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In an ideal world all of us want to be able to give money to charity, but when times are tight it’s not always possible. But what if you could help out a worthwhile cause as you spend, no matter what you’re buying, and with no extra effort? That’s what charity credit cards are all about, but are they worth it?
First things first. The same rules apply with these as with almost all other credit cards – if you can’t afford to pay off the balance each month then don’t get one. Their benefits are null and void if you end up paying interest on your debt. Instead, see the best 0% cards for spending or best 0% balance transfer cards.
Charity credit cards allow you to donate money to charity as you spend, without any extra cost to yourself. Most charity cards also offer an initial contribution to the specific charity supported by the card and then for every purchase you make, a percentage of the amount spent is given to the charity. You just pay back the amount you have spent.
There are a few different cards out there so without further ado, here is our pick – complete with their pros and cons.
MBNA offers the highest initial donation with its PDSA Visa card. When you first use the card, MBNA donate a massive £25 to animal welfare and will thereafter donate 25p for every £100 of your purchases to the same charity as well as £2 per year that you use the card.
The card also offers an impressive twelve month interest-free offer on balance transfers (3% handling fee applies) as well as three months interest-free on purchases but be aware that after this the interest rate is 16.9% APR.
Good if: You’re an animal lover and you want a card that gives a big donation to charity straight away.
Bad if: You plan to use your credit card for spending. The three month interest free deal is ok, but there are much better deals out there.
Barclaycard Breathe allows you to help the environment whilst you spend. It has a 16.9% APR, which is similar to other charity cards, and donates 0.5% of your spend to the charity Pure, the Clean Planet Trust, which funds projects that tackle climate change.
This MasterCard offering from Barclays has a competitive balance transfer deal of 0% for 10 months (with a handling fee of 3%) and an APR of 16.9%.
The card also gives you lots of green offers and discounts including 10% off cycles and accessories at Halfords and up to 15% off plants at Crocus.
Good if: You’re big on helping the environment – you’ll be rewarded for using your card on public transport (though not TfL) with a preferential purchase rate of 5.9%. Remember that’s if you don’t pay off your balance in the interest free time though.
Bad if: You want to use your card for spending – there are loads of interest free purchase deals out there which would be more suitable for you.
MBNA offers a range of charity credit cards representing Breakthrough Breast Cancer, WWF, The National Trust, the RSPCA and Dogs Trust
The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Credit Card offers 12 months 0% interest on balance transfers (3% handling fee) and three months 0% interest on purchases after which they will charge 16.9% APR. It donates 25p for every £100 you spend on the card to the charity plus £2 for every year that you have the card, with an initial donation of £40 when you use the card within 90 days of the account opening.
On the first use of the The National Trust card, MBNA will donate up to £15 to the charity and a further 30p for every £100 that you spend. As with the other cards, a £2 annual donation will be given for both of these cards, regardless of how much you spend.
Good if: You want a card that keeps on giving – these have the best ongoing donations.
Bad if: You want a card for spending, once again there are better 0% purchase deals out there.
If you are scrupulous about your credit card spending and you are determined to wring the most out of the credit card companies for charity as you can, the most profitable thing to do is to choose a reward credit card instead of a charity credit card.
Often cash back is higher and you can then take the cash that you make and donate that to charity yourself. This also gives you more choice as to which charity you contribute to and you’ll probably get better discounts and deals as well. To find out more see our article on rewards cards.