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Charity Credit Cards: a new card that needn't cost the Earth

Mar 19, 2008
As well as balance transfer cards, reward cards, cash-back cards and the whole host of other cards that are available there is good news for those consumers that want to 'give a little back': plastic now has a conscience in the form of charity or 'affinity' credit cards. The charity card concept was started nearly 20 years ago and is available from many different organisations. They aim to have the same benefits and facilities of a more traditional credit card, but at the same time, are designed to make a small donation to your chosen charity each time the credit card is used. The donation made is a percentage of each purchase and the credit card issuer makes the donation on your behalf. But do these credit cards really offer the stability of more traditional credit cards and how do you find the one that suits you best? Is it a case of choose the charity or choose the card?

Charity credit cards offer the same basic facilities as a traditional credit card: low interest rates, various protection types and introductory offers and perks. At the same time, they allow you to spend as you would ordinarily, but in the knowledge that a percentage of every purchase you make will be donated to the charity of your choice. There are many types of charity credit cards available offering support to a wide range of good causes, including environmental charities, care for the elderly, care for orphans and cancer charities, to name but a few. Currently, the most popularly supported charity cards are associated with organisations that deal with environmental issues.

The WWF Credit Card has taken the concept one step further by ensuring that their plastic is environmentally sound. It is PVC free and the production of these cards does nothing to add to the levels of toxic chemicals in the environment. The charity card, like the more traditional credit card, has introductory offers on balance transfers and purchases for set periods of time. After this time, the standard APR comes in at a reasonable rate.

Another example is the National Trust who receive contributions to the Trust every time their affinity credit card is used. And when the introductory period is over, the standard APR is comparable to the interest rates of most conventional credit cards. The Breathe Credit Card donates some of its net profits to projects that tackle climate change and offers a low purchase rate on public transport to help reduce carbon emissions. It also has offers and discounts on selected 'greener goods'. Both of these charity credit cards are good examples of how the perks and reward schemes can benefit the consumer as well as the chosen charity.

It's not just charities that can benefit from consumer awareness. The Artscard contributes to artistic institutions such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Northern Ballet Company and the Tate Gallery. Alternatively, there are charity credit cards that aim to donate to many worthy causes rather than just the one; Comic Relief's Credit Card is a good example of this. Even Bono, the lead singer of U2 and tireless charity campaigner, has launched a charity credit card - Red American Express - which is designed to build awareness of and donate funds to AIDS research in Africa. Maybe, in the past, donating to charity has been something that's passed you by as a chore that takes up too much of your time. With a charity credit card in your pocket, you don't even have to think about it.

The revived interest in charity credit cards has been brought about by the plummeting rates of cash-back cards. It had been the case that people who wanted to make the most of their card might use the favourable rates of cash-back cards to 'collect' a sum of money over a year and then donate it to the charity of their choice. Credit card issuers seem to have redressed the balance here and now charity credit cards are a far better option for donation than they once were. Not only do these credit cards offer the protection and security that they should, but they can also help make a difference to the organisation of your choice.
About the Author
Steve Sheldon has reviewed the benefits and facilities of charity credit cards and suggests that before you choose your next credit card you check out the 900+ charity cards available and help the organisation of your choice.
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