4 Ethical Credit Cards to Make an Impact with Your Spending in 2022

Written by

Justin Kuepper

Published on

Jan 06, 2022

Last updated

Jan 10, 2022

Credit card companies aren't exactly known for their ethics. For example, many of them encourage customers to overspend and then charge high interest rates on balances to keep them in a cycle of debt. There have been a few reforms since the 2008 financial crisis, but Americans still carry an average of more than $6,000 in credit card debt.

In addition, credit cards contribute to income inequality. That's because credit card companies charge merchants for each credit card swipe and don't allow merchants to add a surcharge to cover the fee. As a result, merchants raise their prices for all customers, including low-income customers (that may not qualify for a credit card) that pay in cash.

The good news is that a growing number of ethical credit cards prioritize transparency, help customers build credit, and support worthwhile causes. In fact, many of these credit cards come from B Corp banks that meet a high standard of performance, accountability, and transparency on factors ranging from employee treatment to supply chain practices. 

Let's look at some of the best ethical credit cards to consider in 2022.

Charity Charge - Best Ethical Credit Card for Charitable Giving

Charity Charge is a Public Benefit Corporation founded by social entrepreneur Stephen Garten. While the organization focuses on providing "business" credit cards to non-profits, they also offer a credit card for individuals, enabling them to donate 1% of their spending to a charity of their choice—an easy way to automate charitable giving!

If you select a charity with 501(c)(3) status, you can deduct these donations and lower your tax bill. For example, if you spend $2,000 per month, your credit card will donate $20 per month to charity, and you could realize a $240 tax deduction. However, remember that your ability to use the tax deduction depends on several factors.

If your goal is charitable giving, you may also be interested in Spiral, a debit card that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar to make donations—and matches those donations up to $150 per year.

Beneficial State Bank - Most Flexible Ethical Credit Card

Beneficial State Bank is a B Corp bank and CDFI supporting social and environmental missions. Unlike conventional banks, customer deposits and fees fund affordable housing, green energy, and social justice programs rather than payday lending, private prisons, or fossil fuels. And, the company offers a range of credit cards depending on your needs.

The bank's three credit cards include:

  • Beneficial Builder is an excellent option for those building or repairing their credit. While the card requires a security deposit and a $25 annual fee, you can access a $300 to $10,000 credit line to help build your credit up over time.
  • Beneficial Resilience is a simple card with a below-average 11.65% to 21.45% APR and no annual fee. There's also a 25-day grace period before you incur a finance charge on unpaid balances, providing flexibility to those that need it.
  • The Climate Card enables you to collect reward points through the ScoreCard program, access a higher $50,000 maximum credit limit, and lets you support climate-related non-profits to make an impact. It's an excellent option to earn rewards and help the environment.

Amalgamated Bank - Best Ethical Credit Card for Cash & Rewards

Amalgamated Bank is another B Corp bank that supports sustainable organizations, progressive causes, and social justice. In addition to being net-zero itself, the bank has a long history of providing affordable access to the banking system, supporting affordable housing, and being a champion of workers' rights (it's actually union-owned!).

The bank offers two credit cards:

  • The Maximum Rewards World Mastercard has no annual fee, unlimited 1.5% cashback, rewards points, a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, and a $30 bonus when you spend $600 within the first three billing cycles.
  • The Secured Mastercard helps you establish or improve credit with a low $35 annual fee and the ability to request your own credit limit. That way, you can control your spending while still retaining the ability to increase your credit limit over time.

Aspiration - Best Ethical Credit Card for the Environment

Aspiration is is another certified B Corp that supports environmental causes. Its Aspiration Zero credit card plants a tree with every purchase and lets you optionally round up to plant one more. Most people can offset their daily negative carbon footprint with a single purchase per day—and the mobile app lets you track your impact over time.

In addition to the environmental benefits, you get 1% cashback on all purchases each month you reach carbon zero (e.g., make 60 qualifying transactions each month or rounding up on 30 qualifying transactions). If you don't reach carbon zero, you get 0.5% cashback. You can also get a $300 sign-up bonus by spending $3,000 within your first three months.

The company's Spend & Save account also offers an Aspiration Plus debit card that automatically offsets your driving with carbon credits.

The Bottom Line

Credit card companies have a terrible reputation for ethics, but ethical credit cards provide an alternative. We've highlighted the four credit cards that help promote social and environmental goals while providing consumers with more transparent terms.

For more information, check out our full list of credit cards that have a positive impact on the world.