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Greenest banks in Europe, North America & Oceania

Author: Maciamo Hay. Written in October 2021.

Big banks have been financing the destruction of tropical rainforests and the growth of fossil fuel extraction for decades. They share responsibility with companies on the ground burning the Amazon, razing Southeast Asian jungles to replace them with palm plantations, or mutilating the habitat of endangered species like chimpanzees, gorillas, or forest elephants in central Africa. It's time to stop! Don't let your bank finance environmental destruction and fuel climate change with your money! Choose a bank with a positive environmental and social impact. Here are alternatives that we have cherry-picked for you.

Contents


The environmentally friendly and sustainable banks in North America

All the following banks offer free accounts (no set up fee or monthly fee).

Bank Values (other than ecology) Services Certifications* Android app rating iOS app rating
Amalgamated Bank Climate, workers' rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights Personal, business, non-profits, loans, investments B-Corp, GABV 2.7 2.3
Ando Invests exclusively to fight climate change Personal online bank account B-Corp 3.8 4.2
Aspiration Carbon-offset with premium account, plant trees Personal, business, investments, retirement funds B-Corp, 1% for the Planet 4 4.7
Beneficial State Bank Social responsibility Personal, business, loans, non-profit B-Corp, GABV 3.4 2.4
Climate First Bank Personal, business, loans B-Corp, GABV, 1% for the Planet - 5.0
DUCA Credit Union Co-operative, social responsibility Personal, business, loans, investments, insurance B-Corp 4.1 4.5
Vancity Co-operative, carbon-neutral, 5% of profits to local environmental projects Personal, business, loans, investments, insurance B-Corp, GABV 2.7 4.3


The environmentally friendly and sustainable banks in Europe

Online Banks

All the following online banks only offer personal bank accounts, except bunq which also has business accounts. So far none of them provide insurance, loans or investments (sustainable investments should be available soon with Tomorrow). What makes them eco-friendly is that all of them have pledged to use their revenues to finance sustainable environmental projects. The only exception is bunq, which does have a 'relatively' green investment portfolio based on ESG scores. All of the apps come with carbon tracking for purchases, although only half of them provide CO2 offset, and only three of them do it for free for all purchases (Bonsai, Flowe and Tomorrow).

NB: The monthly fee is the lowest one available for adult customers if the bank offers various plans.

Bank Services Monthly fee Certifications* Android app rating iOS app rating
Tomorrow
(available in all the Eurozone)
1€ spent protects 1 mē of rainforest, CO2 offset plan, customers' money invested in sustainable projects only B-Corp 4.7 4.8
bunq
(available in all the Eurozone)
1 tree planted for 100€ spent with EasyGreen 3.7 4.2
Banx Customers' money invested in sustainable projects only Free* Carbon neutral 4.5 4.6
Bonsai
(available in the Benelux and France)
One tree planted for every 10 payments Free 4.0 4.4
Helios Customers' money invested in sustainable projects only 4.3 4.3
OnlyOne Customers' money invested in sustainable projects only 4.3 4.7
Flowe Personal online bank account with free carbon offset Free B-Corp, CarbonNeutral 4.3 4.7
Great for residents of the Benelux and France!

Bonsai is not a bank, but a payment app that lets you connect to your bank and plants one tree (through the Eden Project every 10 purchases. Actually, they say that they give 10% of their revenue to Eden Reforestation Projects, so in reality the number trees planted should be proportional to the amount of each transaction. Bonsai incorporates loyalty cards from shops and offers discounts on many businesses (Delhaize, Bio-Planet, Belgian railway, Kinepolis, Bol.com, Takeaway.com and so on). Bonsai works with all banks in the Benelux and most French banks. It also works with neobanks like N26 and Wise, but unfortunately not with Tomorrow. The app is available in English, French and Dutch and is compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Flowe is an excellent choice for people living in Italy. Not only is it free, but they compensate all CO2 from purchases for free as well (max. 3000 kg per year). Technically it is not a bank but a payment app. Because of this deposits are limited to 10,000€ with the free plan and 75,000 € with the paid plan (10€/month).

Banx is a new Belgian online green bank founded by Belfius Bank (see below) and the telecom operator Proximus. It has a rewards system with points that can be converted to discounts at sustainable Belgian shops, but otherwise don't plant tree nor compensate CO2. Banx is free if 5 transactions are made per month - otherwise it's 3.5€ per month.

