Issuers launch 'environmentally friendly' payment cards
AmEx, U.S. Bank say they're responding to demand for "green" products
By Jeremy M. Simon | Published: October 31, 2008
Responding to what they see as customer demand for environmentally friendly products, American Express and U.S. Bank this week announced the introduction of payment cards that aim to help -- or at least not hurt -- the planet.
AmEx has partnered with retail property firm Macerich for the Give Green gift card, launched Oct. 28. According to a Macerich press release, every Give Green gift card purchase "benefits American Forests, the nation's oldest nonprofit citizen conservation organization, which is dedicated to growing a healthier world through healthier forest ecosystems." For each gift card purchased, Macerich will donate $0.70 of the $2.95 purchase fee to American Forests, with Macerich contributing at least $100,000 to the organization.
Meanwhile, U.S. Bank this month introduced a biodegradable PVC Voyager commercial fleet card. Fleet cards are used by corporations and other groups managing multiple vehicles. "The 99 percent PVC product biodegrades in nine months to five years in soil, water, compost, or wherever microorganisms are present," says a U.S. Bank press release. Still, it won't turn to dirt in your pocket, soiling your pants. "The product performs within all standard card parameters and has a standard shelf life," U.S. Bank says.
Demand for green
The Give Green gift card seems to be the result of female demands: The press release cites the 82 percent of women in the United States who indicate they "feel better about purchases that benefit a worthwhile environmental cause" as the rationale behind the product.
Targeting women could be a wise decision: A recent survey conducted by consumer research firms National Research Network and The Hartman Group Inc. shows "significantly more" women than men like to both give (73 percent vs. 58 percent) and receive (85 percent vs. 71 percent) gift cards. Combine that with the desire to go green, and it seems like the product is a no-brainer. "Our shoppers want to be able to make choices that benefit the environment, and our new ecofriendly gift card gives them a simple way to give a meaningful gift and also feel good about their purchase," Tina McCuddin, vice president of gift card product development and marketing for Macerich, says in the release.
U.S. Bank also sees its biodegradable fleet card fulfilling a customer need. "Our clients are increasingly concerned about selecting products and services that have less impact on the environment," Michael Oleniczek, senior vice president of U.S. Bank Voyager, says in the press release. "We expect these cards to be extremely popular."
Ready to go green? Poll shows otherwise
However, data shows consumers may not be all that interested in going green. According to a CreditCards.com poll conducted in April 2008, 53 percent of cardholders said they would not swap their existing plastic card for a card made from recycled or biodegradable material, even if that green card had the identitical terms and conditions as their current card. Additionally, 18 percent said they were not very likely to change to a card made of recycled or biodegradable material, with 35 percent saying they were not likely at all to make the change to a more environmentally friendly card.
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