Unhappy with your bank? Here are some ethical options

Niko Iliakis

Monday 02 December 2019

Teachers Mutual Bank was recognised as one of 2019’s ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ by the Ethisphere Institute, which identifies companies that exhibit high moral standards in their business practices.

This marks the sixth year that Teachers Mutual has received the honour, which is no small feat. It was the only Australian company listed, and one of only five banks worldwide to make the cut.

In response to the news, CEO of Teachers Mutual Bank Limited, Steve James, highlighted the bank’s commitment to both its customers and responsible business practices.

“Our operations are carbon neutral, our investments are fossil fuel free, and we don’t have conflicts between shareholder and customer interests. Our members can have confidence that that’s not going to change,” he said.

So if you count yourself among the growing number of Australians who have gotten tired of some banks' behaviour, you’ll be comforted to know there are alternatives. But Teachers Mutual isn’t the only option. Here’s a selection of Aussie banks and products you can feel good about signing up with:

loans.com.au - Clean green Car Loan

If you’re looking to buy a green car, you could be eligible for a car loan at a reduced rate.  For example, the Clean Green Car Loan from loans.com.au offers rates of 4.19% p.a. (4.73% p.a. comparison rate*) if your car qualifies as a green vehicle, that is, it emits CO2 at a much lower rate than the average vehicle of its size.

UBank - Green Term Deposit

UBank has been spending a lot of time listening their customers, and they’ve learned that many Australians rank addressing climate change pretty highly on their list of priorities. That’s why their 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, low carbon transport, and low carbon buildings.

Bank Australia

You probably guessed that Bank Australia would make an appearance on this list. After all, few financial institutions in the country have made responsible investing such a core part of their business model and public image.

But what does this look like in practice? It’s pretty simple. Bank Australia only lends to industries that advance social and environmental causes. That means things like firearms, tobacco, fossil fuels and live animal exports are strictly off limits.

And like many customer-owned banks, its focus is firmly on stakeholders, not shareholders, meaning it operates with the interests of its members and the wider community in mind.

If that sounds appealing to you, you might want to take a look at what Bank Australia has to offer. One product worth considering is the Clean Energy Home Loan, which rewards Australians planning to build or buy an energy efficient home with interest rates as low as 2.44% p.a. (3.50% comparison rate*).

Community First Credit Union - McGrath Pink Visa

The McGrath Pink Visa comes with a very low purchase rate of 8.99% 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 Credit Union will donate half of the $40 annual fee to the McGrath Foundation, which provides breast care nurses to women with breast cancer across Australia.

Bendigo Bank Community Saver Account

Bendigo Bank might currently boast 1.6 million customers, but its commitment to the community hasn’t wavered since its early days. Case in point, if you open up a Bendigo Bank Community Saver Account you’ll be able to support a local initiative of your choice while growing your savings at the same time.

The organisations you can choose from include Oxfam Australia, Royal Children's Hospital Foundation Victoria, and St Johns Ambulance South Australia. As your balance earns interest, a percentage will be donated to your nominated organisation.

RELATED: The three Bendigo Bank credit card offers you need to know about

BankFirst - Green Personal Loan & Police Bank - Green Loan

Many banks offer reduced rates for personal loans when you borrow with the intention to make your home more environmentally friendly or to purchase an eco-friendly car. So if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint by installing solar panels, or maybe you’re thinking of switching to a green vehicle, be sure to check out what options are available to you. The Bank First Green Personal Loan, which comes with a 9.35% interest rate and no ongoing service fee, and the Police Bank Green Loan, which won a Mozo Experts Choice Award in 2019, are two options to get you started.

Powershop

If you’re a bit disillusioned by the Australian government’s seeming unwillingness to face down climate change, switching to energy provider Powershop is one way to play your part while our leaders get their act together.

That’s because Powershop is the first and only energy company in Australia to be 100% carbon neutral. What’s more, it’s committed to developing new sources of renewable energy, strongly opposed to fossil fuel use, and very solar friendly. Considering its multiple Mozo Experts Choice Award wins, not to mention a stamp of approval from Greenpeace, Powershop is a hard option to go past. Compare powershop with your current energy provider with our energy cost cruncher tool

RELATED: A little healthy competition - Why the ACCC wants to exclude big energy retailers

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