How to choose ethical and eco friendly credit cards

lady shopping for ethical finances with a sustainable green credit card

When it comes to choosing a credit card there are a lot of factors to consider – the interest rate and the credit card rewards are only the beginning. But what about the feel-good factor behind the card?

More than ever, ethical banking is a key concern of many consumers. It also means a lot of different things to different customers, from avoiding the funding of live exports to a clear net zero emissions game plan.

Rather than just finding a credit card from an ethical bank, you might be interested in looking at the cards themselves. A recent study by Mastercard found that 57% of Australians are more mindful of their environmental impact since COVID-19, with 84% of adults willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues.

What are my options for ethical or sustainable credit cards in Australia?

With increasing frequency, there are options on the market for those looking to go green with their credit cards.

  • Mastercard have just announced their intent to eliminate first-use PVC plastics in all credit cards on their payment network by 2028. These will be available with growing numbers of Mastercard’s partners, and will use rPET, rPVC, and PLA as some examples of recycled or bio-sourced materials. Many banks have already got on board, like HSBC
  • First Option Bank's Low Rate Visa Card is made from 82% recycled plastic and is linked to an Environmental Rewards program. With every transaction you make, 0.25% will be contributed to one of First Option Bank's partners in fuelling biodiversity and environmental action. The bank itself is also carbon neutral.
  • Community First Bank offers both the Pink Credit Card and the Blue Credit Card, where half of the $40 annual fee contributes to McGrath Foundation or the Prostate Cancer Foundation respectively, so you’ll be doing some giving back.
  • Linked with the SpendME Transaction Account, you can choose the charity partner you'd like your ME debit card to support, with 1c from every transaction going towards the partner of your choosing. There's a pink card for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the green card for  Australian Wildlife Conservancy, the rainbow card for Minus18, the blue card for Beyond Blue, and the orange card for Orange Sky Australia.
  • The app Hay also offers a 100% biodegradable Visa card, but is not itself a bank account – it will need to be paired with an existing account.

What are my other credit card options?

If none of those options floats your boat, you might want to look at credit cards from organisations whose sustainability practices or ethos you agree with. 

To do this, have a look at the “about us” section of a provider's website for a good head start. Make sure to also consider which credit card is the best for you, because it’s important that you aren’t choosing a card that’s great for the environment but actively bad for your bank account.

The greenest option is, of course, eschewing cards altogether. A mobile wallet rules out the physical plastic, which is a great starting point.

In the meantime, start by comparing the credit cards below – or take a look at Mozo’s best credit cards.