How To Find a Socially Responsible Credit Card

Do you want to align your credit card spending with the causes you care about? If so, you have three socially responsible credit card options. Learn how to get an ethical credit card.

SustainFi Updated October 15, 2021

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There are several ways of giving back through spending on your credit card: signing up for an affinity card, getting a card from a socially responsible bank, and donating credit card points to a charity.

1. Affinity Cards

Banks partner with charities to issue affinity cards. When you spend money with an affinity card, a percentage of your purchase goes to charity. Popular affinity cards include the Charity Charge Mastercard and the Green America Credit Card. If you sign up for the Green America Credit Card, you also get extra rewards points to spend as you wish.

Credit CardCharitySign up BonusDonation Amount
Annual FeeAPRCash Back Rewards
Charity Charge World Mastercard Credit Card
Up to three nonprofits of your choice
None
1% of what you spend$01.99% for six months, then 15.24%-25.24%
-
Green America Credit Card
Green America
None
Not disclosed$00% for 12 months, then 9.99%-19.99%
1 point per dollar spent
Susan G. Komen Pink Ribbon Credit CardSusan G. Komen$200$3 per card + 0.08% of what you spend$00% for 15 months, then 13.99%-23.99%
1-3%
REI Co-Op World Elite MastercardREI Cooperative Action Fund$100$0.10 per purchase (up to $1 million annually)$013.99%-23.99%1-5%

Charity Charge World Mastercard Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR1.99% intro APR for six months
Regular APR15.24% – 25.24%
Sign up bonusNone

Card Details

  • Automatically donates 1% of your spending to the charity of your choice
  • You can choose up to three charities and change them at any time
  • Charities include all U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations, K-12 schools, universities, and religious organizations
  • Issued by Commerce Bank

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Donations are tax-deductible
  • Choice of up to three charities
  • No donation processing fee
  • Convenient donations dashboard

Cons

  • 1% cash back rate is relatively low
  • 2% foreign transaction fee
  • Good to excellent credit score required

Review

The Charity Charge World Mastercard is the only credit card that donates 1% cash back on every purchase to a nonprofit of your choice (for every $100 you spend, $1 goes to charity). You don’t have to worry about expiring points or writing checks to charities anymore.

Donations through the Charity Charge Card are tax-deductible, and the Charity Charge does the paperwork for you.

Rewards donations through other cards are not tax-deductible (though that only matters if you itemize your tax return instead of taking the standard deduction). Charity Charge will also cover 100% of donation processing fees so that there is never any cost to the charity.

Green America Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR9.99% -19.99%
Sign up bonusNone

Card Details

  • A percentage of every purchase you make using this affinity card is donated to Green America, though neither Green America nor TCM Bank will disclose the exact percentage
  • Earn one rewards point per dollar on net purchases, with no cap on points you can earn
  • Redeem points for merchandise or travel
  • Travel benefits include travel accident insurance and a collision damage waiver for auto rentals
  • The card is issued by TCM Bank, which has been providing credit card services to community banks for 20 years

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Donate to Green America automatically
  • Issued by a community bank

Cons

  • Percentage donated to Green America is not disclosed

Review

Green America is a nonprofit that wants to solve social and environmental problems through economic action. They run a popular green living website and offer an affinity credit card in partnership with TCM Bank. Charity Navigator gives Green America a high rating.

The card directs a percentage of every purchase toward Green America’s work to advance clean energy and eco-friendly business practices. However, the issuer doesn’t disclose exactly how much is going to charity.

TCM Bank offers other affinity cards in partnership with the Amazon Watch and Clean Water Action, among others. As with the Green America Card, they don’t disclose the percentage of spending that goes to these charities.

