Aspiration Launches ‘Zero’ Credit Card Aimed at Curbing Carbon Footprint

Aspiration plants a tree for every purchase, plus one more if you round your purchase up to the nearest dollar.
Sara RathnerMar 31, 2021

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The new Aspiration Zero credit card is the latest offering from Aspiration, a financial services provider with products geared toward socially and environmentally conscious consumers.

Launched in late March 2021, the Aspiration Zero credit card offers cash-back rewards, but its main benefit is allowing cardholders to offset their carbon footprint by turning every purchase into a newly planted tree. The $60-annual-fee card includes other features that can help you make more sustainable purchasing decisions, too.

"We have a responsibility as a company to help the planet," says Aspiration CEO Andrei Cherny, "and we’re bringing this card to people who feel they have a responsibility, too."

Currently, you must add your name to the waitlist for early access to the card. Also, if you refer someone else to the waitlist, Aspiration will plant 10 trees.

Features of the Aspiration Zero credit card

Everyday purchases lead to planted trees

Whenever you use your Aspiration Zero card, one of Aspiration’s global reforestation partners plants a tree. Round up your purchase to the nearest dollar to plant a second tree.

Use the card more often to earn extra cash back

Aspiration encourages you to make the Aspiration Zero your primary credit card by rewarding you with a higher cash-back rate if you use the card more. The base cash-back rate is 0.5%, but if you use the card often enough to effectively eliminate your carbon footprint for the month, you’ll instead earn 1% back on your purchases for the entire month.

Aspiration defines "carbon zero" as 60 trees planted through your spending per month, which they calculated using third-party data of the average carbon footprint, plus the effect of trees on said footprint. Again, your carbon footprint is assessed monthly, so you may reach the higher cash-back rate some months and not others. Depending on whether you opt to round up to the nearest dollar for that extra tree, it takes 30 to 60 purchases in a month to earn 1% cash back.

With other cards offering 1.5% cash back or more, the Aspiration Zero wouldn’t be the first choice for anyone who wants to maximize their earning potential. Its main focus is rewarding cardholders with carbon offsets.

Track the environmental impact of where you shop

Planting trees helps, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that credit cards allow you to buy unsustainable items from companies that aren't environmentally friendly.

"We all still need to buy things, but the card helps you look at the climate impact of all the car rides we take and T-shirts we buy and food we consume," Cherny says.

If you use the Aspiration app to manage your card account, you can also search for specific merchants to see how Aspiration rates them on factors like environmental impact and treatment of employees. As you use your card, you can track the environmental impact of your purchases.

The card itself is biodegradable

Plastic may be a more cost-effective credit card material, but it isn’t so fantastic when it comes to the environment. The Aspiration Zero credit card is made from plants and is even compostable.

A previous version of this article misstated how the cash-back rate is earned. This article has been corrected.

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