NEW YORK (MainStreet) Consumers fed up with national mega banks that collect transaction fees can find an alternative in green credit cards.
According to Green America, green cards promote community development, offer low fees and benefits, such as reward points.
"The rise of green credit cards with low fees, good rates and extra features such as travel perks means that consumers fed up with megabank abuses now have real choices," said Todd Larsen, division director of Green America Corporate Responsibility.
Switching to a green credit card allegedly puts people and the planet ahead of a corporate single-minded focus on profits, but some experts say green cards aren't much different from a traditional credit card.
"All credit cards are issued by financial institutions, even green cards," said John Ulzheimer, credit expert with CreditSesame.com. "So you're not really moving away from doing business with a bank or credit union by moving to a green card. You're just moving to a bank or credit union that is supposedly more green."
Green typically means ecologically and consumer friendly.
"There seems to be the perspective that any large bank is considered anti-green because of their fees, interest and so-called contribution to the recent mini-recession," Ulzheimer told MainStreet.
In order to be ecologically correct, cards that are green do not support any endeavor that can harm the environment.
"That includes giving money to causes that are adverse to the environment or political parties that support anti-environmental causes," said Ulzheimer. One way to transition from a credit card to a green credit card is by submitting an application through Green America.
"Changing to a responsible, green credit card is easy," said Larsen. "We encourage concerned consumers to take the time now to learn how to put a 'green' credit card in their wallet or purse."
Although some green cards may carry the same rates and interest fees that traditional cards demand, they offer a green status that traditional cards don't.
"A green card seems to be more of an expression than it is a wiser financial move," said Ulzheimer. "Green card issuers still charge fees, they still charge interest and they still want you to make your payments on time just like any other bank or credit union.
To boot, they also seem to offer more overt support of local causes and environmentally friendly causes.
For example, the Sierra Club Visa Card supports the nation's largest grassroots environmental organization and offers reward points for travel and merchandise with tickets good on any airline with no blackout dates while the One PacificCoast Bank Visa Platinum card features a low variable APR, no annual fee and Scorecard Reward Points for travel and merchandise in addition to lifting up communities and preserve the environment in the Pacific Northwest.
"The rates are pretty much in line with what you can get at any other bank or credit union," Ulzheimer said.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet