​​Is Your Credit Card Sustainable?

two men researching a credit card

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You might use your credit card to make sustainable purchases, from beeswax wrap to biodegradable laundry detergent. But is your credit card itself sustainable?

Your credit card is sustainable if it is made of sustainable material, offers green perks or lets you donate to eco-friendly charities. If you have a sustainable credit card, you've found one of the easiest ways to incorporate a little more green into your life. A sustainable credit card is not only good for the environment, but can often help you save or earn more rewards.

Four Features of Sustainable Credit Cards

Here are four features you might find in a sustainable credit card:

  • It's made of wood, metal or recycled plastic. Certain sustainable credit cards use materials to reduce the environmental costs that often come with traditional plastic cards. There are approximately 6 billion payment cards in the world, many of which are made of nonbiodegradable plastics that can take hundreds of years to break down (long past your card's expiration date).
  • It allows you to make eco-friendly donations. Sustainable credit cards are often linked to eco-friendly charities, allowing you to donate a portion of your purchase each time you buy something. A card may even plant a tree every time you charge.
  • It helps offset your carbon footprint. Interested in putting a dent in your carbon footprint? Look for a credit card that makes it possible to directly fund carbon offsets as a perk. Instead of getting cash back, you can put your credit card rewards directly toward funding environmental projects.
  • It's backed by a green bank. The bank that issues the card may participate in sustainable practices, like investing its funds in renewable energy. You might even cash in on some sustainably earned cash back.

How to Find a Sustainable Credit Card

Many sustainability-focused organizations like Bank.green and Bank for Good have search functions that help you find the eco-friendly financial tools you need and want.

Making environmentally friendly choices aren't just for those with excellent credit. There are sustainable secured credit cards available for those new to credit or repairing credit. You can also use Experian CreditMatch™ to find cards you will likely be approved for that share some of the eco-friendly features mentioned here. Or check out some of the best metal credit cards if you want to avoid the plastic variety.

Alternatively, if you don't find a credit card you want that offers eco-friendly perks, you can look for a cash back card and direct some of your extra cash toward causes you care about.

For instance, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards for Good Credit card lets you rack up 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, groceries (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and popular streaming services, 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases, 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1% on all other purchases. Putting trips to the grocery store and your monthly Netflix bill on the card, you can earn a nice chunk of change to donate to your favorite eco-charity.

Improve Your Credit to Get the Sustainable Card You Want

If you find a sustainable credit card that's still a bit of a reach with your current credit score, now might be a perfect time to work on your credit.

Start by checking your credit report and score for free with Experian. Knowing your score before applying for new cards can help you apply for the cards you're most likely to qualify for.

If you review your credit report and score and find that you need to make some improvements, here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Make every debt payment on time. On-time payment history accounts for up to 35% of your FICO® Score , so make sure to pay by the due date.
  • Keep credit card balances low. Credit utilization—how much credit you use versus how much you have available—is one of the most important factors in your FICO® Score. Keeping account balances low will bring down your utilization—and could help your scores.
  • Keep old credit card accounts open. The length of your credit history accounts for about 15% of your FICO® Score. As such, it benefits you to keep old credit card accounts open even if you don't use them much anymore.
  • Only apply for new credit when you need it. Each time your credit report is pulled as part of a credit application review, you get a new hard inquiry on your credit report. Although a single inquiry won't typically cause much of an issue, they can pile up and have a greater effect on your score. New credit accounts (including inquiries) make up 10% of your FICO® Score. Apply strategically for credit you will likely be approved for to avoid unnecessarily dings to your credit.

Strengthen your credit score today with these strategic moves so that you can make a difference with a desirable, sustainable credit card.

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