The Hidden Carbon Cost of Your Credit Card

A Third Act protest against banks supporting the fossil fuel industry. Image courtesy of Third Act.

You may be contributing to the climate crisis without realizing it– through your credit card or bank. Third Act, a nonprofit founded by Bill McKibben, is designed to get people over the age of 60 working to defend our climate. One of their goals is getting older Americans to switch to banks that don’t finance fossil fuels, as well as invest in and uplift clean energy. It makes sense to target people over the age of 60, who own a large share of the country’s financial assets, but the same principles apply to anyone with a bank account.

Where you bank is actually one of the most impactful choices you can make when it comes to carbon emissions, and switching to a climate-friendly bank sends an important political message to banks that are “bankrolling” fossil fuels. The first step in this process is to see where your current bank stands. BankTrack has created a tool where you can look up a rating for various banks on fossil fuel financing: If you search Bank of America, for example, you will find that it is #3 in the world for fossil fuel financing. BankTrack will also tell you that Bank of America is the largest financier of coal mining in North America, financing $1.5 billion dollars of coal mining in 2023. The report “Banking on Climate Chaos” also details the 60 biggest banks contributing to fossil fuel business.

If you discover that you are banking with an institution that finances fossil fuels, the next step is to evaluate how you can switch banks and/or credit card company. When looking at a bank, consider what types of accounts you need– personal checking and savings, high-yield savings, business, CDs, money market, etc. Look at fees and the ATM network and consider whether you need a physical branch nearby. It helps to look for institutions with designations and certifications such as: Certified B Corporation, Global Alliance for Banking on Values membership, Fossil Free Certified, 1% for the Planet, Green America Certified, Community Reinvestment Act ratings (CRA), and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification. Local banks are a great place to start. You can use many resources, including to, to find banks near you that do not fund fossil fuels.

Even if you find a good bank that is not funding fossil fuels, smaller local banks and credit unions may not offer a credit card. If they do offer a credit card, examine it closely– many are only providing a channel to a different financial institution’s credit card, which are often hosted by a fossil-fuel invested institution. ClimateAction Center offers information on the best and worst cards, including a table that lays out the differences between credit cards. You can explore rewards, fees, APR, and other factors that may affect your decision.

In the end, who you bank with is a very personal decision with several factors that come into play, which is why it is not so easy as just recommending a one-size-fits-all solution. Closing a credit card can lower your credit score, for example, so the timing of closing one account and opening another may be relevant to you. Consulting a financial professional will help you feel more prepared for the transition. Any small step you can take towards removing your money from fossil fuel is a great start. To learn more, visit


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