In 2009, Bank of America (BOFA) partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help fight breast cancer. In turn, BOFA created a variant of its Cash Rewards card that’s been huge for the bank and the foundation. BOFA has collected more than $8 Million since the partnership started 10 years ago. BOFA’s card is unique because its associated with a great cause and a great charity. I wish that one of the major credit card issuers would partner with Autism Speaks or another similar non-profit. I also wish that the partnership would create a credit card that will help contribute to the cause.
Currently, there are no existing credit cards that are partnered with any major autism awareness foundation. The National Autism Association has a litany of debit cards available. But those don’t count for all intents and purposes.
The Blueprint: A Mini-Review
The Susan G. Komen Cash Rewards Card is a variant of the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card . Both cards have no annual fee and can earn some serious cash back.
The Komen card has a $200 sign-up bonus that can be earned after spending $500 in the first three months. You also earn 3% on a category of your choice and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. All other purchases earn only 1%. As a cash back card, the Komen card has limited perks and standard cash back redemption options.
BOFA is donating $3 Million to the Susan G. Komen Foundation between mid-2015 and the end of 2020. That’s in addition to its proceeds from the Pink Ribbon Banking credit card and checking program. The Foundation receives $3 plus 0.08% of all retail purchases (minus returns) made with every new Komen card within the first three months. The Foundation also receives $3 for each annual card renewal when an account is in good standing during the 12-month period and does not have a zero balance at the time of renewal.
I would love to see an issuer create a variant of an existing credit card that gives people incentive to help Autism Awareness. As a Tier II card, the BOFA Komen card serves as a nice blueprint for a bank to follow conceptually or down to the details:
No Annual Fee
My first suggestion would be to not have an annual fee. No annual fee cards are great options for a plethora of reasons. No annual fees mean no substantial perks, which saves the bank money that could be used for donations. And for consumers, no annual fee means the card is easier to get. It also means they could keep it as a part of their “foundation” (pun intended).
For example, Chase could create a new version of the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which has no annual fee.
Keep the Same Rewards
My second suggestion is to have the new card earn the same type of rewards as its inspiration. American Express already does this with their Platinum Card and its multiple flavors. All the Platinum Card flavors earn Membership Rewards (MR) points but have their own twists. In this way, the new card could be used as part of a traveler’s strategy while giving to a great cause.
This can be done with transferrable points or cash back. Chase, American Express, Citi, and Capital One all have transferrable points cards but don’t have an autism foundation-related card. Other banks can stick with their cash back rewards or cash-equivalent points.
The Freedom Unlimited variant from above would also earn Ultimate Rewards (UR) points if a cardholder also has either of the Chase Sapphire Cards or the Ink Business Preferred. The card would otherwise earn straight cash back.
Keep the Same Earning Structure and Sign-Up Bonus
My third suggestion would be to keep the earning structure and sign-up bonus from the existing card. This gives both the bank and consumers a sense of familiarity. For the bank, it’s also easier to keep track of card-related costs.
The Freedom Unlimited variant would also earn a flat 1.5x UR points (or 1.5% cash back) on all purchases. It would also earn 15,000 UR points (or $150) after spending just $500 in the first three months.
Create A Great Donation Structure
Finally, my last suggestion would be to create a nice donation structure as part of the bank-charity partnership. One way to do this would have a set amount donated for every new account opened plus a very small percentage of each transaction. Plus, the former amount could be matched for every account that’s still open and in good standing after one year.
For example, the Freedom Unlimited variant could have Chase donate $3 for every new account plus 0.1% of each transaction. Also, another $3 would be donated for every account in good standing and still open after one year.
I am calling out all the major American credit card issuers to partner up with a major autism related foundation. The cause needs more funding and consumers could use another credit card option.
Autism Awareness is a growing issue that needs more attention and more funding. This is especially true since a whopping 2% (1 in 50) of babies today are born somewhere on the autism spectrum. This percentage has been growing rapidly over the last 25 years, showing the prevalence of this significant cause. It also shows that more funding is needed to help a growing population of babies and children.
BOFA has done this beautifully with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and is helping those with breast cancer every day. But there are no autism-related credit cards… yet.
So, who wants to step up and help a great cause?