The "Green" Credit Card

Here’s a different kind of rewards card, instead furthering more material consumption, the Brighter Planet Visa card lets you earn “EarthSmart” points. These points are automatically used every month to fund renewable energy projects. Every 1,000 points funds about 1 ton of carbon offsets. (Carbon offsets are a way of breaking the cost of planting trees, reclaiming methane, building windmills, etc, into purchasable units). There’s a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, 9.99% or 15.99% APR thereafter, depending on your credit score. You get to feel good, renewable energy gets funded, and Visa and Bank of America get good PR –win-win-win-win. Gotta wonder, if you default on your payments, will they pull the trees out of the ground?

Brighter Planet Visa Card [BrighterPlanet]

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  1. Skiffer says:

    Booooo!!!!!!

    I’ll hold out for the card that funds new nuclear reactor construction…

  2. DallasDMD says:

    Everyone is getting on the ‘green’ bandwagon. How about reducing your consumption instead of participating in these phony carbon trading schemes?

  3. BlondeGrlz says:

    SNORT! Pull trees out of the ground!

  4. Jeff_McAwesome says:

    @DallasDMD: That would require actual hard work and effort. It is much easier to just purchase offsets.

  5. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Skiffer: Yeah, except that nuclear energy isn’t really green either.

  6. clodia says:

    @DallasDMD: What about people who want to do both? Just because someone is interested in purchasing offsets doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to reduce consumption, energy usage, and water usage as well.

  7. DrGirlfriend says:

    @DallasDMD: Next you’ll tell me that I need to spend less than I make in order to not be in debt, or consume less calories than I burn in order to lose weight. Pshaw.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Working Assets has a Signature Visa card with the exact same interest rates (0% balance transfers, 9.99% and 15.99% thereafter), they donate $.10 of each purchase not only to the environment but social justice programs, education, human rights, and traditional charities, AND they have a decent rewards program.

    Right now they are offering a free companion air ticket with your first purchase.

    Not to mention, they’re not Bank of America.

    [www.workingassets.com]

  9. MeOhMy says:

    All I can say is – How can they prove it? I used to have a university credit card through MBNA (now BofA). It supposedly donated 1% or .1% or something back to the school, yet in the annual letter indicating who made donations, I never saw any donation from MBNA. A few years ago I got a new card from MBNA without my school’s logo and a letter indicating that the school had discontinued it’s relationship with MBNA. Makes you wonder.

  10. Brad2723 says:

    Carbon offsets… what a load of crap

  11. Recury says:

    Apparently every company on the earth cares deeply about the environment now. Guess there’s nothing to worry about then.

  12. Skiffer says:

    @hypnotik_jello: You’re referring to life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, which is just arguing semantics because even wind and solar have lifecycle emissions of their own . Only problem is, nuclear’s life cycle greenhouse emissions are the same, if not less than, wind and solar:

    [pathsoflight.us]

    [www.nei.org]

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  13. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Skiffer: Last I checked nuclear waste wasn’t great for the environment. I might be wrong on that though, I’m sure we could all use an extra pair of arms and eyeballs.

  14. warf0x0r says:

    Although not about this card, I ordered a dell laptop for my gf and noticed that I could pay 2 dollars to have a tree planted. What it didn’t say was that the tree would be entirely offset by the fact that dell would send me a brochure and mailings on a weekly basis for new products and to “upgrade” the standard warranty…

    I want my 2 dollars back. They should have to plant a tree to offset all the damn mailings I get from them!

  15. vanilla-fro says:

    How do we find out where the money for carbon offsets is really going?

    @Brad2723: I’m with ya there. It’s funny how they care once they see that a bunch of us may care…then all of a sudden the big companies care.

  16. Munsoned says:

    @Brad2723: Couldn’t agree more.

  17. surgesilk says:

    If it was really green it would give you rewards for NOT spending your money on more crap.

