Card Rewards for Mother Earth, Golden AARP Offers, and Capital One ‘Vaxication’ Boom Prep

Credit card news you may have missed this week

Weekly Credit Card News Lowdown

The financial product information on this page is accurate as of the time of posting; some of the offers mentioned may have expired since that time.

Spring has sprung, temperatures are rising, and the credit card industry is heating up after a chill winter. The past week brought announcements of several new credit cards, a snazzy Capital One travel portal refresh, shiny new Chase Sapphire card bonuses, and more. 

This weekly credit card news roundup contains what you should know about the cards in your wallet, other available offers, and new product releases or reports that collided with our daydreams of peanut butter-filled Easter candy. 

What’s the Lowdown?

Here’s what has caught our attention since March 19, 2021. 

Mother Earth-Approved Rewards Card Will Plant a Tree For Every Swipe

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but seedlings will apparently spring from the money you spend on a credit card announced this week. Eco-conscious financial firm Aspiration announced its first credit card Wednesday, which is designed to combat climate change and reward cardholders with cash.

Each time the new card—Aspiration Zero—is used, one of Aspiration’s reforestation partners will plant a tree in Brazil, Honduras, Kenya, Madagascar, or the United States. If you use a feature called “Plant Your Change” that rounds up each purchase to the nearest whole dollar, you can plant even more trees—and get closer to earning a little bit of cash back. 

Every month you make 60 purchases (30 if you opt in to Plant Your Change) with the Aspiration Zero card, you’ll get 1% back on all your purchases. Think of it as a reward for essentially neutralizing your carbon footprint with all the trees your transactions planted that month. That’s a pretty low earning rate compared to other cash-back cards, but the environmental rewards are nothing to sneeze at.

Aspiration isn’t accepting applications for the card just yet, but if you're interested in reducing your environmental impact this way, joining the waitlist will keep you in the loop as additional card details (like rates and fees) are announced leading up to an official launch this summer.

New TD Bank Double Up Card Doubles Down on Cash Back

Credit cards that offer 2% back on all purchases are few and far between, but consumers now have one more option to consider. TD Bank launched its new TD Double Up card on Monday, which is only the fourth card on the market to offer that level of cash-back rewards on all purchases (Citi Double Cash, Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature, and the newish SoFi Credit Card hold spots No. 1, 2, and 3 in the 2% cash-back lineup). The TD Bank no-annual-fee card also brings competitive 0% purchase and balance transfer APR deals and a little bonus for new cardholders.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. In order to get 2% back on all purchases, rewards earned with the Double Up must be deposited into an eligible TD Bank checking or savings account. Until that happens, you only get 1% back. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it does make the card better suited for people who already have a TD Bank account or don’t mind opening one (which may include monthly service fees).

Barclays Launches Two AARP Cards With Golden Rewards Schemes

Heads up, Boomers. Barclays debuted two new AARP-branded rewards credit cards for the organization's members on Monday, both of which offer a nice lineup of rewards categories. 

The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard offers unlimited 3% back on gas and drug store purchases, and notably, 2% back on medical expenses. There aren’t any other credit cards on our radar that offer extra rewards on medical costs, unless you pay with one of those cards we mentioned that offers 2% back on every purchase. 

The second new card—the AARP Travel Rewards Mastercard—offers 3% back on airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars, and then 2% back on dining. Those rates are comparable to some of the top general travel card rewards cards, too. Neither card charges an annual fee (though an AARP membership comes with a low annual cost), and both will give new cardholders who spend $500 within 90 days a $100 bonus.

Until now, Chase was the only issuer to offer an AARP-branded card. Barclays told The Balance that people who have the Chase card will be moved to one of the new cards this fall, along with any lingering rewards. 

Capital One Jumps Into Hopper Partnership Before ‘Vaxication’ Boom

No, Hopper is not the Easter bunny. It’s the online travel deal search tool Capital One is partnering with to launch a new-and-improved travel booking portal for its cardholders—appropriately named Capital One Travel—later this year. Since the Hopper platform is built around finding and predicting when travel reservation prices will rise and fall, this is exciting news for savvy cardholders eager to travel after receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

According to Capital One, the Hopper technology will be woven into the credit card rewards system, so Venture or VentureOne cardholders will be able to sign up for price alerts and review  booking recommendations when searching for award travel.

Chase Waters Sapphire Card Bonuses for Spring

Travel card offers are one thing that didn’t hibernate this winter. The Balance has tracked an array of new sign-up bonuses so far this year, and Chase is the latest to prep its offers for post-pandemic travel. 

The bank updated the new-cardholder bonuses for its beloved Sapphire cards this week. Both cards sparkle a bit brighter now, especially the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The new bonus is the best offered by a flexible travel rewards card right now. Open the Preferred card and spend $4,000 within three months to earn 80,000 bonus points (20,000 more than the previous offer). That’s worth $1,000 when redeemed for travel through Chase, or more if transferred to a partner loyalty program. Chase is also offering $50 back in statement credits on grocery purchases.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders who spend $4,000 within three months of opening an account will earn 60,000 bonus points (10,000 more than before), worth $900 toward Chase travel, and possibly more if transferred. 

If you’re interested in opening a travel rewards card to stockpile rewards in preparation for your return to travel, get cracking. It may take time to earn a new-cardholder bonus, and then even more time for those bonus points to appear in your account. For example, it may take six to eight weeks for Chase to deposit Sapphire bonus earnings into your Ultimate Rewards account.

What Else Is Happening?

  • Judge Rules Goldman Didn’t Favor Male Apple Card Applicants: Back in 2019, fiery claims that Goldman Sachs (the bank behind the Apple Card) gave men higher credit limits than women circulated on social media, which prompted a lending discrimination investigation by the New York State Department of Financial Services. According to a Tuesday statement by the department, there’s no evidence of intentional lending bias, but the case did raise broad concerns about credit scoring models and equal credit access. 
  • New SoFi Card Offer Coming Soon: It’s the final days for the SoFi card’s lottery-type bonus offer we shared a couple of weeks ago, You have until Monday to sign up for the SoFi card and shake the “Magic Moneyball” to determine how much your bonus is worth—anywhere from $20 to $10,000 dollars. Starting April 1, new cardholders will earn a different, slightly unusual welcome bonus. Open an account and deposit $50 into a SoFi Money and a SoFi Invest account to get $100 back. 
  • TomoCredit Touts FICO-Free Card: Another fintech-backed credit card has entered the market, and it’s ditched the use of FICO scores to qualify applicants. TomoCredit formally launched a Mastercard last week aimed at giving young adults with no credit history another way to access credit. Instead of using FICO credit scores, Tomo uses bank account history data to approve card applications, but once you have the card, it will report your payment history to the major credit bureaus. The card doesn’t charge interest or fees, but that’s because it’s technically a charge card and balances must be repaid every seven days via autopay.