Tomorrow used to be free and remains the best deal outside Belgium and Italy as all their plans protect 1mē of rainforest for each euro spent. In contrast bunq plants 1 tree per 100€ spent, but only with the expensive EasyGreen plan at 18€ per month. For that price it is much more advantageous to plant trees on a specialised website like Tree-Nation, which can plant trees in tropical regions for as low as 1€ per tree. Helios and OnlyOne are only available in France and in French, and neither of them plants tree or offsets CO2. Tomorrow is also the only certified B-corp and it has the best app.

Since November 2021 Tomorrow customers benefit from discounts on a series of (German) sustainable brands including green electricity, e-bikes, plastic-free products, refurbished electronics, fresh food deliveries, sustainable clothes, shoes and cosmetics, and so on.

Regular Banks

Full banking services means that the bank provides personal and business bank accounts, investments, loans and mortgages, and sometimes more (e.g. insurance and retirements funds). Apart from Triodos, each of these banks are only available in their home country, so the choice will be limited to where you reside.

Bank Services Monthly fee Certifications* Android app rating iOS app rating
Cultura Bank Personal, business, loans ? B-Corp, FEBEA, GABV 3.8
EkoBanken Personal, business, loans Free GABV 3.2
JAK Medlemsbank Personal, business, loans Free 4.4
Merkur Andelskasse Full banking services
Co2 Savings Account
Free B-Corp, FEBEA, GABV 4.1 3.0
Nationwide B.S. Full banking services Free 4.6 4.8
De Volksbank
(SNS, ASN, BLG, RegioBank)
Full banking services Free 3.9 2.9
Triodos
(also available in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Spain)
Personal, business, investments (+ loans in the Netherlands only) 5€/3Ģ B-Corp, GABV 3.5 3.7
EthikBank Full banking services 8.5€ - -
GLS Bank Full banking services 8.8€ GABV 3.6 4.7
UmweltBank Full banking services,
free carbon-offset
Free GABV 3.3 4.3
Alternative Bank Switzerland Full banking services Free GABV - -
La Nef Personal (savings & loans),
business (loans only)
Free FEBEA - -
Banca Etica Full banking services GABV, FEBEA 3.5 2.2
Fiare Banca Etica Full banking services GABV, FEBEA - -

Note that some German banks charge a negative interest rate of 0.5% for deposits over a certain amount (from 25,000€ at UmweltBank, from 50,000€ at EthikBank, and on all deposist at GLS Bank).

Fair Finance Guide scores

The Fair Finance Guide reviews banks for all their ethical aspects, providing scores for climate change, nature conservation and biodiversity, human rights, workers' rights, weapons, tax evasion, rewards & bonuses, transparency, corruption, gender equality... At present banks have only been reviewed in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and a few countries outside Europe like Brazil, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

As this page is primarily about the responsibility of banks in nature protection and fighting climate change, we will provide the ratings for these elements as well as the overall ethical score for banks scoring at least 80%. Unfortunately, even within Germany, UmweltBank and Tomorrow were not reviewed.

Bank Nature Conservation Climate Change Overall Ethical Score
bunq 90 50 80
Cultura Bank 100 90 98
De Volksbank (SNS, ASN, BLG, RegioBank) 100 90 90
EkoBanken 98 100 99
EthikBank 100 86 94
GLS Bank 100 96 95
JAK Members Bank 100 95 97
Triodos 93 84 88

Other banks with minimal negative impact on the environment

Whereas the above-mentioned banks are actively engaged in environmental protection and/or sustainability, there are other banks that may not clearly advertise such values, but who are not known for investing in fossil fuels or in projects linked to environmental destruction.

All the following banks offer at least one type of free account (no set up fee or monthly fee).

Bank Values Services Android app rating iOS app rating
Bank Austria Environment, social responsibility, sustainability. GoGreen accounts finance renewable energy. Full banking services 4.4 4.3
Belfius Bank Exclusion of tobacco, gambling, weapons, fossil and nuclear energy, mining, palm oil and soy, and speculation on agricultural raw materials. Beats account: positive impact on Belgian society (health, planet and people) Full banking services 4.5 4.6
Charity Bank Ethical and socially responsible investments Saving accounts only - -
Monzo Green initiatives Personal online bank account 4.7 4.9
N26 No investment in the defence, oil, tobacco, or gambling industry. Personal, business, insurance 4.5 4.5
POP Bank Co-operative, social responsibility, sustainability Full banking services 3.9 4.5
Revolut No known controversial investment Personal, business, insurance, forex 4.7 4.7
Starling Bank No weapons, drugs, tobacco, or political donations. Green initiatives. Personal, business, loans 4.4 4.9
The Co-Operative Bank Co-operative; sustainability, ethical investments Full banking services 3.7 2.5

A few caveats apply to some banks though. Bank Austria is owned by UniCredit, which finances fossil fuels. Belfius is not very well rated by Fair Finance Guide, although it is the only bank in Belgium with Triodos that scores over 50% for climate change. Revolut lacks transparency in the way it invests its customers' money.

