Choosing a Green Credit Card 

& Other Picks & Tips for Better Credit

I say the more I buy the more I'm bought, and the more I'm bought the less I cost
- Joe Pug, Hymn #101

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How about choosing a green credit card and giving yourself a credit wellness check-up too? Start by doing due diligence on your own credit track record: the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires all three major credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months, upon their request. This allows consumers to monitor and maintain their report's accuracy and completeness and help protect against identity theft. It's also a good time to assess our credit habits and the role credit plays in our overall financial health. To order your free annual credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com. This is the only website authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report provided to consumers under law. You may also call toll free 1-877-322-8228 to request your free report. 

Your 3 Best Options for a Green Credit Card

New and different options for choosing a green credit card do exist, but some are better than others. Here's our roundup of the best of the best... 

1.  ECO FRIENDLY & GREEN CREDIT CARDS

A green credit card, in the most literal sense, is the Sustain:Green Mastercard's biodegradable card, which is said to break down in landfill conditions without leaving any toxic residue. No small thing when we consider that according to U.S. Census data, there are 1.4 billion credit cards in circulation, most made with harmful, indestructible PVC. Sustain:Green will also purchase two pounds of carbon offsets for every dollar cardholders spend, which further funds rainforest preservation and restoration and no annual fee. Permaculture Credit Union Visa is a win-win because it is issued by a credit union whose mission is also dedicated to the ethics of permaculture, an "ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor". (Update: Permaculture Credit Union has recently merged with Sandia Area Federal Credit Union.)  See our Affinity Card Round-up below for additional green credit card choices.

2.  SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BANK & CREDIT UNION -ISSUED CREDIT CARDS

Choosing a credit card owned and issued by a community development bank or credit union benefits you and the communities they serve and without supporting the practices and operations of large corporate banks. According to recent PEW Research, credit unions provide lower fees and interest rates and may not charge for balance transfers to a credit union-issued card, and they are member-owned. LOOP Visa is issued by a community bank in Oregon that funds local causes like Friends of Trees and Community Energy Project, making it a great green credit card choice too. Other excellent examples of better bank and credit union -issued cards are Beneficial State Bank, formerly One PacificCoast Visa Platinum Credit Card) and Self Help Credit Union Visa Cards
Mavenjoy Tip: Check out our round up of these better banking solutions.

3.  AFFINITY CREDIT CARDS

Affinity credit cards offer a way to contribute a portion of your charges to a charity or nonprofit. Sounds good, but many of these credit cards are issued by large corporate banks and according to Bankrate, the average donation from such cards is only a half a penny for every dollar charged or transferred. Working Assets' CREDO Card has no annual fee and donates ten cents on every purchase to progressive groups + triple points for grocery purchases and charitable giving but is issued by the behemoth, Comenity Bank. So get to know who's behind your affinity card (see our Tool Box below). Also, many affinity cards may carry higher rates and fees in addition to an annual fee. The upshot is, the better the bank associated with your affinity card, the more good that can be done. Possibly the best example is Beneficial State Bank (formerly One PacificCoast Bank), a triple bottom line CDFI bank that provides several credit card offerings including affinity cards in partnership with and for Salmon Nation and Green America and several more great causes.

WORTHY MENTION: CASH BACK CREDIT CARDS

Cash back credit cards give you cash money back as you spend -- a sound financial perk made even better when those cards benefit more than just your own wallet. The PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Card offers up to 5% cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump, 0.25% cash back on all other purchases. It is issued by Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which anyone can join after becoming a member of the National Military Association for a one-time only membership fee of $20. Find other community banks and credit unions and ask them about any cash back credit cards they might offer.
Mavenjoy Tip: DailyMarkets walks you through the best cash back credit cards even breaking down the nitty gritty details to reveal hidden caps and fees + current offers for sign-up bonuses, etc. Just be sure to check out the issuing financial institutions behind those cash back credit cards to be sure it's truly a better option for you, others and the planet.


More Tips & Tools for Better Credit

Most credit cards are issued by huge corporate banks, so get know what kind of practices, politicians and policies they support, so you can decide whether they're what you want to support. Consider choosing a credit card issued by a community bank or credit union where you're likely to find better rates, better service and better practices -- check out our round-up of better banks.

Provisions of the recent Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act have eliminated many unfair fees and interest rate hikes and made pricing clearer and more competitive. 

Also NerdWallet and Credit Card Tune-up both provide personalized credit card recommendations based on the information you enter about your spending and payment patterns. To learn more about the credit card providers they may recommend, use our Tool Box at right to research those providers. And take advantage of these free calculators for determining the actual cost of credit, a credit card repayment calculator and more.

Last but not least, save trees and better protect against identity theft...go paperless! Opt for online statements only -- some providers even offer additional perks for enrolling in paperless statements and communications.


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