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Affinity Credit Cards for the Smaller Charity

Day was when if your charity had access to hundreds of thousands of members, you could arrange a pretty sweet affinity credit card program with one of the big credit card providers. Now the BBVA Compass, a consumer-facing bank with 700 branches in many of the Sunbelt states, has structured an affinity card that doesn’t require huge numbers to make economic sense.

Those credit card affinity programs didn’t work for every charity. I don’t remember ever seeing one for any of the big health charities, for instance, although I’ve seen them for many of the big environmental groups. The sponsoring companies were looking for lots of members, and a favorable demographic. If yours was a smaller charity, you were probably out of luck. 

But BBVA seems to have found a way to workaround the old rules of thumb, and it involves a check card rather than a credit card. Called Compass for Your Cause, here’s how it works:

BBVA offers a 0.25 percent donation of all the money run through the checking cards keyed to the charity, plus a royalty fee of $5,000.

Suppose that your cause is able to encourage 100 people to join. If each member makes an average of $500 in qualifying monthly purchases using BBVA Compass check card your cause would get 0.25 percent. So, $500 in monthly qualifying purchases X 100 members, X 12 months, X 0.25% = $1,500 add in the $5,000 royalty and it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Obviously, there’s tons of fine print. This is the highly-regulated banking industry after all. And, I wonder about the longevity of that $5,000 royalty. But BBVA Compass will customize the cards by putting your charity’s logo on them, just like the big guys do.

This ain’t for every charity. Some won’t be able to stomach the implied endorsement of BBVA or have existing banking relationships they can’t endanger.

But for a lot of small charities in BBVA Compass’s service area this could be a nice little addition to the bottom line that wasn’t available to them even a few years ago.


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