Choosing credit cards based on your personal values


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For many, choosing the right credit card comes down to factors like rewards, annual fees and  interest rates. But there’s somewhat of an underrated component when choosing a particular issuer – personal values.

Using products that most closely align with your ideological beliefs as well as your lifestyle isn’t necessarily a new concept. However, reevaluating passed decisions based on new information that’s important to you can be difficult. Let’s take a look at the social positions taken by some credit card issuers, and how it plays into your decision making process.

Weighing values and decisions

If you’ve ever felt compelled to stop using a service you otherwise liked due to some questionable business practices, you’re not alone. In a recent Bankrate survey examining why some cardholders cancel their credit cards, 11% of respondents cited “other” as their reason for cancelling. When asked to explain, many indicated that they didn’t agree with their issuer’s sociopolitical position.

It’s apparent how so many use their spending habits as a means of showing approval or disapproval, based on their values. Examples of this are often demonstrated on social media, when groups might promote boycotting one service or another due to how employees and/or customers are treated.

While the choice to cancel or not to cancel a credit card is always your own, it’s important to get all the information before making your decision. It may be a case where your issuer might be behind the times on a certain issue, but is making an effort to reposition themselves. Or, if you find that the new stance your issuer has taken is a departure from your original ideal, it’s important to get some context.

How to find information about your card issuer’s values

A good place to find out about an issuer’s values is on their company website. The ‘About’ section is usually where you’ll find information about the history of the company, a value or mission statement as well as where they make their investments.

You can call customer service and ask to speak to a representative as well. They should be able to give you similar information, and even provide more context about the issuer’s positions.

4 credit card issuers and their values

Here are the causes that these four credit card issuers are known to support and the strategies they’ve put behind them:

American Express

American Express was voted one of the best places to work for LGBT equality by the Human Rights campaign in 2018. It was also voted one of the top 50 companies for executive women by Working Mother Magazine in 2018.

The issuer emphasizes value for its employees with benefits, like their award-winning global corporate wellness program, 20 weeks of Paid Parental Leave, Tuition Reimbursement and a 401k with funds matching.

Capital One

Capital One sets its sights on helping the environment. They have environmental sustainability goals that include going carbon neutral for business travel emissions, and a 50% reduction of campus landfill waste by 2025.

In 2014, they partnered with the solar energy company, Solar City to invest $100 million towards thousands of residential solar power systems. They have a dedicated environmental sustainability team. In 2018, they joined RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative, to reaffirm their commitment to using 100% renewable energy.


According to Citibank CEO, Michael L. Corbat, the issuer will always take the posture of being a work in progress.

“We consistently assess Citi’s role in response to three questions: What are we doing to help create inclusive and resilient communities? How can we use our voice to help drive dialogue toward solutions? Is Citi walking the talk — are we doing the right things within our own firm? The short answer to all three of these questions continues to be the same: that we can and should do more.”

With the intention of doing more, Citibank prioritizes issues that include human rights, diversity, as well as environmental and social risk management.


It was recently reported in Fortune Magazine that Mastercard is working to promote a cashless economy. Shamina Singh, President of Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, has a vision to help as many people as possible to join the digital economy.

Mastercard recently partnered with the non-profit, Grameen America to offer small loans to female entrepreneurs from low-income backgrounds. Through this partnership, they helped provide access to online bank accounts as well as training for making digital business transactions.

It’s okay to stay the course while reevaluating the issuer

If you are considering parting with a credit card due to a personal disagreement with the issuer’s position, tread carefully. While it’s ideal to have all of your values align, realistically, there will be something that you won’t be 100 percent on board with. It’s up to you to determine which factors can be overlooked and which ones can’t.

Also, consider making your concerns known to the issuer before going the cancellation route. Most issuers will, at the very least, address cardholders’ concerns, provide context where necessary and consider any internal adjustments over time.

Keeping the proper perspective is what’s most important. Remember, a credit card is meant to meet a financial need first. If you have a card that’s working well for you, you don’t want to limit your options by jumping ship before doing your due diligence.

Bottom line

How you choose your credit card is important. Take into account your issuer’s stated values and how they align with your own so that you can make informed decisions. By prioritizing your goals, you’ll be able to evaluate the options that meet your most important needs.