make Money With Credit Cards

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Reward credit cards are a multi-billion a year business, and competition among card issuers is as fierce as can be. Because of this frantic effort to grab your attention, credit card companies try everything in the book to get you to sign up for their card. This means you can take advantage of all kinds of perks when shopping for a new one.  If you use the following perks strategically, credit cards can be more than a convenient alternative to spending using cash — they can also make you money. Here are 9 ways to beef up your
bank account by using credit cards: 

Grab a signup bonus

One of the best ways to make a little cash with a credit card is a signup bonus. Signup bonuses are the rewards you get when you spend a specific amount on purchases during an introductory period, usually three months from the day you open a new credit card account.  For example, a signup bonus for a travel credit card might give you 50,000 air miles if you buy $1,000 worth of goods and services in your first three months. Keep in mind that only eligible purchases count towards a signup bonus. For example, card issuers disqualify things like gift cards, money orders, and similar transactions.  There are often different bonus periods depending on the company. For example, one credit card company might offer $2,000 if you spend $5,000 or more on purchases during the first three months and another $3,000 if you spend $10,000 during the first six months. 

Earn cashback 

Credit card companies often offer rewards in the form of points, and most companies let you convert points to cash. For example, earning one point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases and redeeming 100 points for $1.  You might want to think about redeeming points for gift cards because sometimes, the gift cards you get are worth more than the points. For instance, redeeming 2,500 points with a monetary value of $25 and receiving a $30 gift card. Points don’t usually expire if you keep your credit card account open. However, read the fine print when signing up for a rewards card, as sometimes they can expire if you don’t use them within a specified period.  Some cards let you send cash rewards to accounts other than your checking account. These include 529 education and brokerage accounts. Others allow you to make charitable contributions using the cash from your points.

The different rate types 

Many credit card issuers offer an unlimited cashback flat rate, typically 1 to 2% on every eligible purchase. Another way to get cash back is through a tiered system, like offering two or more rates that vary depending on merchant type.  For example, a card might offer 5% back on travel, 3% back on eating at restaurants, and 1% on all other purchases. Sometimes, you’ll only be able to earn the higher rate if you spend a certain amount.  There's also a rotating rate system, which offers a higher reward rate on a different merchant type each quarter. This type of system typically caps the cash back you can earn each quarter. There are even credit card issuers that match the cash back you earn in your first year. Other companies offer 2% back on eligible purchases, which is typically 1% when you buy something and another 1% when you pay your balance. 

Strategically plan your purchases 

Tiered and rotating reward cards offer variable reward rates, depending on the merchant type. One card might offer 5% on travel purchases, while another gives you 3% on the food you buy.  By always keeping several cards in your pocketbook, you can use the card offering the best reward for the type of purchase you're planning on making. 

Refer friends and family

Some companies allow you to earn bonuses if you refer a new person who the credit company then approves for a card. So, see if anyone you know is interested in a credit card you have — it just might send a few bucks your way. 

Try “stoozing” 

Stoozing is taking advantage of an introductory interest-free period offered by a credit card company to borrow money for a high-interest investment elsewhere.  Here’s how to do it: 

Get the right card 

For your stoozing strategy to work, you need to sign up for a card that has a 0% introductory annual percentage rate on purchases for 15 months or more.  However, to get the best offers, you'll also need a good-to-excellent credit history and score and a credit limit high enough to accommodate your spending habits. 

Open a high-yield savings account

Next, you'll need to open a high-yield bank account that pays more than 1.5% interest. Online banks and credit unions often have the highest saving account rates. You might want to consider a savings account with Aspiration, where you can earn up to 5% APR.

Spend using your card

Use your card for all your regular monthly spending, and don't use a debit card or cash unless you need to.  Deposit an amount of cash into your savings account equal to the money you spent on your credit card each week. 

Make your credit card minimum payment

Every month, make the minimum payment on your credit card balance. However, ensure you pay your credit card bill on time so you don't sacrifice your introductory rate.  Set an alert to remind you when your introductory period ends. When it does, use the money in your savings account to make a payment that wipes out your entire credit card balance. Whatever remains in your account is the interest you earned using your stoozing strategy. 

Use a shopping portal

A shopping portal is a site that gives you reward points by shopping through them rather than buying stuff at the retailer’s website. This can boost your credit card’s purchasing power, helping to keep more dollars in your pocket.  Start by visiting the portal and searching for the retailer you’re planning on buying from. Then, click through to that merchant’s website and make your purchase like you normally would. You can also load the site’s app on your phone and use it to find a store offering the product you want to buy. Determine which portal gives you the most for your money by using a website like Cashback Monitor. This site compares all the various shopping portals to ensure you're always getting the best rewards rates on your online purchases.  Having cookies enabled in your browser allows the portals to track your purchases, ensuring you get every point coming to you. 

