Aspiration Zero Credit Card Review: Reward Your Spending by Fighting Climate Change
Rating as of Sep. 26, 2022 based on a review of services February 1, 2023.
This card is painfully low on rewards and comes with a $60 annual fee that isn’t waived the first year. Instead, its hook is that if you use the card enough, you can completely offset your carbon footprint. You’ll only earn between 0.5% and 1% cash back on all purchases, depending on how often you swipe your card, but your financial actions will be incrementally more “green.”
A new concept in the credit card industry with a humanitarian approach.
$300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Each card swipe results in a tree being planted.
The Aspiration Zero Credit Card is a new product that targets the current push towards more ethical and environmentally friendly financial services. Issued by Beneficial State Bank, the card is structured to incentivize you to achieve “carbon neutrality.”
So, what does that mean?
According to Aspiration, carbon neutrality is “based on the estimated carbon capture of grown trees and estimated average carbon footprint of a U.S. resident.” Those measurements are as follows:
- A U.S. resident has an average carbon footprint of 14.95 metric tons per year, as estimated by the World Economic Forum.
- An average grown tree produces an annual CO2 capture of 48 pounds, as estimated by the European Environment Agency.
If you are passionate about climate change and the environment, the Aspiration Zero Credit Card could be for you.
- Best for those who desire to neutralize their carbon footprint.
- $300 cash sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Up to 1% cash back.
- Ongoing APR: 13.15%-22.95% variable rate (based on your creditworthiness).
- A tree is planted each time you make a purchase.
In-Depth Analysis of the Aspiration Zero Credit Card
You know how, instead of giving someone a birthday or holiday present, you can make a donation in their name to a charity? That’s sort of what the Aspiration Zero Credit Card does. It aims to better the world, at the expense of delivering physical or monetary value to you, personally.
In lieu of a high return rate for your spending, Aspiration will fund the planting of a tree. You’ll also get 0.5% cash back for your spending.
The goal of this card is to completely neutralize your carbon footprint. To do that, it’s estimated that each individual must plant 60 trees per month. Therefore, you must make 60 transactions per month to become carbon neutral. Each month you achieve this, Aspiration will double your cash back return rate to 1% for all purchases.
You can either redeem your cash back as a statement credit or plant more trees for $1 each.
Read more: 15 Banks and Credit Unions Putting Social Responsibility First
New cardmembers will earn $300 cash back after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Again, you can either redeem your cash as a statement credit or use it to plant 300 trees.
Read more: The Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Intro Offers
This card has a $60 annual fee — low for a mid-tier rewards credit card, but high for a cash back credit card that offers a maximum of 1% back on purchases.
Other Unique Benefits
Aspiration has a program called Plant Your Change (PYC). By enrolling, your purchases will automatically be rounded up — and an extra tree will be planted for each purchase. This means you’ll only have to make 30 transactions to become “carbon neutral” and earn 1% back for all your purchases.
Note that transactions such as fees, returns, interest charges, payments, and quasi cash such as online gambling, do not qualify as purchases.
Read more: Aspiration Review: A Neobank Working for Social Change
Aspiration Zero Credit Card Pros & Cons
- Philanthropic intent — The card supports a noble cause by trying to better the world. You won’t line your pockets with rewards by using this card, but you may be able to do some modest good for the planet.
- Solid sign-up bonus — You’ll earn $300 after meeting minimum spending requirements with this card.
- PYC program — While this certainly isn’t a financial net positive for you, the fact that you can round up each purchase to trigger the planting of an additional tree gives you more ability to make a positive impact for a cause you believe in — which is why you’re using this card in the first place.
- High annual fee — The $60 annual fee is high for a card with such a low return rate. Many no-annual-fee cards earn a flat 2% cash back.
- Monthly spending requirements — You’ll have to swipe your card 60 times per month to earn 1% back, otherwise you’ll only earn 0.5% back.
- Foreign transaction fees — You’ll be charged a 2% fee when using this card abroad, meaning it’s a not a great choice to take when you travel internationally.
Aspiration Zero Credit Card vs. the Competition
How does the Aspiration Zero Credit Card stack up to competitors of similar ilk? The card is pretty unique, but let’s take a look at it next to other cash back credit cards.
|Aspiration Zero Credit Card||Chase Freedom Flex℠||Citi® Double Cash Card|
|Regular APR||13.15% – 22.95% (Variable)||19.49% - 28.24% Variable||18.49% - 28.49% (Variable)|
|Sign-up bonus||$300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.||$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||N/A|
|Rewards||0.5% back for all purchases, 1% back on purchases if 60 transactions are made each month, 1 tree planted for every transaction you make with your card.||5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.||2% cash back on unlimited purchases without category restrictions — you’ll get the first 1% cash back when you make purchases and the second 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.|
|Perks and benefits||PYC program allows you to round up purchases in order to plant an extra tree with each transaction. Track your tree-planting progress in-app.||0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months & 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months, cellphone protection, secondary rental car insurance (primary if used outside the U.S.).||0% intro APR with balance transfers for 18 months, access to Citi Entertainment.|
Chase Freedom Flex℠
With the Chase Freedom Flex℠ you earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases — all with no annual fee. New cardholders also get a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The card also offers a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months from account opening.
Read more: Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review: The Perfect Card for Frequent Travelers and Diners
Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card has no annual fee and offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, plus an additional 1% back when you pay off that purchase — so if you practice responsible credit card usage and pay off your bill before interest can accumulate, you’ll be getting 2% cash back total.
The card also offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for a full 18 months.
Read more: Citi® Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®Card info has been collected by MoneyUnder30 to help consumers better compare cards. The financial institution did not provide or approve card details.
Should You Get the Aspiration Zero Credit Card?
If you’re concerned about climate change and want to do your part in giving back to the planet with a simple swipe of your credit card, then the Aspiration Zero Credit Card could be for you.
However, keep in mind that there are some unbelievably lucrative credit cards out there that offer no (or low) fees and much higher rewards. Whether you want to travel the world for free, earn lots of cash back, offset astonishing gas prices, etc., there’s a card that fits your shopping style.
All this to say, you should only open this card if you want to do so deliberately for the planet.
With a moderate annual fee and low cash back rates, this isn’t the right card for everyone. But if you’re interested in offsetting your carbon footprint and want a practically zero-touch approach, planting a tree with every swipe of your Aspiration Zero Credit Card is a pretty cool way to go.
Read more: Conscious Consumerism: How to Spend Your Money with Intention
How to Apply for the Aspiration Zero Credit Card
If you decide to open this card, visit the Aspiration Zero homepage, where you can read more about the product. You’ll have to enter your email and a few other personal details before you land on the proper application page.
The Bottom Line
The Aspiration Zero Credit Card is structured in a way that if everyone on the planet used the card, we could entirely offset the carbon footprint of the human race — which sounds pretty awesome, in theory.
However, not everyone will use the card, as it offers a very low cash back return rate for a credit card, particularly one with a $60 annual fee. The fact is that swiping this card is an altruistic move. There are dozens of credit cards with greater rewards potential.
But if your desire to combat climate change outweighs your desire to earn cash back or save on fees, then the Aspiration Zero Credit Card may be for you.
Featured image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.com