Coign is seeking to fill a void in the credit card market by giving conservatives an alternative its competitors, many of which embrace left-wing causes. The credit card has all the features and benefits you’d expect, but it also donates a portion of every transaction to a conservative nonprofit.
Rob Collins, founder and chief executive of Coign, tells The Daily Signal he created a credit card specifically for conservatives because other companies didn’t share his values and political views.
After spending years working in conservative politics, Collins launched Coign two years ago. The company has already given away $150,000 to organizations with conservative beliefs, including The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)
On today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast,” Collins explains how Coign works and what the future holds for this conservative credit card. Our conversation has been edited for length. The full audio is available below.
Rob Bluey: There are a lot of options on the market, but yours is the first credit card designed specifically for conservatives. When did you realize that was a need you wanted to fill?
Rob Collins: During COVID, I had a very busy job, and I was home with the family, like everybody. I started spending an hour a day just trying to explore these ideas and concepts. And it went from clothing to food to something else. And then I landed on the credit card because when I asked conservatives what they wanted, they said, I don’t have a lot of time, but give me a secure product that does conservative things. And it jumped off the page—we need to do a credit card.
Bluey: It’s not like you come from a background in the credit card industry. What was it like navigating that career transition?
Collins: I’m a lifelong learner and I always like to try new things. And so, it was daunting at first. I was blessed to partner up with two guys who ran some of the biggest credit cards in America.
It’s been a great partnership. It’s the peanut butter and chocolate moment. I understand what conservatives are looking for—the products and services and how to motivate them, how to talk to them, how to find them. And my partners really understand credit cards, how to issue a credit card, how to lend a dollar, and get it paid back.
Bluey: In a market where we’re bombarded with different options, how have you gone about appealing to conservatives? What’s the differentiator that you’ve found has either led them to switch or at least add Coign as an option to their wallet?
Collins: Our credit card is just like every other credit card you’ve ever had. It’s a Visa credit card. Tap, click, swipe, whatever you want to do. It does it. You can pay online. Every modern convenience you could expect, we built. The big difference is it’s built by conservatives for conservatives.
Not only do customers get unlimited cash back rewards, just like every other credit card you ever had, we take a portion of the transaction at no cost to the customer. Coign sets aside a certain amount of the transaction. We put it in what we call the charity bucket.
Every quarter we pick four charities and we put it to a vote. We say to our customers, here are four charities we think are doing great conservative work. If a charity gets 40% of our customers’ vote, they get 40% of the charity bucket.
We gave more money to conservative charities last year than the top 10 credit cards combined. We were proud to partner with Heritage as one of our charities. We dropped the check off last week.
Conservatives are going about their everyday business using the card and it’s helping build up this country in a really positive way.
Bluey: It’s a novel idea. Our good friends at Alliance Defending Freedom were winners of the fourth quarter vote, so congratulations to them. It’s a sizable donation that you’re making to them. How does that process work?
Collins: We solicit our members. We solicit anyone. Anyone listening or watching this podcast. It’s real simple. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We screen really for two criteria: Are they solving America’s problems? Are they solving America’s problems with conservative ideology—smaller, smarter government, constitutional principles, first principles? And are they really providing an ROI?
We have to always make our customers feel like all that commerce that they’re supporting is going to conservatives. If we give them a dollar, they’re putting that dollar to work to do what they say they’re doing. That’s our criteria.
We work hard to include the broad spectrum of things conservatives care about. It’s not always easy, but we try and find good charities.
Bluey: How much have you given away so far?
Collins: We’re over $150,000. Every quarter it’s gotten bigger because we add more and more customers and they spend. As the spending goes up, so do the charitable contributions.
Banks, the big credit card companies, they give a lot away to charities, and conservative charities get zero dollars. Let me be very clear, zero money goes to them. But if you’re ACORN, the Clinton Foundation, La Raza, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, they get billions. Let me put that very clearly, billions.
That’s part of what we’re trying to do—align our customers’ values with the values of the charities we support.
