Current Accounts

Our guide outlines which current accounts could be the best ethical options for you.

Last Updated: January 2021

Ethical banks are those whose business models are designed around making sure they have no negative impact on the environment or on society.

This means that they will have certain rules and policies in place determining where they will invest your money, if you choose to bank with them.

Almost all ethical banks don’t lend to industries such as tobacco or weapons manufacturers, but others also have more positive lending policies in place, such as targeting the renewables sector.

You may be a little wary of putting your money in smaller, not-on-the-high-street banks. However, banks and building societies with ethical policies came out of the financial crisis much better than the larger high street banks as they did not get involved with the risky business practices that put so many banks under pressure. In addition, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects assets up to £85,000 held in banks in the UK.

 

There aren’t many ethical banks that operate in the UK, especially that offer current account services. Below we highlight a few of these:

 

Current Accounts

Triodos

A Dutch bank which lends only to organisations that have a positive social or environmental impact

  • Online banking and via its app

  • £3/month account fee

  • Clear and transparent charges

  • Overdrafts by arrangement

Triodos opened its doors for a current account in the UK in 2017, and is probably one of the most sophisticated ethical banks in the country. A Dutch firm, it only lends to organisations that ‘make a positive impact on people’s lives, protect the planet, or build strong communities’.

 

It focuses its activities across three overarching themes: Environmental, Cultural and Social. Together, these cover a broad range of sectors – from renewable energy, organic farming and social housing through to retail, charities and education. They publish details of every organisation they lend to.

Co-op Bank

One of the best known UK ethical banks with a consumer led ethical policy

  • Online banking and via its app

  • No monthly account fee

  • Clear and transparent charges

  • Overdrafts by arrangement

  • Its ‘Everyday Rewards’ scheme could earn you or a charity some extra cash every month

Co-op is probably the best known ethical bank in the UK, and despite some controversies over the past several years, still remains a top choice with a strong ethical policy and good reviews from customers and the industry alike.

As a cooperative, their ethical policy is shaped by their consumers, which you can view here. The Co-op's main premise is to promote human rights and equality, and promote economic and social development in Britain; designed around seven goals which include- for example- promoting human rights and equality, protecting the environment and animal welfare. 

Reliance Bank

An initiative of the Salvation Army with all profits going to its work

  • Online banking

  • Can pay in person by nominating a High Street Bank such as HSBC or Barclays

  • No monthly account fee

  • Overdrafts by arrangement

Reliance Bank is part of The Salvation Army, with all profits made by the Bank going to supporting its work. A strong Christian ethos guides the ethical policy of its lending criteria and products.

In addition to the above, a number of other banks and building societies are top- rated by Ethical Consumer for their lending practices to companies. Those listed above are explicit in their approach of trying to do social and/or environmental good, while the below are top- rated due to the nature of their businesses:

  • Coventry Building Society

  • Nationwide Building Society

  • Yorkshire Bank

  • Monzo

  • Metro Bank