Banks available in several countries

  • Bank Austria allows foreign individuals to open a bank account even if they do not reside in Austria. Website/app in English and German.
  • Belfius allows foreigners from the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to open bank accounts, but they must do it at a branch in Belgium (not online). The website and app are in Dutch and French only.
  • Bunq is available to all residents of the Eurozone. Website/app in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • N26 is available in all the Eurozone (except Malta and Cyprus) as well as the United States. Website/app in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
  • Tomorrow is available to all residents of the Eurozone. Website/app in English or German only.
  • Triodos is available in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingom (in each local language).
  • Revolut is available in most of Europe (EU, UK, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland) as well as the United States, Australia, Japan and Singapore. The app is available in 24 languages (although customer support is only in English).
  • GLS Bank, UmweltBank and Merkur Andelskasse accept customers from abroad, although their website and app are in the local language only.

The best mobile banking apps

Sia Partners examined 135 banks from 17 different countries around the world in 2021. Among the world's top 50 mobile banking apps we find: Belfius (2nd), Revolut (3rd), N26 (5th), Monzo (8th), Starling (9th) and Bunq (13th).


The environmentally friendly and sustainable banks in Oceania

All the following banks offer free accounts (no set up fee or monthly fee) and provide full banking services (personal accounts, business accounts, loans, mortgages, investments, insurance).

Bank Values Certifications* Android app rating iOS app rating
Bank Australia Carbon neutral since 2011; 4% of profits given to Impact Fund; manage own Conservation Reserve B-Corp, Climate Active, GABV 4.5 4.6
Beyond Bank Australia Customer owned, social responsibility B-Corp 3.7 3.3
Kiwi Bank Ethical investments, social responsibility, support of LGBTTQIA+ B-Corp 3.8 3.3
Teachers Mutual Bank Ethical investments, fighting poverty, social responsibility GABV, RIAA 2.6 2.8
The Co-operative Bank NZ Customer owned, social responsibility B-Corp 4.0 3.7
TSB Bank NZ Charitable trust for environment and community, ethical investments 2.8 3.1


The bottom line

For American customers, Aspiration is surely the best online bank at the moment and is available in all states. It offers personal and business checking accounts as well as sustainable investments and retirement funds. The only thing missing is loans, for which you might want to try Climate First Bank (Personal line of credit, home equity line of credit, electric or hybrid auto loans, and residential solar loans) or Amalgamated Bank (mortgages and home equity), although these services may not be available in all states.

Canadians have the choice between DUCA Credit Union and Vancity, but geography will be the determinant factor as Vancity only has branches in British Columbia (mostly around Vancouver), while DUCA Credit Union is based in Ontario. Unfortunately there aren't any sustainable banks in other states yet.

If you live in the UK, you best choice overall is the Nationwide Building Society, which offers full banking services and has a very good mobile banking app. Triodos is also an excellent choice in terms of ethics, but does not offer loans or insurance, and its mobile banking app could be better.

If you live in the Eurozone the best eco-conscious personal current account is probably Tomorrow, which has a great mobile app (one of the highest ratings for both iOS and Android) available in English. Another great alternative is to combine N26 with the Bonsai payment app, so that trees are planted for free with your N26 purchases. For full banking services such as mortgages and insurance, you are going to need a second account in one of the eco-friendly regular banks. This is also true if you live in Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Switzerland, where Tomorrow and N26 aren't not available.

The three sustainable banks in Australia are equally good in terms in ethics, but Bank Australia is a bit more dedicated to the environment and has the edge over the other two when it comes to the quality of its mobile banking app. It's even harder to recommend one of the three listed banks in New Zealand. It will come to personal preference.

The only bank available in all Western countries as well as Japan and Singapore is Revolut. Although it is not an eco-friendly bank per se, it is not involved in corporate finance and therefore should not have any negative impact on the environment. Revolut is a great choice if you travel a lot and need multi-currency accounts, but also for the quality of its app.



List of ecological certifications

  • 1% for the Planet: members contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes.
  • Bank for Good Coalition: coalition of banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions committed to a fossil-free future.
  • B-Corp: Certified B Corporation, a certification of social and environmental performance.
  • Climate Active: partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions to lessen negative impact on the environment.
  • FEBEA: European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers.
  • Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV): a network of independent banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.


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