Can Cash Back Credit Cards be Eco-Friendly?

Top view of different types and colors American dollars placed together on each other

Everyone uses credit cards; they’re an integral part of society and cultural capitalism. However, many credit users have shared concerns about the ecological impact of using their cards. Where does the invested money go? Is the card a first-use plastic? How are these banks helping our environment? 

Credit cards can be environmentally friendly! Although there are companies with less than transparent investments and donations, you can find credit cards that donate to environmental charities and focus on net-zero carbon emissions. In this article, we’re going to discuss: 

  • Cashback credit cards: their pros, cons, and which give you the most rewards
  • Environmentally friendly cash back credit cards and which one to choose
  • Rewards that are just as good as cashback for credit cards

Are cash back credit cards worth it? 

First of all, let’s talk about cashback credit cards in general. These cards offer a percentage of what you spend as cashback on your card. The more you spend, the more rewards you get. Cashback cards are nice because they offer you money for buying necessities and increasing your credit. 

While this sounds ideal, there are some cons as well. Cashback credit cards give you money as you spend it. However, this can encourage negative spending habits. After all, you only get a percentage of what you pay, so you are still spending unnecessary money if you aren’t buying necessities. 

However, in the end, you do save money with a cashback credit card, as long as you keep up with monthly payments. Everyone spends money, and almost everyone uses cards, and cash is the most versatile form of reward. If you’re spending the money anyway, you might as well make some cash off it!  

What credit cards give you the most cast back? 

Credit card companies have different cashback programs. Some offer additional rewards and privileges to elite members, and others have travel perks. The most important things to look for are the annual fees and how much cash back you’ll receive. Here are some of the cards with the best rewards (not taking the environment into account): 

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: $0 annual fee, 1.5-5% cashback 
  • Citi Custom Cash Card: $0 annual fee, 1-5% cashback 
  • Discover It Cash Back: $0 annual fee, 1-5% cashback 
  • Blue Cash Everyday Card (American Express): $0 annual fee, 1-3% cashback 
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: $0 annual fee, 1-8% cashback 
  • Chase Freedom Flex: $0 annual fee, 1-5% cashback 
  • Citi Double Cash: $0 annual fee (first eighteen months), 1.5% cashback 

Of course, these options aren’t just about how much money you get back. When you sign up for a credit card, you’re supporting the bank that produces it. The money you invest is being used in other places. It’s essential to know what kind of company you’re investing in and where your money is going. 

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your credit card, all of these companies will disappoint you. Unfortunately, the bigger the bank, the more likely it is to give money to unethical organizations or support fossil fuel usage. 

Can cash back credit cards be eco-friendly? 

While some cash back credit cards are eco-friendly, it’s sometimes hard to tell how green a company is. Some credit card companies pledge to help the environment but are backed by companies like Chase Bank or Bank of America, known to invest in oil drilling and fossil fuels. 

There’s also the concern about the make of the card. Most credit cards are made of plastic, and many are first-use plastic. Even if you apply for a credit card made of biodegradable material or recycled plastic, critics have argued that it encourages spending, which isn’t always good for the environment. 

The bottom line is that any decision you make in this world is going to be complicated. An eco-friendly cashback credit card isn’t going to guarantee you’re making a good impact; you’ll have to develop green spending habits as well. However, cashback credit cards help the environment and keep your effects at net-zero carbon emissions. 

If you are looking for an environmentally friendly bank and offers cash back credit cards, there are a few labels you can look for. Any bank endorsed by B-Corp, GABV, or CDFI has proven itself to care for its customers, employees, and the environment. Look for these logos on the bank’s website to confirm their moral status. 

Person Holding Debit Card

The 5 best green cash back credit cards of 2021

There are credit card companies that are genuinely trying to impact the environment positively. These companies are relatively transparent in their donation history and amount and offer cash rewards for banking with them. 

After some research, these are the five best eco-friendly cashback credit cards. They aren’t backed by banks who donate to fossil fuel companies or other questionable practices. They are ethically sourced and aim for carbon-neutral workspaces. Most of these are primarily online as well to further decrease negative environmental impact. 

Green America Rewards Platinum Visa

Green America is the nation’s largest environmental association, and this Visa card donates a percentage to Green America every time you make a purchase. There is no annual fee, and you get one point for every dollar you spend. You can redeem points for cash or gift cards. 

The Green America card is sponsored by Visa and issued by TCM Bank, one of the largest community-minded banks in America. With the Green America card, you’ll be able to support the environment, earn points, and be sure that your money is going to good. 

Amalgamated Bank

Amalgamated Bank has a net-zero carbon footprint and donates to several different ethical causes, including the environment, antiracism, worker’s rights, and gun safety. They ensure that none of the investments from their banks go to fossil fuels or unethical companies. 

Amalgamated Bank’s credit card has no annual fee and an unlimited cashback of 1.5%. They offer cashback as their main reward, but you can also exchange points for gift cards and travel vouchers. Amalgamated Bank is an excellent place for all your banking needs. 


Aspiration is a fully online bank with a minimal carbon footprint. They offer several environmentally friendly options with an account, including offsetting the carbon of gas purchases and completely recycled debit and credit cards. 

Aspiration Zero is one of the best credit cards for the environment. They reward you more cashback when your carbon footprint is at net zero (calculated by the number of purchases and donations you make). Although it has a yearly fee of $60, Aspiration Zero offers 1.5% cashback on any purchase. 

Amazon Watch 

Not sponsored by the online shopping giant Amazon, this card focuses on the Amazon rainforest. When you use it, the company donates money to environmental causes in Central and South America, some of the wealthiest and most endangered ecosystems on the planet. 

The Amazon Watch credit card gives a point for every dollar spent to be redeemed with cash, gift cards, or hotel stays. TCM Bank also funds it, so you don’t have to worry about unintentional investments in unethical businesses. 

M&F Bank

M&F Bank is one of the most ethical banks in America. They started as the Mechanics and Farmers Bank and are dedicated to being transparent with their customers and investors. M&F Bank has several options for credit cards with varying interest rates and cashback opportunities. 

Other rewards that are just as good as cash back 

Of course, there are other credit card rewards. Cashback is an ideal reward for spending money, but some credit cards give airline points, gift cards, and travel perks. Card companies offer these rewards in addition to or instead of cashback, so you might have to decide what is the best option for you. 

Travel perks involve no-fee transactions overseas and lower prices on airline tickets. You can be rewarded for traveling. You can also waive the yearly fee and get rewards when friends join with certain credit card companies. It’s essential to remember that cash is only one reward option for a credit card. 

Is the Aspiration Zero worth it? 

Aspiration Zero is Aspiration’s newest credit card option. It offers 1% of cashback when the user is at net-zero carbon emissions. At any other time, the cashback rewards remain at 0.5%. There is an annual fee of $60, and the Aspiration Zero card is entirely biodegradable. 

The company defines “net zero” as planting sixty trees. Every purchase made with the card plants one tree in addition to another tree when you round up to the following dollar amount. Some credit card purchasers may ask if this deal is worth it? Aren’t there better options for eco-friendly credit cards? 

Aspiration Zero does a few things differently–when they say they’re planting a tree, they’re planting a tree. They also encourage offsetting your carbon emissions with cash rewards and in-app tracking. If you are looking for a credit card that helps the environment and puts money in your pocket, Aspiration Zero is worth it!

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