Rewarding credit cards that help the environment

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April 21, 2010

As the world becomes more environmentally aware, Australian consumers are continually looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and our environmental footprint. RateCity looks at what green credit card options are available and gives you some tips to help make the planet healthier.

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) figures indicate there are currently 14.5 million credit card accounts in Australia alone, and many people are sure to have more than one card let alone several cards for the one account (joint accounts with a spouse for instance).That’s a lot of plastic!

A credit card is made from a plastic resin known as polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA) that is mixed with various dyes and plasticisers. To manufacture this amount of credit cards, thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions are put into the air we breathe.

For some time there has been a lot of talk regarding institutions looking into developing green credit cards that are made from environmentally friendly substitutes. But to date there haven’t been many to come up with the goods.

Environmentally responsible cards
In Australia currently there is only one non-polluting credit card. This is produced by MECU, with its Low Rate Visa credit card at 10.24 percent per annum as well as its Visa credit card at 13.24 percent. Both of these cards are made from PETG environmentally responsible plastic and they also offer a “100 percent no marketing guarantee”, which means they don’t send their customers any form of marketing or advertising material, in order to reduce their paper consumption.
But while other providers don’t offer such comprehensive green initiatives, there are some other green credit card options which can lower your impact on the environment. Here are some examples:

Reward the environment
Bank SA offers a MasterCard GreenCard at 19.75 percent on purchases, and will pay a contribution (based on your level of spend) to the participating GreenCard environmental group of your choice. As a bonus, all card holders automatically receive a 12-month membership to the Nature Foundation SA.
GE Money also have an Eco MasterCard at 19.79 percent for purchases, with 1 percent of your purchases going towards assisting projects that offset greenhouse gas emissions.

There are also reward programs such as Velocity Rewards, where instead of using your points for travelling you can make a donation to the Green Cross Australia to help battle climate change. Some examples of credit cards that receive Velocity Rewards are Suncorp Bank‘s Platinum Credit card at 19.99 percent, which earns you one reward point for every $1 spent. The Velocity NAB Standard Card American Express at 19.49 percent earns you 1.5 Velocity points per $2 spent on purchases.

Small changes make a big difference
And if you would like to help the environment that little bit more, there are some other small changes that you can implement to make a difference:

  • Compare credit cards online at RateCity to find a card that offers a more rewarding rewards program.
  • Choose to receive electronic credit card statements instead of paper statements.
  • Switch your credit card account to online if available to, perhaps, save on petrol to drive to the local bank to make a bill payment.
  • Use your credit card to do good by purchasing eco-friendly products that are carbon reducing or recycled such as energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Write to your credit card provider suggesting they produce an environmentally friendly credit card as the more consumers to suggest this move, the more chance they may just do it and the environment will thank you!


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