This is part of a series from Good With Money on ‘How to green your ISA’, showing you how to make your tax-free ISA allowance work for the planet and people as well as your pocket.
Given the turbulent start to 2022 seen by global stock markets, it might feel safer to allocate at least some of this year’s ISA allowance to cash. The pandemic has taught us the hard way that we can never really know what’s around the corner – and just how important it is to build up an easy-to-access savings buffer.
However, the skyrocketing rate of inflation means it’s nigh-on impossible to find an interest rate on a Cash ISA that will keep up. It could be even more difficult if you also want to ensure your cash is being used for good rather than simply saving with any provider.
Fortunately there are some good alternatives to the big high street banks that can still offer a competitive, if a little uninspiring, return. On the green and ethical scale, they range from stand-out social and environmental pioneers, to member-owned institutions such as building societies, to neutral players that are simply more attractive than the Big Four banks, which remain driven by shareholder value and propped up by fossil fuel investments.
While you’re unlikely to find a cash savings rate that won’t later be eroded by inflation, it will at least remain steady rather than rising and falling in value like stock market investments. Cash ISAs also offer deposit protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Below, we round up the best five providers for a Good Cash ISA this tax year. And if don’t fancy locking your cash into an ISA, all the providers below offer good rates on general cash savings products too.
Ecology Building Society
- Ecology Cash ISA 0.30 per cent
Regular Saver at 0.80 per cent
Easy Access at 0.10 per cent
Ecology Building Society uses its savers’ deposits to lend out as eco-friendly mortgages for new-builds and renovation projects with the ultimate aim of helping make Britain’s housing stock more energy efficient.
Ecology has a Good Egg mark from Good With Money, awarded only to companies that make a positive impact in the world.
- Online Cash ISA up to 0.2 per cent (variable)
Junior Cash ISA at 1.5 per cent (variable)
Ethical Bank Triodos, which also has a Good Egg mark from Good With Money, uses the money its savers deposit with it to lend out to real economy businesses making a positive environmental, social or cultural impact on the world. Also offering stock market investments, crowd-funded Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISAs) and ethical current and savings accounts, Triodos is a true leader in the field of ethical personal finance.
Nationwide Building Society
- One Year Triple Access Online ISA 0.25 per cent (variable)
- Fixed Rate ISAs, offering up to 0.50 per cent
Nationwide is the UK’s largest mutual, meaning it’s owned by and run for the benefit of its members. Because of the way it’s run, it says, it’s free to reinvest more profits into products and services that benefit members, rather than being driven by shareholders. It says doing the right thing by its members is at the heart of what it does.
- Instant Access Cash ISA at 0.30 per cent (variable)
Founded in 1890 as the Salvation Army Bank, Reliance Bank’s mission is to “stand out as a bank with a Christian and ethical conscience.”
It donates up to 75 per cent of its profits to the Salvation Army – which retains control of the bank despite the name change – to support the organisation’s evangelical and charitable work around the globe.
Reliance Bank offers its customers a full range of services including current accounts, savings accounts, mortgages and loans. In line with its ethical stance, it prioritises its business lending to organisations delivering positive social impact in the UK.
- One Year Fixed Term Woodland Cash ISA, Shariah principles 0.68 per cent
An Islamic Bank, Gatehouse avoids investing in industries considered to be unethical under Shariah principles, which in practice are the same as those frowned upon under Christianity. The firm states it will “only invest funds in ethical goods and services and, for example, does not invest in gambling, alcohol, tobacco or arms”. It invests in real estate and construction as well as sukuk, which are sometimes known as Islamic Bonds.
Additionally, for every Woodland Saver account opened or renewed, Gatehouse will plant a tree in a UK woodland on the saver’s behalf.
Under Shariah principles, interest cannot be earned but profit is generated instead. The profit shared is the expected profit rate at the time the account is opened. To date, Gatehouse has always generated and paid its customers the expected profit rate. Find out more about how it works here.