How to Get Credit Card Rewards to Work For You – And the Planet

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With so many credit rewards out there, you can choose the kind of rewards you’d like to receive, but it can be tough to navigate the numerous options and endless small print. 

Let’s explore the popular credit card reward schemes of 2021, and how you can utilize your credit card to benefit both your bank account and the planet. 

Popular credit card rewards for 2021

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is perhaps one of the most popular rewards programs available.

Offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 (available to those with excellent to good credit scores), the card offers frequent spending with redemption options for travel and dining. 

Plus, the card offers a wide variety of discounts on airfare, car rentals, and cruises, all for a $95 annual fee.

Discover it Cash Back

If cashback is important to you, then the Discover it Cash Back card is an option that not only has no annual fee but also offers a cashback match. 

This card is great for those who spend moderately on their card and activate the 5% rotating categories and the spending cap. This can allow you to earn more outside of the standard 1% cashback earning rate.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

For those who like to fly American Airlines, this Citi card can be the ultimate in airline card providing access to the complimentary Admirals Club lounge access as well as extra perks such as VIP check-in, priority boarding, concierge service, and a free checked bag.

The downside would be the $450 annual fee, but if you use the lounge, you may offset that quickly. The welcome bonus is 50,000 miles.

Rewards for the planet

The one thing many of the cards above don’t offer are planet-friendly rewards. While searching for an environmentally-friendly credit card, you may want to pay attention to the following:

Beware of greenwashing

Greenwashing is defined as “disinformation disseminated by an organization to present an environmentally responsible public image.” In short, beware of companies that talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

Study your bank

The most obvious detrimental effect that credit cards have is the simple fact that they’re primarily made from plastic which often ends up being disposed of and entering a landfill. But the damage of plastic credit cards extends far beyond the materials they’re made of.

A report titled Banking on Climate Chaos 2021 identified that 60 of the world’s largest commercial and investment banks had collectively financed $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel projects from 2016 to 2020. 

This is why it can be important to do your research when exploring the financial institutions – and credit card rewards – that you want to choose. 

Understand key terminology 

Carbon neutral, zero, or negative – what’s the difference? To many of us, these terms seem like they can be interchangeable. However, each means something different in the context of understanding the environmental benefits of your bank or credit card:

  • Carbon Neutral: Carbon neutrality refers to offsetting the amount of CO2 emissions produced due to human consumption and production. We can offset these emissions by engaging in eco-friendly activities like recycling and planting trees which can overcompensate for the amount of pollution that gets trapped in the atmosphere.
  • Carbon Zero: To reach carbon zero, we would have to eliminate the release of CO2. If this were our reality, there would be no need to offset carbon emissions.
  • Carbon Negative: The most challenging level to achieve, carbon-negative  would mean we’ve reached a point where we’ve been able to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than we have released. 

When researching financial institutions, credit cards, and sustainable finance in general, it can be helpful to have a clear understanding of exactly what benefits they are claiming to provide for the planet. 

Aspiration Zero paving the way

With Aspiration, you can have the peace of mind that your deposits won’t be used to fund the fossil fuel industry. Rather, each purchase you make using our Aspiration Zero credit card will result in a new tree planted to contribute to reforestation efforts worldwide. 

In addition, Aspiration will provide you with an overview of the sustainability metrics for each store you shop at, allowing you to better understand which stores engage in sustainable environmental business practices.

Aspiration rates companies based on the extent of their carbon footprint while also taking into consideration how the company treats its employees. This can empower you to make greener purchases from stores that care about the environment.

But what do credit card rewards for the planet look like?

Swipe, pay, plant a tree

Every purchase made using your Aspiration Zero card will go toward the planting of a new tree. 

This can go a long way toward getting the planet closer to a carbon-neutral status. Our card also offers you the ability to opt into our “keep the change” program. If you choose to participate in this offering, every purchase of at least $1.50 will be rounded up to the next whole dollar amount allowing Aspiration to plant a tree with the difference.

By choosing to make purchases with this card, your spending could easily amount to 60 trees planted per month which would allow us to reach carbon neutrality.

Paperless billing and an app to track your spending’s carbon footprint

Dedicated to our quest for carbon-neutrality, we at Aspiration believe in paperless billing.
Having developed an eco-friendly app, you will be able to use it to track all your purchases as well as see which stores have the best carbon footprints. Having all of this information in an accessible app can ultimately help you make more environmentally conscious purchases.

How to apply for the Aspiration Zero

Early release phase

Aspiration Zero is set to release soon, but if you’re interested in signing up right away, there’s a waiting list. The process is to:

  1. Register your email here.
  2. Once registered, Aspiration will plant ten trees on your behalf, regardless of the outcome of your application.
  3. After submitting your registration details, Aspiration will give you a link to share with your friends. And for each friend who registers, Aspiration will plant a further 10 trees – regardless of whether they end up getting the card!

Aspiration Zero rewards

  • Eco incentives: For every purchase made, Aspiration will plant one tree. If you choose to opt into our “keep the change” program, we will plant an additional tree for each purchase you decide to round up.
  • Cashback: As soon as you open an account with Aspiration, you will immediately receive .5% cashback on all purchases. And better yet, after you’ve reached a carbon-zero status – which means you’ve planted at least 60 trees – you will receive up to 1% cashback for every month you reach that level.
  • Low annual fee: With Aspiration, you can expect a low $60 annual fee. With many competitors charging close to $100 for annual fees, you can feel good about saving money and saving the planet.

Aspiration Gives Back

  • A Greener Future: Aspiration has partnered with many eco-charities and causes including One Tree Planted and the Arbor Day Foundation. These two reforestation non-profit organizations will plant one tree on your behalf with every purchase of $1.50 or more.
  • Dime’s Worth of Difference: For every dollar Aspiration earns, it will donate 10 cents to eco charities that focus on sustainability, reforestation, and economic development.

Swipe your way to a greener planet

With the climate crisis reaching unprecedented levels, now is the time to make an impact. By choosing Aspiration Zero, you can contribute to a more sustainable future and put an end to the carbon emissions that are destroying our planet.

To sign up for the Aspiration Zero, or to learn more about the rewards of sustainable finance, reach out to Aspiration today

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