Use a balance transfer to pay down debt

If you need to pay down credit card debt, consider using a balance transfer offer to save money on interest. Cards that allow you to do balance transfers typically offer introductory 0% promotions for a set period, usually between six and 20 months.  These offers come with a balance transfer fee ranging from 3 to 5% of the transferred balance. However, the savings often outweigh the cost. 

Don't automatically exclude cards with annual fees 

As you search for credit cards that can help you make money, you'll likely see many charging annual fees. While yearly fees can erode the value you get from a credit card, you shouldn't always avoid them.  Look at the card's rewards program and its other perks to determine how much value you can get from it. For example, mileage rewards cards give you perks like free checked bags and in-flight discounts that can counteract the expense of an annual fee.

Use reward points 

Some credit card issuers offer bonuses for merely using your reward points. For example, earning a certain amount of air miles when you cash in your points. You might even receive an annual bonus based on how much you spend.

Get the credit card that helps save the planet 

With Aspiration, you'll not only make money if you use our credit card strategically — you'll also help save the planet from the insidious effects of climate change. We plant a tree every time you buy something — and let you round up your purchase if you'd like us to plant an additional tree.  By using this card once a day, the trees we plant on your behalf will completely counteract your daily carbon footprint.  What’s more, by signing up today you’ll earn $300 by spending $3000 within your first 3 months. This is a fantastic way to make money with a credit card! 

Make Change Staff

May 15, 2022

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Top Myths About Ethical Credit Cards. Can They Really Save You Money?

Electronic Payments, Bank Cards, E-Commerce   When it comes to credit cards, there are a lot of myths floating around about what is and isn't ethical.  People seem to think that if they get an ethical credit card, they will be saving the environment and their wallets at the same time. But is this really true? In this guide, we will debunk some of the most common myths about ethical credit cards and let you know if they are worth your time or not.

What is an ethical credit card (and how does it work?)

An ethical credit card is a credit card that uses
sustainable and environmentally friendly practices This can include using recycled paper for cards and envelopes, partnering with renewable energy providers, or donating a portion of each purchase to charity. There are a few different types of ethical credit cards available, so it's important to do your research before applying.  Some cards have specific environmental causes that they support, like renewable energy or rainforest preservation. Others focus on social responsibility, such as donating a portion of each purchase to a charity or providing fair working conditions for their employees.

How do you know if a credit card is ethical or not?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as different credit card issuers have different policies and practices. However, most ethical credit cards offer the same benefits as regular credit cards – they just come with a conscience! Some of the most common benefits of ethical credit cards include:
  • Reduced environmental impact due to sustainable practices
  • Donation of a percentage of each purchase to charity
  • Support for renewable energy initiatives
  • Fair working conditions for employees
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that you're supporting a cause you believe in. Many ethical cards also offer rewards such as cashback, airline miles, or points that can be redeemed for merchandise or gift cards. Another advantage of ethical cards is that they can have lower interest rates than traditional cards. This can save you money over the long run, especially if you carry a balance on your card. Finally, using an ethical credit card can help you build or improve your credit score. This is because responsible use of a credit card is one of the factors that lenders look at when assessing your creditworthiness. You can usually find out an issuer's sustainable and environmentally friendly practices by reading their website or looking for the ecolabel.

What are the benefits of using an ethical credit card over a regular credit card?

There are a few key benefits of using an ethical credit card over a regular credit card.

A lower interest rate

First, ethical credit cards usually have lower interest rates and fees than regular credit cards. This is because the issuing company wants to encourage sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

Gain rewards

Second, many ethical credit cards offer rewards for spending money on things like renewable energy or shopping at eco-friendly businesses. This can be a great way to save money while you're helping the environment!

A lower carbon footprint

Third, ethical credit cards often have lower carbon footprints than regular credit cards. They use sustainable and environmentally friendly practices like renewable energy or recycled paper.

How to choose an ethical credit card that's right for you

You may want to consider a few things when looking for an ethical credit card The first is whether the card issuer is aligned with your values.  Some issuers support environmental or social causes, while others do not. You'll also want to look at the card agreement terms and make sure that there are no hidden fees or penalties. You'll want to consider whether an ethical credit card is worth the extra cost.  Generally speaking, ethical cards have a lower interest rate than specialty and premium credit cards. This means the rewards you earn and benefits are unique to ethical cards. So, it ultimately depends on your individual circumstances.

Top myths about ethical credit cards

Myth One: Ethical credit cards don't offer any benefits

This first myth is definitely not true! In fact, many ethical credit cards come with various perks and benefits. For example, some cards offer cash back, while others provide rewards points that can be used for travel or merchandise. So, if you are looking for a card with some extra perks, an ethical credit card is definitely a good option.

Myth Two: Ethical credit cards are more expensive than regular credit cards

This myth is also false.  In fact, many ethical credit cards have lower interest rates and annual fees than regular credit cards. So, if you are looking for a more affordable option, an ethical card is worth considering.

Myth Three: All ethical credit cards are the same

This is definitely not true.  There are various ethical credit cards on the market, and each one has its own unique set of benefits and features. So, it is important to do your research before you decide which card is right for you.

