Credit cards are rarely out of the news, whether it be providers hiking limits without asking to the UK’s growing consumer debt pile to scammers hacking credit files. Added to all this are the ethical concerns many have when choosing a provider, particularly with cards from the big banks where lending may be questionable.
Meanwhile charity cards, which were once a popular option for ‘ethical’ spenders who wanted to donate a proportion of spending to their chosen cause, are largely a thing of the past after repeated attacks on their poor donation rates.
In this difficult market, here are some of the more ethical cards to consider.
Nationwide is one of the UK’s most established building societies. This means that, unlike a bank, it is not listed on the stock market and accountable to shareholders. Instead, it is accountable to its members – ie. the people who bank with it – and they have a say in how it is run.
The mutual changed its terms and conditions in 2016 to rule out automatic increases in credit limits, and doesn’t remove promotional deals if a user misses a payment. Its card offers a 0 per cent fee for 18 months on balance transfers and 0 per cent on purchases for three months. It also has some cashback offers and a commission-free allowance to use abroad on any purchases in pounds sterling.
With 1p back for every £2 you spend in the Co-op food stores and 1p for every £3.33 spent everywhere else with a Visa symbol, this fee-free card offers rewards and incentivises you to shop with the mutual, which has ethical sourcing policies. However, the Co-operative Bank is no longer owned by the Co-operative Group. In 2017 it was rescued by international hedge funds, which continue to proclaim it as an ethical bank. For many though, the sale put a question mark over the integrity of its ethical policy.
Available to Smile customers only, this fee-free card comes with 0.25 per cent cashback on all spending. Smile is owned by the Co-operative Bank, and shares its Ethical Policy.
A challenger bank without the legacy issues of some of the larger players, Metro Bank is (so far) unencumbered by some of the scandals that have plagued the likes of the Co-op. It also promises to print your credit card while you wait. There’s no cashback and it offers one single, low rate of 14.9 per cent. However, the card is free to use in Europe, which may sweeten the deal, particularly if you are (in more normal times, of course) a regular traveller.