It’s official, at least for Earth Day: Green is the new black.
Sure you can turn heads if you are able to flash a rare American Express Black Card (AMX), but wouldn't you rather your charges help turn the earth into a more eco-friendly place? As the goal of sustainable living morphs from a fringe cause to a desirable and even stylish way of living, the latest manifestation is the green credit card, with numerous major banks issuing cards marketed towards environmentally conscious consumers.
‘Green is the rage today and credit cards are no different,’ says Colette Chandler, founder of The Marketing Insider, a firm specializing in green issues. Sounds nice, but are these cards just clever marketing ploys geared towards an affluent niche market? It depends. ‘Consumers should ask what the environmental outcomes are,’ advises Matt Arnold of Sustainable Finance, a corporate strategy company. So before you sign up for a so-called green credit card, make sure to investigate exactly what the benefits of the service are, so that you’re not just falling for some branding claptrap. ‘Find out exactly how your cards result in environmental improvements,’ says Arnold. ‘Some of the cards offset greenhouse gas emissions or go towards buying solar panels.’
Arnold warns that consumers should ‘watch out for cards that are more affinity cards,’ meaning that are more about branding than they are about real environmental impact, and usually donate only a nominal amount to charity. And, don’t forget, no matter how adorably green and chic your new card might seem, if you really want to make an impact, you’ll need to research the card company—and not just benefits of the card itself. ‘Find out what the issuers' environmental policies are. Sometimes the marketing strategies have gotten ahead of what the corporate polices are,’ says Arnold.