Myth Four: Getting an ethical credit card will save you money

This may or may not be true, depending on the specific card that you choose.  Some ethical credit cards offer great savings opportunities, while others do not. So, it is important to compare the different cards and find one that offers the best deal for you.

Myth Five: Ethical credit cards are only for people who care about the environment

While it is true that many ethical credit cards come with eco-friendly features, this does not mean that they are only for people who care about the environment.  In fact, there are a variety of different ethical cards that cater to a variety of different interests and needs. So, no matter what your priorities are, you should be able to find an ethical credit card that suits you.

Myth Six: Ethical credit card companies charge more for their services

This is another myth that is just not true. In fact, many ethical credit card companies actually have lower rates and fees than traditional credit card companies. So, if you are looking for a more affordable option, an ethical credit card company is definitely the way to go.

Myth Seven: You have to be wealthy to afford an ethical credit card

False!  There are a variety of different ethical credit cards that cater to a variety of different budgets. So, no matter what your income level is, you should be able to find an ethical card that fits your needs.

Myth Eight: Ethical credit cards charge higher interest rates

Actually, no.  Ethical credit cards often have lower interest rates because they are more sustainable for people and the planet. They also don’t have hidden fees, which means you’ll save money in the long run. When you use an ethical credit card, you support businesses that align with your values. You can feel good knowing that your purchases contribute to a better world.

Myth Nine: Ethical credit cards are not as widely accepted as regular credit cards

This is another myth that is just not true.  In fact, many ethical credit cards are accepted at a wide variety of different stores and businesses. So, you should have no trouble using your card at the places that you usually shop.

Myth Ten: It's difficult to find an ethical credit card company that meets your needs

Actually, this could not be further from the truth.  There are several different ethical credit card companies to choose from, and each one offers its own unique set of benefits. You’re sure to find one that meets your specific needs.

So, is an ethical credit card really worth it?

Now that we’ve dispelled these common myths, what does this mean for you? Well, it ultimately depends on your specific needs and priorities If you are looking for a card with some extra perks, an ethical credit card is definitely a good option. However, if you are more interested in finding a low-cost alternative, there are a variety of different cards to choose from. So, it is important to do your research before making any decisions. Ultimately, the bottom line is that ethical credit cards are worth considering for various reasons.  They can help you to save money and help the environment, all while supporting causes that are important to you.   The truth about ethical credit cards is that they come with various benefits and features. So, it is important to do your research before you decide which card is right for you. 

Aspiration Zero, the credit card that helps you go green

If you’re looking for a credit card that not only helps you go green but also rewards you for it, look no further than the Aspiration Zero We work to reduce your carbon footprint and give you extra cashback rewards with every swipe. Plus, our application process is simple and straightforward, so you can start enjoying the benefits of this card as soon as possible.  Apply today and start making everyday spending work for the environment!

Make Change Staff

January 31, 2022

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American Express Green Card Review: Where It Saves, Where It Falls Short

Credit Card, American Express, Credit, Cards The American Express Green Card is a great option for those looking for a travel rewards card.  It offers some great benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees and points for travel expenses. However, the card also has some drawbacks, such as its high annual fee.  In this article, we will take a closer look at the American Express Green Card and discuss whether or not it is the right choice for you.

A great card for travelers with no foreign transaction fees 

The American Express Green Card is an excellent option for travelers who prioritize earning Membership Rewards and prefer to use just one card for their travel purchases.  The American Express Green Card offers some great benefits for travelers. There are no foreign transaction fees, for starters, which can save you a lot of money if you frequently travel abroad. Additionally, the card offers points that can be used towards travel expenses.  This includes airfare, hotels, and car rentals. Finally, the card also comes with several travel insurance policies that can provide you with extra peace of mind while on your trip.  With the American Express Green Card, you can earn Membership Rewards that are redeemable for travel, gift cards, and merchandise.  Cardholders earn three Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent at restaurants, on public transportation, or travel, and one Membership Rewards point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. The points you earn with the American Express Green Card can be redeemed for statement credits, travel reservations, or gift cards. 

How to redeem points for rewards 

The American Express Green Card Memberships Rewards is a great flexible travel rewards program that offers a variety of redemption options You can use your points to book travel with American Express, or you can transfer them to one of five airline partners and three hotel partners.  Here are some examples of what you could get with your points: Statement Credits You can use your points to pay for part or all of a travel purchase made with the American Express Green Card. You can also use it to pay your credit card balance. Pay with Points at Checkout  You can use your points to pay for purchases with specific merchants, including Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy. Anywhere that Paypal is accepted, you can use your points as a form of payment. Travel Reservations  You can use your points to book flights, hotels, and car rentals with American Express. You can also book cruises and vacation packages. Gift Cards  You can use your points to get gift cards from various merchants, including Amazon, Starbucks, and iTunes. Merchandise  You can use your points to get merchandise from a variety of merchants, including Apple, Samsung, and Sony.

