Putting my money where my mouth is…

I have an ongoing history of failing to open ethical bank accounts. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have successfully opened an ISA with Triodos Bank and have an affinity credit card with the Co-Op Bank which donates money to Amnesty International when I use it. However, I fail at opening current accounts. Tonight was no exception. After some irritation with my current bank, who instead of switching my graduate account back to a student account managed to switch it to an ordinary basic current account (wiping out my overdraft facility) and refused to correct it, I decided it was time to open that ethical account I’d always promised myself.

Fuelled by a sense of righteousness and annoyance with my current bank, I looked at the current accounts offered by The Co-operative Bank and Smile online banking, and decided to opt for Smile. I started filling out my details, determined that this time I was going to do everything right and first thing, when the online form stalled. There was a problem with one of the fields I had filled in. Had I missed one? Did I select the wrong option? Then I noticed it near the bottom of the page, this current account was not open to full-time students. That was a problem. With only two months left as a registered student, I was no longer eligible for a student account which required at least six months of remaining student status.

I rang the Smile helpline and they too were perplexed. I appeared to be in some kind of current account eligibility limbo: too much of a student to open a current account, but not enough of a student to open a student account. So now I have two possible options: Wait two months until my full-time student status expires and then open the current account, or open the current account identifying myself as being in part-time employment as I have been tutoring at the university over the last few years. Any suggestions?

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3 Responses to “Putting my money where my mouth is…”


  1. 1 Helen July 15, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Yep, smile is really awkward in that respect. I’ve had problems before with their strange student status thing. I’d suggest going down the part-time employed route. If you leave it till your student status expires then you’ll have to say either you’re unemployed (rendering it less likely they’ll give you an account) or still use the part-time employment option. All they really care about is whether you have a decent credit rating and no history of defaults. You might want to check out the Reliance Bank run by the Salvation Army too http://www.reliancebankltd.com although I’m not sure how good they are…

  2. 2 Hugo July 15, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Hmm, now you’re causing me to scratch my head again. Moving to Switzerland soon, and will need to open a new bank account. I think I will consider “ethical banking”, and ask around a bit, so that is an improvement: I’m more aware, and maybe I will spread some awareness, of the existence of such banks. Even if I end up settling for a normal one. We’ll see…

  3. 3 Clare July 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I didn’t know about the Salvation Army bank, that’s interesting to know, although I couldn’t seem to find their ethical policy on the site. As for Switzerland, I know some ethical banks in the Netherlands and Spain, but not Switzerland.

    There are another couple of options I can take with the bank dilemma:

    a) Apparently the Co-Op has a current account that doesn’t mind your student status, but then would I want to switch twice?

    b) Opt for a savings account with Smile that I can open and then at least I’m registered with the bank and opening the current account should be easier.


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