Susan G. Komen Pink Ribbon Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for 15 months
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99%
Sign up bonus$200

Card Details

  • Bank of America will give $3 to Susan G. Komen for every credit card that is opened, plus 0.08% of all retail purchases made by each card. The bank will donate an extra $3 for every annual renewal
  • Earn 3% cash back on a category of your choice (like dining), 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 1% cash back on all other purchases (2-3% only applies to the first $2,500 spent in each category per quarter)
  • Earn a $200 sign up bonus if you spend at least $1,000 within 90 days of account opening

Pros

  • Supports a breast cancer charity
  • Earn 1-3% cash back rewards
  • Sign up bonus
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • Bank of America is not a socially responsible bank (and it funds fossil fuels)
  • Donation amounts are low

Review

Bank of America has partnered with Susan G. Komen, the largest U.S. breast cancer charity, to issue an affinity credit card and offer bank accounts. The charity has received almost $11 million from the bank since 2009. Bank of America has guaranteed Susan G. Komen another $1.5 million between 2021 and 2023.

The card offers a $200 sign up bonus, 1-3% cash back rewards, and there is no annual fee. However, Bank of America only donates $3 every time a new card is opened, plus 0.08% of the amount you spend.

REI Co-Op World Elite Mastercard

Annual Fee$0
Intro APRNone
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99%
Sign up bonus$100 REI gift card

Card Details

  • When you buy something with the card, REI will give 10 cents (up to $1 million annually) to the REI Cooperative Action Fund
  • Earn 1-5% cash back, including 5% cash back on REI purchases, 2% cash back on mobile wallet purchases and 1% cash back on everything else
  • Earn a $100 REI gift card if you make a purchase within 60 days of account opening

Pros

  • Supports the REI Cooperative Action Fund
  • Earn 1-5% cash back rewards
  • Sign up bonus
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • U.S. Bank is not a socially responsible bank (and it funds fossil fuels)
  • Donation amounts are low and capped at $1 million

Review

REI, the retail and outdoor recreation co-op, has issued a credit card in partnership with U.S. Bank.

Every time you use the card, REI donates $0.10 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, a charity that supports organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. However, total donations are capped at $1 million.

The card gives you 5% cash back on REI purchases, and 1-3% on other purchases. You are also eligible for a $100 REI gift card when you sign up.

Compare socially responsible bank accounts

Monthly fee

 $0

Monthly fee

$0

Monthly fee

Pay What Is Fair

APY

1.01%

APY

0.55%

APY

Up to 1.00%

2. Cards from socially responsible banks and credit unions

Affinity cards may support the cause of your choice, but you might still think that the bank issuing the card is not ethical. For example, if you get a credit card from a larger bank – even if the card is supporting charitable causes – the bank is still likely funding fossil fuels.

If the affinity card isn’t for you, another option is to get an ethical credit card from a socially responsible bank like Aspiration, Amalgamated Bank or Sunrise Banks.

🔔 Curious about socially responsible banking? Read more about socially responsible checking and savings accounts.

Credit CardSign up BonusAnnual FeeAPRCash Back Rewards
Aspiration Zero$300$6011.65%-21.45%Up to 1.0% cash back
Amalgamated Bank Maximum Rewards $30$00% APR for 12 months, then 16.24%-22.24%1.5% cash back
Amalgamated Bank Secured$0$3524.24%-
Beneficial Rewards$0$011.65% – 21.45%1 point per $1
Beneficial Resilience$0$011.65% – 21.45%-
Beneficial Builder $0$25--
Sunrise Banks Visa Real Rewards2,500 points$00% APR for six months, then 14.49%-23.49%1.5% cash back
M&F Bank Personal World Elite$0$2990% APR for 12months, then 10.99%1 point per $1
M&F Bank Platinum Preferred$0$00% APR for 12months, then 10.99%-21.99%Points
M&F Bank Platinum Payback$0$00% APR for 12months, then 10.99%-21.99%1% cash back
M&F Bank Personal World$0$350% APR for 12months, then 12.24%Points and cash back
Sunrise Banks Visa Platinum$0$00% APR for 20 months, then 13.49%-23.49%
-
Sunrise Banks Max Cash Preferred$150$014.49%-23.49%
1-5% cash back
Sunrise Banks Secured Visa
$0$023.99%
-

Aspiration Zero

Founded by Andrei Cherny in 2013, Aspiration is a fintech company with social and environmental goals. As a Certified B Corp, it has promised to balance profit and purpose.

