At first glance a charity credit card can seem like a simple, low-effort way to regularly donate to charity, but this guide will show you how you can give ten times more to charity simply by switching to a better credit card.
How Charity Credit Cards Work
There are over 30 charity credit cards on the market supporting everything from polar bears to humanitarian aid. These cards donate to charity in several ways:
- A lump sum – Many charity credit cards donate a lump sum when you successfully apply for the card. So, the charity in question may receive £15 when you take out the card.
- Regular donations – The more common way for charity credit cards to give money to charity is to donate a portion of everything you spend on the card.
- Annual amount – Some charity credit cards donate a fixed fee for every year that the card account remains open and active. Typically,this is around £2 a year.
What’s the Catch?
On the face of it a lump sum gift to a charity followed by regular donations each month makes charity credit cards seem attractive. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find the truth is a lot less appealing. Charity credit cards come with several hazardous downsides:
- They can damage your credit rating – The promise of a large charitable donation when you open a charity credit card means some people open numerous credit accounts so the charities can benefit but never use the card. Multiple credit card applications can damage your credit rating if they are done in quick succession. Lenders see it as a sign you might be desperate for credit so are less likely to lend to you. Find out more in our guide to understanding your credit rating.
- The donations are pitiful– Your credit card provider may donate money to charity every month on your behalf but the amount is pathetic. Typically, most charity credit cards donate 0.25% of your spending to charity. That means if you spend £100 the charity will get just 25p. In order to donate £1 you would need to spend £400 a month. Also, some ‘charity credit cards’ don’t actually give any money to the charity at all, they simply promote the charity by having it’s branding on the card.
- They are a poor deal – A charity credit card will never sit at the top of a credit card best-buy table. There is a much better way to flex your plastic for a good cause where your charity can get 20 times more money.
The Most Charitable Credit Card
A credit card can still be a great way to donate to charity, as long as you use the right card. Forget about charity credit cards, instead get a cashback credit card.
Your charity will receive 10 times more if you use a cashback credit card
These cards pay you back every time you spend money. They normally have an introductory period where you earn up to 5% cashback on your shopping and then, after three months, it drops to 1% – 2%. Your cashback will be paid to you once a year. So, if you are charitable and donate that money the charity will receive 10 times more than it would if you had used a charity credit card.
For example, if you spend £1,000 a month on a credit card you would donate £30 a year with a typical charity credit card. If you use a cashback card the charity would get almost £300.
Use our credit card comparison table to find the cashback card that best suits your spending habits, so you can maximise your charitable donations.
Don’t use a cashback card if you can’t pay off your balance in full each month. You will pay the credit card company far more in interest than you’ll receive in cashback. If you can’t clear your balance in full get a 0% balance transfer or 0% purchase card.
How to Supercharge Your Donations
Once you start spending on your cashback credit card you will receive the money you’ve earned in a lump sum once a year.
When you are ready to hand it over the charity make sure you use Gift Aid. This means the charity can claim back the income tax you paid on your donation. So, if you are a basic-rate taxpayer the charity will get 25% extra every time you donate.
All you have to do to ensure the charity can claim it is tick the Gift Aid box on your donation form.
Charity credit cards don’t qualify for Gift Aid tax relief, so this is yet another way that cashback cards trounce charity cards.
Golden Rules of Charitable Credit
- Avoid charity credit cards
- Get a cashback credit card
- Donate your annual cashback payment to the charity of your choice
- Don’t forget to tick the Gift Aid box so the charity can claim 25% more