The WSJ reports that holders of the Sears-Kmart MasterCard will soon be able to see their TransUnion credit score for free. Existing cardholders are currently receiving notice in the mail of this new benefit.
To date, only Washington Mutual credit cards had offered this feature. It remains unclear, however, whether WaMu cards will continue to, in the wake of the merger with Chase. In any event, it’s good to see that HSBC, the issuer of the Sears-Kmart card, is picking up the ball. It will be interesting to see whether HSBC adds this feature to the other credit cards in its portfolio, since many of its cards cater to the audience segment most in need of monitoring their credit.
With Earth Day rapidly approaching, we have a good excuse to review our green options when it comes to plastic (or corn, if you prefer). After all, even Leo DiCaprio has recently been touting a new HSBC green credit card for the Hong Kong market. What does it mean for a credit card to be green? Well, the HSBC card is made from environmentally-friendly materials, requires the use of digital billing to cut down on paper waste, and donates a portion of each charge towards a local environmental protection project. While that card is not available in the US yet, there are a number of other green credit cards already here.
Green Credit Cards
Here’s a rundown:
- The Brighter Planet Visa
Every $1,000 spent in purchases with the card earns 1,000 points that will fund an estimated 1 ton of carbon offsets. In addition, you’ll earn 1,000 bonus points with your first transaction and another 1,000 points for using paperless statements. Also, until December 2008, Bank of America will match each two base points earned with the contribution of another point, equivalent to a 50% bonus.
- World Asssets Visa Signature Card
For every purchase made on the card, 10 cents will be donated to nonprofit groups like the Ocean Conservancy and Global Fund for Children. In addition, the card earns WorldPoints which can be used towards cash rewards, travel rewards and more.
- Salmon Nation Visa
A percentage of the income derived from the Salmon Nation Visa program goes directly to Ecotrust, a conservation organization aiming to strengthen communities and the environment from Alaska to California.
- GE Earth Rewards Credit Card
This card from GE Money allows you two rewards options: 1) You can choose to contribute either a full 1% of your net purchases to emission reduction projects or 2) 0.5% towards emission offsets and 0.5% cash back for yourself. On Earth Day each year you’ll receive a statement that shows how your reward was spent to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- World Wildlife Fund Card
1% of each purchase will go towards the World Wildlife Fund, an organization with a mission to save endangered species and protect endangered habitats. In addition, Chase will donate $50 for each new account opened online.
- GreenPay MasterCard
For each net $1 spent on gasoline and household utilities, the GreenPay Rewards program will provide 10 pounds of carbon offsets. For each $1 spent on everything else, the program will provide 5 pounds of carbon offsets. In addition, 10,000 pounds of CO2 will be removed as a first purchase bonus.
- Nature Conservancy Visa
0.65% of your net purchases will go to the Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organization committed to protecting ecologically important lands and waters. In addition, new card members will receive a complimentary 1 year membership and subscription to Nature Conservancy magazine.
- Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Platinum Plus Visa Card
With each card purchase, Bass Pro Shops and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will make a contribution to help conservation efforts, with a guaranteed yearly contribution as high as $1.5 million, at no additional cost to you. You’ll also receive a $25 gift card after your first use.
Green Rewards Programs
Credit card issuers have expanded your rewards options recently, so that even general-use credit cards can earn green rewards. Here’s a sampling:
- Wells Fargo Enhanced Rewards
Wells Fargo credit card users can enroll in an optional rewards program where the points that they earn can be used towards various green rewards, such as a solar charger or a garden composter. You can also choose to redeem reward points to support renewable energy projects and receive certificates for your donations. Enrolling in the rewards program costs $19 (or 2,000 points) a year for your credit card only, or $29 a year to enroll both your credit card and Check Card.
- Bank of America WorldPoints
Bank of America offers any of its credit card holders who earn WorldPoints to redeem them for a wide range of eco-friendly products and projects. Any Bank of America credit card that earns WorldPoints is eligible to earn these rewards at no additional cost.
- Citi Thank You Network
As part of its Thank You rewards network, Citi also offers a range of environmentally-responsible rewards. For instance, your Thank You points can be redeemed in exchange for having trees planted or for energy-saving CFL light bulbs.
Another Green Alternative
There’s also another option to consider when going green: instead of selecting a credit card specifically because it is green, you can always choose the best cash back card available and donate the cash rewards to your favorite environmental cause. It is slightly less convenient, but there at least three obvious benefits: 1) any donations will be tax-deductible, 2) you should be able to earn more rewards for your charity, and 3) you’ll have more choice as to exactly how your money is spent.
Regardless of the card you choose, chances are your issuer allows and even encourages your use of electronic-only statements. That’s one sure-fire way to get greener, and save both trees and gas.
Apply online for the Reward Zone® program MasterCard® now through February 24, 2007, and you’ll receive $25 in reward certificates after you make your first purchase using the card. Your first purchase must be made within 60 days of your application. You can find the application link here.
According to CardTrak, Best Buy has launched a new credit card that expands its customer loyalty “Reward Zone” program. The card features:
- 4% on Best Buy purchases
- 2% during special promotions throughout the year in popular categories, currently travel and dining.
- 1% everywhere MasterCard is accepted.
- Automatic enrollment in the Reward Zone® program
The current special promotion, valid through 1/31/07, is 2% earnings at dining and travel merchants–specifically, merchants coded in the following categories: Restaurant/Bar, Airline, Auto Rental, Hotel/Motel and Travel Agency.
Rewards come in the form of certificates to use toward music, movies, electronics and more at Best Buy stores. For more information or to apply, visit http://www.bestbuy.com/rzmc.