Road test: Is a debit card that donates to charity worth it?

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ME Bank has added four charity-linked debit cards to its existing card that supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation, where the bank pays 1¢ to the charity each time the card is used.

The range of new charity-linked Visa debit cards includes one linked to mental health charity Beyond Blue, another to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and a third linked to Minus18, which supports LGBTQ youth.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy is one of the charities supported by ME BankCredit: Brad Leue/Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A fourth card supports the Orange Sky charity, which helps those experiencing homelessness and hardship. The charity debit cards can be added to digital wallets and are housed in ME Bank’s new ME Go digital banking app.

The app includes personal finance management tools such as “round-ups”, which rolls up daily transactions to the nearest dollar and sends the loose change to a savings account.

The bank has also launched an account to which the charity cards can be linked, the SpendME transaction account. Two other accounts have also been launched: the HomeME savings account for home buyers and SaveME, which is a bonus interest savings account.


There are no other cards listed on comparison site Canstar’s database where the card provider makes a donation to the linked charity each time the card is used.

Community First Bank has a debit card where a portion of the account fee is paid to the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer charity.

ING has a “round-up” option for card purchases with the linked Orange Everyday bank account, where the round-up can be donated to charities.

Martine Jager, chief executive of ME Bank, says by broadening the choices of charities, the bank is helping customers support a cause they feel passionate about.

“We also understand that the cost of living remains at the forefront of household concerns, and so it’s important to flag that these donations do not cost customers anything; ME will pay it … on behalf of the customer,” Jager says.


Someone who uses the charity-linked card 30 times a month would only see ME bank pay $3.60 a year to the charity linked to the card.

It is only a small amount of money per cardholder. Anyone who is more serious about charitable giving can always give to a charity that is registered to receive tax-deductible gifts or donations and claim a deduction in their tax returns.


Mitchell Watson, research manager at Canstar, says while the amount paid by ME Bank on behalf of each debit card user is not very much, collectively, that will grow as more people use the cards.

Many people may want to give to charities but never get around to it, he says. “You are not paying anything extra in fees for using the charity-linked cards than you would be paying with other debit cards,” Watson says.

There are no account-keeping fees, but most accounts to which debit cards are attached do not have a fee these days, or they provide ways to have the fee waived, such as by adding a certain amount to the account each month, he says.

There are no foreign exchange or international ATM fees on the SpendME account, but ATM operators or merchants may charge a fee for their services.

“As with any card, you need to watch the currency exchange rate you are getting for your Australian dollars,” Watson says.

  • Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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