Affinity credit cards
Universities, research, charities and all manner of good works never
seem to have enough money. Affinity credit cards keep the money flowing
in to worthwhile organizations even when we can't make direct cash
donations ourselves. Purchases we would be making anyway can keep income
coming to our favorite organizations even when times are hard for
In many ways, affinity credit cards are similar to cash back credit cards, except that the cash goes to your favorite charity instead of to you. If your favorite charity has an affinity credit card, you simply sign up and the rewards go to the charity.
Big help for animals
Let's look at an example. Do you like animals? Want to see them looked after as well as possible? The Humane Society of the United States has an affinity credit card. Some 35,000 people have signed up for it in the last 10 years, and the society receives "well into six figures a year," according to one of its officials. The organization depends on the affinity credit card and other programs for the money to carry out its work to protect animals and to advance animal welfare education.
Want to be more specific? MBNA issues an affinity credit card on behalf of Ducks Unlimited, and has so far contributed more than $40 million to this conservation group whose activities are aimed at preservation of wetlands. Introductory APR is 2.9% for six months, then rising to 9.9% (May 2005 figures). There is no annual fee.
Police and fire
Organizations for which support is available through affinity credit cards are almost unlimited. Local firefighters or police can be supported through Platinum MasterCard from MBNA, for example. Both carry a six-month APR of 1.7%.
The American Red Cross receives half of one percent (average for the industry) from all purchases made on the Capital One Red Cross Platinum MasterCard. The Red Cross also receives $30 when the card is activated. The maximum contribution on transfer balances is $50 (on $10,000). APR is 7.9%, and there are no fees.
Affinity credit cards bear the logo of both the charity and the issuer, and are often confused with co-branded cards which give perks to the user. Affinity cards are philanthropic.
A card for you
You can support local schools, universities and alumni associations through affinity credit cards, along with labor unions, homeless people, Cancer Society research and numerous children's causes. Someone somewhere probably has a card for you. Check how much of your purchase goes to the organization you support. You may be able to increase this amount by shopping around.
Also, check on the interest rate you will be charged if you carry a balance. Some affinity credit cards have a high APR. You could find that you would be better off to find a card that is less costly and to contribute directly to your favorite organization.
Most of these card offer no additional perks to the holder, other that a sense of wellbeing for having contributed to a good cause. But sometimes that's all that matters.