Aspiration’s mission is to help customers “make money while making the world a better place.” It’s the only financial institution that lets you pay what you think is right for basic checking and savings account services. Aspiration also donates 10% of fees to nonprofits helping Americans in need. And you can be sure that none of your money goes to fund fossil fuels.

Aspiration offers checking and savings accounts, IRAs, investment accounts, and a fossil free mutual fund. And it’s just launched a carbon-neutral credit card, Aspiration Zero.

Aspiration will plant a tree every time you buy something using the card. According to the neobank, using the card once a day will plant two trees, offsetting the average American’s entire carbon footprint. And using the card 30 times a month not only gets you to net zero but also lets you earn up to 1% cash back. You can also round up your change to the nearest dollar to plant additional trees.

The credit card is made from plant-based materials, not plastic.

🔔 Learn about banking with Aspiration.

Aspiration Zero

Annual Fee$60
Intro APRNone
Regular APR11.65% – 21.45%
Sign up bonus$300
  • Every purchase plants one tree, and another one if “Plant Your Change” is turned on
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all eligible purchases (1.0% cash back if you reach “Carbon Neutral” by planting a total of 60 or more trees through the Plant Your Change and A Swipe for a Tree programs)
  • $300 welcome bonus when you spend $3,000 on qualifying transactions within the first three months

Pros

  • Supports an eco-friendly bank that doesn’t fund fossil fuels
  • Up to 1% cash back rewards
  • $300 welcome bonus

Cons

  • No intro APR
  • Annual fee
  • 2% foreign transaction fee

Amalgamated Bank Credit Cards

Founded by a labor organizer in 1923, Amalgamated Bank champions access to banking regardless of socioeconomic status. Today it is one of the best-known socially responsible banks with over $6.6 billion in assets. It is both a B Corp, pledging to balance profit and purpose, and a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).

Amalgamated Bank serves labor unions, nonprofits, and social enterprises and contributes to political campaigns that align with their values (climate-friendly, pro-choice, pro-union). The bank is 100% carbon neutral and has pledged not to invest in or lend to fossil fuel companies.

Amalgamated Bank offers three credit cards issued in partnership with First Bankcard, a division of the First National Bank of Omaha.

Amalgamated Bank Maximum Rewards World Mastercard

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for twelve months
Regular APR16.24% – 22.24%
Sign up bonus$30
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on purchases everywhere you shop. Redeem for cash, gift cards, travel, or merchandise. Rewards expire after five years
  • To qualify for the sign up bonus, you must spend $600 within the first 3 months after you open the account

Pros

  • Supports an eco-friendly bank that doesn’t fund fossil fuels
  • No annual fee
  • 1.5% cash back rewards

Cons

  • Low sign up bonus

Amalgamated Bank Secured Mastercard

Annual Fee$35
Intro APRNone
Regular APR24.24%
Sign up bonusNone
  • The card targets borrowers with a poor credit history
  • Request your own credit limit by providing a single deposit between $300 and $5,000 when you apply
  • You may be able to get your deposit back automatically in as little as 11 months when you maintain a good payment history
  • Qualify for a credit limit increase without an additional deposit in as little as seven months when you use your card and make regular, on-time bill payments

Pros

  • Helps rebuild your credit
  • Supports an eco-friendly bank that doesn’t fund fossil fuels

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • No bonus or rewards

Beneficial State Bank Credit Cards

Founded in 2007 in California, Beneficial State Bank (BSB) offers savings and checking accounts and, now, credit cards. BSB has over $1 billion in assets.

BSB is a Certified B Corp, a member of the GABV, and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). It’s majority-owned by the Beneficial State Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that advocates for responsible banking and runs the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program. Bank profits have to be distributed to the Foundation.

BSB has three credit card options.

