Green Dot Bank Credit Card vs. Aspiration Zero: What’s the Difference?

worm's-eye view of green trees

Photo by Magnus Lindvall on Unsplash

For customers looking to build credit, the Green Dot Bank credit card might be an option worth considering. For a moderate annual fee and a security deposit, Green Dot allows customers with a poor credit history to open a credit card account. The downside to this card is that it doesn’t come with many benefits and rewards.

On the other hand, the Aspiration Zero carbon credit card helps you build credit while also giving you the opportunity to reduce your environmental impact. It tracks the carbon emissions of your purchases and rewards you with 1% cashback when you achieve carbon zero spending in a certain month.

In this article, we explore the differences between the Green Dot Bank credit card and the Aspiration Zero carbon credit card.

What is the Green Dot Bank credit card?

The Green Dot Bank credit card is a secured credit card offered by the online bank, Green Dot. For a modest annual fee, this credit card allows any customer with a poor credit history to gradually build their credit score. 

Since 1999, Green Dot Bank has offered financial products that help customers build their wealth with the help of online and mobile banking services.

How does it help customers?

The Green Dot Bank credit card is ideal if you aren’t able to qualify for regular unsecured credit cards, which are cards that don’t require you to put down a cash deposit as collateral.

You can simply apply for the Green Dot Bank credit card with your personal details and a cash deposit that can be as little as $200 or as high as $5,000. There’s no need for you to present your credit score to Green Dot because they won’t perform a credit check when you apply for the card. 

This can be an advantage if you don’t have the best credit rating. 

After your secured credit card application with Green Dot Bank has been approved, you can immediately start your card to build credit. Green Dot reports your credit card activity to the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – regularly. 

Through responsible regular usage and on-time balance payments, you can graduate from the secured Green Dot credit card to an unsecured credit card – with better perks and rates – after your credit has improved.

Is the Green Dot Bank Credit Card any different to other credit cards?

The Green Dot Bank credit card has some key differences from other regular credit cards. For one, the card’s credit limit is determined by the cash deposit that you put down at the time of application. 

The deposit reduces the risk to the card issuer. If you are unable to pay your bill or balance on time, the bank deducts the amount owed from the deposit. To increase the credit limit back to its original amount or higher, you’ll have to make another cash deposit. 

Banks have this condition in place to protect themselves against customers who have bad or no credit. When you close your account, Green Dot will return the deposit.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Green Dot Bank credit card comes with fewer perks and benefits than many regular credit cards. It works primarily as a tool for helping you to establish credit, and little else.

Green Dot vs Aspiration Zero: perks, fees, and benefits

While the Green Dot card may be a great choice if you have a poor credit score, the Aspiration Zero could be a great choice if you’re looking for more perks with your card – both for you and for the environment.  

What is the Aspiration Zero credit card?

Launched by the neobank Aspiration, the Aspiration Zero credit card gives you the chance to work towards becoming carbon neutral in your spending. 

Not only does Aspiration completely abstain from investing in projects that benefit fossil fuels, but they will plant one tree for each purchase you make with your card, and rounding up gives you the option to plant a second tree. 

Let’s see how the two cards compare in terms of perks, fees, and benefits. 

Rewards 

The Green Dot credit card does not come with any known rewards, which can be quite frustrating for customers who want to benefit from their credit card use. It functions mainly as a stepping stone to better cards through improving your credit

The Aspiration Zero carbon credit card, on the other hand, rewards customers with up to 1% cashback on all of their purchases in months that they reach carbon zero with their spending. 

This can be achieved by making 60 or more transactions in a month using the Aspiration Zero credit card. By planting a tree on the customer’s behalf each time they make a purchase, Aspiration can help you to reach your goal of carbon zero with little effort. 

Even if you’re unable to reach the carbon zero goal, you’re still eligible to earn 0.5% cashback on all purchases. 

Build credit 

Green Dot’s primor and Platinum secured credit cards can both help you build a good credit score through regular use. As long as you make monthly payments on time and keep your card balance low, you can build a positive credit file in as little as 1-2 years. Green Dot reports your credit payment and usage history to the major credit bureaus every few months.