Does the American Express Green Card have a fee?

The annual fee for the American Express Green Card is $150.  This may seem like a lot, but when you consider all of the benefits that come with the card, it’s actually a pretty good deal.  Keep in mind that the American Express Green Card is a charge card, which means that you must pay your balance in full each month. If you’re not able to do this, then the American Express Green Card may not be the best option for you. person holding stainless steel fork and knife

Benefits of the American Express Green Card 

The best thing about the American Express Green Card is that it makes it simple to accumulate membership points You receive three points for every dollar spent on approved travel and restaurant expenses, and the definition of what constitutes travel is very broad. It covers airline, hotels, and vehicle rentals, including cruises, campgrounds, tours, trains, rideshares, buses, subways, tolls, parking, and other services. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. These points can be redeemed for various goodies, including cashback as a statement credit, gift cards from numerous merchants, and reservations directly with American Express Travel.  You also have the option to transfer your points to airline miles with Delta SkyMiles, British Airways Executive Club, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, JetBlue, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic. Additionally, as a Green Cardholder, you are automatically enrolled in the Amex Offers program, which gives you access to exclusive deals at select merchants. Summary The American Express Green Card comes with many benefits, including: 
  • No foreign transaction fees 
  • Points that can be used towards travel expenses 
  • Travel insurance policies 
  • Redeemable for statement credits, travel reservations, gift cards, and merchandise  
  • Automatic enrollment in the Amex Offers program 

Drawbacks of the American Express Green Card 

The American Express Green Card does come with a few drawbacks

High-interest rate 

First and foremost, it has fairly high-interest rates, ranging from 15.99% - 22.99% depending on your credit history. Additionally, the card doesn’t offer any sign-up bonuses or rewards points for spending.

Unclear (and changeable) spending limits 

As far as your spending limit (NPSL), you're unlikely to know upfront what this is set at.  The limit may change over time based on your spending and payment history, as well as market fluctuations. And it's unlikely that American Express will notify you in advance of such changes. As a result, you'll never know when you're on the verge of maxing out your credit card. This may make relying solely on The American Express Green Card difficult. The marketing materials for the card mention the ability to spend above your credit limit and earn rewards, but this is only an option if you specifically ask for it. If you're not comfortable with the idea of spending over your limit or don't want to have to keep asking American Express for permission, then this card may not be right for you.

Full monthly payoff is required for benefits 

One of the most significant drawbacks to The American Express Green Card is that you must pay off your credit statement each much to continue to receive membership rewards for the following month.  If you do not pay off your statement balance, the perks stop. Members can select a certain purchase for an extended repayment term up to $100 or more in special circumstances, but all purchases will not apply through Amex's Pay Over Time function. Summary The American Express Green Card comes with several drawbacks, including:  
  • High-interest rates 
  • No sign-up bonuses or rewards points for spending 
  • Your spending limit is unknown and could change at any time without notification 
  • You must pay off your statement balance in full each month to continue receiving membership rewards
If you're comfortable with these drawbacks, then the American Express Green Card may be a good fit for you. However, if any of these factors are a concern, another credit card option may be worth considering.

How to apply for the American Express Green Card 

If you’re considering applying for the American Express Green Card, it’s important to make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements.  To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a good credit score (700+).  The bottom line is that the American Express Green Card has some great features, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before applying.  So, if you’re thinking about getting this card, here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • The card has high-interest rates, so make sure you pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.
  • There are no sign-up bonuses or rewards points for spending, so if that’s important to you, better options are available.
  • The card has a $150 annual fee, but it comes with a variety of benefits that can be worth the cost.
  • The card is a charge card, so you must pay your balance in full each month. If you’re not able to do this, then the American Express Green Card may not be the best option for you.
If you decide that the American Express Green Card is right for you, here’s how to apply:
  • Go to the American Express website and click “Apply Now.”
  • Enter your personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
  • Answer a few questions about your employment history and income.
  • Review your application and submit it.
If you’re approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail within a few weeks.

Check out the ultimate green credit card: The Aspiration Zero 

If you’re looking for a way to offset your daily expenses and do some good in the world, look no further than Aspiration Zero With every swipe, you reduce your carbon footprint and earn rewards that can be used to plant more trees or receive a statement credit. Plus, with low annual fees, it’s easy to get started.  Apply today and start enjoying the benefits of living a zero-impact lifestyle! 

Make Change Staff

January 29, 2022

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eCO Credit Card vs. Aspiration Zero: What’s the Difference?

green tree on brown grass field during daytime When it comes to finding the best credit card for your needs, there are a lot of different factors to consider. Do you want a card with no annual fee? A card with rewards points? A card with a low-interest rate?  If you're looking for a great all-around option, the eCO Credit Card and the Aspiration Zero both offer some compelling benefits.  This guide will compare and contrast the two cards and help you decide which one is best for your needs.

