The Two Minute Review
Ethical banking? A definite yes. However, when it comes to customer service, account rewards, and modern digital banking the answer is less positive.
- 💪 A bank with principles.
- 👛 £15 a month for breakdown cover, travel and phone insurance on the Everyday Extra account.
- 🙂 Easy to open.
- 🪙 Everyday rewards max out at £2.20 a month.
- 📱 App could be better.
Ranked #23 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK.
What The Experts Say
The Times awarded the Co-Op Bank 66% overall. While transparency was high at 76%, customer happiness was only 63%.
What Users Say
Each year the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) commissions an independent report that asks a thousand customers of each of the major banks in the UK how they feel about various aspects of the service they are getting. The results put the Co-Op in 13th position.
Click to see the full picture.
Co-operative Bank has a Trustpilot rating of 1.3 but here at The Grade we like to dig a bit further.
When you exclude reviews the company has itself invited and look just at organic reviews, the average score is actually 1.22. In terms of organic Trustpilot rating this means Co-operative Bank is number 24 out of the 25 personal banks/current accounts we review.
At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 430 reviews which gave the Co-Op an average score of 3.7 out of 5.
Co-operative Bank in a Nutshell?
The Co-operative bank aims to be Britain’s most ethical high street bank. It was founded as far back as 1872, but in 1992 introduced its “Ethical Policy” – the latest version of which was published in 2020. It aims to commit the bank to people, the planet and community and includes commitments to:
- Preserving animal welfare
- Reducing climate change
- Being an ethical employer
- Only working with businesses that share their values
Each year they publish a sustainability report to measure themselves against their aims.
The bank has over 3,000 employees and 50 branches across the country.
Opening A Co-op Account
It takes about 10 minutes to apply online. You have to be 16+ (18+ if requesting an overdraft), not have any CCJs, not have been declared bankrupt in the last 6 years and be a UK resident. Additionally, you will need the following info:
- Your previous address if you’ve not been at your current address for 3 years
- Your income – gross salary, regular income before tax, state benefits and pension
- Details of your employment
- Sort code and account number of your main current account (if you have one)
When opening an account you can apply for an overdraft or you can choose to use the Current Account Switch Service to move another account over.
Type of Account
There are really two accounts worth looking at from the Co-op. Their standard account, called Current Account, and the Everyday Extra account.
Co-op Current Account
There is no fee for this account, and you get a fairly straightforward banking experience. A nice touch is that you get a PVC-free contactless card (which can be used with Apple and Google pay).
There are also some rewards on offer – you get £1 a month cashback plus 2p every time you use your debit card (up to £1.20). This will be paid into your account on the last day of the month. However, you do need to meet the following criteria each month:
- Pay in £800.
- Stay in credit or within your arranged overdraft.
- Log in to online banking.
- Get paperless statements.
- Pay out 4 direct debits.
However, there are much more rewarding accounts available elsewhere at the moment (some of which have a switching bonus).
Subject to a credit check, you can apply for an overdraft which will be charged at a heavy 35.9% yearly interest.
Co-op Everyday Extra Account
This is Co-op’s premium account. It costs £15 a month and for this, you get all the things you do with the standard account plus:
- Worldwide travel insurance (provided by AXA)
- UK and European breakdown cover (provided by RAC)
- Mobile phone insurance (provided by Lifestyle Services Group).
So long as you will make us of all these insurances, this is a pretty competitive deal.
There are some restrictions on this account – e.g. you are not eligible if you are over 79 or live in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Note: Co-op also has a basic account called Cashminder, which is really designed for people with poor credit. You don’t get access to rewards or an overdraft. You also can’t request a chequebook.
How Good is the App and Digital Banking?
The app really only covers the minimum you would expect from a modern bank such as viewing transactions, balances and moving money around. It doesn’t have more advanced budgeting features that have become commonplace with more recently founded banks or, indeed, some progressive high street banks. App reviews are quite negative too – on the App Store Co-op only gets 2.5 stars with users complaining about being kicked out of the app frequently.
We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:
Banking with principles
Good to know that my money will not be invested in fossil fuels, arms, dictatorships or exploitation.
No problems with my account or customer service. Easy to use app and website. Only downside is (now) the lack of a local branch but it is only VERY occasionally that I have cause to visit a branch anyway.
Still more ethical than most
Hugely appreciate the UK call centres too
Everyday Extra Account
Great value account includes travel insurance and roadside assistance for £15 a month. You can also get cash rewards when you pay out on standing orders. It’s easy to manage the account online.
Call time is very long and customer service reps do not always deliver
The call times are always very long – then when you do get through the customer service reps do not always do what they say, e.g. send emails – then you have to call back and wait on hold again for another hour.
How Does It Compare Against The Competition – Can I do Better?
Co-operative Bank is ranked #25 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK (click to see full list).
Are there better current accounts on the market? We’re calling out the following accounts as excellent:
Chase has brought to the UK the kind of rewarding banking you normally only see in the states. We're hoping it starts a revolution on this side of the Atlantic. The digital experience is also first class and there is 24/7 customer support.
Remember to check out the Chase website for all the terms and conditions.
Currently if you switch to Nationwide they will give you £200, plus an interest free overdraft (credit check required). You can also get 5% interest on balances up to £1,500 for 12 months.
You need to set up 2 Direct Debits within 60 days. Check full conditions on the Nationwide site.