There are lots of big reasons to move your money. Reasons like question marks over the ethics of investments, tax avoidance on a massive scale and post-bail out bonuses.
But, in this guest post, I want to talk about some much smaller, niggling reasons and one very small section of the market in particular: charity credit cards.
Not only is it small, it just got smaller. Earlier this year, Lloyds Banking Group dropped their range of charity credit cards.
These cards had netted three of the UK’s biggest charities – Cancer Research UK, NSPCC and SSPCA - £18m over the 23, 17 and 15 years they were respectively issued.
It doesn’t sound like much but, despite declining demand, it isn’t insignificant either.
In 2009, for example, the three charities earned 1.1 million. If Cancer Research UK took a third of that cash, that’s 0.7% of their £498 million income for 2009.
What with all those bad debts on the books and PPI pay outs to make, Lloyds group have had a tough couple of years but charity cards seem an odd place to cut back. Luckily for them, the cut wasn’t picked up much, an outcome PR Week sensitively described as 'a hit'
Of course, to misquote Oscar Wilde, there are only two tragedies in life: not getting what you want, and getting it.
It’s tragic that charity credit cards are dying out but it’s even more tragic how very little they give to charities in the first place.
In my site’s long standing feature on this
, we calculate that £2,000 in purchases on a standard charity credit card would net about £6.
A mid-market cash back credit card earning 2% would earn £40 and in a top cash back credit card's 5% bonus period it’d earn £100.
There’s a simple solution – ‘just switch that charity card for a top cash back deal to give more!’ – but I feel sadder every time I suggest it.
Personally, I know that if I didn’t give to charity by direct debit I wouldn’t remember to give every month and maybe, if I could get one of those top cash back cards, I wouldn’t remember to give my bonus away either.
There’s something simple about the concept of automatic giving that’s attractive and it’s hard not to feel that, by allowing charitable cards to become so very uncompetitive, the banks have managed to distort what could have been a good, guaranteed source of charitable income and let it wither away.
Or, to illustrate the same thing another way, Lloyds included their charitable cards in their ‘corporate responsibility’ report.
Someone I vaguely know who, while otherwise very nice, is a lawyer in a big London firm once described her company’s corporate responsibility program to me.
Big black Bentleys pull up outside their City offices, she said, whisk the lawyers away to bluff their way through housing advice in Brixton or Hackney law centers and, a few hours later, whisk them back. The firm lays on a polo match for the lawyers’ trouble.
I said I found this sort of horrifying. The very nice lawyer smiled. “That’s just how we do it,” she said.
And I thought: yeah, but I wish you didn’t.
About the author
Julia Kukiewicz is Editor of Choose, a price comparison and online publication site that focuses on consumer rights issues and market debate into personal finance, www.choose.net
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