Mastercard Sprouts Carbon Calculator, Gap Zips Up Card Deal, & Amex Curbs Lounge Access

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.

April is whizzing by faster than cryptocurrency values change, so let’s pause to recap news from the less-dizzying world of credit cards. This week:  a calculator to track the carbon footprint of your card buys, a freshly-pressed change to Gap (and its sister stores’) cards, 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 we vibed with while replaying classic DMX tracks. 

What’s the Lowdown?

Here’s what has caught our attention since April 9, 2021.

Mastercard Sprouts Calculator To Show How Purchases Impact Climate

Don’t panic, but there’s now a way to determine how your grocery-cart buys or latest clothes-shopping spree impact the environment. Mastercard unveiled a calculator on Monday that will allow cardholders to understand the carbon footprint of their card purchases. 

Using spending category data, the calculator will determine approximately how much carbon dioxide is produced by the creation of each purchase, and how many trees would be needed to offset that pollution. You’ll then have the option to donate to carbon-offset reforestation projects through the Priceless Planet Coalition, a business group aiming to spread awareness of climate change, plant 100 million trees, and use more sustainable materials to create payment cards. 

The new earth-friendly tool has been adopted by one card issuer so far (First Hawaiian Bank) and is now available for other banks to add to their mobile apps. This is the second carbon-footprint-reducing card announcement to sprout ahead of Earth Day this year, following news that Aspiration will plant a tree for every transaction made with an Aspiration rewards card

Gap Zips Up New Store Card Deal With Barclays

The company behind iconic Fourth of July tees and on-trend logo hoodies will soon roll out revamped store rewards cards for clothing shoppers. Gap, Inc., and Barclays have partnered to launch new offers in 2022, according to a Tuesday press release.

The retailer currently works with Synchrony Bank to offer shoppers a line-up of store-specific and flexible Visa cards for each of its brands (including Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic), but that relationship will end on April 30, 2022. There aren’t many details available about what the new store cards will be like, except that Visas will become Mastercards, and that the cards are part of an ongoing rewards-program revamp.  

If you have a card from a Gap, Inc. retailer—like the GapCard, Banana Republic Card, or the Old Navy Visa—stay tuned for more info about the switch. You can use your current card as normal through April 2022.

U.S. Bank Launches Three State Farm Cards—And Only One is Khaki

U.S. Bank (not Jake) rolled out new State Farm-branded credit cards on Tuesday, more than a year after announcing a new partnership. The bank offered one consumer and one business rewards card before, but those two cards have been reworked, and there’s another khaki-colored consumer card in the mix now, too. 

New State Farm credit cards from U.S. Bank launched on April 13, 2021.

U.S. Bank

Here’s a top-level look at the new offers:

  • State Farm Premier Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card: 3% back on insurance premium payments (up to $4,000 each year); 2% back on gas station, drugstore, grocery store, and dining purchases; and 1% back on everything else. Plus, a welcome offer that doubles cash-back earned in the first year up to $300.
  • State Farm Good Neighbor Visa Card: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months.
  • State Farm Business Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card: 3% back on insurance premium payments (up to $4,000 each year) and at gas stations, cellphone service providers, office supply stores, and dining, and 1% back on everything else. Plus, an annual $100 statement credit for paying for 11 consecutive months of a software service.

None of the cards charge annual fees, and all offer a couple of nice perks such as cellphone protection and rental car insurance coverage. The ongoing interest rates are also in line with what other low-interest or cash-back rewards cards charge these days. 

While the offers aren’t too shabby, these cards are definitely best for big State-Farm spenders, like families who insure multiple vehicles and their home with the company. But if you’re simply looking for an everyday cash-back card or a way to spread out the cost of a big purchase, there are other more generous offers available.

If you had one of the old U.S. Bank State Farm credit cards (either the State Farm Rewards Visa or the State Farm Business Rewards Visa), you’ll be issued one of the new cards soon, if you haven’t been already.

New Lease-to-Own Card Will Join Ranks of Atypical Payment Options

A fintech owned by Rent-A-Center announced plans for a digital payment card Wednesday that will give shoppers another way to pay for items over time without using a more traditional credit card. 

The Acima LeasePay Card is not technically a credit card, but it will operate on the Mastercard network and approved applicants can receive up to $4,000 to complete lease-to-own transactions at retailers in the Acima merchant network, such as Verizon and Boost Mobile. The unusual payment card is designed for people who might not qualify for other financing options based on their credit score, similar to the increasingly popular “buy now, pay later” platforms that lean on bank account and employment information, rather than credit checks, to approve installment loans.

Since this isn’t a credit card, there isn’t a single set of pricing terms for the card. Acima told The Balance via email that cost details, including rental terms and monthly payment amounts, will be established with each purchase. In general, though, when a consumer uses the LeasePay card, they’ll have four ways to handle each transaction: 

  1. Purchase the item from Acima for the cash price within 90 days
  2. Purchase the item from Acima at any time during the lease
  3. End the lease and return the item to Acima at any time
  4. Renew the lease when it ends to keep making payments and hang onto the item

You can sign-up to be notified when the LeasePay card launches, but we recommend proceeding with a bit of caution. Based on other lease-to-own options, such purchases can come with extraordinarily high interest rates and other costs such as payment processing, delivery, and late fees if you fall behind.

What Else Is Happening?

  • Amex Will Charge Platinum Cardholders for Lounge Guests in 2023: If you’ve got the Amex Platinum or Amex Platinum Business Card, your travel buddies may not be able to tag along to Centurion lounges free of charge beginning February 1, 2023. Starting that day, primary and additional cardholders will need to spend at least $75,000 each year (starting in 2022) to earn two complimentary lounge guest passes, which is what you automatically get now. Miss that spending mark and you’ll have to pay $50 for each guest. Both cards are still packed with travel perks, but if the complimentary guest passes made the high annual fee worth the wallet sting, this is your heads-up. 
  • Marriott Bonvoy Members Can Earn Extra Points on Uber Purchases: You can now link your Marriott Bonvoy and Uber accounts to earn 6 hotel points per $1 spent on UberEats purchases of $25 and higher, and 3 per $1 spent on eligible Uber XL, Comfort and, Black rides. This new offer comes with a nice little bonus, too: Link your accounts and make just one qualified transaction before May 31 and you’ll get 2,000 extra Marriott points. The deal isn’t a card-specific perk (anyone can sign up for a free Bonvoy account), but if you have a Marriott card, this is an easy way to pick up a few extra miles for a post-pandemic vacay.