Ethical Schmethical… The Co-op’s new ‘Think’ ethical credit card

I’ve just taken a look at the new supposedly ethical credit card launched by the Co-Op bank… What a load of nonsense; it’s about as ethical as my bottom. Of course the Co-Op is an ethical bank with regards to its investment policy; yet to hype this card in this way is shocking… 

Its pitch

The card promises lower interest rates if you buy things on it from one of sixteen ethical partners and to give money and donations to charity when you get it.

The reality

Yet when I looked through the details I was shocked. What you actually have is a rather nasty case of charitable marketing; trying to lever people conscience to sell them a very poor product. Here’s some examples of issues with this card.

1. A standard APR rate of 14%

Yet elsewhere you can get a 0% card for spending lasting for 12 months, with an interest rate just a smidgeon higher thereafter. Alternatively, you can get a card with a flat rate of 6.8% APR. Is it ethical to charge so much more than people can borrow for elsewhere.

2. The cheap rate for ethical partners isn't cheap

If you buy something from one of its 16 partners, you are charged 7% APR,. Yet, as I note above, there are cards which charge less than this as a standard rate! Not only that but the 7% only last for 6 months after each purchase with Co-Op.

3. The ethical partners, how ethical are they?

I’ll leave you to make your own mind up on this one… their ethical partners are…

The trainline
Nigel’s store
Ethical Superstore

and of course… it’s included its other brands to ensure some ethical cross-selling:

The Co-Op
The Co-Op electrical shop
Co-Operative Insurance

4. Charity would get a lot more cash if you used a cashback card.

Then again of course the card wants you to have a nice warm glow as it says it… “makes a contribution of 25p for every £100 spent to Cool Earth, an organisation that buys and protects the rainforest.”

Doesn’t that sound nice… yet remember right now, my top deals in the Best Cashback Cards article are Amex has a cashback card paying 5% cashback for the first three months followed by up to 1.5% and Capital One 4% followed by a flat 1%. Whereas Co-Op is donating just 0.25% to charity. Plus by using cashback cards then donating the cashback the charity would get you tax back on top. Meaning roughly over a year a basic rate taxpayer spending £10,000 a year would be donating £25 with Co-Op whereas around £225 with one of the cashback cards; nine times more.

So do forgive me Co-Op, if I say ethical… schmethical!

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