The importance of picking an excellent eco-friendly credit card

When it comes to finding the best
eco-friendly credit card, there are a few key things you should look for. The first is a low-interest rate–this will help you save money on interest payments over time.  The second is a rewards program that offers points or cashback on your purchases. And finally, you’ll likely want to make sure the card issuer offers sustainable practices and supports environmental causes.

The eCO Credit Card

The eCO Credit Card from ēCO Credit Union meets all of these criteria and comes with a few additional benefits as well.  For starters, the card has no annual fee and offers a 4.99% APR for the first six months on purchases and balance transfers.  And unlike many other eco-friendly credit cards, the eCO card also offers rewards points on all purchases. You can redeem your points for cashback, statement credits, or gift cards from leading retailers. Pros of the eCO Credit Card
  • No annual fee
  • Rewards points on all purchases
  • Low-interest rate after the introductory period
  • Sustainable practices and supports environmental causes
Cons of the eCO Credit Card
  • Only available to members of ēCO Credit Union
Pricing and how to apply The eCO Credit Card has a $0 annual fee and a variable APR between 7.49% and 16.08%.  To apply, you must be a member of ēCO Credit Union. You can join by becoming an employee of one of their partner companies or opening a savings account with the credit union.

Aspiration Zero

Aspiration is also a leader in sustainable practices and offers the Aspiration Zero card, which comes with similar features.  The Aspiration Zero card has a low annual fee of $60 per year with a signup bonus of earning $300 by spending $3000 within your first three months.  It also offers a rewards program that gives you cashback on all purchases, with no limits or caps after you get to carbon zero. Pros of the Aspiration Zero Credit Card
  • Low annual fee
  • Rewards program with cashback on all purchases
  • Sustainable practices and supports environmental causes
  • A tree planted for every purchase 
Cons of the Aspiration Zero Credit Card
  • Only available to US citizens
Pricing and how to apply The Aspiration Zero card has a $60 annual fee and a mission to plant 125 Million trees by 2030. You must be a US citizen with a valid Social Security number to apply. Question Mark, Knowledge, Question, Sign, Symbol, Mark

Which eco-friendly card is right for you?

Ultimately, the best credit card for you depends on your needs and spending habits. If you're looking for a great all-around option with no annual fee and rewards points, the eCO Credit Card is a great choice.  If you're looking for a card with low-interest rates and sustainable practices, the Aspiration Zero card is a good option. Whichever card you choose, make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully, so you know what you're getting into.

Why is it important to pick an eco-friendly credit card?

When it comes to choosing a credit card, there are a lot of factors to consider. But if you're looking for a card that's good for the environment as well as your wallet, then an eco-friendly credit card is the way to go. There are several reasons why it's important to pick an eco-friendly credit card. For starters, by choosing a card that's good for the environment, you're helping to support sustainable practices and reduce your carbon footprint.  And secondly, eco-friendly cards often come with features like low-interest rates and rewards programs, so you can save money on your purchases while also doing some good for the planet.

How do you know if your credit card is eco-friendly or not?

If you're not sure if your current credit card is eco-friendly or not, there are a few ways to find out.  The first is to check the issuer's website for information on their sustainability practices. You can also look for keywords like "eco-friendly," "green," or "sustainable" on the credit card's website or in the description of the card. If you're still not sure or want to explore other eco-friendly credit card options, there are a number of resources available online. The nonprofit group Green America has a helpful list of eco-friendly credit cards, and the website WalletHub offers in-depth reviews of many different green credit cards.

What are the benefits of choosing an eco-friendly credit card?

There are many benefits to choosing an eco-friendly credit card, including lower interest rates, no annual fees, and cashback rewards. In addition, these cards often come with added benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection.  Another key benefit of eco-friendly credit cards is that they can help you build your credit score. Many of these cards require no credit check, so they are an excellent choice for those who are just starting out or have a limited credit history. There are many reasons to choose an eco-friendly credit card. Here are some of the key benefits:
  • You can help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Your card will be made from recycled materials.
  • You’ll earn rewards for spending money on products and services that support sustainability.
  • You can help finance renewable energy projects.
  • There are often no annual fees.
  • You may qualify for a lower interest rate.
  • Your card will come with added benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection.
If you’re interested in applying for an eco-friendly credit card, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
  • Be sure to compare the interest rates and rewards offered by different cards.
  • Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of each card before applying.
  • Be sure to keep track of your credit score so you can monitor your progress in building good credit.

Who should choose an eco-friendly credit card?

There are a few different types of eco-friendly credit cards on the market, but how do you know if one is right for you? If you want to help the environment and you're looking for a card with low-interest rates and rewards, then an eco-friendly credit card is the way to go. These cards come with various features, so be sure to compare your options before applying. If you have a limited or poor credit history, you may want to consider a secured, eco-friendly credit card. These cards are designed for people who are just starting out or have a limited credit history. They often come with low-interest rates and no annual fees, and they can help you build your credit score over time. If you're looking for a card that's good for the environment and your wallet, an eco-friendly credit card is a perfect choice. Compare your options and apply today.

