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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Finance and Financial Management for Green Business > Investment and Funding for Green and Sustainable Programs and Business Development

Green Credit Cards

Is there such a thing as a "green credit card"?

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Don't "dis" me! That's my message to finance and bank companies who tout their green investments at the same time they treat their longterm customers like a bloodsucker treats it's victim. That's harsh, but the onerous business practices with credit cards and loans that help small businesses operate have gotten out of hand.

According to Coop America, predatory lending is a fast-growing practice in which financial institutions use high fees, exorbitant costs, and other unscrupulous lending practices to take advantage of targeted groups—often the elderly, students, and low-income people.

I grew up in Arkansas, a state that legislated a cap on interest levels until recently. There was a reason. The financial free market has become onerous and the American consumers who grew these businesses with their hard earned revenues are being sucked into increasingly deficit-designed programs.

At the same time, modern business is built on bridge loans to go from season to season, to handle larger-than-usual projects and to get over rough patches in the economy or company growth.

Green and socially responsible banks and credit cards are starting to develop.

The Wainwright Bank in Boston is receiving broad visibility as a bank that puts its customers first -- and treats them with respect. And is a sustainable, profitable business.

Consumer Reports magazine looked into the fees and penalties imposed by mega-bank credit cards in its November 2005 issue. Its list of top ten most consumer-friendly credit cards included: Town North, First Tennessee National Bank, Pulaski, Simmons First National, Target National, BB&T, Franklin Templeton Bank & Trust, RBC Centura, Commerce, and Zions.

Affinity Credit Cards

Major credit card companies offer "affinity cards" like the RED Amex card. The average contribution to the nonprofit from such cards is half a penny for every dollar you charge or transfer, according to Affinity card profits can add up for a charity or nonprofit when many people use the cards.

Example: Salmon Nation Visa Card

Provided by eco-friendly lending institution Shorebank Pacific, the Salmon Nation Visa Card offers the biggest eco-bang for your buck. Half of the income generated for Shorebank from the card goes to "Salmon Nation" an economic, cultural and ecological community collective in the bioregion that contains Pacific salmon spawning grounds.

Cards that Build Communities

Your very best option is to obtain a credit card through a community investment bank or credit union, which provide loans and other financial services to those underserved by traditional banks. By choosing one of the following cards, you channel the profits these institutions make from your card fees and interest toward helping low-income people lift themselves up economically.

Triodos' Green Card: Climate Count

International list of green credit cards and the first one available in Europe is Triodos Bank’s ecological VISA credit card, launched in Spain. They are also moving to the U.S.

Not only are these Visa credit cards made from PVC-free recyclable plastic, but Triodos also compensates 1 tonne of the client’s CO2 emission for free if the card is used more than 5 times a month. That’s the equivalent of driving 6000 km by car or the annual consumption of energy for heating and hot water of a one person flat. Plus with each first buy they plant a tree in their client’s name in the sustainable Triodos Forest in Albacete, Spain.

As the biggest Euopean ethical bank, Triodos is consistent with their respect towards nature not only when it comes to cards but also for paper and office furniture. They managed to become 100% carbon neutral by saving energy, using alternative energy and compensating for any CO2 emissions. The main differentiation between Triodos and ordinary banks is probably the fact that they only invest and finance social or ecological projects and businesses. Since they started in 1980 in the Netherlands they have opened branches in Belgium, the UK and Spain


For the third year in a row the Ethical Internet banking service Smile is the overall winner at The Guardian/Observer Newspaper consumer finance awards 2005.

Smile is a U.K. based Internet bank which is not only highly regarded for their excellent customer service and top credit card rates, but also for their clear ethical policies. Smile is part of the Co-operative Bank and therefore operates under its ethical policy which, due to customer demand, was launched back in 1992. They guarantee that your money will not be invested in any businesses which fail on Environmental, Human, and Animal Rights Issues, or that are involved in the Arms Trade, the development of GM foods, or tobacco products. Furthermore they actively seek to invest in Fair Trade and labor rights organizations, as well as those companies involved in renewable energies and ecological sustainability. Smile and The Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Policy is renewed every three years based on customers views. Now that’s what we call good customer service!

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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