Plus, the security deposit requirement can work to your advantage. Because the cash deposit you put down as collateral effectively becomes your credit limit, you’re less likely to accrue credit card debt like with regular credit cards. This mechanism helps you work towards responsible borrowing habits while building up your credit score.

The Aspiration Zero credit card also helps you build credit but it’s an unsecured credit card. To be eligible for it, you need to have a good credit score that’s above 680.

Fees

In addition to the security deposit that’s required when you apply for a Green Dot credit card, you’ll also need to pay a $39 to $49 annual fee. You can pay this fee separately or have it deducted from your security deposit.

The Aspiration Zero has a slightly higher annual fee to the Green Dot credit card, at $60. For this amount, you receive features that help make your spending environmentally-friendly, such as by allowing you to track and offset the carbon footprint of your purchases using the accompanying Aspiration app.

APRs

Among the secured credit cards available today, Green Dot’s credit cards charge some of the lowest APRs. The Green Dot primor Gold secured credit card has an ongoing APR of just 9.99% while the Green Dot primor Classic secured credit offers a 13.99% APR. 

According to some financial analysts, an APR below 19.99% is rare for most secured credit cards, making Green Dot credit cards quite attractive for people who want to improve their credit score.

These cards have no penalty APR, meaning the interest rate won’t increase when you miss a payment or a payment is returned. Also, you’ll only accrue interest as per the APRs listed above when you have a remaining balance on your card. If you pay your balance in full and on time each month, there won’t be any need for you to pay interest.

Besides the APRs, Green Dot credit cards charge a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use your card abroad. 

At the moment, Aspiration has yet to release the APR for the Aspiration Zero. 

Personal motivations to get environmentally-friendly cards 

If you’ve recently graduated from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card or are about to, an environmentally-friendly credit card could be a great next step.

Unlike regular credit cards that just help you spend, environmentally-friendly credit cards like the Aspiration Zero help you reduce your carbon footprint and prevent your money from benefitting fossil fuel projects. 

In the section below, we look at how eco-friendly credit cards can help you avoid the pitfalls of the modern banking industry.

What is greenwashing?

The U.S. banking sector is no stranger to greenwashing. 

Often referred to as the corporate practice of misrepresenting green credentials to customers for economic gain or public confidence, greenwashing has been used by banks to cover up their colossal investments in environmentally-destructive oil and gas projects. 

One of the biggest examples of this is the billions of dollars of continued investment by JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America in fossil fuels despite their pledges to adhere to the Paris Agreement’s emissions reduction goals.

These banks commit to small-scale programs such as ocean cleanups and carbon offset purchases while ignoring the increasingly irreparable destruction that their fossil fuel clients are causing.

Pros of Aspiration Zero and out-of-bank motivations

Fortunately, eco-conscious online financial institutions like Aspiration are fighting back against this trend. 

Since its foundation, Aspiration has not loaned a single dollar to a fossil fuel company, private prison, or weapons manufacturer. The neobank plants trees instead to help reforest parts of the world that have been destroyed by logging and intensive agriculture.

And with the upcoming launch of the Aspiration Zero credit card, they plan to create a banking culture where spending responsibly helps take “miles off of the planet”. When a customer spends more than $1.50 on a purchase using the Aspiration Zero, Aspiration plants a tree on their behalf, helping the customer move a step closer to carbon neutrality.

On top of that, Aspiration donates 10% of its earnings to education, water, and poverty charities. 

What consumers should know about carbon footprints and spending 

When you spend money on products and services, you may be adding to the carbon emissions associated with them, which can increase your personal carbon footprint. 

Almost every product or service generates greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture, distribution, and ultimately being discarded.

But with a carbon credit card like the Aspiration Zero, you can keep track of the carbon emissions of your purchases and eliminate your carbon footprint with the help of its built-in carbon offset tree planting feature. Simply make 60 purchases per month to reach carbon zero for that month. 

With the state of our planet a growing concern, why not get started today with the Aspiration Zero.

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