Unhappy with your bank? Here are some ethical options in Australia

woman feeling happy while meditating on green ethical and environmentally friendly bank and finance choices

With many Aussies having an increasing desire for transparency in their banks and products that do good, many providers are adding ethical options to their line ups.

Looking for some of Australia's most ethical banking options? We look at:

Ethical Banks

Ethical Term Deposits

Ethical Personal Loans

Ethical Car Loans

Ethical Home Loans

Ethical Savings Accounts

Ethical Credit Cards

As always, do your own research to find out whether or not your banking products align with your morals. 

There are different standards when it comes to ethical banking, and you may be looking for a specific product or a specific type of sustainable product. Make sure to read up on a product and see if it fits your needs, and if it lines up with your  personal requirements for sustainability.

Knowing where to start in your ethical banking journey can be a challenge. To help you bank green, we’ve compiled a selection of the most ethical banks and environmentally sustainable banking products.

trees and environment making a brain because green finance is a trending topic

Ethical Banks

Many banks in Australia are working to improve their carbon footprint or ethical outcomes.

Bank Australia

Bank Australia stands out when it comes to responsible investing, making it a core part of their business model and public image. The bank only lends to industries that advance social and environmental causes, meaning things like firearms, tobacco, fossil fuels and live exports are strictly off limits. They are committed to going net zero by 2035, much sooner than Australia’s 2050 target. 

Their Clean Energy Home Loan also rewards customers that plan to buy a home that meets a high standard of energy efficiency. If your home ticks the right boxes, you might be eligible for a discount of up to 0.30% p.a. for up to five years.

Bank Australia is also notable for their commitment to phasing out new car loans for petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025, switching to new car loans for green cars only.

Teachers Mutual Bank

Another banking institution with their ethics in check is Teachers Mutual Bank, which has been recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

It is also a certified B corporation, and dedicated to giving back to the community. While they say that big banks give an average of 0.7% of their profits to members and community causes, Teachers Mutual Bank give back 6.8% of their profits.

It’s also the only Australian bank to receive Certification from the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia for all retail products deposits, mortgages and wholesale funding. Teachers Mutual CEO Steve James says, “Every single mortgage product we sell is socially responsible at no extra cost to our members.”

Ethical Term Deposits

ubank Green Term Deposit

ubank has been spending a lot of time listening to their customers, and they’ve learned that climate change ranks pretty high on their list of priorities. 

That’s why their new Green Term Deposit is so appealing. Stash your savings in this one and an equal amount of funds will be set aside for investing in climate-friendly projects, like wind and solar energy, and low carbon transport and buildings.

Ethical Personal Loans

CommBank Green Personal Loans

The Commonwealth Bank has just overhauled its green loan options, and now they’re some of the most competitive on the market.

If you’d like to stick with the big banks but want to go green, you’ll earn a lower interest rate than their regular loans. These loans could be perfect for financing sustainable renovations to your home or for purchasing an electric vehicle. There are both a secured loan and unsecured loan options, meaning you’re sure to find a financing option that suits your needs.

BankFirst Green Personal Loan

A few more banks offer green banking products at reduced rates for personal loans to make your home more environmentally friendly. These include the Bank First Green Personal Loan. Remember that this loan can only be used on sustainability (e.g. solar panels, solar hot water, etc). 

Ethical Car Loans

Shopping for an electric vehicle can be made much easier with a range of car loans designed specifically for low emissions vehicles.

loans.com.au Clean Green Car Loan

If you’re looking to buy a green car (specifically an electric vehicle), you could be eligible for a car loan at a reduced rate. For example, the Clean Green Car Loan from loans.com.au offers lower rates if your car qualifies as a green vehicle (emits CO2 at a much lower rate than the average vehicle of its size).

Ethical Home Loans

Many banks offer Green Home Loans or Solar Home Loans to incentivise environmentally sustainable properties.

loans.com.au Green Home Loan

If you are thinking of buying a green home, you may qualify for a discounted home loan. With the Green Home Loan from loans.com.au you can get discounted rates if your home has a 7.0-star or higher Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme rating and has been built in the last 12 months - see their website for the full terms and conditions.

Ethical Savings Accounts and Debit Cards

Bendigo Bank Community Saver Account

Bendigo Bank might currently boast 1.9 million customers, but its commitment to the community hasn’t wavered since its early days. Case in point: the Bendigo Bank Community Saver Account lets you support a local initiative while growing your savings at the same time. The organisations you can choose from include Oxfam Australia, Royal Children's Hospital Foundation Victoria, Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation, Scouts Australia, and St Johns Ambulance South Australia. As your balance earns interest, a percentage will be donated to your nominated organisation.

Gateway Bank Eco Debit Card

You might have switched to reusable coffee cups and ditched the single-use plastics, but rarely do we think about the plastic in our wallets! The Gateway Bank Eco Debit Card is linked to Gateway’s Everyday Savings account, but the key difference here? Instead of being made of plastic or PVC, this card is plant-based and made from Polylactic Acid (PLA). Gateway Bank reports that these cards take 65% less energy to produce than the standard card, and the process produces 68% less greenhouse gases. They also break down 20 times faster than a PVC card, without releasing toxins into the environment.

ME Bank SpendME Transaction Account and Debit Card

If you have a SpendME account with ME Bank, you'll get to have your say when it comes to which charity you'd like your debit card to support. Choose between a the pink, orange, green, blue, and rainbow SpendME digital cards and 1c from every purchase will go to supporting, in turn: the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Orange Sky, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Beyond Blue, and Minus18.

Ethical Credit Cards

Read more about ethical and eco friendly credit cards.

Defence Bank Foundation Credit Card

The Defence Bank Foundation Visa Card pairs value with a great cause. Not only does it come with an introductory purchase rate of 3.99% p.a. (available for 6 months before reverting to 8.99% p.a.), half of the $45 annual fee goes to the Defence Bank Foundation. This supports the Defence Community Dogs program, which rescues abandoned dogs and trains them to assist Veterans experiencing PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Community First Bank Low Rate Pink or Blue Credit Card

The Low Rate Pink Credit Card comes with a low purchase rate of 8.99% p.a. and up to 55 interest free days, but that’s not why it’s on this list. Each year that you hold the card, Community First Bank will donate half of the $40 annual fee to the McGrath Foundation, which provides breast care nurses to women with breast cancer across Australia. The Blue Credit Card functions in the same way but is partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

First Option Bank Low Rate Visa Credit Card

Another low rate credit card option, First Option Bank are carbon neutral and this credit card is made from 82% recycled plastic, to help you feel good as you tap it. You can feel even better since 0.25% of every purchase will be donated to First Option Bank's environmental and biodiversity partners. On top of that, the annual rate is only 10.49% p.a.

If you’d like to keep on top of more ethical, sustainable banking options, visit our green finance hub or read our guide to ethical banking.

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