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What is an affinity credit card?
An affinity credit card is a type of credit card offered by some organizations that bears the organization’s name and logo on its surface. When a financial institution partners with such an organization to create an affinity credit card, the financial institution usually offers some kind of money incentive to the organization for every credit card opened.
Affinity credit cards are similar to co-branded credit cards in that two organizations, a financial institution and a brand, come together to issue a credit card that benefits both of them. But while co-branded credit cards are usually issued by for-profit institutions, affinity credit cards, with some exceptions, are usually issued by nonprofits.
The partnering organization usually gets a one-time, flat-rate donation whenever a new credit card account is opened, and it may also earn a percentage of purchases made by the new account holder. Although such donations are relatively small, the partnering organization may also benefit from increased visibility and awareness for its causes.
Occasionally, the financial institution will charge the affinity organization for its marketing costs or ask for some of its valuable member data to help acquire customers for itself. However, many financial institutions are now partnering with nonprofits to issue affinity credit cards for free, increasing the number of smaller nonprofits with which they can do business.
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Affinity credit card example
A nonprofit wolf preserve in the southwestern United States is looking for a little extra revenue. It decides to offer an affinity credit card that has the wolf preserve’s branding on the front. The wolf preserve partners with Visa, who issues the card and processes payments on behalf of the wolf preserve, which gets a small cut of the charges made on each card.