Green America Credit Card Review: Rates and Sustainability

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Photo by Mert Guller on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a credit card that helps you improve corporate responsibility, the Green America credit card might just be for you. 

Issued through a partnership between Green America and TCM Bank, the Green America credit card helps you donate a percentage of each transaction you make towards Green America’s consumer education and socially responsible investing projects. Each donation advances Green America’s vision to create a more environmentally sustainable world. 

The Green America credit card comes with no annual fee and a variable annual percentage rate (APR) of between 9.99% and 19.99%. Customers also receive 1 reward point for every dollar spent, which can be used to redeem travel benefits. 

In this article, we explore the different features of the Green America credit card and explain who this card is for. 

The Green America Credit Card at a glance

The Green America credit card is an affinity credit card issued by TCM Bank in partnership with Green America, one of America’s leading environmental nonprofits. 

Each time card is used, it directs a percentage of every purchase towards Green America’s clean energy, sustainable agriculture, green business, and fair labor projects.

The Green America credit card is unique in that, unlike other affinity cards on the market, it’s produced by two ethically-minded organizations.

TCM Bank, the issuer of the card, has helped community banks create credit card programs since its foundation in 1998 by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). TCM states in its mission that it’s dedicated to working in the interest of small and community bank customers. 

For Green America, the charity partner of the card, social justice and environmental sustainability are the key principles driving their operations. They work at the community level by creating networks of green businesses and providing sustainability training to business leaders and consumers. 

Is the Green America credit card sustainable? 

The Green America Credit Card has no known links to the fossil fuel, logging, and predatory lending industries. Green America is an active member of the Fossil Banks, No Thanks campaign, which pressures leading banks to divest from their fossil fuel portfolios, while TCM Bank maintains a strong focus on community development.

This adherence to sustainability helps ensure that your money remains aligned with your environmental and ethical values, especially at a time when several major banks continue to invest in fossil fuels.

The 2019 Banking on Climate Change study discovered that between 2016 and 2018, 33 international banks had invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuel companies using their customers’ money. The collected annual fees, interest charges, and late fees were directed towards unethical investments. 

In contrast, the Green America credit card only finances projects that fight climate change. By using the card, you’ll support clean energy projects, local businesses, fair housing loans, and corporate social responsibility training. 

Features of the Green America credit card

The Green America credit card comes with low fees and favorable interest rates. Here’s a look at all of the features you’ll get when you acquire a Green America credit card.

Donations 

Green America receives a percentage of every transaction each time the card is used. The donations go toward Green America’s social justice and green business projects, which are reliant on charitable contributions to expand into more communities.

It’s estimated that Green America receives tens of thousands of dollars each year from credit card donations. 

As a Green America credit cardholder, you’ll help the nonprofit persuade dirty corporations to switch to clean energy and encourage farmers to adopt low-carbon regenerative agriculture. 

Rates 

The Green America credit card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. Following this period, customers will be charged a variable APR between 9.99% and 19.99% based on their creditworthiness. 

For customers who wish to borrow money against their card’s line of credit, TCM Bank charges 21.99% on cash advances. The minimum interest charge for all interest is no less than $1.00.

Fees and payments 

You do not need to pay any annual fees when using the Green America credit card. Fees will only need to be paid for penalties and extra services such as balance transfers.

Customers who wish to transfer their credit card balance to or from another account will be required to pay either $5 or 3% of each balance transferred, whichever is greater. For foreign transactions, 1% of the dollar amount of each transaction made with a foreign merchant will be charged.

Cardholders may also be subject to penalty fees by TCM Bank. Late payments and returned payments can incur up to $40 in penalties.

Rewards and benefits

Like other credit cards, the Green America credit card offers a rewards program that allows you to collect points that can later be redeemed for various travel deals and merchandise. 

For every $1 spent on the card, you earn 1 point. There’s no limit on the number of points you can earn and the points you accumulate never expire. 

Customers also receive travel benefits and protection while traveling. You and your family members are automatically given travel accident insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver after signing up for the card. 

You’re also able to get extra cards for up to three authorized users on your account at no additional cost. 

Account security and customer service

The Green America credit card provides customers with zero fraud liability that’s backed with the latest chip card security technology. It protects you from fraud when you use your card in-store. And if you were to find unauthorized transactions made on your card, you won’t be held responsible for them.

TCM Bank provides 24/7 customer service based in the U.S. so any problems or fraud claims can be reported anytime.

What documents do you need to apply for the Green America Credit Card

To apply for the Green America credit card, customers have to be a resident of the United States or one of its territories, be at least 18 years of age, and have a valid social security number. 

Federal law requires all financial institutions, including TCM Bank, to request this information from cardholders to verify their identity. You may also need to present a form of identification that includes your date of birth and address to aid the verification process.

Who is the Green America Credit Card for? 

Customers who want to use their money to “do good” for the environment will likely find the Green America credit card to be a rewarding credit partner

Since 1982, Green America has fostered sustainability by helping communities across the U.S. adopt environmentally-friendly practices and launch advocacy campaigns. The money that you donate through the use of the card will help advance Green America’s initiatives. 

Plus, the tangible support you provide to Green America can give you a sense of empowerment in an age of poor governmental action on environmental issues. For customers who are demoralized by political inaction on climate issues, being able to help the environment with daily purchases can feel meaningful.

The downsides of the Green America Credit Card

Although the Green America Visa credit card does a good job of collecting donations for Green America’s environmental programs, it falls short of being 100% supportive of Green America’s mission.

For one, there is no disclosure of how much Green America receives in donations from the affinity card program. 

Most resources, including the card’s application webpage, do not indicate the approximate percentage given to Green America after each transaction – there are only notes that “a percentage” is given towards Green America’s operations.

Some commentators have suggested that affinity cards such as the Green America Visa may not be the best way to support Green America’s work. 

Because the remainder of the card fees, interest payments, and interchange fees will most likely go to the credit card issuer, there’s a chance that your money will go to the partnering bank’s investment funds or be used for other commercial purposes. 

It may instead be more advantageous for you to donate directly to Green America the amount of your choice and select another credit card with fees and interest rates that suit you better.

In addition, some environmental groups argue that using credit cards could encourage more consumption in our societies. While this is of course dependent on each individual cardholder’s spending habits, increased consumption could do more harm than good to the planet. 

Try a more environmentally-friendly alternative

While the Green America credit card can help you support the growth of an environmentally responsible economy, there’s a better alternative that can help you do the same but with a more positive impact on the environment.

The Aspiration Zero credit card is a new carbon credit card that allows you to plant carbon offset trees while giving you rewards when you shop with sustainable businesses. Customers can receive up to 1% cashback on all of their purchases in the months that they reach carbon neutrality, which is tracked through an accompanying app.

Visit us here to find out more about our Zero credit card.

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