Affinity cards: Buy groceries with a community conscience

Credit Cards have long been a popular method of payment at most retailers for their ease and convenience. Offered on college campuses, through high-volume mail offers, and on the internet, credit card companies reach millions of individuals, unsuspecting and in the application process. Credit card companies offer a variety of perks. Some carry a low or zero percent interest rate. Some credit card companies offer card holders “cash back” or other awards based upon the amount they charge to their account on a monthly basis. Gas credit cards are an example of credit cards that reward card holders with free product when they spend a set amount of money on that particular product and with a particular vendor each month. Affinity cards, another program offered by all of the major credit card companies, are credit cards marketed with community conscience.

Affinity cards pay for products and services just like other credit cards. The application process for an affinity card is the same as that for credit cards in general. The affinity card perk is interesting because the card holder does not receive the award earned. With an affinity card program, a credit card company will donate a percentage of the amount of money purchased with a card every month to a charity group or organization. Percentage donated ranges from a few tenths of a percent to five percent of total purchases made, and usually has a cap above which the company will not donate.

Affinity card programs can significantly impact the budgets of community organizations and not-for-profits. This method of fundraising appeals to many because it does not require door-to-door efforts or cold calls. Affinity cards continue to pay the selected organization, and require little initial effort on the part of the organization. Most major credit card companies have a division to handle affinity programs, and are available to walk an organization through the set-up process.

There are additional affinity card programs that benefit the consumer. Some affinity programs earmark a percentage of purchase for programs that directly affect the cardholder. Some credit card companies, in conjunction with affinity programs, will donate a percentage of purchase dollars to an account for college savings, or for buying a first home. These programs do not cost the card holder, but offer the cardholder additional methods for saving money for these big events.

Affinity cards work like any other credit card. The interest rate associated with an affinity card depends upon the credit score of the applicant, and is not a reflection upon the organization the affinity program benefits. Affinity card programs do not cost the card holder any additional money. Affinity programs are subject to change, and may do so without notifying the card holder. Affinity card programs offer consumers a method of charity donation without actually donating money. These programs benefit people with little expendable income but sincere desire to support a cause, as well as organizations whose budgets demand additional dollars. Affinity cards are the credit card with conscience.