[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. For current terms and conditions, please see card agreements. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
When it comes to credit cards, there are countless options out there, whether you’re seeking to accumulate travel rewards, cash back or points for purchases.
But what if you want to do something a bit more altruistic with your credit card spending? Perhaps help save the planet, the polar bears or even the park down the street from your house?
There are a handful of credit cards designed to help you do good things for your community while you’re spending. Affinity credit card programs, as they’re often known, offer a way to support the causes and charities near and dear to your heart. Here are some options you may want to consider. (Note: It’s important you read the card details and fine print for the most current terms and conditions.)
1. Charity Charge MasterCard
Charity Charge is a unique option when it comes to credit cards designed to allow consumers to give back. Charity Charge allows you to decide which charity will be the recipient of your giving, rather than being locked into a partnership with one specific charity. In other words, you can give to a local school, a religious institution or any other charity of your choice. (You can read more about how this works here.)
“We literally have every nonprofit in the U.S. — every single one, in our system,” Stephen Garten, Charity Charge’s CEO and founder, said. Garten also noted that the company has about 1.5 million nonprofits in its database. “We’ve got card holders supporting hundreds of different nonprofits right now.” Charity Charge cardholders can select up to three charities to be the beneficiaries of the ongoing monthly donations.
Here’s how it works: The card, issued by CommerceBank, allows users to earn 1% cash back on every purchase, which can then be donated to any charity (or up to three charities) in the United States. The 1% that cardholders donate is tax deductible.
One final point worth noting: Charity Charge covers all expenses associated with processing your donations. Translation: There are no processing fees, so all the money you donate goes directly into the charity’s pocket.
2. Bank of America Susan G. Komen Card
If you’re seeking to make a contribution to breast cancer research, consider the Bank of America Susan G. Komen card.
For each new Susan G Komen card opened, the bank contributes $3 to the Texas-based foundation dedicated to education and research related to the causes, treatment and cure of breast cancer. In addition, the Komen foundation receives 0.08% of all retail purchases made with the card and $3 for each card renewal.
This card also earns you 1% cash back on purchases, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% cash back on gas.
3. World Wildlife Fund Card
Yet another charitable giving card from Bank of America, this one benefits an organization focused on preserving wilderness and reducing humanity’s footprint on the environment.
Founded in 1961, the World Wildlife Fund works in 100 countries protecting forests, oceans, wildlife and more.
The WWF card works in much the same way as the Komen card: The nonprofit receives $3 for each card opened, 0.08% of all net retail purchases made with the card and $3 for each annual card renewal.
4. American Express Members Give
Through the American Express Members Give program, cardholders can donate their rewards points to more than 1 million charities.
Much like Charity Charge, American Express members can give to multiple charities if they choose. The card allows members to donate to charities and nonprofits focused on health and human services, education, the environment and more. The donations are tax deductible.
5. Capital One No Hassle Giving Site
The Capital One No Hassle Giving Site is a slightly different spin on the idea of credit cards focused on giving back. Rather than offering a specific card that contributes a percentage to a particular charity, Capital One created a site that facilitates making donations to charitable organizations with your credit card. (You can see some of the best Capital One credit cards here.)
The credit card giant partnered with Network for Good and GuideStar to create its No Hassle Giving Site. Network for Good processes donations made through the site and disburses the money to the charities, while GuideStar provides the site’s database of charities. All of the charities listed are registered with the Internal Revenue Service.
Capital One credit card holders who are members of the company’s No Hassle Rewards program can also earn rewards points for their donations. And finally, when making a donation through the site, Capital One covers transaction fees, so 100% of the money you give goes to the charity.
Before Adding a New Card to Your Wallet …
It’s great that you want to find a card that can not only help you shop but also offers a reward system. But deciding which type of rewards credit card is only part of what you should think about before getting new plastic. After all, there are all types of rewards credit cards beyond the standard ones that give cash back or travel rewards, like those that reward students for good grades. And it’s perhaps most important you consider things like annual fees, interest rates and your spending habits to figure out if you can truly afford this new card. Before you apply, you’ll want to read all the fine print that comes with each card you’re considering to see what you’d be signing up for.
It’s also a good idea to review your credit, as many cards require you have a certain credit score to be eligible. (Note: Checking your own credit will not harm your scores in any way. You can see two of your credit scores for free, with updates every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Once you’ve reviewed your finances and checked your credit, you may also want to read more about the cards you’re considering. We’ve got a plethora of in-depth credit card reviews here that can help you get started.