Make a difference with Aspiration Zero

So which card is better? With Aspiration Zero, you can spend every day doing good while earning cashback rewards. How does this work?  When you swipe your card to make a purchase for any amount, Aspiration plants trees to reduce your carbon footprint and gives you up to 1% Cash Rewards on top of it. It’s like getting paid to do good!

Why is reducing your carbon footprint important?

For one, it's important to reduce your carbon footprint because of the impact climate change is having on our planet.  Climate change has already begun to cause significant problems all over the world, and we're only going to see more and more effects in the years to come if we don't take steps to reduce our emissions. But it's not just about the planet – it's also about our health. Air pollution, which is heavily linked to climate change, causes respiratory problems and other illnesses. So by reducing our carbon footprint, we're also improving our health and wellbeing. There are a lot of ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but one of the easiest is to switch to a carbon-neutral credit card. The team at Aspiration cares about the environment, and we want to do our part in reducing our global carbon footprint. Trees are an essential part of the equation, as they help absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere.  By offsetting your purchases with trees planted by the Aspiration Zero, you can feel good knowing that you’re helping the environment each time you swipe your card.

Change the world, apply today! 

Aspiration is a company that seeks to decrease the negative impact of its environmental footprint by creating products and services which help people live better lives — interested in getting started?  Apply today for your chance to earn up to 1% cashback on every purchase, plus get an additional signup bonus of $300 by spending $3000 within your first three months.

Make Change Staff

January 28, 2022

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Can an Ethical Credit Card Company Truly Exist?

Rooftop Restaurant, Florence, Rooftop, Italy, Sky Credit cards often get a bad rap.  They're often blamed for our country's high levels of personal debt.  However, it's not all credit cards' fault. In fact, some credit card companies pride themselves on being ethical and environmentally friendly.  So can an ethical credit card company truly exist? Let's take a look at what makes a credit card company ethical and see if these companies are as good as they sound.

The ugly truth about credit cards

There's no question that credit cards can be dangerous. They're often glamorized in the media, but the truth is that they can lead to serious debt. In fact, credit card debt in the US has reached a whopping $930 billion. A lot of this debt is due to high-interest rates and fees, and many people get into trouble with credit cards because they don't understand how they work.  Let’s take a look at how this happens. 

How credit card companies make money

Credit card companies make money in a few different ways.  The most common way is through interest rates. Credit cards typically have high-interest rates, and when you carry a balance on your card, the credit card company makes a lot of money. Another way credit card companies make money is through fees. Credit card companies can charge all kinds of fees, including late payment fees, over-the-limit fees, and balance transfer fees. Finally, credit card companies make money by selling your information to other companies. Your name, address, and credit history are all valuable data to marketers. The good news is that some credit card companies don't rely on interest rates and fees to make money, but choose to run their businesses in ways that prioritize ethical behavior and environmentally-friendly practices. 

Should I be worried about my credit card company?

Credit card companies wield a lot of power. Not only do they have the ability to help you or hurt you with your credit score, but they also can impact your monthly budget in a big way. Unfortunately, many credit card companies prey on their customers. They lure people in with low-interest rates and then hike up the rates without warning. They also charge outrageous fees for things like late payments and international transactions. Credit card companies are in the business of making money. They do this by charging you interest on your purchases, and if you don't pay your balance in full every month, they add on fees. This can lead to a lot of debt for consumers, which is why it's important to be careful about which credit card company you choose.

What’s an ethical credit card company?

An ethical credit card company does not prey on its customers. It has fair interest rates, reasonable fees, and transparent policies. It also strives to be environmentally friendly. There are a few things that make a credit card company ethical.  The most important thing is that the company doesn't charge high-interest rates and fees. In addition, the company should be transparent about how it makes money and what fees it charges. The company should also be environmentally friendly, and it should help its customers stay out of debt.

Are ethical credit card companies as good as they sound?

Some people might think that ethical credit card companies are too good to be true.  But the truth is that there are a few great options out there. These companies offer low-interest rates, no fees, and transparency. They also focus on being environmentally friendly. However, there are some drawbacks to using an ethical credit card company. The most obvious is that these companies are smaller than the big banks. This means that they might not have as many options when it comes to rewards and perks. Another drawback is that ethical credit card companies might not be as well known as the big banks. This means that it can be harder to find information about them. And, finally, some people might not like the idea of supporting a small company that focuses on being environmentally friendly. Person Holding Green Card while using Silver Laptop

How do ethical credit card companies benefit the environment?

Many ethical credit card companies use renewable energy to power their operations. They also print their statements and marketing materials on recycled paper. And many of them donate a portion of their profits to environmental charities. Credit card companies can have a significant impact on the environment. The way they power their operations, the type of paper they use, and the donations they make all affect the planet. When you choose an ethical credit card company, you're choosing one that is environmentally friendly. This is important because it means that your money is going to a good cause. It also means that you're not supporting companies that are harmful to the environment.

