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Self Imposed Surcharges

A voluntary surcharge on your credit card / ATM transactions
  (+8, -2)
(+8, -2)
  [vote for,
against]

I would like to be able to call up my credit card company (or my bank, in the case of ATM cards) and tell them this: "every time I make a purchase, please add an X% surcharge to the purchase price, and send the surcharge money to (insert my favorite charity/cause here)". This would make my giving to my favorite causes 'automatic', and hence a good deal less likely to be forgotten, procrastinated, or rationalized away.

Note that this is not quite the same as some existing systems (e.g. Working Assets), in that you are donating your own money, and you get to specify both the level of auto-donation and the cause(s) it goes to. This is better than the 'we'll donate a little of our money on your behalf' idea, because their percentages are necessarily quite small.

(apologies if this is already baked; it seems rather obvious but I couldn't find any companies that do it)

Jeremi, Mar 04 2002

(??) uk based http://www.allaboutgiving.org/
[sappho, Mar 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

the taxman http://www.inlandre....uk/pbr/charity.htm
[sappho, Mar 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

for busy rich people with guilt. http://www.thebusye...charity/ch_home.htm
[sappho, Mar 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

At last! https://www.check4charity.com/
automated recurring donations through American banks. I think. [sappho, Mar 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Working Assets http://www.workingassets.com
Long distance service and credit cards w/auto-donations [Jeremi, Jun 14 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       I'm sure you could find charities that'd be glad to deduct XX dollars every month from your account.
lumpy, Mar 04 2002
  

       I like this idea and would likely subscribe to it. Be even better if I could constrain it to certain types of purchases (i.e. grocery purchases surcharge goes to the food bank, gasoline purchase surcharges to the World Fund, etc.)   

       Would need some sort of statistics/records for tax return time.
bristolz, Mar 04 2002
  

       why only on your credit card transactions? and unless you are linking charity payments to relevant luxury puchases on your card (in which case this is just a complicated way of cushioning your guilt!), as bristolz says, then why do this at point of expenditure. It would be far easier from a tax point of view to do it at the point of salary earning. Especially in the UK, where charity contributions attract back the income tax you paid, like long-term periodic donations (covenants), it is uneccessarily complicated to pass on the administration of this to your credit card company. Why not just work out what percentage of your expenditure you think you should be giving to charity, and then allocate that much as a direct gift from your bank account each month?
I think the sentiment is highly admirable but how many credit card companies do you think would be willing to set up the infrastructure for (a) your twenty-dollar/pound/euro/etc transaction at Sears/Debenhams/El Corte Ingles/etc bounces to card issuer to check credit, (b) card issuer accpets and adds 3% to go to Newfoundland Kitten Sanctuary, (c) Sears/Debenhams/El Corte Ingles/etc. checkout girl gets really really confused at transaction coming back at $/£/€/?20.60
I don't think it'll take off, really. Mind you, they said that about computers.
sappho, Mar 04 2002
  

       Guilt cushioning is valid, isn't it?
bristolz, Mar 04 2002
  

       sappho's suggestion about doing the surcharging on money as it enters my bank account is good too. OTOH, I talked to my bank today and they only offer automated monthly withdrawals to other Washington Mutual accounts. Does anyone know of a mechanism by which automated payments could be sent to a wider variety of accounts? I suppose I could work something out using PayPal and a Perl script.... <grin>
Jeremi, Mar 04 2002
  

       Several UK charities operate their own credit cards and skim off a small part of the interest for their own purposes.
angel, Mar 05 2002
  

       I agree with Bristolz... This would be guilt cushioning.
If it makes you feel better about pumping polution into the atmosphere three of four times a day, stop driving your car and give half the money you would save to charity. Use the other half to take public transport (if available, which I'm sure it will be.)
Then decide on Charities you want to give money to, and set up monthly deductions - you really don't notice, and the literature they send you is usually very good (especially Oxfam.) I do think it's a good idea to give money to charity either way, but giving a set amount in a month would seem the best.
Danzarak, Mar 05 2002
  

       yes, Bristolz, of course it's valid.
Jeremi, you need a new bank. In the UK, it's called a Direct Debit, and it can be set up to any bank account and for almost any bills. Charities do television adverts asking for usually about £2 per month, which is next-to-nothing even to someone with little disposable income like me. Mind you, since I'm a sucker for those adverts, I've got about ten of those direct debits going out of my account every month! Just one sight of the battered 18-month-old baby makes me sign up to the NSPCC, then it was the drought pictures and I'm subscribing to Oxfam, then there was the kittens, and so on... I think I subscribed to Oxfam twice, actually. Must sort that out; less admin for them if I do a single slightly higher donation rather than two £2 ones.

<disappointment rant>Incidentally, while having a bit of a google around for those links, it shocks me that for once, the first five pages of the search were all UK and Ireland pages. (search terms charity+donation+tax+relief) When I put the search term 'charitable contributions' into the American IRS page, all I got were links to pages which described how your charity contirbutions are tax-deductible. Some people have no soul.</disappointment rant>
sappho, Mar 05 2002
  

       ¯Jeremi: What a fantastic idea!
The idea has been done on a small scale, by a large local grocery chain. It was done about two years ago and was called 'round up' due to a purchase of, say, $19.01 could be 'rounded up' to $20 and the excess returned to the named charity. Makes eminent sense, when you consider that today these same stores allow a customer to add any amount up to $100 to a purchase by debit card and take the cash without terminal fees.
Yours,
reensure, Mar 05 2002
  
      
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