Fact Check: Banks Will NOT Limit Your Card Spending If It Exceeds A Certain Carbon Footprint

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: Banks Will NOT Limit Your Card Spending If It Exceeds A Certain Carbon Footprint No Card Limit

Can banks limit the use of bank cards and customer spending, if card purchases exceed a certain carbon footprint limit? No, that's not true: the carbon footprint calculator is a tool many banks have introduced in the last few years to incentivize people to be more mindful of their spending behavior and how it might impact the climate. There is no evidence banks plan to use bank card limits to introduce a carbon footprint limit.

The claim originated from a video (archived here) on TikTok by user @goldfmromania on November 16, 2023, with a caption and comments translated into English from Romanian by Lead Stories staff that reads:

The disease of limiting cash has reached Moldova as well.

The author claims:

Once you reach a certain carbon footprint limit with your spending, banks will prevent you from buying and purchasing things with your card. The saintly Austrian Bank has a carbon footprint calculator, which is just informative right now. But soon, they will say that after a certain amount of carbon footprint that you've produced, you will no longer be able to pay with your card.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-01 at 11.39.02.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Dec 1 07:08:47 2023 UTC)

It is unclear what Austrian bank the speaker in the video is referring to. But in the case of the country's largest commercial bank, Erste AM, carbon emission pledges concern its lending and investment portfolios among high-impact sectors and companies, including the most greenhouse gas-intensive and highest emitting sectors. In 2015, Erste Asset Management became the first company in Austria to sign the Montreal Carbon Pledge and is a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance. However, it does not appear to have an application or an interest in calculating its customers' carbon footprint through their personal spending.

There is no evidence to suggest that banks are planning to link cardholder personal spending limits to possible carbon footprint data. Banks have introduced Carbon trackers apps in the last few years, as a way for customers to be aware and perhaps more mindful of the carbon footprint that is generated from their spending behavior. Other banks across Europe and around the world have included this feature in their mobile banking apps, or have created separate apps to help customers track the carbon emissions of their spending.

However, Europe-based banks cannot limit cardholder spending and the use of bank cards without reasonable motive and prior agreement, or in violation of financial services rights that govern relations between banks and clients.

Banks are allowed to change the terms and conditions but have to notify customers and give time to close the account or make other arrangements. Banks can stop or block your card, but they must tell you why. For example, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority states that such a decision can only be made on "reasonable grounds" and European banks must operate by European Commission rules on consumer rights when it comes to financial services and products.

  Lead Stories Staff

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