Bluey: On your website you have a marketplace where you’re recommending other businesses that are aligned with these conservative values. Do you find as you talk to customers of Coign that they are frustrated with other companies that they may have done business with in the past because of the political agenda? Or are they just wanting to make sure that their money goes to the causes that they support and believe in?
Collins: Anyone who’s been around conservatives knows we’re not an angry bunch. Usually, we’re go along, get along. We put up with a lot with corporate America. But if you give conservatives a choice and say, all things being equal, these folks support your worldview, they’ll go there. That’s what the marketplace is for.
We’re not trying to compete and be an Amazon for the right. There’s other folks doing a great job of that. But our customers kept calling us saying, ‘Hey, you want me to use this card? Where do I go?
I joke with our customers sometimes. When you’re coming off the beach and the kids want ice cream and it’s hot and there’s only a Ben and Jerry’s in front of you. Even then, you’re still helping out. That’s how we think about it.
Bluey: What do you think the future holds when it comes to the growth that you expect for Coign, but this marketplace in general? Do you think some companies will smarten up and maybe not be as so political in their donations?
Collins: They can’t help themselves. Major corporations are the product of their upbringing and they have been indoctrinated through 50 years of liberal college and advanced degree education.
Everyone’s always trying to teach us in America what our values should be. We’re always going to have these challenges. It’s a wild west. There’s going to be a lot of folks who succeed, a lot of folks who don’t make it, but I think the people who make it, are going to be putting out a great product.
It’s really changing quickly, which has been great because, in order to grow a business, you need access to capital. That’s really where conservative businesses over the last three years have really struggled. It’s easy to get funded and get started. When you make that jump to tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s really the challenge.
Bluey: What are some of the challenges that you face?
Collins: Access to capital is crucial for all these businesses. It shouldn’t be lost on our listeners and our viewers that everything we do is in the Midwest. Coastal banks won’t touch us. That’s a statement on the polarization you see in business.
When I talk to other conservative businessmen and women, that’s their big thing, too—how hard it is to operate in the system. We’re knocking those walls down every day.
We have great customers. Our customers are phenomenal. They pay their bills on time. They’re the cream of the credit crop. We’re in every state and in the District Columbia. We’re national, we have a wait list that’s eight times our customer base. And it’s just trying to find ways to grow.
I always joke that if we were a green credit card, trying to do some kind of carbon offset play, the most liberal venture capital would be showering us with cash.
We have to fight every day to be in the system, but we do it and we have a lot of help from friends. We’re going to be fine. I just look for that next evolution where people say, there’s a lot of money to be made supporting conservative values.
Bluey: You’ve probably seen news recently that delinquency on credit cards is reaching historic rates of late. What’s your personal advice to cardholders who might find themselves in debt? How have you counseled others now that you have exposure to the credit card market?
Collins: We don’t really have that problem. Our customers fit into a higher range and are much more stable. We are so far below market delinquencies that a lot of people think it’s a typo when I show them.
Conservatives are also emotionally attached to our cards. They really want us to succeed.
When it comes to counseling folks on how to really keep an eye on their finances, the basic lessons every parent tries to teach their kid is, buy what you need, set aside money. The first person you should pay at the beginning of your paycheck period is yourself—whether that’s in a retirement account or the bank. Pay your credit cards off.
Most of our customers, a majority of our customers, pay off their credit card bill every month, and that’s the best way to use credit because you get all the advantages, the security, and you’re not risking your own cash.
If you’re in debt, figure out what you can live on and just put the rest toward getting that debt down. That’s really the biggest thing. We don’t get a lot of lessons from the federal government these days about debt and spending, but plenty of us have friends and family who could probably just tell you how they did it, and that’s how I learned.
Bluey: What’s the best way for someone to suggest a conservative charity to Coign? And how does one sign up to get the credit card?
Collins: If you have a great charity to recommend, it has to be a 501(c)(3) charity. We don’t do politics. Just send me an email, email@example.com. And if you want to learn more, go to the website, coign.com. It should answer your questions.
There’s an application on there. We’ll ask you a few simple questions and within seven to 10 days, you’ll be spending right.