Which is the most ethical bank in the UK?

I consider Monzo to be more ethical than average:

  • no punitive fees
  • giving us the tools that we need in order to manage our money and avoid paying fees if possible
  • committed to inclusion and diversity
  • being a Living Wage employer
  • not lending deposits to unethical businesses

they’ve blogged about this here -

But there’s other ethical banks in the UK too:

I’m wondering if those banks are as ethical as they claim to be or if I’m missing anyone else who’s worth checking out?


Don’t think tomorrow bank are a good option in the UK

€3 for rejected direct debit and €3 reminder fee (I have no idea what that is) doesn’t sound all that ethical


Define ethical.

That’s the problem with this topic. It needs to be defined.

Triados for example is a B company, that’s in theory a much better mark of a more ethical company.

Fees aren’t in themselves unethical.


I’d argue the larger banks have a significantly more ethical ethos than these new players.

Barclays - as an example - has had a ‘carbon neutral’ debit card for well over 5 years before all the eco-cultists have been made front and center. Barclays has long promoted diversity and inclusion.

Same can be said for Lloyds Banking Group and RBS. I don’t think any of them are particularly unethical. A lot of the big banks have stopped charging arbitrary failed payment fees now. They also all have apps to manage finances etc.

I don’t think Monzo is anymore ethical than other banks. They’re probably all on par.


Well this is a first! Whatever their other merits, I’ve never heard anyone describe banks that fund the destruction of our planet and arms used to kill innocent civilians as ‘ethical’! (Not to mention manipulation of lidor rates or other political interference in some cases.)


That is the problem. ‘Ethical’ needs a definition for the context of the thread. Someone thinks charging €3 for a returned direct debit is unethical then further up the scale we have civilians being killed.


Charity Bank looks good:

  • 100% owned by charities, trusts and social purpose organisations
  • B Corp
  • uses savers deposits to lend to charities to help them fund their projects



The Charity Bank, Triodos Bank, Co-op/Smile Bank would be the first three I’d say. They tend to go above and beyond to help the World.

I’ve got Monzo and Starling level pegged. Decent environmental, no funding wars, stays out of politics, treats customers fairly. You could say the lending is responsible, I think they’ve made it clear not to offer more that people can afford or trying to keep them in debt to maximize fees, allow to pay back early etc. They could make it clear what their partners ethical stance are as it doesn’t appear to matter that they also have the same level or higher.

The worst offenders are still the big four HSBC/FD, NatWest/RBS, Barclays, Lloyds.

Yes, I would agree with those.

As others have said, it depends how you define ethical.

Nationwide are a generally good option when assessed for overall ethics. There are rules which mean they must get most of their money from deposits by members and can’t play the money markets as much as some of the banks do. They also generally lend on property so there is no investment in businesses that are known to damage the environment and no money going to the manufacture of weapons etc.

Charter Savings Bank sent me a reply by email to confirm they only lend money for the purpose of loans related to property purchases, so maybe that’s another good option to add to the list.

There is also useful information here: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/money-finance/shopping-guide/current-accounts

Regarding the newer banks such as Monzo, Starling and the like… I don’t really regard them as ethical as such in terms of lending because at the moment they don’t lend very much. If you compare that with Triodos who make every loan public so you can see who they are lending to, and also actively seek to loan money to ethical causes you can see there is quite a contrast in how you can define “ethical”.

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I’m always sceptical of companies that claim to be ethical.

What happens behind the scenes is probably totally different to what they claim and there is no way of us knowing either way :man_shrugging: Also, there are no laws or regulations to enforce ethical policies so they don’t need to fear repercussions or they can simply be change the policy at any time without anyone knowing.

This is why there was a small uproar (can you have a small uproar?) with The Co-operative Bank recently when it decided to stop external auditing of its public ethical policy. They’ve promised they will bring back the external auditing from next year.

My point being… you can be held to account if you do it in a transparent way.

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Ethical Consumer is currently giving the Co-op Bank 7/20 in its ethics rating system. This is compared to Monzo’s (and Starling’s) 13/20 and Triodos’ 16/20.

The Co-op’s low score is attributed to a lot of negative points, but seems to be largly because of their investments in companies damaging the environment, factory farming, violating human rights, producing arms, etc.


That article is from almost 3 years ago. The proposed sale never happened as I understand it, there was some other complicated re-capitalisation. Though I don’t think there is anything ‘co-operative’ about the bank any more. The Co-op group has no ownership anymore, and it’s not a co-op in the way it’s structured.


That’s not quite accurate. The bank itself does not invest in these businesses because it has to adhere to its own ethical policy. What seems to have contributed to the lower score is the investments of the bank’s owners.

Ethical Consumer have The Co-operative Bank listed as a “recommended buy” because “Co-operative Bank and Smile… still have a sector-leading ethical policy.”

So depending on whether you take the bank’s owners in to account or not it’s either more ethical or less ethical.


Absolutely right! I hadn’t noticed that nuance.

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