Beneficial State Bank Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APRNone
Regular APR11.65% – 21.45%
Sign up bonusNone
  • The card targets borrowers with a strong credit history who want rewards for everyday purchases
  • You can borrow $5,000-$50,000
  • Earn 1 point for every dollar spent. Redeem points for merchandise, airline tickets, cash back, and charitable donations. Points do not expire

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • Competitive APR
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No bonus

Beneficial State Bank Resilience Visa Platinum Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APRNone
Regular APR11.65% – 21.45%
Sign up bonusNone
  • The card targets borrowers who tend to carry a balance
  • You can borrow $300-$25,000

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • Competitive APR
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No bonus or rewards

Beneficial State Bank Builder Credit Card

Annual Fee$25
Intro APRNone
Regular APR
Sign up bonusNone
  • The card targets borrowers with a poor or limited credit history
  • You can borrow $300-$10,000
  • Security deposit required

Pros

  • Helps rebuild your credit
  • Supports a socially responsible bank

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • No bonus or rewards

M&F Bank Credit Cards

The Durham, North Carolina-based Mechanics and Farmers Bank (M&F Bank) is the second-oldest black-owned bank in the U.S. It is also a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), lending to economically disadvantaged communities and people of color. 

The bank offers four credit cards; two of them are no-fee. The Personal World Elite Card comes with a $299 annual fee, but it also gives you a $200 airline fee credit.

M&F Bank Personal World Elite Card

Annual Fee$299
Intro APR0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR10.99%
Sign up bonusNone
  • Earn points on everyday purchases (1 point for every $1). You can redeem your points for rewards including gift cards, merchandise, travel, experiences, eco-friendly products and charitable donations
  • $200 annual airline fee credit

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • Airline fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Attractive APR

Cons

  • $299 annual fee
  • No bonus offer

M&F Bank Platinum Preferred Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR10.99% – 21.99%
Sign up bonusNone
  • Earn points on qualifying purchases

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No bonus offer
  • 3% foreign transaction fees

M&F Bank Platinum Payback Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR10.99% – 21.99%
Sign up bonusNone
  • Earn 1% cash back on qualifying purchases
  • Cash back is redeemable at any time via the Payback Rewards website in $25 increments

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No bonus offer
  • 3% foreign transaction fees

M&F Bank Personal World Card

Annual Fee$35
Intro APR0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR12.24%
Sign up bonusNone
  • Earn points and cash back rewards

Pros

  • Supports a socially responsible bank
  • Attractive APR
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • No bonus offer

Sunrise Banks Credit Cards

Based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sunrise Banks is a socially responsible bank with almost $1 billion in assets. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Sunrise Banks gives 60% of its loans to distressed communities, focusing on affordable housing, small business loans, and nonprofits. It also aims to reduce the carbon footprint of its loan portfolio in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Like Amalgamated Bank, Sunrise Banks is a B Corp, pledging to balance profit and purpose, and a member of the GABV.

The bank donates at least 2% of profit each year and gives employees 40 hours of paid time off to volunteer for causes like Habitat for Humanity.

Sunrise Banks offers four credit card options, including cash back options.

Sunrise Banks Visa Real Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for six months
Regular APR14.49% – 23.49%
Sign up bonus2,500 points
  • Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend (equal to 1.5% cash back)
  • Get 2,500 bonus points after your first purchase
  • Redeem your points for cash back, travel, merchandise, or gift cards

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 1.5% cash back
  • Bonus offer
  • Supports a socially responsible bank

Cons

  • 2-3% foreign transaction fees

Sunrise Banks Visa Platinum Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% intro APR for 20 months
Regular APR13.49% – 23.49%
Sign up bonusNone

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR for 20 months
  • Supports a socially responsible bank

Cons

  • No points or rewards
  • No sign up bonus
  • 2-3% foreign transaction fees

Sunrise Banks Max Cash Preferred Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APR0% introductory APR for 12 months for balance transfers only
Regular APR14.49% – 23.49%
Sign up bonus$150
  • Up to 5% cash back in 2 categories of your choice; 2% unlimited cash back on one everyday category of your choice; 1% unlimited cash back on all other eligible purchases
  • Cash rewards do not expire
  • $150 bonus rewarded after you spend $500 within the first 90 days of opening an account

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus
  • 1-5% cash back rewards
  • Supports a socially responsible bank