The benefits of an ethical credit card company

When most people think of ethical credit card companies, the first thing that comes to mind is how good they are for the environment.  While it’s true that these companies often boast features like paperless billing and carbon offsets, there are other benefits to using an ethical credit card company as well. For starters, these companies typically have lower interest rates and fees than traditional credit card companies. They don’t rely on deceptive marketing practices or hidden fees to make money. In addition, ethical credit card companies often give back to the community. For example, they may donate a portion of their profits to charity or offer discounted rates to customers who volunteer. Finally, using an ethical credit card company can help you feel good about your spending. You know that your money goes towards companies that share your values and support causes you care about. So, what are the pros and cons of using an ethical credit card company?

Pros of choosing an ethical credit card 

  • Lower interest rates and fees: These companies don't rely on deceptive marketing practices or hidden fees to make money. 
  • Gives back to the community: Many ethical credit card companies donate a portion of their profits to charity or offer discounted rates to customers who volunteer. 

Cons of choosing an ethical credit card 

  • It may be difficult to find one that's right for you: There aren't many ethical credit card companies out there, so you may have to do some digging to find the one that's best for you.
  • May not offer as many features: While most ethical credit card companies offer a similar set of features, there may be a few that don't have everything you're looking for. 
Overall, using an ethical credit card company is a great way to support the environment and your community. If you’re looking for a more sustainable way to pay for your purchases, this could be the right option for you. Just be sure to do your research before choosing one, as not all ethical credit card companies are created equal.

Top ethical credit card companies of 2022

Let’s take a look at some of the top green and ethical credit companies out there disrupting the traditional financial landscape in 2022. 

The Sierra Club 

The Sierra Club gives back to the environment in a few ways, which is why it’s one of the most ethical credit card companies. It partners with businesses that share its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

The Nature Conservancy 

The Nature Conservancy offers a few different features that make it stand out from the rest. Not only does the card have a low-interest rate, but The Nature Conservancy also promises to never charge an annual fee. They also donate a percentage of their profits to charity.

Conservation International 

Conservation International offers a unique rewards program that helps you give back to the environment. You earn three points for every dollar you spend, which can be redeemed for donations to Conservation International or one of their partner organizations.

Aspiration 

Aspiration is a unique credit card company in that they offer paperless billing and carbon offsets at no extra cost to the consumer. They also donate a percentage of their profits to charity.

American Express 

American Express is one of the largest credit card companies in the world and offers a variety of options for those looking for an ethical credit card. They have a wide range of cards that cater to different needs, including the Blue Sky Card, which donates a percentage of its profits to conservation efforts.

The Green America Credit Card 

The Green America Credit Card is one of the only credit cards endorsed by a nonprofit environmental organization. Green America will donate money to support their work for every purchase you make.

Aspiration: The credit card for the sustainability movement

We all know that taking steps to reduce our environmental impact is important. It’s not just about the environment but also about how it affects us and others around us.  Aspiration strives for a better way of life for people in need by reducing their carbon footprint through tree planting efforts while giving you cashback rewards when you get down to zero.  Interested? Apply today!

Make Change Staff

January 27, 2022

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Affinity Credit Cards Give Charitable Spending a Whole New Meaning

Money, Donation, Donate, Profit, Give, Help, Charity Affinity credit cards take charitable giving to a whole new level. They can be an excellent way to give back and donate to charities that are important to you.  People who use these types of credit cards often have access to charitable giving opportunities that they do not have with traditional banks. If you've been looking for a way to increase the value of your charitable contributions, this is the guide for you.  Affinity credit cards are specifically designed to provide rewards and benefits associated with specific affiliations or interests. This can include religious organizations, universities, special interest groups such as outdoor enthusiasts, and much more.

What is an affinity card?

An affinity card is a credit card affiliated with a certain organization, such as a university or charity.  These cards benefit members of the affiliated group and frequently allow people to donate their rewards to the group's designated charity Affinity cards can be an excellent way for customers to show their support for a cause they care about while also doing good in the world. Affinity cards are appealing because you can donate your rewards to any charity of your choice. This is something that traditional banks typically do not provide. Using an affinity credit card can be a great way to foster goodwill within your community or group by providing them with assistance that would otherwise be unavailable. This is especially true when people use their affinity cards to make purchases around the holidays.

How do affinity cards work?

Affinity cards operate in much the same way as traditional credit cards, but they provide additional benefits to members of affiliated organizations such as charities or professional associations.  Affinity cards, which are available from both banks and credit unions, typically have lower interest rates and fees than traditional credit cards. The key distinction is that affinity cards allow for charitable giving, which means that your money can be used to support organizations that are important to you. Affinity credit cards also typically include a rewards program that allows you to donate your rewards to any charity of your choice. When you use an affinity card, you can donate the rewards you earn to a charity of your choice, making it a simple way to give back without spending more money. Affinity cards frequently include additional benefits. These can include discounted rates on affiliated group products or services, bonus points for using the card, and more.