  18. stinerman says:

    @surgesilk:
    Your views fascinate me and I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  19. coss3n says:

    So by my reckoning, I can buy 1000 lbs worth of carbon offsets for $2.50, which means “about a ton” is worth “about $5.”

    If every “point” I earn with this card is from $1 of spending, and it takes 1000 points to get a 1 ton offset, then this is equivalent to getting a 0.5% cash back and buying the offset with that.

    Except I can get a hell of a lot better than 0.5% cash back.

    Nice idea, but I’ll file this under “how can we exploit people by giving them bad deals that sound ‘green’?” .

  20. LynchMob1232 says:

    @hypnotik_jello:

    Either is a 100 acre solar fields! Believe it or not all methods of generating power have tradoffs. Nuclear is currently the best option to meet current and future energy demand (See France). Its impact on the environment is minimal, storage methods have been proven and can be confined to a relatively small space in remote locations. I’m all for a good mix of both but it annoys me that people keep looking for the holy grail of green power when it was harnesed over a half century ago. If it is good enough to power the solar system I think it is good enough to power my iPod.

  21. Skiffer says:

    @hypnotik_jello: Waste does not “un-green” an energy source – waste is a fact of life.

    Nuclear waste is so nasty because we get so much power from it – it’s the best large-scale, low-emission energy source we have in this country, and it’s the best chance to find a substitute for oil in the transportation sector.

    Wind/solar can’t support the energy demands of our entire national economy – they just can’t. Can’t find the stat now, but I’ve seen that we’d need wind farms across the entire state of Wisconsin to replace our current nuclear reactors.

    Not to mention that our national energy demands are projected to double by 2030…

  22. SpdRacer says:

    Screw green, GO Maroon!

  23. csdiego says:

    I was on board until I saw that it’s Bank of America. No freakin’ way.

  24. brightermatt says:

    Full disclosure: I’m working with Brighter Planet

    Thanks for posting about us! We just launched today so it’s definitely exciting to get some buzz from Consumerist.

    Regarding some of the comments here, I understand your concerns because we went through a lot of the same thinking as we developed this card.

    @DallasDMD & Surgesilk: We are in no way advocating that you go out and buy tons of stuff to save the planet. But no matter how much you conserve, you can’t completely eliminate your impact on the climate. So we believe in conserving what you can and offsetting what you can’t.

    We all use credit cards occasionally, and rather than accumulate points we never trade in, why not put that investment towards renewable energy projects? For example, my college accepted credit cards for tuition payments. That would have been a lot of money going into renewable energy projects if Brighter Planet had been around.

    @Troy F. & Vanilla Fro: Understandable concerns. Here’s how: You can track your rewards using our website, which will provide you with an up-to-date count of the offsets that will be purchased on your behalf.

    And we’re really, really big on transparency. From our Carbon Offset Policy ([brighterplanet.com]):

    Brighter Planet purchases offsets only from renewable-energy projects that – like itself – subject themselves to annual auditing. By requiring projects to open their output logs to independent review, Brighter Planet holds them accountable to their promise.

    If you have any other questions, I definitely recommend you check out our Knowledgebase:
    [brighterplanet.com]

    thanks again for featuring and talking about us!

  25. topgun says:

    Since BOA is involved you might as well kiss the planet goodbye.

  26. SactoKev says:

    @thbarnes:
    Actually, it looks like the “Working Assets” IS through BofA/Satan.
    The “Yes, keep me informed about special marketing offers from Bank of America,” box on the application page kind of gives it away.

  27. MeOhMy says:

    @Skiffer:

    we’d need wind farms across the entire state of Wisconsin to replace our current nuclear reactors

    So…..what’s the problem? If we run out of room in Wisconsin, we can always just use the upper peninsula. :-)

  28. theblackdog says:

    @DallasDMD: Already done, it’s why I’ve been riding the bus and subway to work ever since I moved to DC.

  29. some_stupid_nut says:

    Funny it is from BoA. They are one of the biggest supporters/investors, or coal and coal fired power plants.