64% of Americans want a credit card that lessens their environmental impact: Study

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GreenPrint, a global environmental technology company, released Tuesday the results of its 2022 Business of Sustainability Index. The study found that 64% of Americans are looking for a credit card that automatically offsets a portion of their purchase’s environmental impact. Additionally, 60% of Americans are more likely to buy stock in a company that’s environmentally conscious as opposed to one that isn’t.

The 2022 Business of Sustainability Index (which you can download here — GreenPrint will plant a tree for every download) was fielded in March 2022 from 1,062 US adults 18 years of age and older.

The index also found that 66% of Americans — and 80% of Americans aged 18 to 34 — are willing to pay more for sustainable products, yet 78% of American consumers aren’t sure how to identify whether or not a product is sustainability.

For consumers wondering if their credit card is sustainable, there are a handful of things to look for.

According to Experian, the first thing is the material. Some cards (including some Mastercards) are made with recycled plastics, metals, or even wood. Other things to look for are if you can make charitable donations to eco-friendly charities or if you can offset your carbon footprint with every purchase. Consumers should also be aware of the issuing bank and if it’s doing anything to support the environment.

Furthermore, according to GreenPrint’s index, only 38% of Americans believe a business when it says it’s environmentally friendly, down from 47% in last year’s index. Among the least-trusted industries are airlines, fleet services, and gas and energy providers.

Also: Financially-healthy consumers dropped to 43%. Here’s how banks must step up

“Over the past year, public trust in the authenticity and effectiveness of companies’ sustainability efforts has eroded significantly,” Pete Davis, CEO and co-founder of GreenPrint, said in the press release.

“This puts businesses making genuine progress in a bind because their actions are less likely to be recognized,” Davis added. “To win back trust, the data clearly shows Americans want companies to validate their sustainability claims through independent sources, both on the corporate level and for their products.”

For brands looking to lessen the trust gap between consumers and their business, GreenPrint said that it comes down to transparency in messaging, meeting audiences where they are — for example, across social media for younger consumers — and making it obvious the business is working to decrease its carbon impact.

The study also found that, despite record-high gas prices, 64% of Americans would share more for gas so long as the gas provider offsets their carbon footprint from emissions through sustainability efforts. That percentage jumps to 75% for Americans aged 18 to 34.

According to Yardeni Research, the average US household could spend upwards of $5,000 on gas in 2022. The average gas price so far in June, according to Statista, is around $5 per gallon.

As gas prices continue to climb, many consumers are looking for a way to put money back in their pockets after filling up at the pump. Reward credit cards could be the solution.

However, despite having net-zero promises, large banks (like Bank of America and Wells Fargo) continue to invest in environmentally-harmful industries, including fossil fuels. According to the 2022 Banking on Climate Chaos report — which monitors how much big banks invest in fossil fuels — the banking industry invested a total of $741.83 billion in fossil fuels in 2021.

JP Morgan Chase is at the top of the list with $61.73 billion, followed by Citi with $41.35 billion, and Wells Fargo with $46.22 billion. And despite Wells Fargo’s net-zero promise, its fossil fuel investment nearly doubled from $26.64 billion in 2020. Bank of America also invested $31.98 billion in fossil fuels in 2021. It is worth noting, however, that Bank of America’s number has fallen from $42.15 billion in 2020.

So are there truly sustainable credit card options for consumers in 2022? There are a few to consider, but they’re unfortunately not as rewarding as standard credit cards, especially for gas spending.

That said, here are two sustainable credit cards that earn cash back for gas while still doing something for the environment:

  • FutureCard Visa Card: Earn 5% cash back for environmentally-friendly spending, and 1% for everything else. It doesn’t require any fees, or even a credit check, just a valid bank account. Eligible 5% purchases include EV charging, public transportation, secondhand shops, new proteins, bikes/scooters, and plant-based food products. Consumers can even track their carbon footprint using the Future App. You can sign up for the card here.
  • Aspiration Zero Credit Card: Earn an unlimited .5% cash back for everything you buy. And for every purchase you make with the card, Aspiration will plant one tree. You can track your carbon footprint in the Aspiration app; each month you achieve a zero carbon footprint, Aspiration will double the cash back you earn for the purchases made over that billing cycle. There’s even a $300 welcome bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months with the card. However, it does require good credit and there is a $60 annual fee. You can check it out here.

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