The cost-of-living crisis, coming hot on the heels of the pandemic, has taught us the hard way just how important it is to build up an easy-to-access savings buffer.
If you want to ensure your cash is being used for good rather than just saving with any provider, there are some worthy alternatives to the big high street banks – most are proving quicker to pass on rising interest rates to their customers, too.
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 Five 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.
Here, we round up the best providers for a Good Cash ISA.
Easy Access ISAs
Ecology Building Society
- Ecology Cash ISA 3.50 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 3.48 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.
Skipton Building Society
- Cash ISA Saver 3.90 per cent (variable)
As well as not investing in fossil fuels, Skipton offsets more emissions than its operations produce. Its partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust will see it plant 30,000 trees from 2021 to 2023. The partnership will also support 400 people from disadvantaged communities to get involved in creating and caring for woodlands.
Fixed rate ISAs
Bear in mind that with these options, your money is locked away for the length of the term.
Yorkshire Building Society
- Fixed Rate Cash e-ISA until 31 October 2024 5.55 per cent
Yorkshire Building Society is an official signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking – a single framework for a sustainable banking industry.
The mutual has made a commitment to identify and measure the environmental and social impacts of its business activities, set and implement targets where it has the most impact, and regularly report publicly on its progress.
Nationwide Building Society
- One Year Fixed Rate Online Cash ISA 5.50 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.
- Ethical 33-Day Notice Cash ISA 3.01 per cent (Gross/AER)
Charity Bank was founded to support charities with loans that they couldn’t find elsewhere and to show people how their savings could be invested ethically and in ways that would make them happy. It invests its customers’ money into charities and social enterprises around the country.
It says on its website: “Charities have never been more needed, but also more challenged. That’s why our promise – of supporting charitable activities and helping people to save and do good – is more important than ever.”
- One Year Fixed Term Woodland Cash ISA, Shariah principles 4.70 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.