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Credit Cards

Aspiration launches first credit card: Earn cash back and plant trees with every purchase

Spending on the Aspiration Zero card will help eliminate your carbon footprint by planting trees around the world.

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Thomas Barwick | DigitalVision | Getty Images

Aspiration launched their very first credit card on Thursday, the Aspiration Zero Credit Card. This new card earns cash back on every purchase, but ultimately serves a much greater purpose that that. In an exclusive interview with Select, Aspiration CEO Andrei Cherny said this card "is the only card that lets you take miles off the planet."

For each purchase cardholders make with the Aspiration Zero Credit Card up to two trees will be planted, with the goal of eliminating your carbon footprint.

Aspiration is a digital bank with a larger mission than just making money. Aspiration helps their customers spend, save and invest without disregarding the fundamental purpose of the bank: trying to make the world healthier and cleaner. They not only have a commitment of donating 10% of profits to help struggling Americans but also aim to plant 100 million trees around the world to offset human-related carbon emissions.

Aspiration is also attempting to combat the "green washing" phenomenon by committing to lending 100% clean money, which is essentially funding that doesn't involve the fossil fuel industry.

Select analyzed this first-of-its-kind credit card product for its benefits for your wallet, but also the world.

Aspiration Zero credit card benefits

Aspiration Zero Credit Card

On Aspiration's secure site
  • Rewards

    0.5% cash back on all eligible purchases (this can be increased to 1.0% cash back; see terms for details*)

  • Welcome bonus

    $300 welcome bonus when you spend $3,000 on qualifying transactions within the first three months

  • Annual fee

    $60

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    11.65% to 21.45% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fees

    2%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

The Aspiration Zero credit is simple in its offering. When you are approved for the card, you can earn a $300 welcome bonus after you spend $3,000 on qualifying transactions within the first three months.

When spending on the card you'll earn 0.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, however, this can be increased to 1.0% cash back.

While these cash-back rates aren't great when compared to other rewards credit cards, the real benefit you get is your ability to eliminate or reduce your carbon footprint. By spending on the card, you will make the following difference:

  • Every purchase with the card results in the planting of a tree, and another if "Plant Your Change" is turned on (for a total of two trees planted per purchase).
  • Enabling "Plant Your Change" will round up each purchase to the nearest dollar to plant that additional tree
  • Once you reach 60 trees and reach carbon neutral status for the month, rewards will be doubled for the month to 1.0% cash back on all eligible purchases

In fact, the physical credit card itself is even "green" and not made with plastic — it's composed of plant-based materials and corn.

The card does have a $60 annual fee and it charges foreign transaction fees when using it outside the U.S..

If you don't want to pay an annual fee and earn cash back, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. You can earn more rewards this way, and if you're still inclined to improve the environment, you can donate your cash back to an environmental non-profit or charity.

Bottom line

The Aspiration Zero Credit Card is a great product for consumers looking to make a tangible difference towards creating a greener planet. Each swipe of the new card helps plant trees around the world. However it's not the best option if you're really focused on maximizing the amount of cash back or travel rewards that you can earn.

If you deeply believe in the mission of Aspiration you may want to consider switching banks. They also offer a FDIC-insured checking account that offers cell phone protection and a savings account where you can earn up to 5% APY on the first $10,000 of deposits. And similar to the Zero credit card, for each debit card swipe, one tree will be planted. But most importantly, by switching your banking to Aspiration, you can be sure your money will not be used to fund any sort of projects connected to climate change.

It is always beneficial to consider your personal finances when making decisions about financial products, but there are also other conscious decisions to be mindful of — including the environment and reducing your impact on the earth.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Plenty of rewards and benefits including 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide
Enjoy an intro APR on purchases plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.