Many of us probably don’t consider what banks actually do with the fees and payments we make on our credit cards.
As it turns out, many big banks directly lend and support projects that benefit fossil fuel usage and other projects that are simply not doing the environment any good.
The reliance on credit cards in America isn’t built on what’s best for us or our planet – it’s a system that’s designed to make money. And while there might be nothing wrong with money, there are certainly ways to leverage it for the benefit of our planet.
Eco-friendly banks and credit card options are on the rise.
Switching the way that you – or your bank on your behalf – invest your money, is an accessible and easy way to make an impact.
And as big banks start to lose revenue from people making more eco-conscious choices, they too may opt to direct finances towards better options for our planet.
What Makes a Credit Card Company Sustainable?
There are several things to look for when choosing a green bank.
- Are they B-Corps certified?
- Are they a member of GABV (Global Alliance for Banking on Values)?
- Are they a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) bank or credit union?
Certified B-Corporations (B-Corps)
A B-Corps Certified business is legally bound to the well-being of their customers, workers, suppliers, environment, and the community they are a part of.
Unlike many big companies, they aren’t left unchecked, so you can have more confidence that they are playing their part in protecting the planet, as well as their own employees and you as a customer.
A B-Corps certified company is required to demonstrate greater transparency of their practices, and becoming certified is a fairly extensive process.
Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)
The GABV is a network of independent and ethical banks that work towards a better present and future. They aim to leverage finance to help create a sustainable economy and society and to benefit the environment.
The Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)
The CDFI specializes in aiding low-income communities. Their mission is to help empower people stuck in poverty and poor housing to have more financial freedom and power.
4 Sustainable Credit Card Companies
BNP Paribas is a global bank focused on eliminating poverty and helping the environment through the use of intelligent financial choices and donations. Their company is made up of diverse people from around the globe.
They offer different services worldwide, including retail banking, investment and protection services, and corporate and institutional banking.
Their personal finance programs offer other credit card options for individuals looking to be more conscious of the environment.
TCM is focused on community building on a local level.
It is a subsidy of the bank IBCA, which advocates for the environment and building up neighborhoods all over America. It strives to only offer credit card services that are both transparent and beneficial.
Amalgamated Bank is both B-Corp certified and a member of the GABV.
What’s more, it has a firm policy against donating to fossil fuels and is 100% powered by renewable energy.
They are dedicated to helping the environment and providing affordable housing for immigrants and better working conditions.
This bank is a First National Bank of Omaha subsidy, which has already invested millions back into their communities.
Amalgamated bank is not only working for environmental change – it’s pushing for social change as well:
- They do not invest in private prisons, fossil fuels, or any weapons manufacturers.
- They provide mainly online banking but have physical locations in Washington, D.C, and New York.
- They support nonprofits run by POC and actively hire a diverse team.
Amalgamations credit card has no annual fee, and you can rest easy knowing the money you trust to your bank is being used for a step in the right direction.
Southern Bancorp Community Partners features all three certifications: GABV, B-COrp, and CDFI.
SBCP is committed to diverse hiring, has a Black CEO, and 50% Black directorial board. SBCP focuses on creating equal financial opportunity for everyone in America, especially those affected by systemic racism within the housing industry.
SBCP has two physical locations in Mississippi and Arkansas and allows you to do all of your banking entirely online from anywhere in the U.S.
They are a certified nonprofit set on establishing financial equality and sustainability.
Other Sustainable Credit Card Options
The great news is that there are far more options for sustainability than there used to be.
Investing in any of the following options can be a solid way to help your community – and the planet – one sustainable dollar at a time.
Proportionally in the U.S., more Black and other POC are living in underdeveloped and poverty-stricken areas. This is in part based on the systemic placement from racist systems that prevent POC from getting loans or other financial opportunities that their white neighbor has.
By committing to banking with a Black-owned bank, you can invest in a place that values their community and wants to give back locally, rather than in corporations that invest in fossil fuels and other harmful actions.
Not all of these banks are focused on environmentally conscious practices, but they may be more likely to invest in your community and to aim to help end injustice.
Local Banks and Credit Unions
By entrusting your money to a local bank or credit union, there is a stronger chance that the money goes directly back into your local area. Your local community bank will likely take more personal interest in your money and how to take care of you.
If you have a nomadic lifestyle or tend to move around the country every few years, a local bank may not suit your needs, as they tend to have limited physical locations. However, banking locally can still be a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint.
Eco-friendly Credit Cards from Big Banks (in a Pinch)
If you aren’t ready to make the jump to a sustainable card from a smaller company or are simply unable to, there is always the option to opt for an eco-friendly card from one of the large national banks.
Unfortunately, it’s likely still the case that they are involved in non-environmentally-friendly actions, as even their eco-friendly cards are still profit-driven – even if they do give a percentage to a charity.
However, all change starts small, and if this is a step you feel comfortable with, it may be a good choice for you.
Invest in Sustainable Credit Cards with Aspiration Zero
Aspiration Zero is a neobank – they operate entirely online.
The Aspiration Zero is a biodegradable credit card that gives you the chance to plant a tree with every purchase you make.
Planting trees is one great way of offsetting the carbon from any purchases that you make and ultimately working towards reaching carbon zero.
Aspiration goes a step above and beyond with the commitment to sustainability. Not only are they a B-Corp, but Aspiration is entirely transparent with its goals and business practices, allowing you to have peace of mind.
Aspiration Zero encourages mindful spending that benefits you and the world over time, offers financial guidance to help you stay on top of your spending, and makes tracking your finances – and your carbon footprint – easy through their app.
Sign up for early access to the Aspiration Zero credit card today.