Cons

  • Introductory APR applies to balance transfers only
  • 2-3% foreign transaction fees

Sunrise Banks Secured Visa Credit Card

Annual Fee$0
Intro APRNone
Regular APR23.99% APR
Sign up bonusNone
  • A card for anyone who wants to improve or establish their credit

Pros

  • Helps rebuild your credit
  • No annual fee
  • Supports a socially responsible bank

Cons

  • No sign up offers or rewards
  • 2-3% international transaction fees

Compare socially responsible bank accounts

Monthly fee

 $0

Monthly fee

$0

Monthly fee

Pay What Is Fair

APY

1.01%

APY

0.55%

APY

Up to 1.00%

3. Donating credit card points to charity

If you like the credit cards you have and don’t want to switch, you can still do good by donating your rewards points to charities. Millions of dollars worth of points expire every year, boosting credit card companies’ profits. Instead, you could give those points to the causes you care about.

Unfortunately, although donating cash to a charity is tax-deductible, you can’t just write off your points donation. The IRS doesn’t view credit card points as income.

Credit CardDonation Options
American ExpressOver 1.5 million charities through JustGiving
Bank of AmericaNone
Capital OneNone
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Multiple options through the Pay Yourself Back feature
Citibank ThankYou Points
Several charities through the More Ways to Redeem feature
Discover
Several partner charities
Wells Fargo
Multiple options through the CharityChoice gift card

American Express Rewards

American Express lets you donate your Membership Rewards points through their partnership with JustGiving. The JustGiving portal gives you access to over 1.5 million U.S. charities. You simply need to create a new account at JustGiving and enter your Amex credit card number. You will then have access to your point balance and be able to select a charity and donate.

Be aware that JustGiving will charge a 5% platform fee and a 2.9% credit card fee for processing your donation.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase allows donations through the Pay Yourself Back feature on the Ultimate Rewards portal. Chase credit card customers can redeem points for 1.25 cents through the end of 2022 (Chase Sapphire Reserve customers can redeem points for 1.5 cents). Although this redemption rate is attractive, your choice is limited to 12 eligible nonprofits. This list includes social and racial justice and hunger relief organizations:

  • American Red Cross
  • Equal Justice Initiative
  • Feeding America
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • International Medical Corporation
  • Leadership Conference Education Fund
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Urban League
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund
  • United Negro College Fund
  • United Way
  • World Central Kitchen

You can’t donate directly through the portal; Pay Yourself Back works by reimbursing you for donations you make to eligible charities. Once you’ve donated, you can look it up in your list of transactions and redeem your points for a statement credit. To ensure your donation is eligible for Pay Yourself Back, you must donate to the charity’s parent organization and not the local chapter.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi allows you to redeem ThankYou Rewards starting at 2,500 points ($25) at a rate of 1 cent per point. There are currently eight charity options:

  • American Red Cross Disaster Relief
  • American Red Cross International Services
  • No Kid Hungry
  • Smile Train
  • Susan G. Komen
  • UNICEF Kid Power
  • UNICEF USA
  • World Central Kitchen

To redeem, log into your ThankYou Points account and select Charitable Contributions from the list of redemption options. You can donate $25, $50, $75 or $100.

Discover

You can donate Discover Cashback rewards to a list of partner charities through the Discover Card Account Center. They have ten partner charities:

  • American Cancer Society
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • American Red Cross
  • Carbonfund.org
  • Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
  • Junior Achievement
  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • Make-A-Wish
  • Operation Homefront
  • World Wildlife Fund

Discover gives an extra $25,000 to the organization that receives the most donations each year. 

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards can be redeemed for a CharityChoice gift card, which has more than 1,000 nonprofits to choose from. You can start with 2,500 points for a $25 gift card and select a charity through CharityChoice.

CharityChoice charges a 5% administrative fee, a 3% credit card processing fee, and a $0.50 flat fee for each donation.


Now you know how to use your credit card to donate to a charity or support a socially responsible institution.

🔔 What about opening a socially responsible bank account? Learn about sustainable banking options.