What are the benefits of using an affinity credit card?

Affinity credit cards can provide you with special offers such as discounted or free products from affiliated companies (like coupons for specific restaurants).  If your credit card is linked to a university student organization, for example, the card issuer may offer discounts at local businesses. You can also earn points or cashback on your credit card spending, allowing you to donate rewards directly to any charity of your choice. The advantage of affinity credit card programs is that you can donate your rewards in any amount up to 100% to a charity of your choice. With an affinity card, you can designate a specific charity to which your rewards will be donated on a monthly or annual basis. You may also be able to deduct your donations from your taxes. Unlike traditional bank products, in which charities have separate agreements on which ones will receive donations from their customers' purchases, affinity card programs allow you to donate any percentage of your rewards to any charity or organization — regardless of whether it is affiliated with the card issuer. When it comes to selecting the best affinity credit card for you, there are a few things to consider:
  • How much money can I afford to put towards my credit each month?
  • What is the interest rate on this card?
  • Do I want a rewards program where I can donate my points to charity, or do I just want cash back or travel rewards?
Once you've decided what it is that you want in a credit card, you can compare different affinity cards to see which one is best for your spending habits. Overall, an affinity credit card could be a great option for anyone looking to give back through their everyday purchases — and it's available at some of the most popular banks in the country. You may want to check to see if the card issuer is reputable and has a track record of keeping its promises to customers. You should also think about how much you're willing to spend on your affinity credit card each year, as well as what kind of rewards you'd like to earn from spending with your new credit card. If you have a favorite charity about which you are passionate and want to assist them in reaching their fundraising goals, an affinity credit card can be a great way to do so.  Because there are so many options available when it comes to selecting the best affinity credit card for your needs, make sure you thoroughly investigate all of your options before making a decision or signing up with a card issuer.

How do I choose which type of affinity credit card is right for me?

There are several types of affinity credit cards available to you, each with its own set of benefits and perks. When it comes to selecting the right product for you, consider your charitable giving needs as well as how much money you want to put toward your credit each month. Some affinity cards, for example, offer a percentage of the money you spend with them in cashback rewards, while others offer points that can be redeemed for travel.  If your goal is to donate as much as possible to charity each month, an affinity credit card that offers higher percentages back in cash or points for your spending may be a good choice. Some affinity cards also provide discounts on affiliated companies' products and services. This could be useful if you're looking for ways to save money in your daily life or if you want to support a charity with a business relationship with the card issuer.

Cashback Affinity Credit Cards

The cashback credit card is one of the most popular types of affinity credit cards.  These cards reward you with a percentage of your spending, which you can then donate directly to any charity of your choice. For example, you could earn 50% back on all of your card purchases, allowing you to give back 50% of the money you spend on it.

Rewards Affinity Credit Cards

A different type of affinity credit card is one that rewards you for purchases rather than cash back.  This could include travel miles or even special discounts, such as coupons, at stores affiliated with the card issuer. These cards may also have a rewards program that allows you to donate your points or miles to a charity or organization of your choice.

 

Common affinity cards and their benefits 

Affinity cards come in various forms, ranging from those offered by a company's local supermarket to those offered by popular retailers, making it difficult to determine which card is best for you. Some of the most common affinity cards include:

Susan G. Komen® Customized Cash Rewards Visa® credit card from Bank of America

This card gives users one point for every dollar spent, and there is no limit to the number of points that can be earned. In addition, cardholders can donate their rewards to Susan G. Komen®, which funds breast cancer research and programs.

Citi ThankYou® Rewards Credit Card

This card allows users to automatically donate two cents for every dollar spent at national arts organizations. Two percent of all purchases will be donated no matter where the purchase is made or what it is for. The money that’s earned goes toward helping support activities in the arts, culture, and education.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Credit Card

This card allows users to donate a portion of their purchases to the NASW Foundation, which provides scholarships and awards to social work students and grants to help fund social work programs.

AARP Rewards Credit Card

This card offers one point for every dollar spent and a 50% bonus on all points earned during the first three months. Users have the option of donating their rewards to any of AARP's charitable initiatives or using them to shop.

The Nature Conservancy Credit Card from Bank of America

This card gives users one point for every dollar spent, with no cap on how many points they can earn. Cardholders can also donate their rewards to The Nature Conservancy®, which helps fund conservation programs worldwide.

Aspiration: Spend a dollar, plant a tree

We know that giving money to a charity is always an attractive option. But what if you could donate and earn rewards while also benefiting the environment? The Aspiration Zero carbon-neutral credit card does just that, with each swipe providing a chance to offset carbon emissions while also earning cashback rewards.  Spend daily to offset your carbon footprint and earn up to 1% cashback on purchases. Use your rewards to plant more trees and receive a credit on your statement.  Do you want to help the environment while also getting rewarded for it? Apply now!

Make Change Staff

January 25, 2022

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