According to NerdWallet, more than a third of Americans (35%) have a credit card that earns them travel rewards, typically in the form of points or miles, they can use for flights. Credit card issuers have teamed up with major airlines, hotels, travel, and entertainment providers to enable their customers to redeem their points for flights, rooms, experiences, and more.
This can make travel affordable for so many people for whom their regular budgets simply can’t accommodate the expenses of travel.
What’s more, there’s a substantial environmental cost associated with this increase in travel. A lot of people may take unnecessary trips just because they have points lying around that enable them to travel for free, which can contribute greatly to the collective carbon footprint of humanity on an already-burdened Earth.
To combat that, more sustainable credit card options need to be offered — not just to protect the environment, but to attract the business of more environmentally-conscious consumers. To that end, environmental credit cards are becoming a huge part of the future of lending, and it’s important to understand why.
How environmental credit cards can save you money
While most credit cards function the exact same way — rack up a balance, pay it off, collect the rewards — environmental credit cards are all about how the institution’s social values play into the card’s usage.
Some of the most popular sustainable credit card options come from banks or financial institutions that share the same values of environmental preservation and combating climate change as their customers.
Environmental credit cards like these can save you money in a host of ways — most notably by incentivizing more eco-friendly behavior. The Aspiration Zero, for instance, sets a base cash back rate at .5% APR, but if you use the card often enough to nullify your monthly carbon footprint, Aspiration gives you 1% cash back rewards on your purchases for the month.
Environmental credit cards can help you save the planet
Environmental credit cards also keep you aware of your carbon footprint in other ways. If you use the Aspiration app to manage your card account, you can use it to search for specific merchants to see custom ratings on how they treat their employees, or how much their activities impact the environment.
In many ways, this can also have the effect of saving you money: knowledge is power, after all, and making you aware of the impact your purchase may have may incentivize you to not make that purchase. Boom, that’s money saved and your carbon footprint reduced even more.
Environmental credit cards can even reduce their physical, material impact on the environment. While most credit cards are made from non-biodegradable plastics, Aspiration Zero uses biodegradable, plant-based materials which will naturally break down over time.
Since Aspiration is a neobank that operates entirely online, it doesn’t have a branch network or the overhead that comes with it, which bolsters its sustainability measures even further. Not to mention, it can provide its services to customers at a fraction of the fees that conventional banks charge.
Aspiration is also 100% committed to clean money and has made a firm commitment to not use any customer deposits to fund fossil fuel projects.
The Aspiration Zero credit card rewards you for going carbon neutral by planting a tree every time you make a purchase. (Alternatively, they give the customer an option to do it themselves.) If you round your purchase up to the nearest dollar, they’ll plant a second tree.
The waitlist for the Aspiration Zero credit card is now open. Those who are interested can now sign up and wait for a bit before they can have a gorgeous black card that helps them eliminate their carbon footprint. Aspiration will even plant five trees on your behalf just for joining the waitlist. So what are you waiting for?