Charity credit cards are an easy way to make contributions to your favorite philanthropic cause. Each time you make a purchase with your charity card, your credit card company automatically donates a portion of it to the cause associated with that card. However, the percentage that is donated is usually small, limiting the effectiveness of such an approach to giving.

The numbers take a long time to add up. Bank of America offers a charity card that donates 0.08% of every purchase to the Susan B. Komen organization for breast cancer. But that 0.08% contribution requires you to spend a significant amount of money before any sizeable funds get donated to the charity. For example, for Bank of America to make a charitable contribution of just $50, you would need to charge $62,500 on the card.

Other charitable cards do not fare much better. Bank of America offers a Nature Conservancy charity card that makes a 0.05% contribution per purchase. However, Bank of American donates $100 to the charity when a customer first opens the card, uses it once, and keeps it open for 90 days. The World Wildlife Fund charity card, also offered by Bank of America, gives a 0.25% contribution per purchase and a $5 contribution for opening and renewing the card.

But the numbers add up significantly across the population of card users. Since 2009, Bank of America’s 0.08% card contribution to the Susan B. Komen organization has generated over $6 million in donated funds. Andrea Rader, spokesperson for the organization, expressed comfort with its relationship with Bank of America. “The cards are free to the consumer, and give them an opportunity to show their support for the breast cancer movement and generate a donation to Komen at no cost to them,” she said.

The card images may also encourage giving indirectly. For example, a card with a pink breast cancer image on its face may encourage the cashier to ask about the charity, or even to donate to it. It may also inspire getting involved in more active ways, like volunteering one’s time. This effect may also motivate the card holder to get more involved as well.

An opportunity to show support at no cost is what drives charitable cards. Though more giving is better than less, everyone can agree that some giving is better than none at all. For people who live on fixed incomes and cannot spare extra money to donate to charity, a charity credit card offers a convenient way for them to make contributions while buying the everyday goods that they require.

However, other credit alternatives may help you contribute more. Though a charity credit card offers givers a useful benefit, people who use a cash rewards credit card that offers between 1% and 2% cash back on every purchase can generate between 12.5 and 25 times the money of Bank of America’s 0.08% Susan B. Komen charity card. Once cardholders receive the cash back, usually in the form of a bank check or direct deposit, they are free to donate the larger amount to any charity of their choice.

Works Cited

Chicago Tribune