Daymer Bay at Whistlefish
To switch to a green ethical bank is one of the most empowering things you can do, to make a difference. Most banks invest at least some of your savings in in weapons, animal testing, pornography, tobacco, gambling. Green ethical banks only lend to those that do good (social enterprises etc), organic farming and renewable energy. The government’s Financial Services Protection Scheme protects your savings like all other banks and most let you switch in 10 minutes using Current Account Switch Service (they take care of direct debits, standing orders etc). For work, see how to set up a simple business account.
You can report complaints about banks or building societies to Resolver that connects you to suitable contacts, recognised by Financial Ombudsman Service. To open an account, you’ll need photo ID (passport, driving license or ID card) or take a selfie with an app (or send to The Photo App to sort and send back the next day).
Green & Ethical Personal Accounts
- Triodos Current Account (Bristol) has real people answering the phone, and invests in social enterprises, organic farming and clean energy. There is a £3 charge for a simple account with biodegradable debit card, but no hidden costs, and you can bank online or by phone/app. The bank is headed up by headed up by chartered environmentalist Dr Bevis Watts who used to be Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust. Also offers savings/children’s accounts.
- Charity Bank combines a charity and bank in one, giving profits to local community projects. The application form is short and simple.
- Reliance Bank is owned by the Salvation Army, so profits help the homeless. It offers personal and business accounts, and due to a special arrangement, you can bank on some high streets in person.
- Gatehouse Bank offers simple savings accounts that invest deposits and share the profits, rather than offer interest (so are Shariah-compliant). Includes fixed term deposit and ISA accounts, and they plant trees on your behalf.
- Foresters Friendly Society is a mutual account for savings accounts. Members get benefits like free medical/legal helplines, and free stays in their convalescent home, on release from hospital.
- Ecology Building Society offers discounted C-change mortgages if you’re doing up an old property or building a new eco home. All their savings accounts are managed online.
- Shared Interest is an ethical investment co-operative that works like an online building society. Save and pool small amounts with others, that are given as Fair Trade loans to (mostly) coffee and seed farmers in developing countries.
Online Banking Apps
These are not ‘green’ per se, but simple and tend to be more ethically run, as they are more set up by young cheeky entrpreneurs rather than ‘big money’. They have low overheads so work out cheaper, though you have to own a smartphone to use them. They are all pretty similar, so just choose which one resonates with you:
- Tandem has an Instant Access Saver and offers Open Banking to move money between accounts.
- Starling Bank offers personal & business accounts, to manage money with a tap. Good sustainability policies. Its award-winning free digital business account has over 40,000 customers.
- Monzo has a full bank account for personal and business use, starting at no monthly fees. Over 5 million customers, and counting.
How to Send and Receive Money Abroad
Wise is an online banking app to receive and send money abroad. Far cheaper and simpler than international money transfers. Just sign up online or with the app, verify your ID and top up your account.